This process is made easy by Antenna Web, a website co-sponsored by by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).
Antenna Web 'Choose an Antenna' Tool
Antenna Web is loaded with antenna-learning resources but the focus of this article is what I call their 'choose an antenna' tool.
The purpose of the tool is to return a list of broadcast stations in your area and the type of antenna that you should be able to use to receive that station. The results are specific to either a street address or zip code - the option you chose when completing the form.
By type of antenna I mean whether it's multi-directional or directional and amplified or not amplified. You won't get a list of specific antenna models, which is why the tool is just one step in the antenna buying process.
The 'choose an antenna' tool only relates to outdoor antennas. However, you can use the results to help you determine if an indoor antenna is a better buying option for you.
Antenna Web 'Choose an Antenna' Step-by-Step Instructions
- Go to http://www.antennaweb.org
- Click the 'choose an antenna' button
- Fill out the form with information relating to your area.
- Fill out demographic information like name, address, city, state, zip code, and email. Zip code is the only mandatory field.
- Opt in or opt out to receiving marketing information and research surveys. Opt out by clicking the box to remove the check mark.
- Enter your phone number (optional)
- Answer the question about obstacles. The default value is no so don't forget to select yes if you have obstacles. Failure to answer correctly may cause the results to be inaccurate.
- Answer the question about housing type. The default value is single story so don't forget to answer multiple story if it applies. Failure to answer correctly may cause the results to be inaccurate.
- Choose more options if you want to return results by latitude/longitude coordinates (in decimal degrees, dd:mm.m or dd:mm:ss.s). This will override address information.
- Click submit to get your results.
Reviewing Your Results
After clicking submit you'll get a list of broadcast stations and the recommended antenna type to receive that station. Results include:
- DTV: An * indicates that the station is digital.
- Antenna Type: Click the link in this column to see how the recommended antenna type relates to other antenna types. Antenna types are generally listed by weakest to strongest so you may notice a correlation between antenna type and miles from the transmission tower.
- Call Sign: This is the 6-digit code, along with the channel number, that is assigned to the station (example: KEYE-DT). Analog stations have a 4-digital code (example: KEYE).
- Channel: This is the number your TV or DTV converter box will tune to when switching channels. Some stations may have more than one channel number (example: 42.1, 42.2, etc).
- Network: This is the national network affiliation that your local broadcast station has (example: NBC, ABC, CBS, etc).
- City, State: The location of the broadcast station.
- Live Date: The date the broadcast station will stop broadcasting in analog and only broadcast in digital.
- Compass Heading: The direction the transmission tower is on a compass relating to your location.
- Miles From: How far your location is from the TV transmission tower.
- Frequency Assignment: This is the frequency the signal will use to communicate with your TV tuner. Notice that many frequencies are different than the number you are used to. This has to do with actual and virtual channels.
Analyzing the Results for an Indoor Antenna
If you're interested in buying an indoor antenna then pay attention to the type of antenna recommended and the miles from column. Use the antenna type recommendation to locate a couple of outdoor antennas that match the recommended color-code and compare those models to indoor models that you're interested in buying.