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Saturday, September 11, 2010

The "secret" for getting FREE HD TV

The "Secret" for Getting FREE HD TV.
Put a TV antenna on your roof, in your attic, or on a wall. Aim it toward your desired stations, and enjoy.

Huh? That’s it? Hey, I know what you're thinking. "My grandfather had an antenna. He got 4 stations and bad reception. That’s why we pay for TV now - more channels and HDTV. Besides, do they even do that anymore?"

This is NOT your grandfather's Antenna TV!

Yes, they still do that. Over-The-Air (OTA) TV is very much alive and well, and better than ever. AND more channels. But, you ask, what about your grandfather's 4 snowy channels, then? In 1974, that was the state of the art of OTA TV. That was then, this is now. It's not 1974 anymore, we're in the digital age now. In most markets, you can get ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and PBS, in full HD, and at least some of the minor networks (ionTV, CW, ThisTV, etc). At my location, I get 30 channels – 13 in HD.

I know most of you are looking to just call someone and “just make it work”, and there is probably someone who CAN do it for you (See the FAQ). But the purpose of this blog is to save you money, and that almost always involves investing time and/or money. So, your first task is to find out what channels you may be able to get, and where they are.

Please, READ THIS ENTIRE POST before you do anything!

Homework #1: Part 1: Look up your stations.

Go to . Click “ Find an antenna” and fill out the information. You’ll get something like this:

This will give you a general idea of what you can expect to receive in your area. This chart is not very extensive, and is probably out of date. It will just give you an indication of what kind of antenna you should need, according to the following chart:

Guide to Antenna Box Labeling:
When purchasing an antenna, look for the CEA-certified antenna mark for outdoor antennas (which corresponds to the colors on your stations list). There is also a CEA-certified indoor antenna mark, which does not apply to this mapping system, but certifies that your indoor antenna will work in geographic areas that are appropriate for indoor antennas.

CEA-certified Antenna Mark for Outdoor Antennas
Antenna color codes are broken into six different zones. These zones identify the different types of antennas that are required for a consumer to receive optimal reception. Typically, the closer consumers live to the signal tower, the better reception they will receive. They may also be able to use an indoor antenna versus an outdoor. The farther away a consumer lives, the opposite is true. However, there are many variables that impact exactly which antenna a consumer will need.

Homework 1, Part 2: Look up your information

Read these instructions completely first, then click on this link: TVFool Transmitter Locator

Enter the exact Address & Zip Code, or, in very rural areas enter the GPS Coordinates, to acquire the most accurate information. You can also type in your Name or Handle if you wish, which will be shown as the title of the Chart/report.
On the Bottom of that page, it gives an entry for “Antenna Height”, which is where you would enter the number in Feet, that the Antenna is/will be installed, above ground.

Reasonable accuracy in this entry will influence the type of antenna and/or other recommendations which you may require at some point. If you do not know the exact height, then use one of these Examples:
  • For an Indoor (on top of our TV/same room) Antenna, enter 5
  • For a Outdoor Single Story House (Rooftop) enter 15
  • For a Outdoor Two Story House (Rooftop) enter 25
  • If a separate Mast/Pole Mount enter the height of the Pole.

Once those entries are made, you may click on the “Find Local Channels” tab, and the next screen will show the Stations in your locale. Don’t count on receiving ALL the Channels Listed.
Your results will look something like this:

To Print Out your Chart:

IF you wish to Print out the information to view later, you must first save that page to your computer, and print it out from there. Just above the Graph/Chart on the second page, you will see a comment named "Current Database". Select "All Channels" and click on "save image" to direct your Computer to save the Chart to your Computer in a location of your choice. You may then View, Print or Attach that image as necessary.

To Post your Chart:
If you look right above the Graph and Station Chart, you will notice a Link line in bold script.

That is the one which you should copy and paste into your post, when necessary, so others can view your complete chart with you. This is very helpful if you ask questions about your reception, or have a problem.
TVFool saves your/that chart on their Website, and you may use that link to refer to it at any time in the future. It is also wise to save that link to your chart on your Computer. Once moving away from the page, it is possible that you will not be able to return to it, without having the link available.
(On the public display of your Chart, your address will NOT be shown, and GPS Coordinates will be modified for Security Purposes)
Please understand, that all of the channels listed on the Chart will not necessarily be able to be received. And it's possible that several of the remaining Channels which can be received, are of no interest to you.

Homework 1, Part 3: Post your results and get help.

The next step is to visit , register as a user, and get some expert help.

1. Start a new thread in the DTV / HDTV Reception and Antenna Discussion area. In the subject line, put “Need help with OTA reception”
2. Paste the link you obtained from in part 2 into your post
3. Provide details about your current TV and antenna setup such as:

o How many TV sets you intend to use.
o Type of antenna wiring (coax) used, if any is installed. Cable left from your cable or dish installation may be re-used for your antenna in some cases.
o Which channels are you trying to receive?
o Anything else that you feel that the forum should know about your setup or what you're trying to achieve.

4. Once you've provided the above information, click on the "submit new thread" button.
Warning: Please do not post your home address or personal information in your post.

Does all this seem overwhelming? Yes, it’s a little bit of work. Just keep thinking of the rewards... FREE HD TV for life! And if you feel you can’t install your own antenna, you can find a qualified installer or electrician to do it for you. Just give them the results of your homework assignments! It may cost you more but you’ll still recover that money lost to pay TV in a few months.


How long will it take before you receive answers from

Some new threads will receive answers within a few minutes from our moderators, contributors, and members of the forum. Others may take from 24-48 hours depending on who's available.

What advice can I expect to get?

You can expect advice on antenna selection, placement, grounding, aiming, cables and connections.

Don't I get better a quality picture and sound if I have Cable or Satellite TV?

NO! Over-the-air HDTV signals are the best you can get! Over-the-air digital reception provides the best picture quality: Cable and satellite providers offer tons of channels, but to do this they use data compression or other techniques that compromise picture quality, resulting in a "soft" image, distracting video "artifacts" (distortion), or both. Off-air antenna reception is the best way to enjoy HDTV programs at the full resolution the TV networks intended.

Do I need a “Converter Box”?

Maybe. It depends on your TV. If you have a recently built TV, check the manufacture date. The FCC has issued the following mandates for devices entering the US:

• By July 1, 2005 all televisions with screen sizes over 36 inches (91 cm) must include a built-in ATSC DTV tuner

• By March 1, 2006 all televisions with screen sizes over 25 inches (64 cm) must include a built-in ATSC DTV tuner

• By March 1, 2007 all televisions regardless of screen size, and all interface devices which include a tuner (VCR, DVD player/recorder, DVR) must include a built-in ATSC DTV tuner.

If your TV was manufactured before these dates, YES, you will probably need an analog-to-digital converter box. Please note, however, using a converter box WILL NOT give you HDTV. You will get standard definition digital TV – and that’s still a lot better than the analog TV you used to get.

Where can I get a converter box?

At this time, it is getting more difficult to find converter boxes. Most retailers stopped selling them after the government coupon program ended (see next FAQ), However, as of this writing, they were still being sold at Best Buy, and you can also find them at some online retailers and EBay. You might also find one at your local second-hand or thrift store.

I heard there is a converter box coupon from the government. How do I get one?

THE PROGRAM HAS ENDED. There are no more coupons, and if you do “find” one, it’s no good. All coupons are expired. The last day to apply for a coupon was July 31, 2009, and they expired 90 days after issue.

I am too (old, incapable, afraid of heights, or lazy) to install an antenna.
Can someone do it for me?

Sure. You might first ask help from a neighbor or relative. Lacking that, try your phonebook – look for a “Home Theater Installer” or electrician. You may also be able to find a satellite installer who will install TV antennas... NOT DISH or DirecTV themselves, but one of the independent local contractors who do satellite dish installs for them.

My homeowners association prohibits or restricts TV antennas.

WRONG! In most cases, your homeowners association, covenants and restrictions, OR local governments CAN NOT prohibit your antenna installation. There are exceptions and limits, of course. But you may place TV antenna(s) of any size, on a mast up to 12 feet above the roofline, and satellite dishes up to 1 meter in diameter, on any property you have EXCLUSIVE USE or OWNERSHIP of. This also applies to mobile home parks, condominiums, and also rental properties in certain situations. The FCC has issued rulings on petitions by owners who have faced outright prohibitions on installation of covered antennas. In every petition, the FCC has determined that the blanket prohibition was invalid. The FCC has stated that the OTARD (Over The Air Reception Devices) rule offers only two justifications for antenna prohibitions:

1. Clearly articulated safety reasons; or 2. Historic preservation reasons.

Read the full U.S. government FCC OTARD fact sheet here:

What's it going to cost to do this?

Your cost will vary, depending upon:
  •  How much your antenna costs ( from FREE to over $100 for multiple antennas / amplifier / rotor),
  •  Whether or not you already have cabeling installed in your house,
  • You'll need to add about $50 for each TV you need a converter box for.
It could cost you up to several hundred dollars in rare situations. If that seems like a lot, PLEASE read my post about how much Pay TV is costing you, and consider this one-time expense as an investment. And remember how much it will cost you if you DON'T do it!

Where can I find more information?

Read the manual that came with your TV, converter box and antenna.

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