Posts Tagged ‘antennas’

Antenna TV Research 2018

Friday, June 8th, 2018

I created the Platteville HDTV Antenna and Streaming page to be dedicated to both streaming tv and local antenna tv solutions. For Platteville WI area residents, you can replace costly CenturyLink/DirectTV/Dish with a lighter package of live streaming cable channels and Madison broadcast channels.

CenturyLink no longer allows Platteville residents to sign up for PrismTV. Pushing new customers to DirectTV. CenturyLink will sell DirectTV to you as a “bundle discount”, but it is actually the same price as unbundled if you were to purchase seperate. The cheapest plan from DirectTV costs $70, on top of what you already pay to CenturyLink for internet. New subscribers to DirectTV are signed up at a 50% discount for the first 12 months, afterwhich your bills double and they equipment rental fee you to death. When I cancelled DirectTV after the third year, my bill was around $160 per month. That is a LOT to pay for local TV channels and a few dozen cable channels!!

What is the better way?

For just internet, CenturyLink’s cheapest plan without discounts is $45 for 25Mbps internet. Streaming TV needs at least 5Mbps for HD video and 8Mbps for super HD video. CenturyLink maintains a minimum goal of 80% of the promised speed. Meaning, at worst you should never drop below 20Mpbs. This is plenty for a 2-3 person home. If you do drop below 80%, call CenturyLink and complain that they fix it.

There are many streaming services to choose from. here are a few that I have researched.
– YouTube TV ($40 and includes local ABC,CBS,FOX,NBC Madison channels)
– Hulu TV ($40 and includes local ABC,CBS,FOX,NBC Madison channels)
– Sling Orange or Blue ($20 and includes local FOX,NBC Madison channels)
– DirectTV Now ($35 and no local channels)

The YouTubeTV and HuluTV services both include all the major local Madison channels. No antenna required. If you do not have a recent smart tv with a Hulu or YoutubeTV app built in, you will need to purchase a streaming device for your tv. There are three big streaming platforms FireTV, Roku, and Apple. Between YouTubeTV and HuluTV, I find that the Hulu FireTV app is much faster to navigate than the Roku Youtube app. The FireTV YouTube app can only be installed by sideloading using an unofficial app.

Best streaming stick for Hulu:

Total monthly costs so far are $45 for internet and $40 for online live streaming. Not including any additional streaming packages that you may want, such as Netflix.

What about cheaper?

Cable companies have pushed hard the last 30 years, convincing multiple generations that TV isn’t free. I am always surprised at how many people I talk to do not know this.
Your local TV channels are free, you don’t have to pay for them! It is not a scam or illegal pirating. Your local stations are wirelessly broadcast to your home. All you need is the correct antenna to pick them up.

The Madison market has around 26 channels that reach Platteville, plus 1 Dubuque channel. Here is an up to date list.

3.1 CBS, , 3.2 MyN, 3.3 ION, 15.1 NBC, 15.2 CW, 15.3 Antenna TV, 15.4 Weather, 21.1 PBS, 21.2 Wisconsin, 21.3 Create, 21.4 PBS Kids, 27.1 ABC, 27.2 Me-TV, 27.3 Decades, 40.1 Christian, 47.1 FOX, 47.2 Comet, 47.3 Charge, 47.4 TBD, 57.1 Independent, 57.2 Movies!, 57.3 H&I, 57.4 Stadium, 57.5 QVC, 57.6 Laff, 57.7 Escape, 57.8 Grit

Sound good? Well, not so fast. You live in the Platteville area. The wireless broadcasts from Madison are weakened by the area hills. In order to receive them, you will need an outdoor antenna. Depending on your location and elevation, you may also need the antenna roof mounted.

You will read online that there is no “best” antenna and you need to do research to choose an antenna that will work for you. If you live in the Platteville area, I have already done that for you. Pick any of my recommendations, properly mounted and aimed, and you should see some level of success.

Click here for a one page handout I wrote, listing Do it Yourself HDTV Antennas that WORK in Platteville

OTA Antenna FAQs

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Here are some Frequently asked questions I get about TV Antennas in my town:

  • What is the best antenna?
  • Can I go bigger?
  • Can I pick up channels from both Madison and Cedar Rapids?

What is the best antenna?

The best antenna is the one that fits your budget. Here is my handout I give folks who ask. I have it broken into three budgets. < $50 / $120 / $200

Can I go bigger?

Short answer, no. Long answer, it depends but probably is not worth it. You can explore this page which describes running multiple DB8 antennas. Midway down the page you will find “Why this 16-bay antenna might not work”. Take a read through.

Can I pick up channels from both Madison and Cedar Rapids?

Again, short answer no. Long answer, maybe. Antennas like the DB8e have multiple elements that can be pointed in different directions. Aside from halving your antennas efficiency by splitting it in two, the next problem is that some of the signal picked up by Side A is then radiated out of Side B. This results in your received signal dropping by more than 50% !
If you are thinking about adding a second antenna to overcome these losses, see above “Can I go bigger?”

Shullsburg is full of Smart People

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

I took a drive through Shullsburg last weekend, keeping my eyes out for home antennas and towers. Unlike Platteville, I found that nearly every home I saw in Shullsburg had a bow tie reflector type antenna that I recommend. Most were the 4-way ones (DB4 and Clearstream2). While in Platteville I still recommend 8-way type such as the DB8 or Clearstream4.

A quick review of tvfool for Shullsburg shows that they have 40 dBm more signal than Platteville. So I imagine that they can get away with a smaller 4-way antennas and no powered pre-amp.

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OTA Secrets

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

What is the secret to good TV antenna reception?  Using the right Hardware and Aiming.


You have to look at every part of the chain from the antenna to your TV. They all affect signal quality.

– Antenna – Collect as much signal as possible
– Balun – Older baluns can be less efficient
– Amplifier – Low noise and mounted near antenna
– Cables – Length is the important number.  However, older cables can be leaky and may need replacing
– Splitters & Connectors – 
Limit your number of splitters and connectors. Use exact cable lengths wherever possible.


The success of your antenna reception is highly dependent on good aiming strategy.

Go to and find the angle you need to aim. Walk around the outside of your home and determine a location where you can point in that direction and have a clear line of sight. Aim into fields, aim between houses, aim around trees, aim above houses.

If you have a clear line of sight and that angle just isn’t reliable enough, try spinning the antenna 180 degrees in the OPPOSITE direction to receive the bounced signal instead. If you have a lot of structures behind you, the reflected bounce can sometimes be stronger than your primary direction.

Remember: If your antenna has a built in electric rotor (like the cheapo chinese one), use it. The procedure to use the cheapo antenna’s rotor is:
1. Press the red rotor button on the power box and count to 1. This will rotate the antenna for approx 20-30 degrees in a direction.
2. Wait 5-10 seconds for your tv’s signal indicator to refresh. If you have a channel lock, you may have to wait up to 20 seconds for the picture to return.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2, varying the duration that you hold the button. Example: Press for 1 second, release, and press for 2 seconds – will rotate in the other direction. Allowing you to “home in” on a signal.

OTA: Antenna Class!

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Last fall, I taught an over-the-air antenna class at the local library.  I broke down each step of how to receive free TV broadcasts from Madison.  Over 75 miles away !  The first half of the class was a slide show, the second half was the interactive portion. I asked for addresses and we pulled up the reception maps for the attendees to discuss real world reception and aiming strategies.

What is the secret to Platteville TV Reception?
• Have a good aiming strategy using and a Sighting Compass
• Choose an appropriate mounting location.
• Route your coax cable through your home’s ground block for static and lightning protection.
• Every step between your antenna to your TV can affect signal quality, reduce where possible!
• Cable Length / Splitters / Connectors

This is the handout that I gave to those who attended my class last fall.

Follow this link for the slideshow presentation for my antenna reception class. Missing is my handwritten notes that accompany this presentation.