Can I wire and old TV antenna to a smart TV?

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Old 11-04-19, 05:33 PM
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Can I wire and old TV antenna to a smart TV?

Can I wire and old Outdoor TV antenna to a smart TV? So that's it in a nut shell. I have an old TV antenna that I was hoping could give me a bit better FM reception and perhaps some local TV station versus what apps give me. I do understand that the gauge of the wire is crucial. Or so I was once told. What about grounding? I have a few rolls of assorted alternate copper cable that I was hoping to use. As soon as I sort out the gauges I will post them. I already tried one of those cheap Antennas direct (HDTV Amplified indoor) they are selling claiming to be great TV antennas Ha had no luck with them!
Any help would help Thanks
 
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11-05-19, 12:13 PM
Fred_C_Dobbs
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I got tired of my satellite TV provider's ceaseless rate increases so I went back to over-the-air (OTA) TV. I live about 30 miles from a mid-sized metropolitan area and my house had had the same TV antenna since about 1980. I was able to get low 20s (twenty-something) HD channels with it and all that were supposed to be HD came in as HD.

So the short answer is , yes, it will work.

However, I wasn't getting a couple of channels that were important to me and I had reason to believe I would be able to receive them with an antenna that was better suited to my specific situation. HD TV still broadcasts an analog signal but it carries so much more data than pre-HD TV did that it makes antenna selection more important and makes antennas more direction-sensitive. In other words, the antenna needs to be aimed more precisely at the intended HD transmitter tower to get optimal reception. But aiming the antenna precisely at one tower will tend to move it away from all others so aiming will always be something of a compromise. What I did was to aim my antenna at the one tower that was most important to me but that had marginal reception when it was aimed more or less at the center of a cluster of antennas. Despite the compromise I still get more than twice as many channels with the older, larger antenna.

HD makes antenna selection more critical so I did some research and bought a new antenna based on my specific needs. What I bought happened to be a very similar design to the old antenna but has no end of small details that were different. And it was smaller overall by about a third than the old antenna. But despite the smaller size, it pulls in more than twice as many channels, 54 versus low 20s. And it only cost about $40.

Another important point about HD is that the "virtual channel," meaning the number to set your dial to in order to receive a particular station, does not necessarily match the channel it's being broadcast on. In fact it probably doesn't. In other words the station you receive on Channel 8 might be being broadcast on Channel 27. Pre-HD it was the frequency of the signal that told your TV what channel it was on but the HD transmission carries a coded signal that tells the TV's receiver what it's "virtual" channel is, independent of the broadcast channel. And that's how broadcast Channel 27 can appear as Channel 8 on your TV.

This happened for two reasons. First, there was a period when stations were transitioning to HD during which they broadcast in both analog and HD, so the HD transmission had to be on a broadcast different channel from the analog channel. Yet the HD signal was coded to tell your TV that it was on the same channel as they were broadcasting analog on so it would be the name number on your TV dial, despite the difference in broadcast channels, regardless whether the TV was HD-capable. And once the change-over was complete they didn't bother to spend the money to change their broadcast channel to match their virtual channel.

Second, some old stations that were on VHF before the change-over wanted to move to UHF (or the other way around) and in either case they wanted the channel you selected on your TV dial to be the same as it was before the change-over.

That might sound like gobblety-gook but it's important to know if you're troubleshooting reception problems, or if you're researching buying a new antenna because what you think is Channel 8 might actually be being broadcast on UHF, not the VHF that you would expect from Channel 8. The specs for any specific antenna will tell you not only whether it's been engineered to receive VHF and/or UHF but also Low VHF and/or High VHF. Low VHF is channels 2-6 and high is 7-13.

If the particular station has a Wikipedia page, it will tell you what their virtual and broadcast channels are. If the station doesn't have a Wikipedia page, follow the link to my more extensive post on the subject and you'll find links to online resources not only for virtual-vs-broadcast channel but also reviews of prospective antennas from actual users, how to determine which stations are theoretically possible for you to pick up, and what compass heading to point your antenna to (based on your street address) for optimum reception from a particular transmission tower.
 
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Old 11-04-19, 08:15 PM
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Yes.

The old VHF "rabbit ear" antennas work quite well for digital over the air (OTA) television signals. The little "bow tie" clip on for UHF also work, but not as well.

There IS one significant change, the DIGITAL signals are VERY persnickety about pointing. You want to have the antenna aligned to the signals, and you want to avoid anything that might block a signal.

Example, I have an antenna in the peak of the unfinished attic, however the 2' x 2' brick chimney cast a "radio shadow" where on station was blocked out. Move the antenna 2' either direction, the signal was clear and steady.

Similar issue situation with a 30' tall blue spruce tree on the front lawn; the trunk would block reception if it was directly between the broadcast tower and the antenna.
 
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Old 11-05-19, 03:33 AM
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If your old antenna has flat ribbon wire you would need to use an impedance matching adapter that would change the ribbon cable to a coax connection.
They are only a couple of dollars in cost.
 
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Old 11-05-19, 06:00 AM
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Yes.

The vast majority of U.S. commercial TV stations are picked up best using the UHF components of the antenna even though the big number in their station ID or station logo is between 2 and 13. That would be the small fins, mostly less than 6 inches long, Often there are two cables coming down from a combination UHF/VHF roof antenna, one for VHF, one for UHF. Try the UHF one first.

For FM radio you use the VHF cable coming down from the antenna. If there are two cables coming down from the antenna you might as well continue them as two separate cables to the FM stereo and to the TV set respectively . They do make adapters to combine incoming UHF and VHF antenna cables into one cable or split one cable with both UHF and VHF content into separate TV (UHF) and FM (VHF) cables. Using adapters for the sole purpose of running one cable instead of two has the disadvantage of some signal loss within each adapter.

When getting started and conducting tests, bring a (small is okay) TV out to the antenna and power it using an extension cord. Run the/an antenna cable direct with no splitters for multiple TV sets.

The so called HDTV antenna has just a UHF portion, otherwise it is the same thing as an old fashioned antenna. Given the persnickety behavior of todays digital TV broadcasts, if the same "old fashioned" UHF antenna is repackaged as an HDTV antenna, its advertised range in miles should be about 2/3 of what it was originally advertised as.

You can get antenna boosters (amplifiers) that connect in-line between a roof antenna and the TV. In most cases there should not be more than one booster amp between the antenna and any one TV.

Those miracle indoor TV antennas are "small" because you don't need the two foot to three foot bars to pick up the majority of stations today, operating on UHF frequencies. But a good roof antenna (together with a booster amp sold separately and equal to that if any inside the miracle antenna) will perform better.

Sometimes an old roof antenna may have corrosion in riveted parts and connections resulting in unpredictable performance in which case all bets are off comparing it with alternatives mentioned above.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 11-05-19 at 06:37 AM.
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Old 11-05-19, 12:13 PM
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I got tired of my satellite TV provider's ceaseless rate increases so I went back to over-the-air (OTA) TV. I live about 30 miles from a mid-sized metropolitan area and my house had had the same TV antenna since about 1980. I was able to get low 20s (twenty-something) HD channels with it and all that were supposed to be HD came in as HD.

So the short answer is , yes, it will work.

However, I wasn't getting a couple of channels that were important to me and I had reason to believe I would be able to receive them with an antenna that was better suited to my specific situation. HD TV still broadcasts an analog signal but it carries so much more data than pre-HD TV did that it makes antenna selection more important and makes antennas more direction-sensitive. In other words, the antenna needs to be aimed more precisely at the intended HD transmitter tower to get optimal reception. But aiming the antenna precisely at one tower will tend to move it away from all others so aiming will always be something of a compromise. What I did was to aim my antenna at the one tower that was most important to me but that had marginal reception when it was aimed more or less at the center of a cluster of antennas. Despite the compromise I still get more than twice as many channels with the older, larger antenna.

HD makes antenna selection more critical so I did some research and bought a new antenna based on my specific needs. What I bought happened to be a very similar design to the old antenna but has no end of small details that were different. And it was smaller overall by about a third than the old antenna. But despite the smaller size, it pulls in more than twice as many channels, 54 versus low 20s. And it only cost about $40.

Another important point about HD is that the "virtual channel," meaning the number to set your dial to in order to receive a particular station, does not necessarily match the channel it's being broadcast on. In fact it probably doesn't. In other words the station you receive on Channel 8 might be being broadcast on Channel 27. Pre-HD it was the frequency of the signal that told your TV what channel it was on but the HD transmission carries a coded signal that tells the TV's receiver what it's "virtual" channel is, independent of the broadcast channel. And that's how broadcast Channel 27 can appear as Channel 8 on your TV.

This happened for two reasons. First, there was a period when stations were transitioning to HD during which they broadcast in both analog and HD, so the HD transmission had to be on a broadcast different channel from the analog channel. Yet the HD signal was coded to tell your TV that it was on the same channel as they were broadcasting analog on so it would be the name number on your TV dial, despite the difference in broadcast channels, regardless whether the TV was HD-capable. And once the change-over was complete they didn't bother to spend the money to change their broadcast channel to match their virtual channel.

Second, some old stations that were on VHF before the change-over wanted to move to UHF (or the other way around) and in either case they wanted the channel you selected on your TV dial to be the same as it was before the change-over.

That might sound like gobblety-gook but it's important to know if you're troubleshooting reception problems, or if you're researching buying a new antenna because what you think is Channel 8 might actually be being broadcast on UHF, not the VHF that you would expect from Channel 8. The specs for any specific antenna will tell you not only whether it's been engineered to receive VHF and/or UHF but also Low VHF and/or High VHF. Low VHF is channels 2-6 and high is 7-13.

If the particular station has a Wikipedia page, it will tell you what their virtual and broadcast channels are. If the station doesn't have a Wikipedia page, follow the link to my more extensive post on the subject and you'll find links to online resources not only for virtual-vs-broadcast channel but also reviews of prospective antennas from actual users, how to determine which stations are theoretically possible for you to pick up, and what compass heading to point your antenna to (based on your street address) for optimum reception from a particular transmission tower.
 
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