The process of installing an antenna for Digital TV is pretty simple, but there are a few things you need to consider. It will depend heavily on your location and signal quality available at that location.
Assess the Digital TV Signal Available at Your Location
This can be fairly simple or quite complicated. The first step would be to look at what other houses in your street or suburb are doing. If they have a small antenna mount on their roof with a particular type of antenna, chances are that same configuration will work for you.
In other locations, particularly hilly or mountainous terrain, more work may be required. A good place to start is the Australian Government mySwitch website or check out the apps listed in my DIY Antenna Alignment article. These allow you to provide your address and a predicted reception quality will be given which takes into account the terrain and your distance from the Digital TV transmitters. It will also advise you on the band coverage and polarisation required in your area. You will need to purchase a TV Antenna with the correct band coverage and polarisation. Note there is so such thing as “Digital TV Antenna”, although for marketing purposes they are often labeled such.
Choose the Type and Location of TV Aerial Mount
The type of mount will be determined somewhat by the reception quality in your area. In some areas with strong signal and good reception quality it won’t really matter much where you put the antenna. In most areas though you will get a better end result by choosing the right location and type of mount.
Here’s my rules of thumb:
- Choose a location on the same side of the roof as the TV transmitters.
- The higher the better.
If there is no ceiling cavity or there is an asbestos roof, use a fascia mount into a wooden fascia board. Otherwise I’d generally recommend a tripod for either metal or tile roofs. A metal pole and stays or telomast can be used if additional height is required. See my article on How to Mount a TV Antenna for more details on mounting methods and how to install them.
If you have a Digital TV signal strength meter you can move around or up and down your roof to determine the best possible location.
Installing the Antenna
See the main article How to Install a Log Periodic TV Antenna for more detailed instructions.
Assemble the antenna as per whatever instructions are provided for your particular antenna. Pay careful attention that any corner reflectors or other elements are pointing the correct direction towards the TV towers. Also ensure it’s set to the correct polarisation for your local TV transmitters.
Release the mounting clamp or U bolt just enough to accommodate the diameter the mount pole then slide it onto the pole. Once on the pole tighten the nuts to finger tight, so that the antenna holds itself on the pole, but can be easily rotated. Follow either the DIY TV Antenna Alignment instructions or the Professional TV Antenna Alignment instructions to align the antenna as best possible.
Once aligned to the best possible position, tighten off the u-bolt or other mount type with a spanner. Don’t over-tighten, but it should be firm such that you can’t move the antenna with your hand.
Run the Lead In Cable
From the antenna location, run RG6 Quad Shield Coax cable to either the only TV socket or to a central splitter location. Where this is will depend on your intended antenna installation, the number of points you want to install and the style of construction of the house. If you have a ceiling cavity, it’s usually best to install the splitter in there.
You can run a cable under a roof tile on a tile roof house. Alternately on a metal roofed house, a small hole can be drilled in the metal roof to be covered by a Deck-Tite. Liberal amounts of silicon sealant should be used to ensure no leaks.
On houses with raised floors, it is often easier to get access for TV cables from under the floor. In this case it is usually best to run the cable from the roof down the outside wall to a dry protected location under the floor to install the splitter. Be sure to firmly attach the cable to the exterior wall. This can usually be done with black(UV protected) cable clips.
Connect the Lead In Cable to the Antenna
There are two ways to connect a TV Antenna to a coaxial cable. These are saddle and clamp or F type connectors. Saddle and clamp connections are less common now as they’re not recommended for Digital TV. You may still find some antennas intended for DIY use may have them though. If you do use one, ensure the plastic box containing the connection is well sealed. Many antennas I used to replace had rusted out saddle and clamp connections.
If your antenna uses a F type connection, be sure to put the weather protection boot on the cable before terminating it(putting the connector on the end of the cable). Once the boot is on the cable, strip the coax cable and install the F connector. Screw the cable onto the socket on the antenna, push the weather boot into place and then secure the cable against the antenna mount pole with black(UV protected) cable ties. I’d also be sure to leave a half metre loop of cable spare at the bottom of the mount pole for future re-termination.