Digital TV Antenna Troubleshooting Guide & Tips

Digital TV Antenna Troubleshooting Guide & How To Tips

Digital TV antennas are specifically designed for use with a TV to receive over-the-air broadcast TV signals from a television station. They come as indoor antennas which are to be located on top or next to the TV set and outdoor antennas, which are mounted outside the house. Troubleshooting issues with your antenna can quickly help resolve any problem that you could be experiencing and enable you to continue enjoying free over-the-air channels. The following is a guide on how to go about some of the most common problems and excellent tips to make your viewing enjoyable and “fulfilling”.

Why is My Antenna Not Picking up Channels?

If your antenna is not picking up channels, it may be due to several reasons. Most likely, it is because of poor reception. Follow the procedure below to troubleshoot and fix the issue:

  1. Ensure the antenna is in good condition and securely connected to the cable/Antenna or VHF/UHF input on the TV.
  2. Ensure the TV has been set to Antenna or Cable: Off in the menu.
  3. If you have connected a VCR to the TV, turn off the VCR.
  4. If your TV does not support High Definition (HDTV), you need an HDTV receiver to receive a TV signal.
  5. If you are using signal splitters to send the signal to multiple TVs throughout your home, then the signal may be too degraded to provide good enough reception.
  6. The coaxial cable from the antenna to the tuner could be too long. As much as 1/3 of the signal can be lost when cable lengths reach over 100 feet. If you need a long cable or are using a splitter, you may need a preamplifier.
  7. Try adjusting the position of the antenna.
  8. Though rarely, a faulty digital tuner could be the problem. To confirm, you could try installing the antenna and cable on another TV to see if the antenna picks up channels.

Poor reception can also be caused by the following factors:

  • Distance from the broadcast tower.
  • Strength of the signal being broadcast.
  • Adverse weather conditions.
  • The size and quality of the antenna
  • Any buildings or hills between the broadcast tower and the antenna.

Why Does My Digital TV Keep Losing Signal?

A digital TV with cable will often lose signal when the coaxial F connector or cable is broken. Other possible causes for frequent lose of signal include:

  • A faulty antenna
  • Faulty amplifier
  • Antenna is incorrectly aligned or obstructed
  • Out of range broadcasting towers

Also, there may not be enough signal strength. The TV signal at the receiving end should be a strength 50 dB at least, no less than 45 dB. Try to find what is causing the signal to be weak and improve it using passive techniques like replacing cables and aligning among other things. If that doesn’t fix the issue, then you can consider installing an amplifier.

Also, the issue may be caused by too much signal. TVs and TV equipment all have a maximum threshold of signal which they can handle. In a domestic environment, the receiving signal at the receiving end should not be above 80dB, ideally no more that 77Db. To fix this, first you should aim to remove any unnecessary amplification as this could be what is causing the signal to over-load.

Why Am I Receiving All Channels Except One?

The type of antenna being used and how far away a particular station is can affect the type of reception you will receive; the reception of certain stations may be better than others. Determine which stations are available in your location and make sure you are using the recommended type of antenna.

The station could be broadcasting on a different frequency. While most TV stations transmit on the UHF frequency, there are some that use VHF. Although some UHF antennas can pick up VHF signals, you need to use an antenna optimized to receive both UHF and VHF frequencies.

Another possible cause for this issue is the transmitter of the missing channel is located at a lower elevation on the broadcast tower, or even behind other broadcast towers. Obstruction by other towers or lower elevation can cause line-of-sight problems. UHF signals are dependent on line-of-sight for consistent reception. Try changing the antenna location or elevation to see if the issue persists.

You can also try the following troubleshooting steps to fix the issue:

  1. Depending on your TV model, select Cable: Off or Antenna in the TV menu to receive over-the-air broadcasts.
  2. Make sure the antenna is firmly connected to the VHF/UHF coaxial jack on the back of the TV.
  3. Auto program the TV.
  4. After the auto program is complete, tune to the TV station you want to watch.
  5. If necessary, adjust the antenna to improve the reception.

How to Improve Digital TV Antenna Reception

To improve your TV antenna reception, try these tips:

  • Make sure there is a clear line of sight to the broadcast towers. If hills, trees, buildings or other geographical features are in between the broadcast towers and your antenna, the signals might not be able to reach your antenna. Try elevating the antenna, either by placing it in a higher location or using a taller mast.
  • Regularly check the coaxial cable for corrosion, loose cable fittings, or if the cable has been compromised.
  •  If using a splitter, this could also weaken signal strength. Try disconnecting the splitter and running the cable directly into the TV/converter box and run a channel scan.
  • Make sure the coaxial cable from the antenna to the tuner is not too long. When the cable is over 100 feet in length, as much as 1/3 of the signal strength can be lost. Install a preamplifier if you need to use a long cable or are using a splitter.
  • Make sure your antenna is within range of the broadcast towers in your area. If you are over 70 miles from the broadcast tower(s), use appropriate equipment and make sure the conditions are appropriate for a good reception.

Are Indoor Digital TV Antennas Worth It?

Indoor antennas tend to come in two varieties, mini replicas of outdoor areas and wire loops. They are best suited for areas with strong or very strong signals. While some of the signal strength can be lost when using indoor antennas, if you get a good quality indoor antenna and install properly at a suitable position, you should have good reception.

An indoor antenna has several advantages:

  • It allows you to view as many free over-the-air broadcast channels as you can. This saves the money you would have paid for cable.
  • With an indoor digital TV antenna, you can continue watching your favorite channels even when satellite signals or cable is weak or unavailable. It can be useful in areas where there is a common occurrence of cyclones and other natural calamities.
  •  Since it is installed indoors, this type of antenna lasts longer than a standard outdoor antenna which is often exposed to harsh conditions.
  • Indoor TV antennas cost less than standard outdoor antennas

What Type of Cable Should I Use for Digital TV Antenna?

You need a coaxial cable to connect your antenna to the TV. This is an electrical cable which transmits radio frequency (RF) signals from one point to another.

There are different types of coaxial cable, which vary in thickness and impedance. The cable thickness or gauge is measured by the radio guide measurement or RG number. The higher the RG number, the thinner the central conductor core.

The common types of coaxial cable are:

  1. RF coaxial cables- These are used to carry radio frequency signals. They are the standard input cable on TVs and feature a single pin which plugs into the RF input on the device.
  2. RG-6 cables- These have larger conductors, so they provide better signal quality.
  3. RG-59 cables- These are similar to RG-6 cables, but have a thinner center conductor.
  4. RG-11 cables- These are thicker than any other types of coaxial cable.

Coaxial cable designed for domestic television should be 75 ohm (impedance), with RG-6 cable being ideal for TV.

 The best coaxial cable for HDTV is RG-11. It offers a higher gauge than others, which provides more space for signals to transfer and thus making it suitable at transferring strong HD signals at speed.

The most common types of coaxial cable for video are RG-59 and RG-6. While the RG-59 is the industry standard cable, the RG-6 is better for digital video signals.

Thus, the best cable to use for your digital TV antenna is the RG-6 cable.

How Long Should a Digital TV Antenna Cable Be?

Cable length can have a negative impact on TV signal. Nevertheless, the answer to this question will depend on a number of things. There are several factors that affect how far you can send a TV signal down a coax cable. This includes cable quality, size of the center conductor, frequency, and whether amplification will be introduced or not.

When it comes to signal loss over longer cable lengths, the basic rule of thumb is that a 50-foot cable can experience noticeable signal loss, and a 100-foot cable can drop as much a one-third of the original signal.

My TV Says No Signal but the Antenna is Plugged In

If the TV says no signal your television may not be set to the correct source or input. If you are not sure what the correct TV input should be, check the manufacturer’s manual that came your TV or on the support website on the internet.

Check your antenna connections to make sure they are all working fine. The coax cable could be faulty or is corroded so check it as well if the problem is not resolved. It is a good idea to check the connections between coaxial cables and the equipment. Replace anything that is broken or worn or appears to be poorly fitting. If the antenna is connected to tuner, also check the connections and any signs of fault or damage as well.

If the problem does not seem to be indoors, also inspect the antenna itself. If you have had bad weather recently, or the antenna is aging, you may need to ensure it is still mounted securely.

How Can I Test My Antenna Signal Strength?

TV antenna strength is measured in noise margin in decibels NM(db), or power ratio in decibels Pwr(dBm). The first measurement tells how “clean” the signal is while the second measurement gives the actual signal strength.

To test your antenna signal strength you will need to purchase an antenna signal strength meter and a compass if you do not have one. They are available on Amazon.

Then follow these steps:

  1. Disconnect the antenna cable from your TV or tuner. The idea here is to install your antenna signal meter in-line between your antenna and TV. This will allow your antenna signal to pass through the meter so that you can find the optimal direction for your antenna for a given channel.
  2. Attach the antenna’s “F” connector to the socket on your antenna signal meter marked “Antenna”.
  3. Connect your TV to the socket on your antenna signal meter marked “TV”.
  4. Turn ON your antenna signal meter, and tune in the lowest broadcast channel for your area.
  5. Now, slowly rotate your antenna 360 degrees and stop at the highest antenna signal strength. This is usually indicated by LEDs on the signal strength meter. The more the LEDs illuminated, the higher the incoming signal strength.
  6. Use a compass to read the direction of the highest antenna signal and record the result.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 for each channel.
  8. Use your compass readings to calculate the average optimal signal strength if you don’t have a rotor and point your antenna in that direction. If you have a rotor, create a list of optimal directions for each channel next to your rotor control box so you can turn your antenna in that direction when tuning in to that particular channel.

Check this too: JVC TV Troubleshooting & How to Guide

What Will Make Antenna Signal Strength Weaker?

There are various factors that can make your TV antenna signal weaker:

  • Hills, trees, and tall buildings in the line of sight from your antenna to the source of radio transmission signals (broadcast towers).
  • Atmospheric pressure systems can shift radio signals, and severe weather conditions can cause fluctuations in broadcasts.
  • Insufficiently shielded cabling and wiring, some types of LED lighting systems, or faulty equipment like amplifiers.
  • If you are using signal splitters to send the signal to multiple TVs throughout your home, then the signal may be too degraded to provide good enough reception.
  • Urban electrical interference such as local street lumps turning on or off can momentarily disrupt viewing.
  • Distance from the broadcast tower.
  • Strength of the signal being broadcast. If the signal form the broadcast tower is weak then ultimately you will have poor antenna reception.
  • The size and quality of the antenna.