Quest For A Good Antenna

An integral part of my Home Theater PC build is the antenna, and when I first wrote about the hardware, I wasn’t even aware how complicated things would become in this area. The RCA ANT1251, which is little more than a pair of glorified rabbit ears, did not perform well at all in my house. I quickly abandoned it for the Terk HDTVa, which I found delivered a decent signal from my attic, and I was satisfied for several weeks.

That was until things started to heat up. Around the end of April, as the days started to get longer and hotter, the temperature in my attic apparently exceeded the operating range of the Terk unit, and the signal became severely degraded on virtually all channels. So it was time to begin searching for a better alternative.

During my initial research, I had turned up an instructional video on YouTube for making your own HD antenna out of coat hangers. So I figured why not? I’d give it a shot. I had all of the materials available, so it wouldn’t cost me anything. The final product performed very well for what was — a free antenna made of coat hangers — but it wasn’t consistent enough for my liking, even after some modifications suggested by other sites around the ‘net, and it also could not pull in one very essential channel: PBS. If you have young kids, you surely know what I mean.

Back to the drawing board. I briefly considered alternate DIY designs, with more sophisticated materials, but I was tired of experimenting at this point, and I just wanted something that worked. So it was time to splurge on the Cadillac of over-the-air antennas, the Channel Master 4228. I even ordered a Winegard Pre-Amplifier, to counteract the signal loss of the fifty foot run of cable from the attic, and the splitter I am using to feed multiple TVs. This seems to be the winning combination for my configuration, although I’ve only been using it a few days, so we’ll see if the late summer heat has any further detrimental effects.

If this doesn’t work, the only step left is a rooftop installation, which I am hoping to avoid — not only for the expense, but the external appearance. However, if that is the only way to get a decent digital signal, I suppose it’s worth it. Anything is better than going back to cable or satellite.

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