Most antennas are directional, meaning they receive or send more signal in one direction than in another.
It is important to align or point the antenna in the right direction to get the best performance. This alignment or orientation of the antenna is a very important part of any antenna installation. If the antenna isn’t set up right and is pointing in the wrong direction, it won’t work well.
If you are a professional installer, a camper, or a do-it-yourselfer who wants to set up a TV antenna, you must be able to align or point the TV antenna correctly for the best reception.
Antennas, especially those used to get TV signals, have a direction, and when they are put up, they need to be oriented or pointed toward the TV transmitter to get the best reception.
Antennas have a polar diagram or direction pattern. Most TV antennas work better in one direction and worse in others.
In the main direction, the gain makes it possible to get a much better TV signal, but in the other directions, the signal is much weaker. This makes it possible to lower the level of any interference at the TV’s input.
But because this is a directional pattern, the antenna needs to be correctly aligned or oriented so that the main direction of sensitivity points at the transmitter. If it doesn’t, the antenna won’t work as well.
To get the best performance from a TV antenna, it needs to be aligned correctly. Most of the time, the longer the antenna, the higher the gain and the more focused the signal. This makes it important to get the alignment right.
Antenna alignment strategies
It might sound like putting a TV antenna in the right place would be easy. Since the TV receiver is usually far from the antenna, it is hard to move the antenna and then test how well it works. If only one person is there, making small changes can take a long time because they have to move between the antenna and the receiver. Small changes can be hard to make because of this. Even when there are two people to help, it is still surprisingly hard.
There are several methods that can be used to align the antenna:
This is probably one of the easiest ways to get the antenna aligned. When you’re up in the air with the TV antenna, just point it toward the TV transmitter mast. This could only be done if the TV transmitter mast could be seen, but if it couldn’t, the antenna could often be pointed in the same direction as other antennas in the area. This may work in some cases, but signal strengths can vary from house to house, and because reflections are common, the direction needed in one place may be different from the direction needed in another.
Aside from the basics of how to align a TV antenna, there are a few other tips that may help you get the best results.
- Don’t rely on the TV’s internal metre. Some TVs have built-in antenna alignment metres that help measure signal strength and can be used to align the TV antenna. Even though this can give an idea of how strong something is, the way it is done can sometimes be misleading. If there are problems, it may be easier to use an external antenna alignment metre, especially if it can be used at the antenna itself. This can mean that there is a direct sign at the antenna and that any changes made at the antenna can be seen right away.
- Use a high-quality TV antenna cable. The quality of TV antenna cables varies a lot. There will always be some loss in the antenna cable, but it should be kept to a minimum, especially in places where the signal strength is low because the transmitter is far away or because buildings, hills, etc. block the signal. Cheaper coax will almost always have a higher loss, and it will probably pick up interference more easily. Loss can happen with even small fly leads. Here, cheap fly-leads from the supermarket might not be good enough. Some have been shown to have a noticeable loss, even over short periods of time. Always buy the best you can, and you can be sure that it will work.
- Placement and alignment are both important. An antenna’s placement is often just as important, and sometimes even more important than how well it is aligned. The location of the antenna can be very important because of the local terrain, trees, buildings, and interference. If the antenna is outside, you may not have much choice about where to put it, but the performance is likely to be better. Keep an eye out for local obstacles, like trees, tall poles, buildings, etc., that might block a direct line to the transmitter and see if a small move would improve “radio visibility.”
- Antennas that are inside the building are more likely to be blocked by things like walls, but the location is often more flexible. Make sure that things like water tanks, solar panels on the roof, etc. are not in the direct line to the TV transmitter. Also, the line that goes straight to the TV transmitter might not always be the best. If you aren’t sure, use a signal metre to find the best way to align and use the antenna.
- Check the polarisation. When aligning an antenna, it’s important to know how the polarisation of a TV signal works. If you turn the polarisation 90°, there won’t be any signal. The antenna’s polarisation is the same as the polarisation of the signal it is receiving, and this is also true for most of the antenna’s parts.
- Even though most TV signals are polarised horizontally and the antenna has the same parts, some are polarised vertically. Some of the strongest stations may be slanted or diagonally polarised, for example, 45° to the vertical, so that both horizontal antennas (which are often used at home) and vertical antennas (which are used in cars and on portable radios) can be used to pick up the signal. Check the polarisation. You can do this by looking at the local information or by looking at what all the other antennas in the area have. Then, set the polarisation of the antenna to match.
- Stay away from the antenna. When adjusting the antenna, try not to get too close to it. When people are close to the antenna, it can change how well it works. The antenna can be changed by a lot of different things, such as absorption, reflection, proximity capacitance effects that change its resonance, and a lot more. Do not stand in front of the antenna. The best place to stand is probably behind it, but make sure that your movements don’t change the signal metre reading too much. Tighten the screws, and then check the signal quality when you are far from the antenna.
- Even though there is a big move toward digital TV transmission, there are still analogue transmitters on the air that you can adjust to get the best signal. The patterning on these analogue signals can sometimes be caused by interference from reflections or other sources. This is sometimes called the “herringbone effect.” The antenna can be set up so that the unwanted signal isn’t too strong and the wanted signal is strong enough. A ghost picture is another effect that can happen with analogue signals. This happens when the signal that is reflected is delayed by a small amount, which makes a second ghost signal appear.
- Aligning TV antennas can be trickier than it might seem at first glance. But with a little practise, you should be able to get pretty good results with any of the above methods. It also means that if you install and align an antenna yourself, you can get the best results and make sure to take the time to get the best performance in all situations.
Contact us now
We assure you that we are the most reliable team of workers available for Aerial Alignment in Brentwood. Call us now at 01708 347 257, and our team will further assist you in making your home a good entertainment place.