Cord Cutting 101: Mounting and Tuning a TV Antenna

Future cord cutters must learn to mount and tune their TV antennas. Solid Signal makes this process easy for anyone who wants to cut the cord.

One of cord cutting’s biggest appeals is that it can be 100 percent do it yourself. When you cut the cord, there won’t be some strange cable TV installer poking and prodding around your home. You’ll save money by mounting and aiming your TV antenna by yourself. This process isn’t difficult if you follow the basic steps featured in this Cord Cutting 101 tutorial. In a couple hours, we’ll have you enjoying free over-the-air TV.

Step 1: Choosing Your Spot
To enjoy free HDTV, you need to know where you want to put your antenna. Some people put their TV antenna in the attic, but we don’t recommend this. To get the best reception, your antenna needs to be placed somewhere high and without obstructions. Generally, we recommend placing your antenna atop your roofs. If your homeowners association doesn’t allow this, you might try putting the antenna atop your garage or aim it out the window of an upstairs room. Make sure there are no buildings, trees, or other obstructions between where you mount the antenna and the direction you need to aim it.

Step 2: Attaching the Mount
The mount is basically the anchor that holds your mast and antenna in place. Attaching this hardware is usually a matter of drilling a couple of holes and sinking a few screws. While that might sound easy-peasy, there are some things you need to keep in mind when placing your antenna mount:

  • If your mount requires drilling, make sure you check before you install the screws and mounts.
  • Once you attach the mount, double-check it to make sure it’s attached securely before attaching the mast and the antenna.
  • If you plan to mount on a rooftop, make sure you have all the accessories you need. This might include pitch pads, additional weatherproofing and replacement shingles. Planning ahead can save a lot of headaches.

Step 3: Aiming the Antenna
Most TV antennas are unidirectional, which means these units must be pointed directly at broadcast towers to receive signal. It’s important for you to know where the towers are in your area. (The FCC’s antenna direction map can be a big help.) Once you have the general location, point the part of your antenna that receives signal in that direction. If you’re wondering which end is “active,” consult the instructions.

Note: A few antennas have arrows pointing the right direction. If you are using an old-style “Yagi” type antenna, point the narrow end toward the towers. If you are using a more modern antenna with a reflector made of mesh or of horizontal bars, that goes furthest away from the towers.

Step 4: Fine-Tuning
So you have your antenna mount secured and your antenna pointed at the broadcast towers, but you’re not done yet. Once you have your antenna pointed toward the broadcast towers, it’s time to lock your antenna’s beam width onto the actual signal. To help pinpoint the broadcast, we recommend using a DIGIAIR-PRO-ATSC. This device locates and pinpoints TV signal at its strongest source, allowing you to fine tune your TV antenna. Once signal is established, you aim your antenna then tighten up the bolts on the mount and mast, locking it into place.

Step 5: Grounding Your TV Antenna
This is the one step even some experts forget, and it’s the most important. If you don’t properly ground your antenna, it could turn into a huge fire hazard. Despite the dangers, many people ignore this step because their TV will work just fine without grounding the antenna. Remember that you will have to ground both the antenna and the mast, and you’ll need to consult city hall or a local electrician to see if your local ordinances are stricter than national ones. Don’t skip this important step!

Step 6: Channel Scan
When TV stations went digital, it changed the way TV stations and channel numbers are listed. For example, what you’ve always known as channel 4 might now be on channel 36. The station also might have several sub-stations. To help cord cutters figure it out, the Federal Communications Commission came up with the Program and System Information Protocol, or PSIP.

The process of loading PSIP data into your TV is called a “channel scan.” These channel scans are different for every TV; but generally, they start by pressing the MENU button on your remote and going into your TV’s setup screens. Look for something like “Off-Air Setup” or “Search for Channels.” If you’re prompted to choose “Cable” or “Air,” make sure you choose “Air.” The channel scan usually takes about 10 minutes, but doesn’t need to be done again unless you move or unless your local channels change.

Good Luck With Your New TV Antenna!
Is cutting the cord in your future? Once you’ve purchased your TV antenna and receiver, just use this tutorial to start enjoying all that free HDTV. If you’re considering cutting the cord and want to know more, you always can read other articles in this series and others on Solid If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 877.312.4547. We’ll tell you everything you want to know about cord cutting!

About the Author

Jake Buckler
Jake Buckler is a cord-cutter, consumer electronics geek, and Celtic folk music fan. Those qualities, and his writing experience, helped him land a copywriting gig at Signal Group, LLC. He also contributes to The Solid Signal Blog.