How to install a TV antenna

TV antenna installation can often be overlooked as a simple task, however there are various factors that need to be considered such as the correct tools, masts, mounting equipment and coaxial cabling.  A thorough understanding of different types of TV aerials is required and equipment required to tune your television antenna.  Locating and installing the proper mount and mast equipment on various roofs such as colour-bond or tile roofs will require different types of hardware and tools for a secure installation.  In this article we will explore all these topics and much more.

Hardware and equipment

For a typical TV antenna installation in Perth you will need the following equipment

– Aerial
– Base and Pole (Valley mount for Tile roof)
– RG6 Coaxial cable

Tools and consumables

To properly carry out the installation you will require

– Cable stripper
– F Connectors
– F compression crimp tool
– Electrical tape
– Silicone
– Drill and drill bit set
– Driver and socket set
– Coach screws
– Field strength signal meter capable of measuring MER and BER

Installation steps

The first step is to run your coaxial cable from your roof space to the required location on the roof. On tile roofs you need to find a valley, which is often where two roof surfaces meet, separated by a gutter.
The cable is simply ran into the roof by lifting a tile up and pushing it through.  On a colourbond roof, you will insert your cable from inside the roof, under the ridge capping and push it
out onto the roof.

   

Now it is time to install your mount.  On a tile roof begin by holding the valley mast central onto the gutter, ensuring the pole is fairly straight.  Slide two tiles upward to
reveal more of the surface.  Proceed to mark out where to drill the holes for the screws using a marker or a drill bit.

Drill two holes all the way through and apply sealant over them to reduce chance of leaks.  Hold  the base down aligned with the holes and drive your screws in until they bottom out.



Use a spirit level to ensure the pole is straight and make adjustments if needed. When done slide both tiles back to cover the bolt holes .

   

A similar procedure applies when installing an antenna on a tin roof. Remove two screws from the capping and apply sealant.  Place your base onto the surface and reinstall the screws.

Use a spirit level to adjust the pole until it is straight then firmly tighten the upper and lower nuts on the base to hold the pole firmly in it’s position.

Install your antenna to the pole and point it in the general direction of where the other antennas are pointed. Plug your signal meter into your TV antenna and adjust the signal strength until it is the strongest.  Tighten both nuts on the clamp to lock the antenna into position

Install the rubber protective boot to your cable which is normally supplied with the antenna.  Fit an F connector and crimp it onto the cable.  Finally connect the cable to the antenna and push the rubber boot to cover the connector.

   

Finalise the installation by securing the coaxial cable onto the pole using electrical tape.  Create a small loop in the cable on the pole, this allows extra cable should it be required in the future
servicing of the system and also acts as a point to deter rain from leading inside the roof.

   

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Perfect TV Reception In 5 Simple Steps


Have you ever wondered what exactly causes poor TV reception, such as random artefacts showing on your screen, sound breaking up and picture tearing up and blocking?  The answer is simple – poor quality signal.  The question is – where does it come from?

The answer is simple: poor quality signal.  The question is – where does it come from?

The question is, where does it come from?

Expert diagnosis of TV reception requires expensive field strength meters when used properly can pinpoint the exact cause of the issue.
The good news is that there are a few simple steps that can be taken to fix your TV reception without expert knowledge.

Your TV antenna system is made up of various components, all connected together by a coaxial cable.

Check Your Antenna

This one is a no-brainer.

The first and most important component of a TV Antenna system, is well, the TV Antenna. The condition of the antenna, model and design aswell as mounting location and direction all play a factor as to how strong of a signal it can receive.

Condition – Check for any corrosion or water entry around the connection point or balun box if your TV antenna has one.
Ensure all arms are in good condition, not bent, loose or broken

Design – Your TV Antenna needs to be the correct design to suit the area it is being used in, aswell as the channel ranges you intend to pickup.  Old analog TV Antennas will not pick up digital signals as efficiently. An easy way to spot an Analog antenna is the two long arms at the back which were designed to pick up Channel 2, most commonly known as ABC.  A true digital TV Antenna should not have any arms longer than around 842mm.  Ensure you are using the correct antenna for your area, some areas require a UHF Antenna, and some require a VHF Antenna while others require a combination antenna.

An easy way to spot an Analog antenna is the two long arms at the back which were designed to pick up Channel 2, most commonly known as ABC.  A true digital TV Antenna should not have any arms longer than around 842mm.  Ensure you are using the correct antenna for your area, some areas require a UHF Antenna, and some require a VHF Antenna while others require a combination antenna.

Ensure you are using the correct antenna for your area, some areas require a UHF Antenna, and some require a VHF Antenna while others require a combination antenna.

Location – Your TV Antenna needs to be mounted high enough to receive a strong signal, mounting locations off the eaves or at the lowest point of the house generally are unsuitable for optimal TV reception. Your TV Antenna also needs to be pointed in the correct direction toward the tower.  An easy way is to compare the direction the majority of your neighbours TV antennas are pointed.

Your TV Antenna also needs to be pointed in the correct direction toward the tower.  An easy way is to compare the direction the majority of your neighbours TV antennas are pointed.

Cabling Is Important

Coaxial cabling carries the signal from your TV antenna throughout all the components in the system and eventually your TV.
Any faults or damage in the cabling can act as a bottleneck and degrade signal strength and quality.

Things to check is the condition of the external cabling from the antenna leading into the roof, ensure there are no cracks on the sheath or any sharp kinks as it enters into the roof.

All connection points on the cabling need to be in good condition.  Ensure the correct type of cable is used, RG6 Quad Shield is the best choice and most commonly used.

Check The Splitter

The splitters job is to split an incoming signal to multiple cables, as well as to equally distribute the signal to all wall points.

When there is a fault at the splitter, this can cause a variety of different issues, such as variable TV reception across each TV point, or no TV reception to one room and perfect TV reception to another outlet.

Corrosion is the most common problem that affects TV splitters, from years of exposure to dirt and moisture, or water entry through coaxial cabling.
Often a perfect remedy is to remove the old splitter and to replace it with a brand new one.  shielded splitters suited to analog TV, may not be suited to digital TV

The Wallplate

The wallplate, wall point, or wall socket is the connection point that feeds the signal to your televisions tuner. Over time with wear and tear wallplate fittings can often get loose, partially broken and corroded.  A tell-tale sign is improved TV reception if you wiggle or apply pressure to the wall point.  If you suspect a faulty wallplate, replace it with a new F type wallplate.

Over time with wear and tear wallplate fittings can often get loose, partially broken and corroded.  A tell-tale sign is improved TV reception if you wiggle or apply pressure to the wall point.

If you suspect a faulty wallplate, replace it with a new F-type wallplate.

Do A Tune

The final and one of the most important steps to good TV reception is to do an Auto Scan. This ensures that all the channel frequencies are properly tuned into your TV.  Your TV may have old channel data still present from another suburb, city, or country.  If you have duplicate channels on your program list, your TV may be retaining old channels and in this case it is best to watch the channel that gives the best TV reception.  Doing a factory reset on your TV can also help wipe old channel data before a re-scan.

This ensures that all the channel frequencies are properly tuned into your TV.  Your TV may have old channel data still present from another suburb, city, or country.

If you have duplicate channels on your program list, your TV may be retaining old channels and in this case it is best to watch the channel that gives the best TV reception.  Doing a factory reset on your TV can also help wipe old channel data before a re-scan.

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The Cost Of A Cheap Antenna Installation

When it comes to getting an antenna installed, most people’s thought process is that “it’s just bolting an antenna to the roof, right?”.

So, naturally, coming in with that mindset will make you price conscious and getting the cheapest quote can be as easy as calling a few antenna installers that you looked up on Google.

But ask yourself; what are you paying for?

Prices to supply and install an antenna can vary from as little as $120 to as high as $450.

In order for a low price to be given, there has to be a compromise.

When getting quotes, the cheap and cheerful installers may be offering deals that look like extremely good value, however, most people never see the damage and problems that can be caused in the long term by hiring a cheap antenna installer.

How can others provide a cheap antenna installation?

Time – We have all heard the old saying, “Time is money” and this applies to hiring an antenna installer.  If an installer is offering his services at a very cheap price, he needs to make his profits on quantity, rather than quality, so less time will often be allocated to doing a proper job, and may result in broken tiles, poor fitting wallplates or damage done to walls and roofs from a rushed job.

Materials – A great way to lower the price of an install is to use cheap Chinese antennas that will not last, screws that will rust within weeks and poor quality mounting equipment.  A good quality TV antenna should last at least 10 years, currently, we are having to replace antennas that have given tv reception problems in a period as little as 6 months.

Cheap cabling can often cause issues such as excessive signal loss, and breakage which can cause intermittent picture break-up.  We have been to many properties in Perth where cabling has been installed that does not conform to Australian standards, is unsafe and has the propensity to start a fire.  Master Builders WA and ACMA have warned against unsafe products which are currently installed in thousands of homes around Perth and Australia.

Qualifications – Individuals who are operating without the licences required by law can offer their services at cheaper prices.  Businesses providing cheaper prices than average may not be suitably qualified to carry out the installation work, may be using foreign workers on 457 Visas with little knowledge of Australian standards and work practices, and have a lack of any Public Liability or Professional Indemnity insurance.  Ask to see copies of public liability insurance to the amount of $20 million, certificate/diploma in Telecommunications, White card, a valid ABN, open cablers licence with a “C” endorsement and a website for the confidence of an established business.

Workmanship – The interesting thing about being a good antenna technician is that you got to have a reasonably good knowledge of basic electronics, you need pretty good building and construction skills, and you have to understand a little bit about RF signals.  These skills often take years of time and money to master, and part of the cost covers the implementation of these skills to your installation.  Cutting corners and not applying best practices can lead to an aesthetically unpleasant looking end product or a poorly installed antenna that can break away and cause damage to the house.

Customer Service – This relates to the dealings and communications you have with your installer before, during and after the service.  Quite a substantial amount of effort is required to answer questions and customer concerns before the job is to be done and following specific instructions.  The support you receive over your warranty period is important in ensuring any problems are dealt with quickly and efficiently and questions answered promptly.  Businesses operating on small profit margins do not have the resources to provide good after sales support, 3-word email replies can be quite displeasing.

How does a cheap antenna installation look like?

We often get called in to rectify problems caused by some of these installations, as well as repair the damage caused.
Below are some examples of rushed, dangerous and illegal jobs:

This is a TV antenna in Mandurah that had corroded so badly within 6 months that it was barely passing any signal to the TV outlets.  Notice the green corrosion buildup on the board.  The cost to rectify this issue was double the original installation cost.  Poorly built TV antennas, will quickly degrade especially when used around coastal areas.  We only use and recommend high quality Hills TV antennas for areas such as Fremantle, Dawesville and Rockingham.

We were called out to install a TV antenna at a neighbouring house to the one pictured above.

Quickly we were alerted by this shocking cabling installation.  The coax cable has been ran into the roof by running it down the pole which has no shielding from the rain.  Eventually rain will enter through the top of the pole and be led inside the house by the cable causing water damage.

We are unsure whether this was simply overlooked, caused by negligent work practices.

This one takes the cake – After this antenna had been poorly wired to the roof, we found that the previous installer had attempted to jam blocks of wood under the base in order to increase stability.  The brickwork had fatigued and the upper part of the chimney had partially broken away from the house.

The problems did not end here.  The Anchor points for the guy wires had corroded due to poor waterproofing and being made out of a cheap material and the entire cabling system inside the roof had poor terminations and tell-tale signs of dodgy workmanship.

While a cheap price may appear like a bargain, the damage caused by poor installations will cost more to fix in the long term, therefore these installations are never good value.

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Wall Mount Your TV Like a Pro

TV wall mounting is not a task for the feint hearted, however a job best left to the professionals can be completed using simple tips and tricks found in this guide.  We will break down the task into 4 areas to make for a successful TV wall mounting job.

  • Bracket Selection
  • Knowing your walls
  • Measurement and Marking
  • Installation

Selecting The Correct Bracket

The market is saturated with a variety of different brackets with different specifications to suit various types of TV’s.  The first two most important factors to verify are the size range and weight capacity of the bracket.  A bracket must be large enough to bolt to the TV’s mounting holes, and the construction requires to be able to hold the specific weight of your Television.  Refer to the specification sheet on your TV and compare the size (inches) of your TV and the weight to ensure your bracket meets and exceeds the specifications.

There are two different types of brackets, fixed and swivel.  A fixed bracket fixes the TV to one position, while a swivel bracket allows the TV to be swivelled and extended in various positions.

Fixed bracket

Swivel bracket

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to check out the various specifications of the TV bracket you intend to purchase to ensure it meets your requirements.  One important detail is tilt, simply put the amount of degrees a bracket can tilt your TV upwards or downwards.

Know Your Walls

A safe and sturdy TV wall mounting job requires total knowledge of the wall structure that the TV will be mounted on.  Be aware that single brick walls often have electrical cable cemented inside them and care must be taken not to drill holes anywhere near these.  A wall backing onto a bathroom may present further hazards with gas and plumbing piping that may be in the way.

It is important to measure and be aware of the thickness of the wall you are working with.  Single brick walls present the risk of drilling through the entire wall if care is not taken, where as the risk is not present with cavity walls. Plasterboard walls require the use of a stud finder to identify where the wooden beams are, as the plaster itself is not strong enough to hold the weight of a wall mounted TV.

Getting The Measurements Right

The key to perfect placement and correct height is all in the maths.  Identify how high you would like your TV to be by having friends hold it up for you while you sit back and decide which height suits you best.  Faintly place a mark on the wall to represent where the topmost part of the TV will roughly be situated.

Second we need to measure the width of the wall so we can mark the centre of it, this is easily achieved by a tape measure and simple maths.  Once again place a feint mark to mark the centre of the wall, this will help with easy placement of the bracket.

Measure the height of your TV from top to bottom, and write this down somewhere as we will be using it in the next step.

Attach both of the hooks from your TV bracket to the back of your TV.  Note the “claw” section of the hook that is designed to hook onto the bracket, we’ll call this the “hanging point”.  Once the hooks are installed, measure from the hanging point, to the top of the TV.  Use this measurement to place a second mark on your wall, so your hanging point and top of TV measurement are now visible on your wall.

When mounting your TV bracket on your wall, the topmost of the bracket should be even with the “hanging point” mark you have just placed on your wall.

By now we should have 3 marks on our wall to assist us with placement of our bracket:

  • Top of the TV
  • Distance from Top of TV to bracket hanging point
  • Centre of wall

Installation and Mounting

Hold the bracket level on the wall, so that the top of the bracket lines up with the hanging point mark on the wall.  Using a pencil or marker, mark out 4 or 6 proposed hole locations depending on the amount of bolts you need to screw to the wall.  Use a smaller masonry drill, followed by a larger masonry drill to expand the holes to their required size, do not drill the holes larger than required.

A spirit level comes in handy while tightening the bolts to ensure the bracket is level.  Even very slight angle deviations to the left or right can cause a crooked looking TV.

Once the bracket has been attached to the wall, with the help of an assistant, lift your TV up onto the bracket, ensure both hooks have locked in.  Tighten the safety screws underneath the bracket or insert the safety bar.

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Choosing the Correct TV Antenna in Perth

A question that is often asked is “which antenna do I need for my area in Perth?”.

There is no one size fits all solution as coverage and reception will vary from area to area. Our suburbs stretch over 100+km’s along the coast, inland and across all sorts of terrain. Coverage for example in Currambine, will not be as good as North Perth.  Consequently, an antenna that works perfectly in one area, may fail to perform in another locality and give reception issues long after the salesman packs up shop.

When selecting the correct antenna for your area, we consider various factors such as the number of outlets in your house, elevation, the distance between outlets, mounting location for best reception and aesthetics, resulting in an antenna installation that gives you the clearest picture possible.

Fraccaro LPDA antenna - for strong signal areas

Fraccaro LPDA antenna – for strong signal areas

A log periodic dipole (LPDA) design is one of the most commonly used types in prime reception areas.  A broad spectrum is covered offering reception of all stations broadcast in Perth.  This design is offered by various manufacturers.

 

 

 

A common misconception is that bigger is better.  While this may apply in some situations, the design of the antenna has an important role in how strong each channel can be received.  The size of the elements determines which channel ranges the antenna can receive, while the number of elements is an indicator of how sensitive the antenna is.  With the switchover to digital, many larger Analogue antennas which may appear to look superior, will not outperform smaller digital antennas.

Television antenna

Analog Antenna

Digital Antenna

Digital Antenna

Digital channels run on higher frequencies than analog channels, which often require more smaller elements.  Only 3 of the elements on the antenna on the left pick up digital TV, whereas all the smaller digital antenna on the right has double the amount of shorter elements required for reception of digital TV.

 

Another type of antenna is a high gain Antenna.  The term is often loosely used to describe any antenna considered suitable, however high gain antennas are identified by their long boom, often 1.5 meters and longer in length, and large amount of elements.  Typical uses are in suburbs very far from the CBD and rural areas, offering increased performance over standard antennas.

Matchmaster high gain antenna

Matchmaster high gain antenna

 

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