I need an education


Original poster
Dec 1, 2023
St. Paul, MN
We lived in rural MN and used cable. Now we moved to the twin cities... and do OTA TV.... but ours works, and my friends does not, and yesterday a decent OTA portable antenna gave us the exact same problem.

Here goes.... The house we bought at a satellite dish. I removed it and used the mast and coax wiring/ground etc. that ran into the house and we installed a basic TV antenna. The towers where the broadcast signals originate are only a few miles away. Scanned for local channels and every thing was good...

My friend bought a house about 15 miles north of us, and asked for help doing the same exact thing. We remove the satellite dish, and were going to use the mast for OTA TV after adding an antenna... We decided to try the antenna before installing it on the roof... pointed it to the right direction... and hooked it into the satellite coax wiring that ran into the house. Now, his house does not have open ceilings.... keep this in mind... We went in to scan using one of his TVs and began the process.... The scan seemed to proceed normally and yes, we jumped through the hoops.... antenna/air versus cable.... etc etc..... and the scan began. There were three kinds of signals.... Analog, Digital, and RF CH....... On my system the digital count ran up to over 50 as expected.... On his system, the Analog and Digital remained at ZERO.... but.... the RF CH ran up over 50 as well...... When the scan was complete, we got ZERO TV channels to work.... In other words it said there were over 50 channels but they would not work at all.....

That is problem one.... and it happened to me yesterday and it is a long story, but I had a small TV in a work room and hooked a decent OTA antenna to it... did a scan..... and it came up with over 100 channels and all of them were ALSO RF CH and not "digital"..... and I thought, here we go again... but... when the scan finished, CH 2 came on (PBS) over the air and all the channels worked....

Back to my friend's house... new antenna, connected to the satellite wiring input coax that runs to all the rooms in the house and several TVs and none of them will show any channels.... modern TVs too... and then we tried several interventions taking one wire out of the splitter and hooking directly to that coax to the family room TV using, again, the existing satellite coax cable..... and got.... nothing.... This went on for quite some time.... final intervention.... hooked up one TV with a new coax cable from a store.... scanned using that new coax cable and the antennae..... got a bunch of stations... all digital.... and it worked fine....

Conclusion... there is a difference in satellite coax cable and OTA coax cable you buy at a big box store?????? Have I got this right?

Why does a scan show up at RF CH instead of digital? Why did the TV hooked up to a portable antenna list all the channels as RF CH and yet, it still worked?

And is his coax cable, buried in the walls of his house a lost cause? All the walls/ceiling are enclosed..... and the coax cables are not accessible..... any ideas other than trying to use the old cable to pull new coax?

I just need to understand more about what RF CH means... compared to digital signals....

Any help, suggestions... even humor... appreciated...

PS... All this came up yesterday again, because I installed a Tablo... what neat device! My friend has small portable antennas on all his TVs through his house.... one on each TV... they are acceptable for the most part but he would like one antenna on the satellite mount and use the coax cable throughout the house that exists.....

Thanks so much... please educate me!!!
Picture of the scan where it does not say digital but RF CH... this is the portable TV antenna.. decent one too.. not an elcheapo... and yet this one did work...


  • rf ch.JPG
    rf ch.JPG
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Couple thoughts
What type of antenna are you using at the other location?
Satellite cabling is fine but if there is a splitter or something in the line (from satellite) you’ll need to remove that. If it’s a splitter or a switch etc

Can you post the rabbitears info?

Being that close it should work fine (towers are in shoreview) but it sounds like there is some piece from the satellite setup that needs to be removed.
It may be that the 100+ RF channels seen are a "leaky" cable connection picking up QAM signals from an old cable TV line.
We lived in rural MN
If you dont mind me asking where? (Im in MN myself, in Mankato but have a cabin on Mille Lacs)
Conclusion... there is a difference in satellite coax cable and OTA coax cable you buy at a big box store?????? Have I got this right?
not really. RG6 is RG6.

I just need to understand more about what RF CH means... compared to digital signals....
the stations in most cases broadcast on a different station. So as example WCCO (channel 4) broadcasts on RF32 (the RF channel) but it "maps to 4-1 (the old analog spot)
FWIW sounds like the old Satellite system may be diving the signal into the other drops. That can cause the signal to become too weak for the TV's to detect them. Try hooking one TV directly to the cable from the antenna before any splitters. If that works you will need a powered splitter or distribution amplifier. Good Luck.