OTA Digital TV Antenna/Booster Question

Please bear with me - I’m not real bright when it comes to this stuff. I’m asking for my sanity’s sake so I can give my husband an answer and he will hopefully stop doinking around with the damn TV.

We do not have cable. We have an over the air digital TV antenna and 10 dB booster that for years, lived in our attic and got us oodles of TV channels. Life was good.

We moved. Now, atticless, we have the antenna and 10 dB booster set up in a bedroom, raised fairly high. We still haven’t found the sweet spot yet and are very channel curtailed right now.

The husband went out and bought another booster (12 dB) - can these two boosters be piggy backed for better (and more) reception? Or should only one or the other be used?

We are hoping to avoid going to an “outside on a pole” scenario for the damn antenna, but will if we have to just so he’ll quit his complaining about the damn TV! :smiley:

You can’t get blood from a turnip. Using two boosters is only going to get you very high quality noise.
You either need to use a very directional (high-gain) antenna, or mount it higher, or both.
FWIW, I’m in a very bad location, and when I was experimenting with my directional antenna in the house, I got maybe 5 channels. Mounting it on the roof gave me 50+

You can use a tool like this to find out which channels you should expect to receive: https://www.fcc.gov/media/engineering/dtvmaps
But your best bet is to put the antenna on the roof if it’s at all possible.

As already mentioned the “booster” (really an RF preamp) is only useful if installed at the antenna end which reduces line losses and improves S/N ratio as the signal travels to the TV. Installing a booster or preamp at the TV end does little – the TV already has an RF preamp inside it as good as anything you’d normally buy. Stacking two boosters in series at the TV end amplifies both signal and noise, so does no good.

The problem is not poor signal strength, but poor signal-to-noise ratio. You improve that (a) With a higher gain antenna mounted in a more favorable location, and (b) Using a low-noise mast-mounted RF preamp which boosts signal at the antenna end before it travels down the line and gets degraded.

Your problem is likely your new location is not as favorable due to terrain and distance to the station transmitters. Here are two web sites with analysis tools that evaluate your location and the TV channels that various antennas will pick up.


If your local stations are all UHF, a Channel Master 4221 might be a good choice – if only you had an attic. However it can be mounted on a back porch or apartment balcony. If you live in a condo or similar dwelling, the question is what restrictions exist on mounting a modest external antenna. I know people who live on a 2nd floor apartment and who mounted this antenna on their balcony and got good results. The key is you want it high as possible and aimed toward the stations: http://a.co/0EGiq9Y

The above Channel Master 4221 is a classic 4-bay “bow tie” antenna which has been used for many decades. It has very high gain for the size. It’s not covered in stylish fiberglass or plastic but TV signals don’t care about that.

However sometimes aesthetics are important, and there are nicer-looking fiberglass-covered antennas. I seriously doubt these work any better than the 4221 antenna but they look nicer and night be more acceptable on an apartment balcony.

Antop “UFO” antenna: http://a.co/9AihmdV
Antop 400-BV flat panel antenna: http://a.co/annbFAk

For UHF, (which is most HD over-the-air signals) the line losses are high so you often need a mast mounted preamp for best results. IOW the preamp (or booster) MUST be mounted at the antenna end, not at the TV end, else it will do little good. Something like this (unless you buy an antenna package which already includes a mast-mounted preamp): http://a.co/5YBA9Tq

While the above web sites give an approximate reception prediction based on location, antenna type and elevation, you cannot predict exactly how a given antenna will work in a given location. There are too many variables. Thus you need to buy from a retailer with a good return policy. Do not spend a lot of effort firmly mounting the antenna without first testing it. Hold it up in the approx. elevation, location and compass direction using a wooden broom handle and inspect reception (with preamp activated). Don’t hold the antenna elements by hand – your body will degrade the signal. If it’s not adequate, return it and get a better one.

Another method is look around your neighborhood until you find someone with a visible TV antenna, then ask them what kind of reception they are getting. If you approach people in a friendly way they will often give you a demonstration.

The FCC 1996 “Over The Air Reception Rule” gives you significant rights about installing antennas which in many cases override and supercede any HOA or local regulations. It’s important to be familiar with these: https://www.fcc.gov/media/over-air-reception-devices-rule

It’s important to know the azimuth you need for a directional antenna in poor reception areas. Towards the nearest big city/town is generally a good start, but this web site will tell you exactly.

Thanks so much, everybody! His channel quest begins tomorrow. Today was all about errands. And a storm. :slight_smile: