Digital TV Antenna install

Posted: June 19, 2013 in Information

This post is off-topic for computer related stuff, but it was an interesting lesson all the same.

During the restoration of our roof, the old analogue TV antenna had to come down. The crappy cable and splitter box attached to it didn’t survive the dismount, and as a result I figured it would be about time to get a new antenna and cabling put in. We’d always had problems with the reception being interupted when certain lights or appliances were turned on/off, and I knew the cabling had some dodgy splicing in the roof already.

I did some looking around at pricing the bits and pieces and was just going to do it myself, but decided to call one of the professional companies to compare what their prices were like. I had figured it would cost me about $240 in parts (including buying a proper crimping tool). The price I got from the antenna guy was $475. At that point doing it myself seemed like the way to go. I was just going to use the existing cable to “pull” the new one anyway, so no major dramas there. Just trying to figure out the right type of cable, the right connectors etc was trickier than I thought.

The day after the antenna guy gave me a quote, I got a TXT from their head office saying they had a great special on and could do it for $420. Thanks, but no thanks, still too expensive. Another day, and another TXT… $380. Hmm. Getting better.

So, I asked, how about $350 and you put in a 4-way splitter as well (for future points I’ve got planned)… a few minutes later… agreed.

The dude showed up this morning, did a great job with remounting the new antenna (it’s *tiny* compared to the old thing, smaller than the one I had planned to buy), pulled the cable and crimped everything the way it should be. Once all connected up the TV is reporting 99% on both signal strength and quality on all channels. Awesome!

“Only one small issue” he said… the signal strength is too high (about 90dB), it would never have occured to me that “too high” could be a problem. Apparently though if the signal is too strong it will cause the digital signal to break up in the same way as a weak signal, so if you are seeing a high signal strength, but low quality, that might be why!

The fix is easy though, he just put a couple of attenuators on the cable to drop it by 20dB (plus another 8dB from the splitter). The advantages of having the little test boxes they carry that can measure signal strength and quality properly.

I related this story to a guy here at work and he had a similar experience. He had crap reception and put a masthead amplifier on thinking that would fix it. When he had a house reno done he had someone come check it out and his problem was the same. Signal too strong. When he had put the amplifier on, he actually made it worse.

The wrap-up from this story is that:

  1. Getting a DIGITAL antenna to replace that ancient old analogue one is well worth it
  2.  Getting it installed by a professional is worth it
  3. Don’t be afraid to haggle them down on price!

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