Wright's Aerials

Aerial alignment the amateur way

Years ago there was an aerial rigger in South Yorkshire who used to tell everyone that he had no need for a signal strength meter. He boasted that he had simply learnt which way to point the aerials for every location in the county.

For instance, in Doncaster he would point the aerial at Cusworth Hall, about three miles from the town centre, and in the same direction as Emley Moor when viewed from the town centre. That’s fine, but he extended the Cusworth Hall method to the outskirts of the borough. His installations were distinctive in many ways, but especially because the further they were along the main roads out of town the more off-beam they were. It was pointless arguing with him about this. Like many people who fear a threat to their faith he could get quite nasty when challenged.

If you haven’t got any test equipment there are sensible alternatives. You can copy the neighbours’ aerials of course, but it’s much more accurate to draw the bearing onto an OS map (don’t spoil your own map; borrow one from the library or from the kids’ school) and then align the aerial by sighting from the rooftop to a local eminence. A church is better than a cardinal, since the latter is relatively portable and can give misleading results.

Even more accurate is to fit a variable attenuator at the TV set’s input, giving a really snowy analogue picture, and then align the aerial for the least snowy picture possible. It’s extremely unusual for the optimum aerial direction to be anything other than the one that gives the strongest signal, despite all you hear about ‘eliminating interference’; and the best result for analogue will pretty well always give the best result for digital, as long as they both come from the same transmitter.

Having achieved the ‘least snowy’ picture, some dodgy installers will tell the customer that they really need a masthead amplifier to get rid of the last of the snow. I kid you not.

Print this page © 2003-2012, Wrights Aerials Add to Favorites