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    How to choose a TV antenna

    A guide to the many different types available, plus common issues and how to fix them

    Hannah | Oneflare

    Those analog televisions that were so prevalent in the country for half a century? They’re now officially obsolete. A few years ago, digital television replaced the old analog version. And while you might have a digital TV – you might not be aware of just how important the digital TV antenna is. With that in mind, we’ve put together this guide to digital television antennas; check this out before you purchase anything for your household.

    Source: Ng Satellite Communication Service Pty Ltd

    What makes an antenna work?

    Television antennas are meant to connect the television stations broadcast to your entertainment unit. This broadcast signal is actually a radio wave set to a specific frequency. An antenna receives these signals and relays them to your system, where they are converted into images and sound. The division of these frequencies has been broken down into VHF or Very High Frequency, which is used for analogue channels and UHF or Ultra High Frequency, which is used for digital broadcasts.

    Fortunately, just because digital television uses an alternate frequency band, it doesn’t mean consumers need to purchase a new antenna to get the new digital signals. The problem lies in the fact that while any antenna can pick up both UHF and VHF signals, they tend to not be effective enough at picking up all the available signals.

    Types of antennas

    With all the different antenna varieties on the market today, it might be hard to decipher between which one will work best for your setup. With all the complex features that make up a quality antenna, the configuration of each separate part can really make a difference.

    • UHF antennas: The acronym here denotes Ultra High Frequency. These are the most effective when they are in alignment with a television station’s primary tower emitting transmissions. These are also known as “line of sight” antennas.
    • VHF: These types of antennas are also called Very High Frequency antennas. They provide better flexibility and do not operate like the UHF antennas, where they need to be aligned with a transmission tower to derive a signal. The standard VHF antenna is what is called a dipole antenna. They use parallel bars arranged in a horizontal pattern and are able to pick up signals from multiple directions. They are not good at receiving UHF frequencies though. A newer addition to the standard dipole antenna, called a Yagi, has allowed dipole antennas to pick up an even wider range of frequencies. These types of antennas are bigger than the UHF ones, as they use a more extensive antenna surface due to lower VHF frequencies.
    • Uni-directional: These antennas receive signals from just one way.
    • Multi-directional: These antennas are able to receive signals flowing via multiple directions.
    • Indoor: These types of antennas are smaller, making it possible for you to install inside your home and in close proximity to your television. An example of this is the humble rabbit ears antenna. Indoor antennas are also able to receive both analogue and digital indicators.
    • Outdoor: These types are huge and are affixed to the roof of your home. They receive better reception than other types of antennas, like your indoor types, due to their larger size. Outdoor antennas can also receive both analogue and digital indicators.
    • Amplifiers: These are often required when one needs to improve the signal. They are usually affixed between the television and the outside antenna or built into the indoor antenna. Amplifiers should be used with caution because they are able to worsen your reception by automatically amplifying other sounds besides the signal.

    Digital TV antennas

    So what does your average antenna do? Simply, it takes the broadcast signals sent through the atmosphere and brings it straight to the television. You can pick up digital signals from your analog antenna, but the picture won’t look very good. A digital antenna also offers you the opportunity to pick up a larger range of frequencies and channels. You’ll need to purchase a good, new antenna that is configured specifically for your household; if you live in a remote area, though, you might have to put in a signal amplifier to get better television reception.

    Source: Ng Satellite Communication Service Pty Ltd

    Antenna repairs and fixes

    Prior to rushing out and buying a new antenna, it is suggested that you try to adjust your current antenna to fix the trouble. The first thing you want to do is take note of the channels and the position of your antenna that works best. Then, adjust it accordingly.

    Dodgy antenna cable

    Antenna cables, like anything else, can suffer from wear and tear, whether indoors or external. It is possible that the exterior layer of the cable has deteriorated, letting in other matters that can damage the cable and reduce your signal strength. A good way to test this is to take note of how your antenna is affected by wet weather.

    Problems with antenna sockets

    A common issue that affects antenna strength is the quality of the socket used. In some cases, the outlet may have gradually loosened over time, impacting the antenna’s ability to receive signals effectively. The connection between the socket and the lead to the external antenna could also be a contributing factor. It’s also worth checking for any leftover insulation that might be obstructing the signal transmission. This issue can occur with various types of sockets, including Telstra cable sockets. By addressing these potential problems, you can improve the signal reception and ensure a reliable antenna performance.

    Damaged fly leads

    If you find your antenna is losing strength because of a damaged fly lead, you are in luck. It is one of the easiest problems to solve. Essentially, a fly lead connects the antenna to the television. Fly leads can easily become damaged because they get knocked about. If you think the problem may lay with the fly lead, test it out by replacing it with a spare.

    Becoming digital

    Everything is becoming digital, so you need the right equipment to accommodate that. Ensure that your antenna can receive a digital signal. A lot of older antennas are not able to receive digital signals, so you may need to think of upgrading to one that does.

    A wrong-facing antenna

    One of the common misconceptions about antennas is that they can be put in any direction. Antennas that face the wrong way can really have a negative impact on the strength your reception. If you think your antenna may be facing the wrong way, then you can call out a professional to help you change that. It is best to have your antenna facing the direction of the local broadcast tower and not towards any large buildings that could weaken or block your signal.

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