TV antenna question, what do I need?

I am at a long range from TV stations, Every stations is in the purple or blue color on Antenna web (longest 2 categories, Medium directional w/pre amp and large directional w/ preamp). However using rabbit ears I can manage to pull in all the stations I want, however this requires moving the antenna into all sorts of positions in my living room, and nothing I want to keep in such positions long term and though I sometimes hit upon the magic position where everything works, that is rare and I’m not sure if it’s consistently possible.

Would it be save to assume that since I can get them with rabbit ears inside, that I should be able to pull them in better with a modest antenna outside and hoping that I would not need to go that large? In other words since the indoor rabbit ears inside is able to get the signals, outside should be a hell of a lot easier. I am hoping that I don’t need such a big monstrosity roof mounted model and can get away with a simple side/wall mounted model aimed at the broadcast sites mounted right outside my living room.


If you can get anything with rabbit ears, then a 4-bay bowtie antenna on the roof is your answer. Keep mind that most TV stations are now UHF. You should find out the real frequency (i.e. “RF channel”) of the TV stations.

Those things are great. Not all antennas are created equal, though, even if they look similar. Channel Master is one of the good ones, but there are others. I have a Channel Master 4221 4-bay and it pulls in everything I want. Just remember that these types are all UHF-only. They are not intended for legacy VHF frequencies on which some stations still broadcast ATSC digital. For VHF you need obnoxiously large conventional antennas.

How far away, in miles, are the stations you are trying to reach?

Wouldn’t a digital antenna pretty much bring in all signals? Are VHF and UHF signals still a thing?

Very High Frequency and Ultra High Frequency can be old style analog or new digital.

I am rarely able to tune digital signals with an inside antenna.

There’s really no such thing as a “digital antenna”. That’s a marketing term. It generally means a UHF antenna since that what the majority of stations broadcast on today, although some still broadcast ATSC digital on VHF. But yes, UHF and VHF are very much in use today – the switch from analog NTSC to digital ATSC didn’t change that. It’s the TV tuner that’s digital, not the antenna or the carrier frequencies it receives.

Mohu has flat digital omnidirectional indoor antennas with a 65 to 75 mile range. Knowing how far away the stations are would help in our searches.

Digital TV digitizes the carrier wave.

You can use this guide to determine where television stations are according to your address or zip code.
Antennas Direct | TV Transmitter Locator and Mapping Tool

No, and that doesn’t technically even make sense. A carrier is just a radio signal; specifically, it’s the set of frequencies with 6 MHz bandwidth originally assigned to the VHF and UHF television channels. None of that has changed. What has changed in digital television is a whole set of new layers on top of that, starting with a new type of carrier modulation called 8VSB, and then layered on top of that is a set of digital encoding standards for the video and audio streams, similar to those found on a DVD or Blu-ray disc. The “digital” aspect is found in those upper layers.

That’s what they advertise, but my experience says otherwise. I live <10 miles from station antennas with line-of-sight visibility, and it was still hit or miss with the flat indoor antenna (with a supposed 65-80 mile range). Of 5 local stations, I could get three clearly, one somewhat pixelated, and one not at all. It’s dependent on orientation, how thick your walls are and how many it has to go through, other nearby wiring, and who knows what else.

I swapped it with an outdoor antenna on the side of my house, and now I get everything crystal clear.

It helps to hang it in or attach it to a window.

True, or a friend put his in the attic where it was elevated and had thin walls/no insulation to go through. But at that point, getting an outdoor antenna seems easier and less obtrusive than a big black rectangle in your window.

Not UHF only, but better at UHF than VHF.

Technically true, since it will pull in a VHF signal if it’s strong enough, but then, so will a coat hanger! :wink: I did in fact manage to receive a VHF channel once in a while, but it was very unreliable and lately hasn’t been working at all. The UHF channels are rock solid.

Interestingly, the Channel Master 4228, which is an 8-bay version of the 4221 that basically consists of two of them side by side, has an interesting quirk. The 4228 basically provides higher gain and more directionality over a 4-bay, but something about its design allows it to pick up one specific VHF channel (I think it’s channel 9) quite well, due to sheer coincidence arising from the wierdnesses of antenna design!

Half my channels are VHF, 1 low-F, 3 high-F, and 4 UFH so I will need to be able to get both frequencies.

Then you’ll have to get a conventional style antenna like a yagi, either in addition to a flat bowtie type for UHF, or one that does both VHF and UHF. Stick with reputable manufacturers like Channel Master and check the reviews. It’s a shame because I’ve had such great results with my 4-bay CM.

Here’s one from Channel Master that does both VHF and UHF, but I have no experience with such combos or that style of antenna:

Are you sure those stations are VHF? In my area, there are channels 2, 4, 5, 7, & 10 which sound like VHF stations. Channel 2 now broadcasts on channel 5, vhf-lo. The others broadcast on channels 20, 33, 35, & 32 (respectively). They are really UHF stations. They all send a PSIP code to the television telling them what fake channel to use. If in doubt, go to Wikipedia and key in the call letters. For example, WLS in Chicago is really broadcasting on channel 22, but to receive it, you have to tune the TV to channel 7.

60 years ago, VHF was king. Stations wanted to have a low channel number. By broadcasting a PSIP, they can keep their low number.