I want to use an OTA HD antenna...

but I don't know what brand to buy. Also, my CRT doesn't have a tuner, so I need a recommendation on that too.
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A friend educated me to the fact that our local cable providers carry broadcast HD signals on their cable lines, and one can simply connect the cable line to the ANT IN connector on a tuner to get the broadcast HD signals (but obviously not the cable HD signals). Apparently, the cable companies are required by law to carry the broadcast signals, but they don't advertise this for obvious marketing reasons.

So, if you have cable, then you don't require an antenna, but you still need the digital HD tuner.
Check out the review of the Sony XDR-F1HD tuner at theaudiocritic.com. Super HD tuner at $100.
Tab, Federal law provides that "TV" will always be free. You don't have to steal it, as some might suggest. Terestrial reception is very location dependent however. What is your zip?
My point was that if one has cable already installed (and being paid for), then HD broadcast signals can be used from the cable coax (by using a splitter) rather than installing a separate HD antenna. It's free. It's mandated by Fedaral law. It's not stealing provided one is paying for cable service that provides the coax line to the home.

Now, the OP did not specify if he has cable. If not, then this option is moot, but it's helpful for those who do have cable service and only want/need broadcast HD versus a more extensive cable HD package (for ESPN, HBO, etc.).
You can go here TV Fool to see what channels are available in your area . It will give you height and the direction calculations in which your antenna needs to be pointed.

I would try Radio Shack for an HD antenna. The basic one is no more than $30 and it will give you great reception. You can always add an amplifier if needed. If you live in a metropolitan area..chances are an amplifier isn't necessary.

From comparing cable HD verses over the air HD..over the air wins hands down! Not sure why, my best guess is because of the compression used by the cable companies. The over the air channels are uncompressed and it doesn't need miles of copper and line amplifiers to reach your home.

You may want to grab your two free $40 coupons for the digital tuner or tuners. $80 saved.. is $80 saved, no matter how you slice it.
I was gonna say what Gmood said, there is not going to be a better signal than over the air reception, cable is cool for budget reasons but for a bit of cash spent once I would do OTA.
I like the idea of using cable for the broadcast signal, not for the budget consideration, but for the fact I don't have an unsightly antenna in my room, on my TV, on my rack, or on my roof. Plus, I don't have to run an additional wire to my TV.

However, I DO agree that over the air will produce a better picture to some degree.

To each his own.

I have both Dish and Directv on my roof. I think it's a bling thing. This technology has come a long way from the 12 FOOT dish I had 20 years ago... The audio from satelite destroys cable. Picture, by some margin as well. Dish is now doing PPV in 1080p. Your cable company will NEVER come close to this level of performance. The bandwidth simply does not exsist.
Got an attic?
The OP is asking about a broadcast, over-the-air, HD antenna, not about satellite (and frankly not about cable either).

There is no current broadcast 1080p content: 1080i, yes. My profession is network TV production.

OP, no CRTs have 1080p...(some have 1080i).

I have no specific recommendation for an HD antenna, or for an HD tuner, so I'm out of this discussion.

Good luck and happy viewing!
Why did you ever enter? I say again, Dish Network is doing 1080p PPV. Need the 800 #?
Dish PPV is not broadcast content (programming originating from a broadcast network: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox or PBS).

Dish PPV is offering movies and other non-broadcast content in 1080p...see this Dish TV press release regarding 1080p programming.

If you read the full TurboHD channel line-up, you will see there is no network television content listed (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS). Dish offers the opportunity to add local HD network channels, but these will be in 1080i, because no network is yet broadcasting in 1080p (and there is no programming being delivered to the networks in 1080p because the network HD delivery requirements specify 1080i at present), as I explained earlier.

But, all this discussion of Dish PPV and 1080p is moot, because the OP owns a non-1080p CRT television, and he is asking about over-the-air HD antennas, not satellite or cable service.
Gmood1, Tvad and Zieman,

Will the digital tuners replace the need for an OTA antenna? I have both DirecTV and extended basic cable.
I've been contemplating switching to Fiber-Optic(Surewest) since the phone and computor service are with that company. I could purchase two Tivo HD DVR's with Lifetime Service and be ahead of the game. What do you think?
In my area, and depending on ones location, the biggest majority of the populus needs a 'piggy back' ant. (two directional ariels), each pointing in differing directions, as all but one or two station are in the same general area. SE. The other major affiliate is NNW.

Beyond that apparatus, a 'rotor' type antenna + digital tuner would be my pick. The rotor will turn or point the aerial in the exact direction of the broadcasting station via remote control. Usually that device is a small box with controls for memory positioning of most or all the local broadcast towers. Naturally a rotor antenna is a powered motor driven unit, so bare that in mind.

Once set for each station, just punch in the ch. and then switch the tuner to that ch. I'd suspect now or very, very soon, these devices will be all in one units, and not require the double moves of selecting both station direction for the antenna, and the ch on the tuner as well.

Check it out.

Otherwise if all the affiliates are in the same area, only your standard type (unidirectional) antenna would be needed. Then just a proper height and compass will be needed…. Call the local ch in your area and they’ll tell you where they planted their broadcasting towers so you can aim your aerial without the need for another person to yell when the ch is coming in good… although having another about when dialing in the antenna is a good thought in any case.
Your DTV box works in lieu of a digital tuner. The DVRs will do the same. Yes the interactive systems being implemented now are the future, where all services are combined into one system. I would love to try AT&T U-verse, unfortunately it isn't in my area yet!

Does Surewest not offer you a master DVR that can be used with several slaved DVR boxes? That would be the ticket! You do not need any additional tuners for your TVs.

Are you saying that I can connect the antenna to the Tivo directly for OTA HD eventhough it's an older analog version?
Surewest offer's DVR, but I'm used to Tivo and it's mine to keep, not lease. I can also have it hacked without consequence.
No not sure about the DVR..I don't think so. I do know DTV offers a OTA tuner that works in conjunction with your current box(Direct TV DVR or standard unit). It will allow you to integrate the local channels into your current guide and select them without any source switching.

Some of their older tuners have this built in. If you see an antenna in coaxial input on the back of your box..then you can use the current unit and hook up your OTA antenna.

If not they'll send you a slim black OTA tuner to use with your system..albeit at a slight cost.
I just checked DTV Tivo and it has a seperate connection for the antenna(my analog Sony only has one coxial input, but I'm wondering if I can split the signal between OTA and the cable feed).
01-06-09: Tabl10s
Gmood1, Tvad and Zieman,

Will the digital tuners replace the need for an OTA antenna? I have both DirecTV and extended basic cable.

You should be able to take your basic cable feed coax, add a splitter, and from the splitter run coax cable from the splitter to any antenna input on any digital box that decodes HD and get the same broadcast HD programming as you would using an OTA antenna. You would connect the other coax line from your splitter to whichever input you presently connect your cable.

You don't need to have HD cable service, and you don't need an OTA antenna (unless you want one for the purer signal).

It'd be an inexpensive experiment to try the splitter. You might find the picture is satisfactory.

Is this technique of interest to you?

BTW, what brand/model CRT TV are you going to use with the HD?
I'll have two Sony XBR Wega's(a 40" and 36").
Thanks for the TV info. The Sony CRT Wega TVs display 1080i.
The 1080 PPV is upsampled but not a true virgin 1080P signal as with most HD content on Sat and to lesser extent cable the lie is in the details.
I use one of these DB4 Multi Directional HDTV Antenna. Search for it on Amazon. Just this weekend I unhooked my cable and had this antenna in the attic. I had RG6 coax run from the attic to the crawlspace. I ran this to my TV. Good results. I dropped cable Monday morning saving $100 month now. But you need a TV with a digital tuner. Otherwise you need some kind of box. I'm feeling real good right now about the savings. Time Warner raised their price by about 8% starting Jan 1st.
HD is UHF. So, Radio Shack U-75R is perfect, and at $29 it's cheap.

Much better than "high tech" but smaller antennas. I installed it inside my attic, works like a champ, picks up channels from far away, no problems. Run the coax straight into your TV if it has an HD tuner, or your external HD tuner box.
I live in Playa Del Rey just north of the LA airport. I heard a piece on NPR where the guy screwed in his old rabbit ears to his new digital flat screen and was amazed at the digital stations he picked up.

On Monday I hooked up my FM tuner's TERK antenna ($30 anywhere) to my digital capable bedroom TV. It worked like a champ. I got 48 digital stations off the air. Many are hi-def. Lots of stations are already broadcasting a HD signal and one of their digital feeds with a non-HD signal of the same show on another digital feed (Ex: NBC is channel 4. On digital I get HD in Channel 4.1 non HD in channel 4.2 and RAW Tv-- a non edited news feed--on 4.3). What is really cool is the embedded info that shows up in the station ID window. It shows the name of the station, the name of the show and run/play times for the show and a little progress bar that indicates where you are in the broadcast, kind of like playing a You Tube video on computer.

Other stations are broadcasting seperate shows on each seperate feed. Some stations are broadcasting on digital but not sending out content (Ex: Channel 7 is ABC and they have 4 feeds my TV picks up but the screen is just black, yet the menu shows the TV getting a digital signal).

Then, I just screwed in a longish pice of coax. Worked really well on most channels with some digital breakup on a few. I think that in general if you can get your digital tuner TV to simply receive a signal with a cheap antenna the digital aspect will resolve itself. No need for big expensive attic antennas unless you live outside of town.

My TV also picks up basic cable plus all local HD and a few non local (Food Network for example) if I just split my cable signalout of my converter box from the living room.

I can't wait for "the switch." I may be able to dump the whole cable thing and save $100 a month.
My TV also picks up basic cable plus all local HD and a few non local (Food Network for example) if I just split my cable signalout of my converter box from the living room.

Eddaytona (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)
That's exactly what I was describing. Glad it's working for you, and I'm glad you posted so others know it works.
Do bare in mind here when using OTA broadcast reception, as with any other source component, signal integrity is key.

The use of antennas will allow a certain level of signal strength to be realized at your location. The better the receiver, or antenna, the better the strength of signal you will realize.

In this instance of attaining 'SOURCE INFO OFF THE AIR' the more better the receiver/antenna and it's resident installation, the better the signal will be.

An example of this might be, having a $100 CDP as a source on a system valued at $35K.

OR using rabbit ears on a $3K display.

Greater attention to detail in the area of antennas for OTA use is something I'd recommend whole heartedly... as mo' is betta.

Think about it this way... if you like what you are getting with minimal effort or expense thus far, just think how much more improvement lays ahead with a bit more effort in that area? ..and a very good setup won't be enourmously expensive at any rate and likely will run under $500 if a contractor is employed. DIY installs could be less than $200 for the simple hardware. filters, lightening protection, and amps will be a little more of course.

...and your actual geographic location in proximity to the towers, and surrounding edifices or landscape will dictate much of your needs.

the hidden benefit here, if greater attention is paid to the OTA antenna upgrade is accomplished, is for the radio enthusiast. your AM/FM reception will improve dramatically too. In essence, you kill two birds with one stone.
I'm close to downtown and the landscape is pretty flat. Exactly what do I need for an average rooftop installation? THe signal would be split to four TV's.

Each spot for erecting an antenna is different. As is most installations… such as in your case, dumping the signal into 4 sets with very good to excellent reception at each set being the desired result.

NOTE: Deed restricted communities usually do not allow external antennas. Check to make sure.

My bet is that your’s is going to need a signal amp following the antenna as close as possible to it… perhaps in the attic or where ever the coax first enters the house and power can be fouhnd.

First off with antennas the rule of thumb is “big and tall”. The taller and the larger the ant, the better the chance of gaining greater reception. Circumstances and good sense makes most of the choices for us in these regards.

This website will be of immense benefit for location, direction, and possible height of your installation.


it supplies many good tips too as to positioning and so forth.

A few phone calls to the locally aired stations will find out for you, the towers site for each of them. If most or all of them are in the same general compass direction away from you, that’s a good thing. One element with many vanes on it will likely be very suitable.

The Height of the element (arrow like pointy thing) is determined by adjacent structures and distance of the tower sites away from your own residence. A little overkill here is a good thing… not a lot of overkill mind you, but surely some.

Piggy back, (two element) antennas are for pointing towards two general compass directions which do not line up… ex. NE & SE.

If the towers in your area are scattered about and in no specific general area away from your home, a remote controlled, self-powered, rotating single element will be more applicable. This sort I alluded to earlier. It will point directly to the compass direction of the distant tower and allow more focus, and reduce ghosting. The configuration of the element’s vanes also will inhibit collateral vague images from being introduced onto the display.

A little overkill here in selecting the element isn’t a bad thought, given the effort in erecting your antenna… as skimping will only mean having to redo it all over again. … and antenna elements, by and large, aren’t costly. I’d like to recommend one or two but some research on your part in respect to the newer technology here will further improve your situation.

Tip: Call a couple aerial installation contractors and ask what they routinely use or recommend for your particular effort.

Fortify the support for the aerial if strong winds are common in your area too as it takes less to wiggle or move an antenna well up into the air, than one set lower..

Signal amps vary too. Static amps, powered amps, differing amounts of gain, etc. Most get rated in db. Every split, and/or connection in the signal cable line introduces loss. From 1 – 4db… depending upon how well done the splice or splitter being used is done or constructed. Couplings, splitters and connectors all induce loss, and why you’ll want to overcome this overall loss up front by putting the amplifier in front of all these subsequent connections, thereby amplifying as pure a signal immediately as possible.

We all know the advantages of using good amps. Some are gbetter than others and in this case those powered ones are far better. Many have filters in them as well and fine tuning abilities. Some Googling is in order here.

The Length of the overall amount of cable plays into this as well, though not as significantly. Plan out the coax circuit and just figure on -3db for every coupling, connector, or splitter, and you should be in good shape.

Be mindful too of weather proofing exterior connections, and electrical grounding. Another thought here is to consider the use of a grounding transformer placed inline with the coax to inhibit or eliminate a possible ground loop situation. Run the coax well away from any exposed romex in the attic… if there.

It may sound like a lot and quite involved, but it really isn’t. Do your resident research area specific info, buy accordingly, and in one morning or afternoon, you’ll wind up pretty happy when you see the on screen results.

Good luck.,
You could also just mount it in the attic. Get yourself a 4 way amplifier. If you do not have the extra cable down the walls already..wall fish 4 new outlets or have someone else to do it. That is it..you're done.

If you plan to drop cable TV, just tie into your existing outlets that are used for it with the amplifier..even easier.

Your splitter is either on the side of your home or it is in the attic. Being that you have satelite. You may have a diplexer. This takes your cable and satelite combining their signal into the same coax line and the signal is separated behind the tv with another diplexer.

There are several ways to do this..it just depends on your setup and what you are willing to do.
I have a powered Samsung Axession powered inside antenna that looks like a small star ship Enterprise.
It cost about a $100 bucks and brings in everything great!
Actually better than my outside antenna. I have each antenna pointing in opposite directions with a simple A/B switcher.

I live out in the cornfields about 40 miles from Detroit and about the same miles from Toledo.

The OTA pictures is much better than the cable signal. Only way I will watch sports.
However, watching the Lions in such high def was really painful.

Ozzy- Being from CT (Orlovsky's home), I feel your pain!
I'm suprized Millen wasn't shot following his 3rd draft. Things should improve now though... they sure can't get any worse.

inside attic can work too... I forgot about them. RWV.
Its hard to believe that Wayne Fontes is actually fondly remembered.
Perhaps they can bring Barry Sanders out of retirement.
Would Mr. Ford care for a Gruden & Allen duet?

They can be had... they've been had for most of the past six seasons.
I used to have a Channel Master with AMP back in the day before Cable & Satelite broadcasted the local channels in HD; best HD picture I have seen was with my OTA antenna. Blew away both cable and Direct TV. It's in storage now as the locals are now included and live in an HOA - too many antennas up there already. With the new MPEG 4 with direct TV, picture appears almost as good as the OTA (assuming I remember correctly).
I have a standard definition DISH network DVR on my Panasonic Plasma. The channels I watch most are not HD, so can't justify paying to change the DISH and receiver and paying more per month! I would like to also have over the air HD local channels by using an antenna. Can I just plug the coax from a roof antenna into the back of the TV and use a difference source (TV 2) or do I need to do something else? I see talk of amplifiers and splitters and other stuff. What do I need to do exactly? I am about 20 miles from town.
Your TV needs an HD decoder for the cable coax/splitter technique to work.

If your Panasonic Plasma has a built in HD decoder, then try connecting your DISH coax feed directly into a different source input on your TV and see what happens.

If it works, then you can use the coax/splitter technique for your TV.
Lefty, yes you have the right idea. Your plasma most likely has a second coax input and HD ready. Unless it is a monitor and not a television per say.

You can buy a self powered antenna if you so choose. Or you can add a inline amplifier if necessary. 20 miles out isn't that far. Use the link I gave above to see how many channels are available in your area. You could in the future add additional antennas to the first one and have them to piggy back one another facing different directions in order to maximize your reception.

OTA digital is very directional..so your antenna must be pointed in the direction of where the signal originates to get the best signal strength.

You should be able to find a pole at Lowes or Home Depot. You could easily mount the pole in the attic using claps to your beams. Or in some cases you can get away with using an existing dish pole if the circumference of the pole is small enough.

Get an antenna that is made to be piggy backed. Radio shack carries one that does this for around $30. You'll need a pole of some sort. The antenna has claps for mounting to a small pole.

If you plan to use it with more than one or two TVs..I would get an inline amplifier/splitter or a self powered antenna/splitter.
I looked in my manual, and on the back of the TV. I have DISH connected through S-Video and composite plugs, and I do have an available Antenna-in co-ax connection. The manual has the external antenna connected to the cable box or the DVD, not directly to the TV. Do I need to do that, or can I run it directly into the Antenna-in on the TV? Do the roof mount antennas work a lot better than the table top ones I see for sale? For 20 miles, do I need an amplifier? Do I get all this at Radio Shack?
The manual has the external antenna connected to the
cable box or the DVD, not directly to the TV. Do I need to do
I don't believe so, no.

...or can I run it directly into the Antenna-in on the
Yes, you should be able to do that.

Why not first try the coax-direct method before you take the next step of
researching and buying an antenna, amplifier, and whatever else is

Shouldn't take more than five minutes to disconnect the coax cable from your
DISH box and reconnect the coax to your TVs antenna-in. If it works you're
golden, and all you need is a splitter and some additional coax cable. If it
doesn't work, then on to the antenna plan.
The table top models work well for some . It will not do as well as a roof or attic mounted antenna. Radio shack will have most of what you need. Walmart sells the table top versions fairly cheap. Try it without the amplifier first. You may not need it. You can get coax from Home depot reasonably.
Gmood1 - You stated that OTA HD is uncompressed. It is always compressed to fit into standard 6MHz bandwidth but cable companies compress it even more to save on cable bandwidth.

Same is for directionality - it is as directional as antenna is at given channel and being analog or digital has nothing to do with it.

Also sombody mentioned HD Antenna. There is no HD Antennas - they just call them HD or DIGITAL to promote sale. Frequencies are the same (VHF/UHF)and bandwidth is the same (6MHz). I got HDTV in 2001 and started using it with existing cheap antenna (15 year old Radio Shack) with good results.

I use now Winegard HD-7084P 68 element 131" long antenna (VHF/UHF). Directionality is pretty poor as stated by Winegard and tested by me on the roof. I live about 30 miles from transmitter. For example - beam width at half power is 69deg at channel 2 and 41deg at channel 32.
Actually I stated I wasn't sure if compression was the cause for the difference I see compared to cable . It probably has more to do with the miles of copper and equipment used by cable companies.
Yes this is true..UHF..is used for digital transmission. As far as directional goes, the analog channels are much easier to receive here without the extra fine tuning needed for the HD channels ..of course they don't look nearly as good either.

Thanks for the in depth explanation.
I'm too lazy to read all the posts, so this has probably already been mentioned, but any UHF/VHF antenna will pick up the new digital signals. You don't need to buy a gimmicky HD antenna. Of course, you'll need the converter box, or a new TV with a HD tuner.

For the past 3 or 4 years, we've been watching HD programming exclusively for free thanks to our standard roof antenna ($75-100 at any TV store), and our HD Sony CRT TV. Unlike cable, the signal is always crystal.

(TIVO plug) Instead of spending money on cable we also invested in a HD Tivo and we record the shows we want to watch or stream/download movies/programming. Other than ESPN and Discovery, we're not missing much.