Antennas for capital region
Hi all. I'm the former Chief Engineer of WNYT, Channel 13, having retired about 3+ years ago. I've had a fair amount of experience with Over-The-Air reception issues, and I'll try to offer some advice.
As others have pointed out, the problem with most of the smaller antennas, including the flat antennas is that they tend to work best at UHF frequencies, WXXA, WNYT and WNYA broadcast on high band VHF channels 7, 12 and 13 respectively, and WRGB is on low band VHF channel 6 (below the FM band). Some of the flat antennas also tend to pick up signals in different directions depending on the channel which can make it difficult to get all of the channels with the same antenna orientation. The other issue with indoor antennas is that the signals (especially low band VHF) are attenuated and are subject to electrical noise inside of the home from various appliances. Indoor antennas are also subject to reflections off of people as they move around in the room, which destabilizes reception. Having said that, it is possible to get stable reception of the area TV stations using an indoor antenna.
If possible, I recommend using a smaller conventional antenna that is mounted in the attic. While this isn't as good as an outdoor mounted antenna, it has the advantage of getting the antenna away from the influence of signal reflections as people move about a room, and a smaller conventional antenna has a more even frequency response to receive all channels. The Channel Master CM-3016 is an example of an antenna that fits well in an attic. A coaxial cable can be run from the attic either inside or outside of the home to a location where it can feed the former Cable TV wiring. A small amplifier at the antenna or before the splitter(s) can boost the signal level to overcome the cable and splitter losses. The antenna should be pointed towards the Helderbergs where 7 of the stations are located. The beam width of the CM-3016 is wide enough that it will also pick up nearly all of the other stations depending on your specific location. Any similar antenna to the Channel Master should work fine. I've used this method at several locations, including my own home, and am quite satisfied with the performance.
If an attic antenna isn't feasible, and you need to locate an alternative antenna near the TV, try to mount the antenna so that is as high as possible in the room. If possible, the antenna should be in an area where it is near a window on the side toward the Helderbergs. This is especially important if your home is sided with aluminum or has foil faced insulation in the walls. A simple set of rabbit ears (like the RCA ANT-111 without a tuning control - just rods and a loop) can work well. Be sure to extend the rods as much as possible to help pick up WRGB. Also try to get the rods as horizontal as possible to maximize signal pickup. An alternative is a flat antenna like the HD-Blade available at Solid Signal and others. The HD-Blade has both VHF and UHF elements, and can be mounted on a window.
Hope some of this helps.
Retired Dir. of Eng.