How to Receive KCAU’s Digital Signal with an Antenna

Dear Over the Air Viewer,

The best practice for receiving a DTV signal is to use an outside VHF antenna. An outdoor antenna should be the type that you remember seeing outside everyone’s home from the 1950’s, long elements in back and shorter elements in the front. The antenna is pointed like an arrow head with the short elements facing the TV tower that you want to receive. KCAU’s transmission tower is located approximately 4 miles southeast of Hinton, IA, on Highway K42. Exact transmitter coordinates are 42-35-11.0 N 96-13-55.9 W.

An indoor antenna is subject to multipath signals and digital will not work if multiple signals reach the TV receiver. An indoor antenna also will get 1/2 the signal level of an outdoor antenna. Many indoor antennas are marketed as HD or digital and have an amplifier built in. There is no such thing as a HD or digital antenna and most of these antennas are poor VHF antennas even when marked UHF/VHF. The built in amplifiers can do more harm than good and if you are using an amplifier you might try turning it off and see if the signal gets better.

KCAU is operating on channel 9, a high VHF channel. Channel 9 has a greater loss on an indoor antenna due to its frequency, needing an antenna that is 30″ long at half wavelength. Most indoor antennas are much smaller than the 30″ 1/2 wavelength of channel 9. If you want to use an indoor antenna it may take much trial and error moving the antenna to different locations to get enough signal to work. If you have rabbit ears they will usually work better than the more expensive indoor antennas. The rods should be extended to 30″ and be pulled out horizontally. The best place for an indoor antenna is near a window or door facing our transmitter site.

Recommended: Outdoor Antenna

Indoor, rabbit ear style antenna…possible, but not the best choice.

Not recommended: combination digital antenna with amplifier