Q. When trying to receive Milwaukee digital TV channels over the air with an antenna, I see a picture which freezes, has little squares in it (pixelated), or is not there at all. At times, I may also see a "Weak Signal" or "No Signal" error message on my screen.
A. Pixelation, or a "No Signal" or "Weak Signal" error message on your screen is a sign of an insufficient antenna. In the old days of analog TV, a poor quality signal from an insufficient antenna translated into a snowy picture, or a picture full of distortions (picture fading, ghosts, etc.). In the digital world, the picture from an insufficient antenna becomes pixelated, freezes, or is just not there at all. There is no such thing as a snowy picture or ghosts with digital. This is simply how digital transmissions work.
Q: Why is it important to use an antenna that has the capability of receiving both VHF and UHF signals?
A: Milwaukee TV stations transmit at VHF frequencies and UHF frequencies. Your antenna must be working properly for both VHF and UHF signals in order to receive all over the air digital TV channels in Milwaukee.
WMVS Channel 10.1, WMVT Channel 36.1 (as of Jan. 8, 2018), and WIWN Channel 68.1 are all transmitted in the VHF band (as are many other digital TV stations across the country).
It is entirely possible to have an antenna which may work with UHF TV signals, but does not work with VHF signals (or vice versa).
If you are not properly receiving channels 10.1, 36.1 (as of Jan. 8, 2018), and 68.1, it is very likely that the antenna you are using is not working with VHF signals.
Q. What is the best type of TV antenna?
A: For proper digital TV reception, a traditional VHF/UHF rooftop antenna (with the typical metal rods sticking out horizontally) is by far the best choice. Attic antennas may work in some situations, but there may be as much as a 2/3 loss of signal by installing the antenna in an attic as opposed to a rooftop or outdoor wall mount installation. Random signal reflections and absorptions may also drastically degrade the performance of an attic antenna.
Outdoor antennas such as the Clearstream 2MAX or antennas made by Digitenna would be suggested. (Digitenna antennas are available from professional antenna installers). These are usually installed on the roof or wall mounted with the antenna mast extending above the roof line.
Q. How do I aim an antenna for digital television?
A: Times have changed. The days of just moving an antenna and watching the screen for best picture are gone!
All new flat screen TVs have a built in signal meter which is used for antenna aiming.
The on-screen signal meter is accessed through the menu system of your TV. Tune in the channel you are having problems with, then press the menu button on the TV remote control and follow the instructions in your TV owners manual to use the signal strength meter in your TV. Move the antenna for maximum reading on the signal meter.
Q. Are indoor VHF/UHF antennas really any good?
A: Rabbit ears and other types of indoor antennas which sit on or near the TV are notoriously unreliable. Also, many of the indoor antennas being sold work for UHF signals only and are not capable of receiving VHF signals. Even some indoor antennas which are listed as being capable of VHF reception have such poor performance with VHF signals that they are virtually useless. Amplified antennas may actually make matters worse, as they amplify electrical noise and signal reflections (which cause digital reception problems) just as much as they amplify the desired signal.
If you live in metro Milwaukee area or surrounding suburbs, indoor antennas such as the Mohu Leaf 30 or Digitenna DUV-I would be suggested. Just hang the antenna in a window behind a shade or drape and do a channel scan on your TV (see your TV owners manual for instructions). In order to avoid electrical interference, indoor antennas should be located in a window well away from anything electrical --- including the TV itself! (Also see antenna aiming question above).
Q: What can I try if my indoor antenna does not work?
A: Random signal reflections and absorptions in a room will greatly degrade indoor TV reception. Electrical interference from fluorescent lighting, LED lighting, and electrical appliances (including the TV itself) will also degrade indoor TV reception. An indoor antenna should be located well away from anything electrical.
The best place for an indoor TV antenna is in an upper floor window facing the TV towers in Estabrook Park on the northeast side of Milwaukee. If the cable included with your antenna is too short to place it in a window, a longer RG-6 antenna cable can be purchased from Menards, Home Depot, etc.
If an indoor antenna will not work at your particular location, you will need use an outdoor antenna. Outdoor antennas such as the Clearstream 2MAX or antennas made by Digitenna are suggested. These antennas would usually be mounted on the roof or on the wall of a house with the antenna mast extending above the roof line. (See best antenna and antenna aiming questions above).
Q: What about professional antenna system installation and repair?
A: If you already have a rooftop antenna and are still having reception problems, please have your antenna system checked by a qualified antenna installation and repair company such as Custom Communications Solutions 920-564-6030 or other experienced antenna professionals.
If you do not have a rooftop antenna system and want reliable reception on all over the air digital TV channels in Milwaukee, consider having a traditional rooftop antenna system professionally installed. It is a one time investment which will last many years. All TVs in the house can be hooked up to one rooftop antenna. Best of all, there is no more fiddling with old style rabbit ears to try to get a stable picture every time you change channels. Additionally, you will be able to receive over the air digital TV channels which are not carried on satellite or cable.