Free Digital TV Over the Air

Don’t laugh. I finally got TV in my home. I have a TV, the physical device. I use it for watching DVDs. I just haven’t had TV programming in the last few years. I canceled my cable subscription because I found myself not watching at all for weeks on end. Occasionally I wanted to watch something like the Oscars or the Olympics. I also missed the PBS programs although I don’t understand why they keep having Robert Kiyosaki and Suze Orman on their personal finance shows. Because I live far from the broadcast towers, the signal quality from an indoor antenna isn’t very good. So I didn’t bother.

A couple of months ago I read on the Bogleheads forum that you can get a coupon from the government for a digital TV converter box if your TV doesn’t have a digital tuner, because broadcast TV will move to all digital in February 2009. You can ask for up to two coupons, each worth $40. It took them two months to send me the coupons. I went to Circuit City and bought myself a converter ($60 plus tax, minus $40 coupon) and an indoor antenna. I hooked them up and voila, I got TV! I receive about 20 channels, not counting the ones which broadcast in languages I don’t understand. For the channels I receive, the signal is crystal clear. There is no static or distortion. I guess that’s the benefit of digital broadcasting. But out of the major network stations, I only get Fox, not ABC, NBC or CBS. I’m not sure whether it’s because they are not broadcasting in digital yet or their signals are still too weak for me. I’ll go to Radio Shack tomorrow and try some different antenna.

Free digital TV over the air gives me one more reason for not dealing with a cable company.

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  1. Kristin says

    Thanks for the links. I requested a coupon today – but it won’t be mailed out until May 30th.

    That seems a little slow. Perhaps the demand is higher than anticipated.

  2. Anonymous says

    Go to, put in as much address info as you want and it will give you all the stations in your area. It also gives the distance and direction to the transmitter and what type of antenna would work best.

  3. Thad G says

    Just curious – what type of antenna did you try? I just used my $40 coupon, and got a d2a converter at Walmart this weekend. I also have a rabbit-ear style antenna on top of my TV. The reception is crystal clear, but I still get a bit of digital break-up… where the screen pixelates(?), when the reception must get a little fuzzy. I think I might need to get a stronger antenna… but the says I only need a small one… Overall, a HUGE improvement, but still a little frustrating with the antenna issue.


  4. TFB says

    Thad, I bought an indoor antenna at Circuit City for $40. It has a rectangular panel for UHF and several levels of signal boost. I had to rotate the panel to a particular direction and adjust the signal boost. The highest boost doesn’t give me the best reception. Just have to experiment. Because digital TV broadcasts in UHF, I have the “rabbit ears” collapsed. Even after all that, I still don’t get all the stations. I haven’t tried other antenna yet.

  5. Davelectric says

    I found by stripping the outer jacket off a piece of coax depends on the channel about 6 inches work good for uhf maybe 18 for most vhf stations and finding a away to get it outside . no spliters or tees short as practical work much better than any store bought inside antenna . and you can hide it so people wont see and outside antenna

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