How far away can you get channels nowdays with an antenna?

harshness

SatelliteGuys Master
May 5, 2007
16,237
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Salem, OR
That's why we had all those mudflaps and funky looking plastic antennas emerging after the digital switch, right? A mudflap wouldn't have worked for analog I'm assuming.
Mudflaps would have worked just fine for the frequencies that they support just as loop and bowtie antennas will work with UHF DTV stations today (assuming they have enough gain). For more than a few, the transition to DTV meant that most of the VHF channels went away. Now in the face of our third repack, the antennas designed to include 600-800MHz frequencies are a lot less interesting.

The modulation scheme is of no interest to an antenna as it grabs the carrier at that frequency. If they switched polarity from horizontal to vertical, you'd just turn the antenna on its side.
 

dhett

SatelliteGuys Guru
Dec 4, 2013
124
44
Chandler AZ
Height of the broadcasting antenna is very important as well. Mt. Bigelow sits about 6000' above Tucson, and I can pick up a few of the low-power TV signals on Mt. Bigelow from Phoenix, about 100 miles away.
 
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harshness

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May 5, 2007
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Salem, OR
Height of the broadcasting antenna is very important as well. Mt. Bigelow sits about 6000' above Tucson, and I can pick up a few of the low-power TV signals on Mt. Bigelow from Phoenix, about 100 miles away.
LOS is typically what you're getting with height. LOS is most important.
 

Trip

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That's incorrect. Analog signals consisted of a continuously variable amplitude signal while digital is a bitstream. The continuously variable signal required the antenna to be designed in such a way as to capture that signal as efficiently as possible and that efficient design made the antenna very directional. A bitstream has no such limitations. If that hunk of aluminum picks up those ones and zeros from any direction they will be captured perfectly.
This post is not accurate. "Digital signals" are nothing more than digital bits modulated for carriage on what is otherwise a specific type of analog carrier. The world around us is analog. Further, nothing about the type signal being received changes the performance characteristics of an antenna at a given frequency. Merely changing from analog to digital would do nothing to impact how your antenna reacts to the signals around it.

In your specific case, it appears that many of the signals you now receive off the back are quite a bit stronger now than they were in analog. That, not the move to digital itself, is likely why you now receive them.

There's nothing stopping you from using a less directional antenna if that works for you. However, multipath becomes a real potential problem at that point, and if your signals are weak, you will likely lose the gain necessary to bring the weaker signals in.

- Trip
 

907TECH

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 29, 2018
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Alaska
True with analog but with digital broadcasting a regular large UHF/VHF rooftop antenna will receive equally front to back. My antenna not only pulls in everything due south from the Philly area but also everything due north from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. It also pulls in everything from the Allentown/Bethlehem transmitters about 30 degrees SSE, all without using the rotor. My most recent rescan, due to the ever ongoing repack, I locked 73 channels.
There are current antennas designed to be bidirectional IE same signal from the back or front. But for distant signals, this is exactly what you do not want, you need a focused, narrow beamwidth antenna with high gain. And there is no such thing as digital antennas, physius of reception is the same with analog or digital.
 
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Tampa8

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I have played with and constructed antenna since I was young from Beverage radio to shortwave, longwave, CB, TV. I have tried so many antennas over time, and so many amplifiers.
So not from an expert view but from experience view my answer to the question how far will a TV antenna get a signal is, it all depends. 40+/- Miles is a good start for an overall answer but it is so much more involved. (Not talking about getting skip signals)

Digital has changed things some. I do not get signals anywhere near as well and far as I did when they were analog. Height of the antenna has always been one of the most important aspects to get signals that are not close, but I find even more so now. Digital is more easily blocked.

Terrain plays a huge role, if you have a direct line of sight you will get a more reliable signal and from a longer distance than if there are trees, mountains etc in the way. Even strong electrical lines very near you or even airplanes going overhead can disrupt a TV signal. There is actually such a thing as a "sweet spot" Sometimes physically moving an antenna just a foot or two one way or the other makes all the difference. I don't mean aiming it I mean aimed the same way but moved over some.

Weather and time of year plays a role. Clear nights can get you signals you may not during the day or in bad weather. And when the leaves are off the trees if you live where they fall off can make a difference.

The type of signal makes a big difference. Hi or low VHF, UHF etc. And then getting the right antenna(s) to match those signals.

Amplifiers are somewhat misunderstood. There are two types or times you might need one. If the cable from the antenna has a long run and/or feeds several TV's you need to boosts those signals.
The second type is the more misunderstood. This one is to get a signal that comes and goes or you can't get at all without it. People will say you can't amplify a signal that does not exist and that is true. There has to be a signal. But what is misunderstood is just because you don't get a channel at all does not mean an amplifier won't bring it in. Or another way to say it, that does mean the signal is not there. The signal may be there but be below the noise floor. It is possible especially a good amplifier mounted at the antenna can make that signal be seen.
 

comfortably_numb

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Nov 30, 2011
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I have played with and constructed antenna since I was young from Beverage radio to shortwave, longwave, CB, TV. I have tried so many antennas over time, and so many amplifiers.
So not from an expert view but from experience view my answer to the question how far will a TV antenna get a signal is, it all depends. 40+/- Miles is a good start for an overall answer but it is so much more involved. (Not talking about getting skip signals)

Digital has changed things some. I do not get signals anywhere near as well and far as I did when they were analog. Height of the antenna has always been one of the most important aspects to get signals that are not close, but I find even more so now. Digital is more easily blocked.

Terrain plays a huge role, if you have a direct line of sight you will get a more reliable signal and from a longer distance than if there are trees, mountains etc in the way. Even strong electrical lines very near you or even airplanes going overhead can disrupt a TV signal. There is actually such a thing as a "sweet spot" Sometimes physically moving an antenna just a foot or two one way or the other makes all the difference. I don't mean aiming it I mean aimed the same way but moved over some.

Weather and time of year plays a role. Clear nights can get you signals you may not during the day or in bad weather. And when the leaves are off the trees if you live where they fall off can make a difference.

The type of signal makes a big difference. Hi or low VHF, UHF etc. And then getting the right antenna(s) to match those signals.

Amplifiers are somewhat misunderstood. There are two types or times you might need one. If the cable from the antenna has a long run and/or feeds several TV's you need to boosts those signals.
The second type is the more misunderstood. This one is to get a signal that comes and goes or you can't get at all without it. People will say you can't amplify a signal that does not exist and that is true. There has to be a signal. But what is misunderstood is just because you don't get a channel at all does not mean an amplifier won't bring it in. Or another way to say it, that does mean the signal is not there. The signal may be there but be below the noise floor. It is possible especially a good amplifier mounted at the antenna can make that signal be seen.
Excellent summary.

I live 45 miles +/- from my local TV towers. Most of the major ones are high power (1,000,000 watts) and come in at 100% on an RCA yagi with preamp. I would assume they should also carry to 60 miles reliably with preamp.

The low-power stations (15 kW) are received hit-or-miss at my location. I would say those stations are received 30 miles +/- reliably.

There are a couple of VHF stations 80 miles or so from my location that come in at night.
 
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arlo

SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 4, 2016
183
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North Eastern
Tampa8 is entirely correct. Good reading in the link below.
Amateur radio buffs clearly know an antenna cut and designed for a particular frequency will work better than a chunk of wire.
For VHF, UHF freqs. design is very important. CATV companies don't use 1 antenna pointed at X city to receive all channels coming from there.
Log Periodic antennas do a good job covering freq. ranges, but a tuned yagi will always perform better at a specific freq, or range of frequencies.
Tried and true.
Amp design has changed. But no signal. nothing to amplify. Very weak signal with equal noise. The amp will boost both.
Amplifiers have their own noise too. Modern circuits have reduced that greatly as opposed to the old mast mounted transistor based boosters.
NTSC and ATSC uses the same 6MHz bandwidth (ok had to refresh my memory on that one). I'd say "Digital Antenna" is a marketing ploy.
My longwire hf antenna receives analog as well as digital (DRM, STANAG, etc.) equally well. The length of it is the determining factor for a specific freq. band.

http://www.cablesatellitesupply.com/v/vspfiles/photos/PDFTonerSpecs/BLONDER/BTY-LP-BB.pdf
 

NYDutch

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Dec 28, 2013
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Where our wheels go
Years ago, I had a 90 element yagi mounted on a 50' amplifier and rotor equipped tower next to our mountaintop home in the Adirondacks. We could pretty reliably pick up stations from Albany, Utica, Syracuse, and Plattsburgh, NY, plus Hartford, CT and Burlington, VT. Albany and Utica were 40-50 miles away, and the others 100+ miles. When the moon was in the right house, we even caught Boston and NYC stations sometimes.
 

907TECH

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 29, 2018
239
258
Alaska
True with analog but with digital broadcasting a regular large UHF/VHF rooftop antenna will receive equally front to back. My antenna not only pulls in everything due south from the Philly area but also everything due north from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. It also pulls in everything from the Allentown/Bethlehem transmitters about 30 degrees SSE, all without using the rotor. My most recent rescan, due to the ever ongoing repack, I locked 73 channels.
Directional antennas will exhibit the same F/B ratio on analog or digital signals. If you are receiving signals on a properly operating directional antenna off the rear or sides, if you look at the signal you should find lower levels. If you can decode signals coming other than the front of the antenna is is because you are above the SNR threshold.
 

Larry1

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 24, 2005
1,560
106
Port Hope, ON Canada
I have a lot of 2 edge signals in my area. Before cable and satellite became popular, it was common to have a 40 foot to 65 foot tower with extreme fringe rated antenna and a pre-amplifier. Stations were 65 to 85 miles away. You would loose the signals some times, but for the most part, they were reliable. The terrain was not flat, but no mountains. There were ridges and hills. Luckily, the direction of some of the stations was over Lake Ontario, so that helped a lot in the reception. (no hills blocking the signal) For the distant stations, the tower was most important to get the height over trees.
 

Howard Simmons

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Jun 25, 2018
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Northwest Florida
I have a lot of 2 edge signals in my area. Before cable and satellite became popular, it was common to have a 40 foot to 65 foot tower with extreme fringe rated antenna and a pre-amplifier. Stations were 65 to 85 miles away. You would loose the signals some times, but for the most part, they were reliable. The terrain was not flat, but no mountains. There were ridges and hills. Luckily, the direction of some of the stations was over Lake Ontario, so that helped a lot in the reception. (no hills blocking the signal) For the distant stations, the tower was most important to get the height over trees.
That's what our cable company used back in the 70's to get the local stations.
 

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