Installing an OTA (Over the Air) Antenna
A couple weeks ago week, we gave an overview of the various types of OTA antennas and promised an installation of some of these antennas. Our office is located about 15 miles South of Dayton and 45 miles North of Cincinnati. Both cities offer a good amount of channels so we decided to test out some of our Stellar Labs antennas and see how well they perform. In an attempt to receive as many channels from both cities as possible, we decided to mount two directional antennas on a mast; one pointing at Cincinnati, and one pointing at Dayton.
Before we decided on which antennas to use, we visited DTV maps section of the FCC Website to see which stations were available and whether they were UHF or VHF. All the stations we're interested in are UHF, so we selected two UHF antennas, the Long Range UHF- HDTV 43 Element Yagi Antenna and the Long Range UHF- HDTV 91 Element Yagi Antenna as well as an Antenna Wall Mount Kit. Antennas mounted on the roof can act as a lightning rod as well, so it's critical that the assembly be properly grounded. We grabbed a four-foot grounding rod, as well as a spool of copper ground wire.
While on the ground, we started by installing our grounding rod. We picked a location on the roof having the least interference from trees in the directions we'll be pointing the antennas.
First, we installed the antenna mast mounting brackets, then installed the lower portion of our mast onto the brackets.
Next, we installed both antennas on the top half of our mast and attached coax cables to the combiner, then installed the top half of the mast to the bottom half. It's important to note that we did install directional antennas, and for that reason, they must be pointed in the direction of your target. Using a compass, we pointed the antennas in the proper direction of Dayton and Cincinnati. You can also purchase a rotator with remote control to get even better reception for each station.
We already had a coax cable run from our TV to the roof, so all that was left to do was hook up the coax cable to the combiner, and then connect the ground wire between the combiner and the grounding rod.
Once everything was installed, we ran a scan on our TV to see how many stations we were able to pick up. In the end, out of all the available stations for Cincinnati and Dayton, we did pretty well.
Nearly 100% of Dayton stations came in with wonderful reception.
Out of 38 Cincinnati stations, we got reception on 13 of the most popular stations, including FOX, ABC, PBS and more.
We knew we wouldn't get CBS and the CW, as they are the only local stations that are VHF. We're confident that if we used a VHF or UHF/VHF combo antenna, these would come in.
In all, we have about $185 in parts invested in this install. Of course, this can vary drastically based on the components you choose. Using one antenna and then attaching to an existing ground rod will reduce the cost significantly.