How to Get Free HDTV – Cut the Cable

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Is it time to cut the cable or the satellite dish?

Cable and dish prices are skyrocketing. Premium TV services are through the roof. Your other monthly bills are not helping either. Why are you still paying an arm and a leg for that cable box? There’s barely anything that you want to watch on cable anymore , and in today’s economy, every dollar cut down from those monthlies helps.

Cut the cable. Trash the dish. Most college kids are getting their first apartments and not bothering to sign up for a cable plan, it’s just too expensive. So what are they doing to keep up w/ the hot new shows? How are folks watching the Super Bowl?  It’s a not so dirty little secret.  They’re doing it like they did twenty or thirty years ago.  Over the air, free broadcast television.  No really, free. IF you want to add on some non-broadcast television, there are other, much cheaper alternatives now available over your standard broadband questions. More on that in a bit.

Get Free TV fast.

Just like twenty or thirty years ago, all you need is an old fashioned antenna.  Almost every new television is antenna ready. You can attach an old school roof antenna and you should be able to receive most of your local broadcast channels.   You will most likely receive your local network TV affiliates, and any independent broadcast channels.
RCA Amplified Indoor Off-Air HDTV Antenna Often though, a small indoor antenna is not enough.  Due to the walls inside your house and other obstacles that might block or reflect the TV signal, you may have to resort to the old fashioned roof top antennas.  If your as old as this Bubba, you can still recall almost every house in the neighborhood having one of these big metal grids on every roof.

But heck, they’re not much more unsightly than the various dishes that they’re replacing.  Some folks will assemble and mount these antennas inside a large attic. (Some gain, or signal reception strength will be lost when the signal passes through roof materials.) When mounting these antennas, attention must be paid to how they are positioned. Most urban television markets concentrate their transmitters and antennas in one location. In your town you may have seen a cluster of TV and radio towers. The FAA finds it much easier to worry about dangers these towers pose to aircraft if they can locate these huge structures all in one place, rather than all over the city and countryside.  If you’re not sure where the “antenna farm” in your community is, this information is easily found online. You will also find channel guides, and what angle you should “point” your antenna toward.

Big old metal TV catcher. Sitting next to an expensive monthly payment.

Here’s a tip, if you spend the time and money to secure a good, solid, tall outdoor antenna, you will have a better chance at great reception. The closer that  you can get to “line of sight”, between your antenna and the transmitter, the better.  This doesn’t mean you need to actually see the tower, but extreme blockage by high treelines, tall buildings, or elevated geography can be problematic. If you can get an aerial above the neighbor’s roofs or the close treeline, you will be better off.  Just like with cable delivery, a digital signal will either result in a solid image, or it won’t. Unlike the “olden days”, you won’t get a snowy, static or ghost filled partial image. The picture and audio will lock in or it won’t.  You will need to rotate the antenna to get maximum reception. A good antenna kit will include a mount, cable properly rated for the signal, and often a signal amplifier.

If you plan to distribute an antenna’s signal to multiple TV’s, that is fine.  But you must be careful with the wiring.  If you keep splitting the signal, it will probably be unusable.  Taking the initial antenna cable run to a signal distributor is a great idea. Then run each split to the various TV’s and receivers in your home or office.

Some of this may sound a little expensive initially. And you oughta be careful on that ladder, Bubba.  You might need some professional help to put up a good antenna mount on the roof, or side of your house, or on a tall, rigged, pole mount.  But if you’re paying a hundred bucks or so per month in cable or satellite fees, this effort will pay for itself in only a couple months time.

What about all the movies and series that you may be missing from that expensive cable?  Bubba’s got some ideas for our next post how to get a tremendous variety of programming for a fraction of a hefty monthly cable bill.

Antennas Direct - Antennas Reinvented

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