Subsequent to the cessation of analog broadcasting in 2008, antenna manufacturers began producing "batwing" antennas to replace the more familiar "rabbit ears." Batwing antenna pick up Ultra High Frequency, or UHF, digital and high definition signals, but still use conventional coaxial cable to transfer the signal from the antenna to the television set. Although most antennas are manufactured with an integral booster, called an amplifier, some require an aftermarket amplifier be fitted. This is particularly the case for users of recreational vehicles, or RVs, who enjoy remote camping in locations distant from broadcast towers. With a signal booster, the batwing antenna can develop reception quality equal to either satellite or cable.
Things You'll Need
- Antenna booster
- Soldering kit
- Shrink-wrap insulation kit
- Coax stripping tool
- Compression coax connectors
- Coax compression tool
Choose a location for your antenna booster. Typically the booster will be similar to a wall outlet or light switch, so it will need to be sited in a preinstalled wall box or attached to a hollow wall with a properly sized hole cut in it for the purpose. A booster manufactured for RV use will require 12-volt power, so a location close to a 12-volt feed is desirable. Because the television signal becomes progressively weaker the farther it must travel along coax cable, the booster should be sited as close to the antenna as possible.
Familiarize yourself with the rear of your antenna booster. There will be a 12-volt supply terminal and a ground terminal to power the booster and allow the function of a built-in LED lamp to indicate when it is switched on. There will also be two coax connectors, one labeled "To Antenna" or "Ant Input" to describe the run of coax from the antenna, and one labeled "To TV" to describe the run of coax to the television.
Connect your 12-volt hot wire, typically color-coded red or black, to the supply terminal, and your 12-volt ground wire, typically color-coded white, to the ground terminal. Solder the connections and protect them with shrink-wrap insulation.
Use a coax stripper to prepare the ends of both your coax runs. These tools automatically strip and trim the various layers of conductor and insulation to their correct lengths to accept a fitting, and do not nick the central conductor, which can interrupt the flow of Very High Frequency Electricity along its skin and reduce the quality of signal.
Fix compression type coax connectors to the ends of your coax runs using a specialist coax compression tool, which can be sourced at most home improvement warehouses. Compression fittings are very resistant to moisture and accidental contact, and although there are other products on the market they tend to be unreliable in comparison.
Screw the connector on the run of coax from the antenna to the terminal labeled "To Antenna" or "Ant Input," using your fingers to turn it clockwise until no more turning is possible. Do the same with the run of coax to the television at the terminal labeled "To TV."
Tips & Warnings
- Most aftermarket amplifiers have connections to run two televisions simultaneously.
- Coaxial cable is produced in two types for television signals, RG-6 or RG-59, which are measurements of bandwidth. The two types utilize different connectors, so ensure you buy compatible products.
- Television signals are tiny, so the slightest contamination in a connector can reduce reception. Keep everything fastidiously clean.
- Photo Credit tv image by martini from Fotolia.com
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