How To Test Antenna Signal Strength: Obtain a Strong TV Signal

How To Test Antenna Signal Strength

Don’t you just hate getting interrupted when watching your favorite TV show, because of bad signal strength?

We’ve all grown up seeing the adults in our house rotating and fixing the antennas to improve, or even get back lost TV signal. This isn’t anything new.

But, if you make the right adjustments to your antenna, you won’t have to keep on fixing it again and again. For making the right adjustments and fine-tuning the antenna you need to analyze and read the signal strength.

There are lots of tools available nowadays that let you test signal strength.  But you need to know how to test antenna signal strength to get the most accurate results.

Only then will you be able to adjust the antenna perfectly so that it does not need frequent maintenance.

Keep on reading if you do not want to be interrupted by a bad signal when watching TV shows!

What Is HDTV Antenna Signal?

TV antennas are wires and metal elements that have been arranged in a specific way. The metal elements and wires are arranged to pick up broadcasting signals that TV networks cast. These antennas are slowly but surely replacing cable TV systems.

An HDTV antenna is used to catch these broadcasting signals using electromagnetic signals, which the television centers cast. The antenna then translates these signals into audio and video form for you to watch.

Using an HDTV antenna, you can watch all your favorite TV shows in HD quality video and high-quality audio. Unlike cables, an HDTV antenna does not compress the signals that it receives. That is one of the main reasons why these antennas can give you extremely high-quality audio and visuals.

It’s also a very cost-effective option. If you’re using a good-quality HDTV antenna, you can get access to at least five of your local TV stations very easily.

Using a tuner, you can connect the antenna directly to your TV. Tuning the antennas requires you to first know about their strength. With the right kind of tuning and tweaks made, you can use one single antenna for multiple TVs. The signal can be amplified or split as per your requirement.

The signals from the HDTV antenna are oftentimes measured in power ratio decibels milliwatt or noise margin decibels. The noise margin decibels measure how clean the signal is, while the power ratio decibels measure the strength of the signal.

Why Should You Test The Signal Strength?

Everyone who owns an HDTV antenna knows that the signal strength can get a bit wonky at times. This is often because the antenna is not facing the right direction.

Because this antenna is receiving a lot of signals from different broadcasting networks and channels, sometimes the audio and video quality is not of the highest quality as a whole. If the antenna is not rotor controlled, you need to adjust the direction of the antenna so that all the channels get a good signal.

If a channel that we are watching is blurry or has too much background noise, rotating the antenna fixes it. But how will you know which direction the antenna needs to be rotated to? That is why you need to test the signal strength of an antenna.

Using an antenna strength meter, you measure the direction at which the signal strength is highest. Noting the direction down can help you in the future when you are fine-tuning the antenna again.

Ways to Measure a TV Antenna Signal Strength – Step by Step Guide

To get proper reception and audio and video quality from your HDTV antenna, you first need to know how to measure TV signal strength. Knowing this will allow you to make the exact adjustments to get the signal strength that you want.

Here are the steps that you need to follow to properly test out an antenna signal strength.

Step 1: Get An Antenna Signal Strength Meter

If you want to get the most accurate readings when measuring antenna signal strength, you must purchase a good quality antenna signal strength meter. There are lots of antenna analyzers, SWR meters, and RF readers in the market for you to purchase.

Buying the antenna signal strength meter is a whole other process. You need to do your research about the product that you’re about to buy before investing in it. Make sure that the strength meter is reliable and accurate.

Getting antenna signal strength meters that are easier to read and understand is also a plus point.

Step 2: Disconnect The Cables

Most TVs have an RG6 coaxial cable. The first step of taking reading for signal strength is disconnecting this cable from your tuner or your television.

As the cables are taken out of the picture, you will now get an accurate TV signal strength measurement.

The signal strength meter that you have bought needs to be placed in between the antennas and the television set.

Removing the coaxial cable ensures that the signal travels to the TV from the antenna through the antenna signal measuring meter. Now you will get to know how effectively the antenna is working in the direction it’s currently facing.

Step 3: Attach The Antenna To The Signal Meter

You will see that the antenna signal meter has a socket labeled “antenna”. You need to attach the RG6 connector to this socket. The connector cable should be coming out of the antenna itself.

Step 4: Connect The TV To Antenna Signal Meter

Similar to how you found a socket labeled as “antenna” on the signal meter, you will find a socket labeled “TV”. You need to connect the television to this socket.

Step 5: Turn On The Antenna Signal Meter

Now we will start our test. For this, you need to first turn on the antenna signal strength meter. Start with the lowest broadcast channel in your area. This will be the starting point of our strength measuring test.

Step 6: Rotate The Antenna

If you’re wondering how to measure TV antenna signal strength, this is how you do it.

After you have turned on the antenna signal strength meter, you can slowly start rotating the antenna. Rotate the antenna all the way around for 360° and find the highest antenna signal strength.

You will know that the highest signal strength has been reached when you see a green led light indicator on the meter. The higher the number of lights that have illuminated, the better and stronger the signal strength.

Step 7: Mark Down The Direction

The direction the antenna was facing when you got the highest reading needs to be noted down. The right way to do this is to use a compass. Use the compass to determine the direction that the antenna was facing at the highest signal strength, and note it down.

Step 8: Continue The Process

Now you will move forward to higher broadcast channels. As you change the channels you repeat steps six and seven, meaning you note down the direction that the antenna needs to face to get the highest signal strength for that channel.

Step 9: Calculate The Average

So you’ve noted down all the directions in which the signals were the strongest. Now you need to calculate an average of all of these directions to find the optimal point.

If you’re using a rotor-controlled antenna, you need to keep a hold of the list of the directions that you’ve made. For antennas that are rotor control, you need to adjust the direction of the antenna depending on the channel that you want to tune into. There is no one-stop solution for getting good signal strength in every channel.

That’s it. This is how you measure the strength of the antenna to find the perfect direction that it should be facing.

Tips And Precautions When Testing Antenna Signal Strength

If you want to get the most precise and accurate readings off of your antenna signal strength meter, you need to follow a few tips. Here are a few suggestions that we have for you to take measurements correctly.

1. Rotate The Antenna Gently

When rotating the antenna, every degree of change counts. Meaning if you move the antenna too fast you might miss out on the sweet spot that you are looking for.

That is why you should rotate the antenna slowly to find out the direction in which the signal is at its strongest. The results taken when the antenna is rotated at a slower speed are more accurate.

2. Use A Mobile Compass

You will use a compass to note down the direction of the optimal signal strength. Using a manual compass can be quite complicated. No one even has a manual compass these days.

That is why it’s better if you use the compass on your phone. You can also use any other automatic compass. This will give you a direct reading about the direction that you are facing. There’s no need to read the compass manually.

Automated results on a mobile compass are more precise and can be relied on.

3. Hang The Meter

When you are taking measurements and rotating the antenna, it’s better if your hands are free. That is why we recommend hanging the meter to the antenna.

This will keep your hands free so that you can rotate the antenna, track down the directions, and note it down properly.

4. Get Easy To Use Antenna Meters

There are lots of different kinds of antenna meters in the market.

It’s better if you invest in a meter that is easier to read. The meters that show the signal strength in the form of led lights are better to go for if you are a beginner.

You won’t be able to understand and decode meters that show frequency and antenna strength in the form of graphs if it’s your first time measuring antenna strength.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Good Signal Strength For Tv Antennas?

-80 dBm to -60 dBm is a good range of strength for TV antennas. This range is for antennas that are in an ideal condition. Meaning that the antenna is at least 30 ft. high or more, is a sensitive receiver, and has no electronic pollution around.

What Is The Maximum Range That A TV Antenna Can Cover?

The range that a TV antenna can cover depends on the brand and model.

Well-performing outdoor antennas can reach up to 150+ miles. This is considered the maximum range of a high-performance antenna.

A high-grade indoor antenna model can cover anywhere between 20 to 60 miles.

How To Check Antenna Signal Strength On Meter?

Not all meters will work the same way. Different meters have different methods of showing results.

But most of the time, the signal strength will be shown with the help of green LED lights. The more the number of lights that illuminate, the stronger the signal is.

What Causes Bad Antenna Signal Strength?

Signal strength can be disrupted due to a lot of reasons. You might not have attached the antenna in the right position, or there might be a lot of electronic pollution around. But one of the main reasons for an antenna signal to be weak is because it’s too far away from the broadcast location.

How Do I Check If My Antenna Is Working?

To do this, you will need a multimeter. One lead of the multimeter should be touching the metal part of the antenna, and the other one should be touching the cable’s metalcore.

Antennas that are working properly will display an ohm reading of 0. If the reading is greater than that it means that the antenna is not working properly or is damaged.

Final Verdict

Measuring your antenna’s strength is vital if you want to position it correctly. No one wants to keep on climbing to the roof and rotating the antenna to get a proper signal.

If you have paid for a high-quality HDTV antenna, you deserve high-quality audio and visuals. Knowing how to test antenna signal strength will make your life a lot easier.

With an antenna single strength meter, you can determine the exact direction that the antenna needs to face for optimum signal strength. Adjust the antenna to this direction, and you can enjoy uninterrupted, high-quality TV every day.

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