Should you pick up an antenna you find by the side of the road?

Last weekend I was driving around and I saw a sad, sad sight. There it was: a perfectly good looking antenna sitting at the side of the road, next to a trash can. The message was clear: someone just didn’t want it anymore. It’s a sight I’ve seen many times over the years and it made me wonder what happened.

Did the antenna break?

It’s not likely, but it’s possible that this old antenna just gave up. It looked like it dated from the late 20th century and was of a “log-periodic” design. This sort of antenna is mostly for VHF reception and it’s possible that the UHF part may have gotten damaged. This might have led the homeowner to think it was no good.

It’s possible that they installed a new antenna that was better suited to today’s digital, mostly-UHF broadcasting, although I didn’t see one on the roof.

Most likely, this homeowner just didn’t realize what they were doing. Maybe they didn’t use the antenna and it was beginning to look like an eyesore. They just didn’t realize that the antenna was useful.

Is a roadside antenna worth salvaging?

I’m sure there are people who would say yes, but I would tend to say no. I say no because even if the antenna wasn’t damaged when it was on the roof it probably is now. People don’t know how to take an antenna down. In one of Jake Buckler’s first posts, he explained how he tried to make an antenna into a paper airplane. That’s actually pretty common and I would not expect someone removing an antenna to be careful with it at all.

Log-periodic type antennas have a lot of little bits and wires in all sorts of locations and they are absolutely the hardest to remove without damaging. I would expect an antenna like this to suffer a lot by the time it gets down to the side of the road. Some of that damage may be obvious and some may be completely invisible.

Personally I wouldn’t bother with one person’s trash, even if it might be another person’s treasure (as they say). At least not in this case. While the antenna was up on the roof it might have worked, but it’s hard to imagine it working ever again.

Put an antenna on your roof

The good news about antennas today is that for most places, they don’t have to be so big. If you’re 45 miles or less from a major city, you will find that today’s antennas are smaller, generally more attractive, and work better than those old 1970s style ones. With a new antenna you can get dozens of channels you never knew about, and watch them for free, permanently. Even if you only use an antenna a few times a year it is definitely worth doing.

Today’s roof-mounted antennas are usually smaller than 40″ wide, in order to meet HOA rules. They can be pretty futuristic looking or simple enough that they don’t draw attention to themselves. Connecting an antenna is easy and you can usually do it yourself or with one other friend. Every TV made today will work with an antenna and if you are using a PC monitor or some other device you can get a converter box that will work for you.

The best way to watch TV from an antenna

This little box is my favorite antenna accessory. It’s the AirTV streaming antenna box,  and it brings your antenna into the 21st century. Instead of connecting the antenna to the TV, you connect it to the AirTV. (You can actually connect both, with a cheap splitter.) The AirTV streams your TV to any mobile device or streaming box, anywhere in the world. All you need is a free account at You can even use this device as a DVR by connecting a flash drive or hard drive you already own. It makes your TV antenna easily ten times more useful.

If you’re looking for the best selection in antennas, shop now at Solid Signal. You’ll find more antennas than you ever knew existed, plus tons of free tech support and every mounting device and splitter you’ll need. It’s all here at one place!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.