Over-the-air television antennas need to point in the right direction to receive signals broadcast by local TV transmitters. Even a slight misalignment on some antennas can lead to poor television reception and missing channels. Orient your TV antenna correctly by using an online TV signal locator service or a handheld signal strength meter device.
Transmitters broadcast high-definition and standard definition television signals in the VHF and UHF frequency bands. The TV antenna picks up the signal and pipes it to the TV set or converter box's tuner via a length of coaxial cable. Directional TV antennas require exact alignment in the direction of the TV transmitter to pick up an adequate signal. Multi-directional or omni-directional antennas need less precise alignment, but they must still face in the correct direction to pick up signals from all local transmitters.
Signal Locator Services
An effective way to find the correct direction for your TV antenna is to use an online TV signal locator service. Both the AntennaWeb and TV Fool websites can help you to align the antenna correctly. Entering your ZIP code or home address into the signal locator tools offered by these services provides the exact direction of TV transmitters from your home location in the form of a compass bearing. The services also list the correct antenna type and the stations available at your location. Armed with the correct bearing, you can rotate your antenna to point in the right direction with the help of a directional compass. You can also use online digital-television coverage maps to help you identify the correct direction for your TV antenna.
TV Signal Meters
To align your antenna precisely, use a battery-powered television signal strength meter to lock on to the strongest local signals. The meter connects to the antenna's output jack with a short length of coaxial connector cable. As you gently rotate the antenna, the device displays the strength of the received signal. Signal meters come with different displays, including LCD read-outs, LED indicator lights and signal strength dials. When the meter shows the strongest signal level, you know the antenna is pointing in precisely the right direction for optimal TV reception.
Correct antenna alignment is an important part of receiving a satisfactory TV signal, but several other factors can also affect TV reception. You must use the correct size and type of antenna for your location. The installation site of the antenna can also make a difference. Ideally, the antenna should be mounted at roof level with a clear view toward the TV transmitters. Nearby structures, buildings and trees can interfere with the TV signal and lead to missing channels and poor quality video and audio on your TV set.