Antennas: Back to the Future

You can always learn new things about antennas

Doug Lung, TV Technology

TV receive antennas are one of the most popular topics based on the number of emails I receive from readers. Many times they will request additional information on antennas I wrote about years ago—the Gray-Hoverman covered in 2008 or the high gain wire rhombic I covered in 2006.

Meanwhile, I often learn new things from readers. Bill Robbins, an over-the-air TV viewer in Florida, was concerned about reception from his antenna setup. I’ve found trying to align or adjust a TV antenna using the “quality” indicator on a TV set or the signal level on a meter is difficult, slow and doesn’t always find the best orientation. A spectrum analyzer is a better choice.

Fortunately, these no longer cost thousands of dollars. I recommended Robbins pick up an Airspy SDR and use its free Spectrum Spy software to look at the spectrum of the incoming signals, aligning the antenna for best level and best flatness (least multipath) on the desired channels. He bought an Airspy R2 and sent me a screenshot of the final result. It looked good. He’s using a Winegard LNA-200 (one I’ve also found to work well) and RG-11 coax from the antenna to his in-home distribution setup. However, I’d never heard of the TV antenna he was using—the HD-Stacker. So when he asked my opinion I looked into it and found it quite interesting.