Originally Posted by billium2000
... I would rather not have an outside antenna but I'm guessing an interior unit may not be good enough....Am I right in assuming I won't get many channels with a simple interior setup since I'm so far from downtown?...!
It is difficult to say; the best thing to do is try.
But before you do, can you see S. Mt.? That is helpful. Do you have a stucco structure? That can be problematic. Refer to recent posts here on those topics (by me) for more detail. Also, as others have mentioned, it pays to visit antennaweb.org or TVFool.com, but you have to take their advice with a grain of salt. But if things look good there, below is a cheap way to jump on in to this,
If you have a window facing S. Mt., the best thing to do is go to RatShack and purchase one of those twinlead FM "T" antennas (42-2385), the floppy kind that get packed with new AVRs. Also, you will need a balun (15-1253) that changes the signal from 300 ohm (screw terminals) to 75 ohm (F-connector male). If your TV is far from the window, you might also need a chunk of coax as well as an F-81 barrel connector (278-213). All of that will cost you about $15 (cable a little more). Pick up a FM trap (inline with F-connectors, 15-024) also, which you can use in place of the barrel connector. Don't fret, you can return most or all of this if it does not work.
Make sure your window has no reflective film attached to it (or remove a thin strip of that). Tape the antenna, which is actually a folded dipole with 3 dB gain, to the window facing S. Mt. If you get fairly good reception there, and the "T" is two single wires extending to left and right, you can cut them shorter (if the T is two wires in each direction, you could cut them shorter, but then you also have to reconnect the ends on each side).
As you cut the T shorter, that tunes the antenna to a higher frequency. It comes tuned for FM but that is a lower frequency than HDTV, so making the T elements shorter means the antenna will work slightly better. Cut it to about 18 inches on either side, and if higher physical channels (3, 5, 61, 15) still don't come in as well as lower physical channels (8, 10, 12. Trust me, those are VHF and lower in frequency while the others are UHF and higher), you can nip more off until you get to about 14 inches (and none of this nipping would make a dramatic change). If you don't want to cut the antenna, try folding it back on itself (fold each side of the T in half)
If that does not work, add a line amp. If that does not work, you will probably need either a better indoor antenna, or most likely an outside antenna. You could also try an amplified indoor antenna, but if so get one that allows you to disable the amp and use it unamplified, because sometimes amps are worse than no amp.
Plus there is the wife factor. Most will tolerate a set top antenna over twinlead taped to the window, but the twinlead experiment will give you a realistic idea how well a set top antenna will work. If you want to graduate to a set top antenna, stay away from anthing branded "Terk", and buy the little one shaped like an airplane made by Zenith and others for about $30 (ZHDTV1). The Winegard ANWSS2 and Flat-wave antennae are outdoor antennae that are easy to mount, and they are also small and attractive enough to be used inside. If none of that works you probably need a bigger, more directional antenna.Edited by TomCat - 5/24/13 at 12:41pm