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Boob toob

I don't have a TV in my room, I've got a computer with a TV tuner and I use Microsoft's Windows Media Center like a TiVo to record my programs.  None of the rooms in the old house have satellite TV, and running a wire would be difficult.  My SO has an ancient outdoor antenna, but it's VHF only (most digital TV stations use UHF now), really old, beaten up and tiny, and the wire only runs to his bedroom and the kitchen; running a wire to my bedroom would require going through the narrow dirt crawlspace under the house.  So for years I've been making due with an outdoor antenna mounted in the corner of my bedroom.



This was adequate for some of the channels, mostly Fox and WB, but ABC, CBS and NBC were a crap shoot, sometimes it would come in clear, sometimes it would skip so bad it would be unwatchable.  And the signal for PBS was so week it couldn't lock on at all.  I've spent at least $50 on amplifiers to try to boost the signal, but they didn't seem to help much.  (And yes, I'd tried moving the plushies away from the front of the antenna.)

This last week, the signal was particularly bad.  I don't know why, the weather has been excellent, no rain, few clouds and little or no wind, so there shouldn't have been any interference, but most of the shows I recorded were unwatchable, even on Fox which is usually the strongest station.  That was the straw that broke the camel's back.  I went out and got some parts and set up the antenna outside.



(The little black box half-way down the mast is an amplifier)

The hard part was running a cable from inside to out.  I ended up drilling a hole in the corner of the window.  I think I got it close enough that bugs shouldn't be able to get in and it shouldn't create a draft.  If it does, I've got some expanding foam glue I could squirt in there.  I should probably find some way to attach the mast to the gutter to stabilize it in high winds; right now it's free standing.  I also took the opportunity to rerun the cable for my satellite radio.

Now I'm getting a fantastic signal.  All the commercial networks are coming in perfectly and I can now receive three digital PBS channels crystal clear and another 3 PBS channels with a 50% signal (which I might be able to improve by reorienting the antenna).

The biggest problem with putting this antenna outside is it's a great lightning rod that's plugged right into my computer.  I've got the cable running through a surge protector, but I doubt that would do much to stop a full-blown lightning strike.  I've got a lightning arrestor on order, but the best thing will be just to unplug everything during a storm.  I should probably get some kind of quick disconnect connector so I don't have to deal with unscrewing these irritating coax connectors.

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