Erecting a TV Antenna


If you have been told that you may not erect a small outdoor TV antenna, that is probably wrong.  The Telecommunications Act of 1996 has a provision that preempts (overrules) nearly all local restrictions such as deed restrictions, home-owners association rules, renters contracts, and so on.  For more details see FCC Fact Sheet.


Late news:  Note that now is not a good time to buy a Yagi antenna.  Present Yagi antennas are optimized for channel 69.  But in the U.S.  51 is now the highest channel, and a new generation of Yagi antennas cut for channel 51 will be the most desirable.  For the next few years Yagi buyers must pay close attention to the frequency specs.


Many people live in areas where TV signals are strong.  Even if these people know nothing about selecting or installing an antenna, they will probably succeed anyway.  This website is written mainly for people in areas where reception is nontrivial to very difficult.  A trip to the website www.antennaweb.org will tell you quickly into which group you fall.  If your must-have stations are in the yellow or olive-green range then there is not much reason to study anything.  (But if your present antenna is disappointing then read on.)


If you are not a do-it-yourself type, you can find an installer in the Yellow Pages under “Antennas” (or possibly “Televisions – Dealers & Services”).  The total cost (parts and labor) will range from $100 for an easy install to $800 for a difficult install, with $300 being the most typical bill.  If you do it yourself, you will pay almost $200 just for the hardware.  (Antenna: $70, amplifier: $70, 50 feet of RG-6: $30)  You might be able to get some free advice or a free rough estimate over the phone or by visiting the installer’s shop.  If he comes to your home, the estimate will not be free but it will be accurate.


There is a chance that the first antenna you install will not meet your expectations.  Once an outdoor antenna has been installed, the seller will rarely take it back.  Even Radio Shack will not take back an installed outdoor antenna.  The cost of a second antenna might wipe out any savings you hoped for by doing it yourself.  An installer will never charge you for two antennas if he is wrong on the first try.  Generally, indoor antennas can be returned if in the original packaging.


Proceed at your own risk:

·         Every year people get killed while erecting antennas.

·         There are places within the station’s broadcast radius where reception is not possible.

·         There are places where reception is so difficult that the challenge might outwit the installer.

·         Although the dollar cost of an antenna system is modest, a lot of your time might be required.


The author will not accept responsibility for any unexpected losses.


The following antenna sections, like the rest of the primer, assume only a high school education.  But you will find them to be slightly more technically challenging.


Antenna Issues:


Antenna Projects  --  For Do-It-Yourselfers in very weak signal areas



Encyclopedia of TV Antenna Terms and Topics

(including satellite dishes)



Adjacent channel interference


Antenna amplifiers

Antenna aperture (capture area)



Attic antennas

Az-el dish mounts


Balun wire positioning


Beam width

BNC connector

Bowtie antenna (Fan dipole)

Broadside antennas  (see Stacked antennas)

CATV/MATV  (Community Antenna TV, Municipal Antenna TV)

Capacitance hat

Characteristic impedance  (see Impedance)

Circular polarization  (see Polarization)

Coaxial cable

Co-channel interference

Collinear antennas  (see Stacked antennas)

Combiners  (see Splitters/Combiners/Diplexers)

Combo antennas (for VHF and UHF)

Connector types

Corner reflector  (see Reflector antenna

DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellites)

DC Block


Diffraction (The bending of radio waves)

Diplexer  (see Splitters/Combiners/Diplexers)

Dipole antenna


Director  (see Yagi antennas)

Dish antennas

Disk antennas  (see omni-directional antenna)

Distribution amplifier  (see Antenna amplifiers)

Driven elements  (see Yagi antennas)

Dropouts (weak signals)

DSS (DBS Subscription Service)  (see DBS)


EMI (Electromagnetic Interference)  (see Interference)

F/B (Front to Back Ratio)



FCC data base, accessing

Field strength meters

FM receiving antennas

FM Trap  (see Overload)

Folded dipole

Fringe area reception


Gamma match

Ganged antennas  (see Stacked antennas)

Ghosts  (see Multi-path interference)

Ground plane antennas  (see Vertical antennas)

Guy wires

HDTV antennas


Inductors (coils and transformers)

Indoor antennas

In-line amplifier



Isotropic antenna



Kilowatt  (see Watt)

Lightning arrestor

Log-Periodic antenna (Log Periodic Dipole Array, LPDA)

LPVA (Log-Periodic V-Array)  (see Log-Periodic antenna)

Log-Yag antenna

Long-wire antenna

Loop antenna

LNB (Low Noise Block-converter), LNBF


Matching transformer  (see balun)

Mismatch between antenna and feedline

Multi-path interference

Multi-switches for DBS systems

Noise/Noise figure/Noise factor

Nulls in radiation pattern

Omni-directional antenna


Painting an antenna

Parabolic antenna  (see Reflector antenna)

Parabolic dish antenna  (see Dish antennas)

Parasitic elements



Power Injector  (see antenna amplifiers)

Preamplifier  (see antenna amplifiers)

Radiation pattern

Reflector antenna

RFI (Radio Frequency Interference)  (see interference)

Rotors (antenna rotators, motorized antenna aimers)

Servo motor

Single channel Yagi

S/N (Signal to Noise Ratio)


Stacked antennas

Standing waves, SWR

Stores and websites supplying antenna equipment

Terminators for 75-ohm lines

Tilt angle

Transmission lines

Trees as obstructions


Twin-lead transmission line (ribbon cable)


Velocity factor

Vertical antennas


Watt, Kilowatt, Megawatt


Yagi antenna

Yagi/Corner-reflector antenna

2-Bay antenna

4-Bay antenna


8-Bay antenna







This page is part of “An HDTV Primer”, which starts at    www.hdtvprimer.com