HDTV for FREE

Tired of paying for cable or satellite TV?  I did two things to get rid of satellite TV service for my home theater system without sacrificing picture quality, or to a large degree, video content.  I’ll describe step 1 in this article.  You can check in later for step 2 on my next article.

Step 1:  Install an over the air antenna

TV Antenna Installation in Atlanta

Attic Antenna

That’s right!  That old VHF/UHF antenna everyone use to put on their house is useful again, and you can usually avoid the “eye sore” by installing it in your attic.  Several years ago the government mandated that all television broadcast companies start broadcasting digital content over the air instead of analog content.  Now you can get a crystal clear digital high definition video and audio signal over the air for free from your local broadcast stations.  All you need is an over the air antenna, and either a newer TV with a built in digital tuner, or an external digital tuner that you can connect to your old analog TV.

Before you begin, you should get on the internet and go to www.tvfool.com and click on the words “TV signal locator” in the column on the left.  Then you can enter your address and it will let you know what stations are available in your area, how big of an antenna you will need, and where you will need to point it to get the best signal.  The farther you are away from the broadcast tower, the larger the antenna you will need to get a good signal.  Keep in mind that with a digital signal you either have a perfect picture or you have no picture at all.  There is no static, ghosting, or other degradation of the picture due to a weak signal.  If your signal is too weak you will periodically lose the picture completely so make sure to get a large enough antenna and use good cable and splitters so you will have a strong signal.

In my case, almost all my local stations are broadcast out of Atlanta, which is over 35 miles from my house so I needed a large, long-range antenna.  I went to www.crutchfield.com and shopped for TV antennas under the “TV & Video” tab.  I decided on a directional antenna (Channel Master 4228 HD) because it is smaller than an omni-directional antenna and my stations are all located in one area.  It is listed as an outdoor antenna but I performed my HDTV antenna installation in the attic.  You can lose as much as 50% of your signal due to the shingles on your roof, but I’m lucky enough to have a gable facing the direction I needed to aim my antenna so I situated it next to the gable in the attic to improve my signal.

I used RG6, quad shield coax cable to run from the television antenna to my 50” plasma TV in the basement.  This is the highest quality coax cable that is readily available and will help prevent signal loss over long cable runs.  My TV has a built in digital tuner so I connected the coax cable straight to the TV.  Next, I ran a fiber optic cable from my TV to my surround sound receiver.  I then went to the channel set-up menu on the TV and had it search for available channels.  I was amazed at the quantity of channels available and the excellent picture and sound quality, although some of the low budget stations were not broadcasting in HD.

I’ve had this setup now for nearly a year and I’ve never lost signal on any station, even during severe thunderstorms, and I’ve never had to pay a bill to receive this service.  Please check in later and I’ll let you know the second thing I did to make getting rid of my satellite TV service painless.

If you would like more information or help installing an over the air TV antenna, a flat screen TV receptacle, coax cable installation, or wall mounting your TV, just give us a call at 770-455-4556, or go to our website at www.belcoinc.com .

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Kenny Jackson

About Kenny Jackson

Kenny Jackson is a project manager at Belco Electric specializing in commercial/industrial electrical maintenance and installations. He has a degree in engineering and has had his Georgia Unrestricted Master Electrical License since March of 2000.
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