RabbitEars, as we know, is a website that provides technical information on over-the-air (OTA) TV reception.
RabbitEars offers information on available stations, nearby TV transmitters, subchannels, and various other useful information for receiving OTA digital signal for your TV.
RabbitEars vs TVFool
While it might not be as famous as sites like TVFool, it’s possible that RabbitEars might be more accurate for your location.
Why? In recent years and until today FCC is undergoing its transition initiative causing many channels to be reassigned, especially the class A and full-power stations.
On the other hand, RabbitEars at the moment is among the best regarding keeping up with these updates and ensuring their databases stayed on top of the changes.
RabbitEars also offer useful information when stations are transitioning to a new real channel or when a TV transmitter is undergoing maintenance, almost in real-time.
In our opinion, this is one of the top reasons why you should consider RabbitEars when aiming your antenna or other activities that require TV station information.
How to Use RabbitEars Signal Search Map
RabbitEars’ Search Map is a tool to help you check for the available TV stations in your location, the signal strength of each, and how to aim the antenna to find them.
The first thing you should do is to select your location, and there are several different methods you can do for this:
You can drag and drop the pushpin on the map to your exact location. For a more precise pointing, you can zoom in or out by scrolling with your mouse, or by using the zoom controls at the top left corner.
You can click the “Move Pushpin to Center of Map View” button if you lost track of the pushpin.
Use the search box at the bottom left corner of the map and enter your address. Then, place the pushpin at the retrieved address (center the pushpin first with the “Move Pushpin to Center of Map View” button if required).
You can use your browser’s location services or GPS if it’s available on your device. Click the “Get Location” button for this function.
This will immediately put the coordinates of your location in the Lat/Lon fields and put your location on the map’s pushpin.
Double-check the map whether the location is correct, and you can adjust it by dragging and dropping if necessary.
When you do so, the map will update automatically to show the location represented by the coordinates you’ve entered.
Once you’ve selected your location, you can also fine-tune additional settings like minimum search distance, your antenna’s height above ground, and whether to display your exact location in the report for privacy purposes.
Once everything is set-up, you can click “Go” to get the results.
How to Use RabbitEars TV Reception Map
After you’ve clicked “Go”, you’ll get a TV reception map and result list as feedback.
The TV reception map is fairly simple to understand, and you’ll see lines between your location and each transmission tower.
You’ll be able to observe what kinds of obstructions and terrains you might wave, and where the different stations are located.
The color of the line will define the strength of the signal from the specific tower:
If you click on the icon, a list of stations using it will appear, and hovering on a station will give you the estimated signal power.
The Result List should also be pretty simple to understand: by default you’ll be able to see the towers’ field strength in dBUV/m, and the rows are sorted by that field strength.
However, you can adjust this list to suit your preference.
Below are some of the notable fields in the Result List and what they mean:
Channel: you’ll see the display channel number given first and the number in parentheses is the RF channel number (i.e. “24-1(33)”). The first number is the display channel shown on your TV, and the RF number is the channel’s physical/real number.
Row color: If the rows are blue or white, then they are UHF stations. Yellow rows are for high-VHF, while red rows are for low-VHF stations. If the last three columns of the row are pink, then the station is currency off the air.
Callsign: clicking on the station’s callsign will take you to RabbitEars listing for this specific station.
Direction: you’ll get both true direction and magnetic direction. The true direction is the actual direction of the station relative to the true north, while the magnetic direction is the direction of the station relative to the magnetic north.
If you use a compass (including a compass app on your smartphone) when aiming your antenna, use the magnetic direction.
Field Strength: or Signal Power, reflects the signal strength of the station in question. You can easily view this in the units selected in the drop-down at the top of the list.
You’ll see the following descriptions:
- Good: an indoor antenna is typically sufficient to receive this station
- Fair: you can try with an indoor antenna, but an outdoor antenna will be more effective
- Poor: an outdoor antenna is required for this station
- Bad: very difficult if not impossible to receive signals from this station
Signal Margin: the difference between the field strength/signal power and the FCC’s minimum field strength for a reception.
Repack Info: if this column is blank, then the station is not currently repacked or is a translation/LPTV station of which repack status is not currently tracked. Else:
- If you see a number, then the station will transition during the numbered phase of the repack project (check here). If you see ‘10’, then it means the station is repacked in July 2020. By the time of writing this article, the FCC transition project has been finished, so this should be irrelevant.
- L: the station has been repacked and on its final channel with stable coverage
- R: the station has moved to a new channel but currently has reduced coverage
- S: currently off the air
How to Interpret RabbitEars Repack Channel Assignments
This tool will provide information about repack channel assignments, as you can see below:
The rows are color-coded as follows:
- Light blue means repacked with its current band
- Green means UHF to high-VHF
- Yellow means high-VHF to low-VHF
- Red means UHF to low-VHF
- Uncolored means unchanged from prior to the repack
How to Use RabbitEars Market Listings
You can access RabbitEars Market Listing by clicking here, and you’ll see a list like this:
The Market Listings shows the markets, available stations in those markets, subchannels on those stations.
You can also click on the listings and get more information like transmitter parameters, encoding data, historical data, and so on.
You can easily search a station’s call sign in the available search box above the listing.
RabbitEars can be an excellent alternative to help you when pointing your antenna, and the site will:
- Provide information about channels and stations you’ll likely pick up in your location
- Suggest the type of antenna (indoor/outdoor) the most suitable to pick up the channels
- Tell you where these stations are, and in which direction you should aim the antenna to receive signals from these stations