Cheap Ways to Make Antennas Strongerby David Lipscomb
Whether using wireless networks, watching television or listening to the radio, your data connectivity relies on antennas. Reducing interference, proper alignment and mounting location are among the common issues you face with any antenna installation. Different types of antennas present different concerns, so you need to take different steps to address the specific needs of each type when necessary.
Terrestrial TV Antennas
Modern digital television signals often require precise alignment to receive all the channels you expect. Directional antennas require extra attention to this, since their reception pattern is narrow compared to that of an omnidirectional unit. Mounting TV antennas away from large trees, buildings and other obstructions helps to reduce or eliminate multipath. This phenomenon occurs when a television signal is received at differing intervals from bouncing off of objects. As a result the signal cancels itself, causing intermittent reception or none at all. If your coaxial cable run is between 100 and 200 feet, consider a preamplifier mounted at the antenna mast to counter losses incurred from longer distances.
Wireless Internet signals -- like all radio waves -- tend to travel laterally and downward, but are effectively omnidirectional. In most cases, the simplest way to improve reception throughout your home is to place the router centrally located on the uppermost level, preferably elevated on a table or desk. Turning off competing signals from baby monitors, microwave ovens and Bluetooth devices helps keeps the Wi-Fi signal strong. Changing the channel on your router to 1, 6 or 11 might also help reception, since these are the primary Wi-Fi broadcast channels. Various online sites and smartphone apps help "sniff" competing Wi-Fi signals in your area, allowing you to change to a less populated channel.
Amplitude modulation and frequency modulation radio signal reception should be treated differently. AM does not travel around and through objects as effectively as FM, requiring precise adjustment. Brick, stone, electrical lines and appliances wreak havoc on AM. Getting the antenna outside or close to a window often helps dramatically, while reducing signal fade at night. FM requires less precise aiming; A good size antenna mounted as high as possible normally improves reception considerably.
To increase your Wi-Fi coverage, add a wireless repeater to extend into larger spaces and into adjacent locations, such as a patio or garden. Although sometimes costly and complex to set up, these devices relay the feed from your primary router for seamless reception. For increased FM reception, divide the feed coming from your rooftop TV antenna with a VHF/UHF/FM splitter, sending one lead to your FM tuner. The large size of the average TV antenna works well with FM radio signals. Using free Internet resources such as AntennaWeb.org and TVFool.com can aid your terrestrial TV antenna aiming. These sites use your physical address to map your location relative to broadcast towers, making the alignment process a little easier.
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