How to Setup a TV Antenna

By Chris Moore

Whether it's analog or digital, you still need an antenna to view over-the-air broadcast television. If your TV isn't connected to cable or satellite service, you need to set up and connect an antenna to the set to pick up the channels. Connecting a digital antenna is the same as an analog one, but you'll need extra hardware to receive digital stations with an analog antenna. The rule applies,though: the higher you can position the antenna, the better.

Things You'll Need

  • Thumbtacks or screws (for possible wall mounting)
  • Ribbon-to-coaxial adapter (optional)
  • Digital converter box (optional)

Step 1

Choose a location to place the antenna. On top of the TV has always been a popular choice, but it's not as logical with flat-screen models. Your spot needs to be as high as you can get and free of any other electric devices or cables that can cause interference. Some antennas can be mounted to the wall.

Step 2

Connect the antenna to the TV set. Most antennas will connect using a basic RF coaxial cable, the cable that connects to the round, threaded port on the TV set. If the antenna uses ribbon cables, you need an adapter that will secure the ribbon cable leads and then use an RF cable connection.

Step 3

Attach the antenna to a digital converter if you are using an old analog antenna. This is needed for the TV to pick up the digital TV signals. Use a converter that comes with its own tuner, because it will be needed to tune the digital channels.

Step 4

Check the TV's reception and adjust the antenna accordingly. If you are using an old "rabbit ears" antenna, adjust the angle and length of the antenna "ears"--this can vary for every channel and whatever time of day it is. If you are using a flat antenna, which many HD antennas are, you'll need to adjust the position of the whole device and/or its cable.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many HD TVs and digital converters have signal-strength meters that can be accessed on the TV screen to tell you where to position the antenna for the best reception.
  • Extra devices can improve the antenna's reception. An attenuator will help receive signals too strong because you are too close to the tower. An FM trap will block out FM signals the tower might be sending that can interfere.
  • Any type of splitter or combiner can affect the reception from an antenna.