What to Know About Antenna Alignment

Whether you’re looking to get the best television signal, FM reception, or Wi-Fi connection, it is all about proper antenna alignment. Here are some tips that will help you get the best signal.

Aiming an Antenna

There are several types of antennas, and each one can be aimed or aligned differently.

  • Omni-directional, which receives equally from all directions
  • Dipole or bi-directional
  • Beam antenna which is directional

Omni-directional or vertical antennas do not need to be aligned or aimed since they will receive signals from all directions.

A dipole has one horizontal element. If you wanted to receive signals from your west, you would align it so the broadside of the antenna is facing west. The dipole antenna would then receive signals equally well from both the west and the east. Facing this direction, it would not receive signals from the north or south very well.

A beam antenna is the most directional antenna. It is only directional in the direction it is aligned. A beam antenna will have several horizontal elements, anywhere from 3 to 12 or more.

Beam antennas can be configured in a couple of ways. It will have one driven element, which is where the coax cable connects. It should also have longer elements, which are reflectors and shorter elements that are called directors.

The more elements, the more gain the antenna will have. The more gain an antenna has, the better able to pick up stations further away. The beam antenna will have more gain than either the vertical or dipole type antennas.

To align the beam antenna, you point it so the shorter director elements are facing the direction you want it to aim.

Where to Align the Antenna

Before you can align your antenna properly, you have to know where the transmitting antenna is located. You can use websites like the FCC to find this information.

Just enter in your zip code, and you will see a list of TV stations to click on. It will then show you the direction you need to align your antenna to receive the best signal.

If you’re more interested in getting the best signal from a cell tower for Wi-Fi, there are websites that can help you locate nearby cell towers.

Getting a Better Signal

One problem would be if there are signals you want to receive that are in different directions from your location. In this case, you could use a rotor on your beam antenna, which will allow you to turn your antenna from inside your home to the desired direction.

A preamplifier can help boost weak signals on any type of antenna you choose. Hills, buildings, and trees can affect where you align the antenna for the best reception.

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