How To Test a TV Antenna Amplifier with a Multimeter

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Using the best TV antenna for your entertainment needs to get free HDTV over the air is surely one of the best things you can do to change cable TV as a cord cutter. However, what happens if you plug the antenna in and find nothing but a static, shaky picture, or worse, low-quality audio?

There’s no need for you to freak out because the issue can be simple to fix. This post will teach you how to test your TV antenna, learn what a TV antenna is and how it works. If you’re ready, let’s jump in.

What is a TV Antenna?

A TV antenna works the same as a radio antenna. The only difference is that the television antenna works off TV towers, broadcasting free channels within your area. You won’t find any subscription charges to get over-the-air (OTA) TV. The signal strength you will get is measured based on the antenna model as well as the terrain of the surrounding area of the antenna placement. This antenna picks up the signal within the range of the broadcasting source. 

The technology in charge of OTA TV has been around since the 1940s. Until the emergence of cable TV in the seventies and eighties, broadcast TV was the only way for American homes to watch television. 

In 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) instructed those local channels to transition all their broadcasts to digital format, bringing us today. 

Presently, only seven percent of Americans utilize a TV antenna. However, that number has been growing substantially with the increase of cord-cutting. 

How Does a TV Antenna Work?

Low tech is the ideal way to describe a TV antenna. These antennas feature a set of elements cut to precise lengths created to receive a well-matched frequency from a conducted TV signal. Every element has a pair of metal rods extending from a boom. 

The major difference between different TV antenna brands is the construction quality and how well anodized the metal is. The active elements are more likely to lose contact as the metal oxidizes and the rivets rust. 

When the metal oxidizes, you’ll nearly experience insufficient reception. Outdoor TV antennas are more susceptible to wear compared to their indoor counterparts. Nonetheless, outdoor TV antennas also offer extra reliability and clarity. Furthermore, the sound and picture will be much clearer the higher the antenna is placed. 

Antennas are accessible for VHF, UHF, or a unique combination signal. Technically speaking, UHF signals are more susceptible to attenuation or lowered signal strength, unlike inferior band VHF signals. 

Meanwhile, channel cut antennas are created to get a single channel. Cable companies often utilize such antennas to get local TV signals for rebroadcast. You can also buy a channel cut antenna from your local supply store should you need a dedicated signal.

Keep in mind that major use of such antennas in a home purpose is when a single station has a transmitter placed in a different course from all the others. A channel cut antenna might be the best option for enhanced reception, especially when that station is hard to pick up. 

Many TV antennas are directional and should be pointed toward the transmitter’s location so you can receive the right signal. 

What are the Common Complaints on a TV Antenna?

If you’re like most people, you have probably experienced some of these common TV antenna problems:

  • Facing a wrong direction 

The direction of your antenna could have a major impact on the TV’s reception. Maybe you have moved in recently and have caused you to have less than perfect reception. 

  • It needs some upgrading

Ensure you have the proper equipment to receive the digital signal as the networks upgrade from analog to digital broadcasting. If your TV antenna is older than a few years, it might not efficiently receive a signal, and you’ll need to upgrade.

  • Broken fly leads

One typical concern and the simplest to fix is a broken fly lead. If you didn’t know, it’s a lead you use to connect the TV to the antenna, inserting one end into the television and the other into the antenna outlet. Fly leads sometimes create problems close the plug fitting as they get broken, bent, and bumped.

How Do You Test a TV Antenna? 

There’s a very simple way to test your antenna’s signal. All you have to do is to get a digital multimeter. 

Take note that TV antennas get radio signals delivered through a conductive wire to the device by producing a small electric impulse. Nonetheless, you can use a multimeter to test the signal traveling down a TV antenna and the receiving device.

If the TV antenna is not grounded, the signal might interfere with the antenna’s electrical potential. Hence, you can use a digital multimeter to measure the antenna’s resistance using the Ohms setting.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Set your meter to Ohms setting.
  1. Unplug the antenna cable from the receiving device. For example, disconnect the antenna from the TV’s back if you like to test the signal on your room’s TV. 
  1. Use the multimeter’s lead to touch the metal part of the antenna. Touch the other lead to the cable’s metalcore. Remember that ohms reading here must be zero. If the resistance goes beyond that, the antenna cable is damaged and stops any signal from reaching the reception device.
  1. Use the lead to touch the metal jacket in your antenna’s cable connector. Touch the other end to a grounded object. The reading here must be zero again. If it’s not, it means your antenna isn’t grounded.

Final Thoughts

Other factors that could impact TV reception are inferior or poor cabling, connectors, splitters, amplifiers, and wrong installation. Further, damage from harsh weather could also cause reception problems, whether heavy rain has caused water damage to parts of the antenna or strong winds have knocked it off alignment.

We hope you find this article informative and discovered the answer to your problems. Please share your thoughts with us by leaving your comments below.

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