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Digital Reception
updated: Dec 02, 2013, 3:51 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

I'm looking for suggestions on the best method for over the air digital reception in SB? My mother cancelled her Cox cable and wants to just use over the air reception for channels like ABC, NBC, CBS and similar. She lives on the second floor of an apartment near the courthouse with north and west facing windows. I bought her a $30 RCA omni-directional digital antenna receiver from Best Buy. I hooked it up to her newer Sony TV, scanned and found 18 channels when I hung the antenna in front of her west facing window. Most of them PBS and Spanish stations. ABC barely came in and was pretty much unwatchable. Almost nothing came in when placed in front of the north facing window. Best Buy sells digital antennas up to $100. Is there a greater chance of receiving more channels if I buy a more expensive antenna?

I also cancelled Cox cable over a year ago and am able to pickup about 30 high quality stations. I live out in Goleta and didn't have to use a separate antenna, perhaps my TV has a built-in one. I found an Edhat thread from a couple years ago where someone listed out all of the over the air channels and I just tune my TV to those stations when I want to watch something or watch it on the iPad. Grant it I have to sit through commercials and succomb to network scheduling, but saving $100/mo. Haven't really looked back.

Anyway, wondering if anyone in town has had better luck with a different antenna or suggestions on where or how to place them for optimal reception. Where are the stations broadcasted? TV hill? Top of Refugio? Thanks for any suggestions.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 473700 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-02 04:04 PM

The stations are broadcast from LA. You can look them up at TV Fool and make a map. Most stations have to clear 1 mountain range and some have to clear 2. Reception is problematic and varys seasonally. Where in SB you're located is a factor: west side is better versus closer to the mtns on the east side. I would guess, that parts of the mesa are more ideal. I have an 8' antenna hidden in my attic and it's challenging because of tree coverage.


 COMMENT 473703 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-02 04:10 PM

I remember when you could get basic basic off the cable without a box just by removing the signal block device off the cable line. But I was in an apartment then so the line splitter to the different units was easier to gain access to.


 REXOFSB agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-02 04:14 PM

You can't get LA stations here at all without at least a 50-foot antenna mast--and tall masts were outlawed by the city after cable TV came into town decades ago. Excluding the myriad Mexican stations, pretty much all that's available here are KEYT (ABC), KSBY (NBC), KOCE (PBS), and KCET (ex-PBS). There is no over-the-air CBS or Fox available in the South County. I have no idea why KCOY (CBS) doesn't install a translator like KSBY has.


 JOHN WILEY agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-02 04:38 PM

OP, you might try moving the antenna around in 3 dimensions while watching the channel you'd most like to get for her (with signal meter turned on if the TV has one). Often you can find a much stronger signal by moving the antenna just a few inches forward-back up-down and side to side.

If you can get a refund on the antenna, you might try some of the options available at Marvac or Radio Shack. Generally the fancy indoor amplified loops don't compare well with passive multi-element antennas that cost about the same and don't require AC power.


 COMMENT 473756 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-02 06:57 PM

Where is TV Fool ? Is that in Santa Barbara?


 JOHN WILEY agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-02 11:02 PM

TV Fool is really only helpful if you're buying a big antenna setup and live in one of the few parts of town with line of sight to the LA mountains like Mt. Wilson where the LA transmitters are.

The rest of us are using small inexpensive antennas and watching what's broadcast here (or re-broadcast here as with PBS from LA) from one or both of the two local peaks. Broadcast Peak (A on this gMap) is the tallest one above the Goleta area, and the other is the peak (not sure of the name) above Montecito off Gibraltar Road (B). Just point your small antenna vaguely toward one or the other and see what you get. I have the good fortune to live somewhat between the two peaks with a view of them both, so I can use one antenna and get broadcasts from stations at both peaks. Others may find they'll need two antennas and some way to switch between them (or walk over and move the antenna) depending on which channel you'd like to watch at a given time.

Getting TV via broadcast can be a bit of work for less reliable results and of course far fewer channels, but worth it for many of us. For most people, it's worth paying the fare for cable, etc. I'd be doing that if PBS weren't available free both online and via broadcast, since PBS is nearly all I bother to watch.

I do wish there were more support for non-techies wanting to cut the cord, and maybe some local entrepreneur will set up shop to offer simple and affordable solutions. I wonder if there's enough business in town to support that.


 COMMENT 473811 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-03 07:55 AM

I get KSBY with rabbit ears except when the weather is bad.

I also get the LA NBC channel with a slightly larger setup. Rarely the LA Fox and independent station (channel 5?) will also come in on this antenna. I haven't tried a larger antenna hidden in the attic yet. I refuse to pay Cox what they want for access to cable TV, plus having fewer channels available means I have less temptation to turn on the boob tube anyway.


 SHAKEY agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-03 11:54 AM

I found the best way is to split your antenna wire , bare both ends, hold one in each hand , face the mountains, put left arm out to the north, right arm pointing south west, bend right knee bring right foot up against left leg above the knee. Caution , if you have a steep roof , make sure to tie your self off, in case of winds !! Oh I forgot to say , you need to be on the roof, sorry ... If this seems to hard to do, just trade places with the guy on top of the ladder holding up your TV. Now enjoy the big game...


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