How to use TV antenna?

August 3, 2016
How to pick a TV antenna and

where to plug in tv antenna cableHooking up an indoor antenna like the Mohu Leaf to your TV is pretty easy. Simply screw the antenna's coax cable into the "ANTENNA/CABLE" plug at the back of your TV, as shown here:

If you have a powered antenna, you'll have to plug it into the wall for power.

Scanning for Channels on Your TV

Now turn on your TV and go into the settings menu. Find the option where you can select between cable and antenna input and select "antenna". Here's how it looks on my Sony:

Next, set your TV to auto-search for channels. Here's how it looks on my TV:

Hit "OK" and let your TV search for channels! Good Luck! You might need to re-run the search several times using different antenna configurations.

Tweaking Your Antenna Position

Once you hook up your TV antenna, I'll be honest.. It requires tweaking. It's finicky. There can be a big difference in the number of channels you get depending on antenna orientation, location, height, and whether it is indoors or outdoors. Changing the antenna angle by a few degrees could change reception drastically for a particular channel.

If you are using an indoor antenna, I suggest placing it near a window, then scanning for channels to establish a baseline. Write down the channels you get, move your antenna, and scan again. If you lost any channels, manually add them back in using your TV's channel management menu, and write them down, so you end up with a master list of all possible channels. Next, go to a weak channel and move your antenna around in real time until you get good reception. You might have to repeat this for other weak channels.

selecting antenna input on tvYou never know where the best antenna position will be. After my last move, I mounted my antenna near a window. Reception was very mediocre at ten to twelve channels. While playing around with cable routing, the antenna fell on the floor. Just for kicks, I scanned the channels and found that I got four more channels in that unlikely position!

If you are not getting ten or twenty channels, you probably live too far from the transmitters or there is something blocking the signals, like a mountain. Go to the antenna section to find out more. If you don't have access to your roof (i.e., you live in an apartment), I would suggest using the Mohu Leaf antenna. It's thin and easy to hide indoors. It's what I use. Here are some more tips on getting good reception.

One thing I want to stress: the difference in the number of channels you can get with different indoor antennas is pretty small. If one antenna can get five channels, you are not going to suddenly get 25 channels with a more expensive antenna. So, do not keep buying more and more expensive antennas with the hopes of solving reception problems. Antenna location has a much bigger effect on reception than the type of antenna you use, as long as you're not using a cheap rabbit-ear antenna.

See What's on TV - A Free Channel Guide

OK, so your antenna is hooked up. Congratulations! Now, how do you see which shows are playing? Fortunately, there is an online channel guide called Titan TV. The setup is not immediately obvious the first time, but I'll explain it below.

channel search on tvWhen you click that, a popup will appear. Click the "Broadcast" box as shown below:

Next, enter your zip code, select your local area by checking one of the boxes, hit "Save" and you're done!

You can repeat the process if you are close to two broadcast areas.

The next time you visit this site, your settings will be there. Voila! Your broadcast TV guide!

How to Use Your Antenna with Multiple TVs

What if you want to feed your antenna signal to multiple TVs? You have several options. You can use one antenna per TV (kind of a pain), get a distribution amplifier to distribute the signal to each TV from one antenna, or use a Tablo. More on these options in this article.

Here are some distribution amplifiers on Amazon that I recommend:

Basically, you run a cable from your antenna into the input of this box, and then run multiple coax cables out to your TV's. The box requires power because it amplifies the signal. The bonus is that this improves reception and you might be able to get even more channels than before!

Now, be sure to put this amp as close as possible to your antenna. The reason is that the TV signal loses strength for every foot of cable that it has to go through. Therefore, it's best to amplify it as early as possible - physically close to the antenna in other words, not at the other end of the antenna near your TVs!.

Yes, I know it is more of a pain to have to hook up this box in your attic or wherever your antenna is, and supply power to it, etc., rather than right next to your TV. But, if you want to bring in the most stations, you should keep the box closer to your antenna. In my experiments, even an additional 20 feet of un-amplified cable run from your antenna can cause you to lose a weak station.

That is also why you shouldn't use a passive (non-powered) splitter for this application. In my experiments, a passive splitter will cause you to lose signal strength and possibly lose the weaker stations.

Give it a try and let us know your results!

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