When it comes to the installation of TV antennas, generally the higher the antenna is, the better the reception will be. But before you permanently install a TV antenna, you should "probe" for the strongest signal. Probing involves mounting a TV antenna on a section of mast, connecting it to a TV, and moving the antenna around the outside of your house until you find the location where the TV reception comes in the best.
Probing is especially important when the reception of UHF TV channels 14-69 is desired. UHF TV signal waves tend to be in vertical layers spaced about 10 feet apart. Between these layers are small "weak" or "dead" spots in the UHF signal waves. In fringe TV reception areas where the UHF TV signals are very weak, the UHF TV signal could easily miss the antenna entirely and go right past it if the antenna is not positioned properly. Moving the antenna even a few feet up/down or left/right could make a huge difference in the quality of the signal that you receive.
To probe for the best signal, you will either need a 7/16" wrench (for most antennas) or a 9/16" wrench (for some Channel Master antennas) to mount the antenna to a 5-10 foot section of mast.
You will also need a length of coax cable between the antenna and the TV that is long enough to allow you to move the antenna around so you can find the location(s) that offer the best reception.
For New Installations:
1. Mount the antenna on a section of mast.
2. Connect the antenna to a color TV with coax cable.
3. While someone else is watching the TV and telling you when the reception gets better or worse, walk around the outside of your house moving the antenna around while keeping the antenna pointed in the direction of the TV stations transmitters that you want to receive until you find the location(s) that offer the best reception.
For Existing Installations:
Although it is highly recommended to "probe" for the best location prior to installing a TV antenna, it is possible to probe for the correct height to receive the best possible signal that it can receive without having to move the entire installation somewhere else. To probe for the strongest signal at your antenna's current location follow these easy steps:
Before you begin, it may be necessary to remove any electrical tape securing the coax cable to the mast so that the antenna may be freely moved up or down along the mast. You may also need to extend the coax cable with a barrel splice connector and another piece of coax cable if the existing cable is not long enough to move the antenna up another 5 feet.
1. Loosen up the U-clamps that hold the antenna to the mast with either a 7/16" or a 9/16" wrench until the antenna is loose enough to raise and lower while next to the mast.
2. Raise and lower the antenna (being careful not to turn the antenna in the process) while someone is watching the picture on the TV. There should be a height where the signal will be strongest and both above and below that point the signal will be weaker.
3. Once you have found the height where the signal is strongest, tighten the U-clamp(s) on the antenna until the antenna will not turn. If there are two U-clamps on the antenna, tighten the U-clamp on the boom brace first, then tighten the U-clamp on the main boom of the antenna. This allows the boom brace to help support the main boom of the antenna.
Notes on Probing:
Keep in mind that the front of the antenna that should point towards the TV stations transmitters is the end that has the shortest elements.
Sometimes the best TV reception is found in a location where it is either impractical or undesireable to install the antenna, such as in the middle of the yard. However, in most situations by probing in or around the area where you would like the antenna to be installed you should be able to find a spot that gives you the best reception.
Not all UHF TV stations will have the best reception at the same height or even in the same location. But if most of the UHF stations that you want to receive have their transmitters in the same general area you will probably be able to locate a spot where the reception from most of the stations will come in good at.
Since not all UHF TV stations will have the best reception at the same height, you may want to probe to check the exact height which gives you the best reception from each of the desired UHF channels, marking their location on the mast with a felt tip marker. Then you can compromise between the stations on exactly how high to install the antenna on the mast.