Husband. Father. Follower of Jesus Christ. Coloradan.
Iowa native. DevOps Engineer. Hiker & Skier. ISTJ.

Over-the-air Digital TV in the Exurbs

Ever since the Lake Cedar Group began broadcasting from the new consolidated DTV transmitter on Lookout Mountain earlier this year, I’ve had a dream of being able to receive all the over-the-air signals at our house here in Castle Rock.  I would like nothing more than to stop flushing $22 a month down the toilet to Comcast for basic cable.

Unfortunately, this is more difficult than it seems.  The topology of Colorado’s front range makes it tricky to receive a sufficient signal unless you’re located in metro Denver or are high enough to have true line-of-sight to Lookout Mountain.  You can see on this coverage map for KUSA that the signal strength fizzles out pretty quickly south of Surrey Ridge.  Fortunately, we live just above Castlewood Canyon which gets us out of the RF shadow cast by the ridge over most of Castle Rock.

I’ve tried a couple different omni-directional set-top antennas over the last few months, with very poor results.  I found a great site (tvfool.com) where you can enter your address and it’ll give you a report of all the DTV stations in your area, their expected signal strengths, and the azimuth of their transmitters.  Here is the one I used:

As the chart shows, the majority of the transmitters are northwest of us, somewhere in the foothills west of Denver.  It also shows pretty marginal signal strength here at our location.  Clearly the set-up antenna is not going to work.

So I picked up an outdoor UHF arial from Radio Shack that’s small enough to fit in my attic, plus an 18 dB booster to push the RF down through the fifty feet of 300-ohm coax cable to the TV.

This weekend I took a couple hours to get everything rigged up.  It took a while to figure out a suitable mounting scheme in the attic (since the antenna is designed for mounting on a mast), but once I worked that out it was surprisingly easy.  I put it as high as I could manage and pointed it at 309°, the azimuth of the weakest channel I wanted to receive (KMGH.)

Back downstairs, I was pleasantly surprised that we could receive all the local broadcast DTV channels as well as a few others from up near Ft. Collins.  Success!

I’ll be returning the cable card and canceling my cable service Monday morning.

1 Comment

  1. Awesome, I’m glad to hear of your success, it gives me some hope. I will be moving to Castle Rock in a few months and was saddened to see the poor reception on some of the projected websites about the signal strength. Currently I have Comcast and I am so sick of them raising my rates for their bundle I’m paying $175 a month. I will be glad to say goodbye to them, I’m going to invest some time in learning more about mythTV as a PVR solution as I hate to watch TV with commercials, that is something you may be interested in. Hopefully I will be able to get as many channels as you have. Thank you for your post.

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