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How to Aim Outdoor TV Antenna

How to Aim Outdoor TV Antenna

Updated On June 29, 2021

Antennas are naturally engineered to receive, receive, and transmit signals from different directions. However, it does give them a significant boost if placed in an optimum position and aimed in a specific direction.

Knowing how to correctly aim an outdoor TV antenna will ensure good performance, less interference, and static. At the time of installation, antennas, especially those which are used for television reception, need to be aimed, pointed, or oriented towards a television transmitter, if you want the best signals. Since antennas follow a polar diagram or directional pattern, the direction can significantly improve connectivity. 

You may want to check first the best article guide here for the best TV outdoor antenna for rural areas.
signal strength meter

Ways Of Aiming An Antenna

Visual Alignment

This is one of the foremost and easiest methods to try for aiming an outdoor TV antenna. Simply try to point it in the direction of the television transmitter mast while dealing with the TV antenna.

It is often possible to aim the antenna with the other similar antennas and would only work if the TV transmitter masts are visible. However, the results of these are strictly dependent on the signal strengths of different homes as they tend to vary from one to another. The aim that works for one may not work for another house. (1)

Signal Strength Meter

There are quite a few cheap single options available in the market that can be used. Signal strength meters or alignment meters are easy to figure out and can help you in aiming the antenna if you have access to the cable connected to the meter.

The workings of a TV antenna are quite basic and only measures the strength of the signals across a TV band. A signal strength meter picks up simple analog RF signals and signals the same through a set of blinking LEDs. This will allow you to aim the antenna wherever the signal is the strongest. However, be careful since due to the simplicity of the device, they can also pick up interference due to their wide band and potentially give off a false reading. But, if you know your area well and with a bit of intuition, chances are the process will be done right. 

You may want to check this learning guide on how to get better TV reception with outdoor antenna.
satellite antenna

Smartphone App

There have been many apps that help you locate the strongest signal strength, thereby helping you in aiming your TV antenna. Android and iOS both contain a good variety. Usually, they will display a list of different television sets that are set up with transmitting antennas with their exact location listed; the app will then use this data and the phone’s orientation capabilities for proving the orientation or direction for the various transmitters. After scanning, a list of close and probable locations will be displayed that will have the strongest signals for you to aim the antenna that way. (2)

However, this method could be a little hit or miss, especially since the television transmitter mast cannot be seen. Due to this, the signal could bounce off the hills, buildings, or other interfering things. Try a couple of options and narrow down the options as per your knowledge of the area and choosing the direction, which seems to be recurring. 
signal satellite

Things To Keep In Mind

  • If you live in an area that is some distance away from a cluster of broadcast towers, you should consider buying a unidirectional antenna and install it in that direction. The arrangement will work very well, considering these antennas are quite powerful and built to pick up signals from one direction. They are able to chomp down on interference quite effectively.
  • Usually, in many places, one broadcast tower will be up west, another up south, and so on. Omnidirectional antennas will be the best choice here. While they are less powerful, they are built to pick up signals from every direction. 
  • Some advanced televisions may come with internal signal meters to help you locate the strongest signal aim, but they might not be that reliable. People have often reported experiencing difficulties and false readings. If you also face such troubles, then it is wise to go with an external antenna alignment meter. It will help you aim the antenna as well as figure out if there have been any changes to signal strength as well.
  • Markets are replete with different types of antenna cables. Since signals travel through the cables, it is always better to buy good quality ones so as to minimize signal loss. 
  • The aim is definitely important, but the placement of a TV antenna is just as crucial. Local terrain, surrounding interference, trees have to be taken into account before deciding on aim. Even if you know how to aim the antenna, it would not matter if there are a lot of obstacles in the path. 

Another useful learning guide that you can check on what direction to point outdoor TV antenna.

Final Words

You are now well-equipped for aiming your outdoor TV antenna. In case there is a spotty connection, don’t forget to adjust your antenna again, as there can be many changes in the landscape that may warrant a change. 
References
(1) Visual Alignment - https://balsamiq.com/learn/articles/visual-hierarchy-and-alignment/
(2) Android and iOS - https://www.pcmag.com/comparisons/android-vs-ios-which-mobile-os-is-best

About the author 

John Temple


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