DTV : Digital TV Transition what they don't tell you
Free TV Key  (shown on TV ) is not enough to get more channels because digital channels require bigger antennas

A step by step guide to getting more digital TV channels and understanding a simple processes to get these  tv stations.

When I started with digital TV I only got 6 channels. Now I get 80 channels & sub channels by simply understanding how it works.

Today Television ground signals from TV transmitters produce a digital signal that TV sets generally can't decode unless a converter box is used. Also these televison signals are more difficult to capture than before with analog signals. In many case you have to lock onto the signal beam. This requires generally a better TV antenna. Please note that if you go to a webpage by the government " The Digital TV Transition: What You Need to Know About DTV", the information is dated and not very accurate. In fact this page hasn't been updated in a long time and there is nothing on that site that will correct your issues with DYV. 

The exact magnetic readings shown here for the TV stations is at best a rough guess. For example I have a few TV stations that are in the moderate zone (which means I should be able to get them with an outside amplified antenna with 25 db gain and  a rotor). I can only get 3 out of the 8 stations! Directional issues also because we learn that a number of channels are in the WSW or West South West area of 242 degrees. The actual finding can be off by almost 10-15 degrees to where the transmitter really is!. So that's not accurate when we are trying to find a TV transmitter. There are other issues as to what TV transmitter would broadcast in KW or Kilowatts. In general DTV is not a science as the government would have you believe, their web page will tell you rescan for channels, that's great if you raise your antenna or have a new antenna. Years ago you would get a lot of channels from far away stations with a good antenna. With digital that distance has shrink badly with ending analog TV reception, although the picture quality is good if you can.....and I repeat can catch the signal of a specific TV station.  If your converter can't sniff out these channels you got won't get them unless you take specific methods.

You can save on Cable TV bills and get lots of tv stations from a regular tv antenna. Originally there were many TV stations but the government  decided to force broadcasters to go from analog to digital. This means that if you try and get a TV station on a regular TV now you can't unless you get a converter box or newer tv to get digital stations.

I have used a few types of converter boxes and far and they are both good in converting signals to digital. One is Tivax  STB-T8 and another Digital Stream DTV. I am sure there are other good converters out there besides these. When you start looking for digital channels you will note a big difference in getting a digital picture that is near perfect and also each channel may have sub channels. For example in my area channel 7 has three substations 7-1, 7-2, 7-3, channel 8 has three substations 8-1,8-2,8-3, channel 20 has two substations 20-1, 20-2, channel 49 has four substations 49-1, 49-2, 49-3, 49-4. Each station usually broadcasts two or more substations. I have one station in New Jersey channel 18 that broadcasts 12-15 substations. So remember you will generally get two channels for each station like 2-1, 2-2. Great bargain for digital tv.

Tivax STB-T8

Digital stream converter box

 Getting started is not that hard as you first need to hook up this converter box to your TV and then add some basic TV antenna. Next you need to go to and enter your street address, state, and zip code. This will give you a read out of what you might expect. Now before you go to fast there are other things that will change your factors. Below is map of what I had in my area. Green indicates strong signals, yellow is moderate, brown is weak, and pink no signal. This doesn't seem all that great but the truth is I get a number of stations in the weak and no signal areas. As a matter of fact I get a lot of stations 60 -70 miles away like channels 2, 4, 5, 7 , 9, 47, 67, 68, 55, etc. I will give more information on how  I achieved this.

DTV map using RF converter boxes.

A confusing point in finding TV stations is that these converter boxes look for RF signals.  An example is I get a channel 59 but where its located is actually at RF 39. Using this DTV map you can find the channels better and make a log of what channels you get and the actual direction the channel is in relation to your home. It's important to understand that some channels and even to an extent antennas are very directional. To get started get a compass or copy of one and plot your directions you get television channels.

Once you get a list of your channels you can look at each channel and get more information for example I am looking at channel 4. This is the information I get: 

Network: NBC
Channel: 4 (RF 28)
Receive Power: -84 dBm
Compass Direction to Tower: WSW (242)
Gain/Loss Map


By clicking on the transmitter we get additional information as the distance from our antenna, the power of the transmitter, and height above sea level.

Here the transmitter of 200KW is a strong signal. Note that from the other picture on bottom left we also are given the magnetic direction of 242 degrees or West South West. This transmitter is 62.8 miles away!

Using a compass to locate television stations
Now for example I get television station channel four and here's the info from DTV:

Channel: 4 (RF 28)
Receive Power: -84 dBm
Compass Direction to Tower: WSW (242)
Effective power is 200 KW
It will be located in the west south west area at 242 degrees.

Some channels may not be able to come in due to your antenna height or type of antenna which I will get into. I strongly suggest getting the best height for your dwelling and there are many way to achieve the goals you want. One decision you need to make is where the antenna will be kept as inside, in your attic, or outside. Whatever the choice the next issue is the type of antenna. My advice here is to always get the best height possible and clear of structures, and investigate the specific antenna you plan to use. Inside amplified rabbit ears antennas may work ok for some however I rarely have found that to be the best option in getting a larger variety of stations. I have used many types of TV antennas and have some personal preferences but these are generally outside with pole and mast. This is a link to see some general types of TV antennas and how they work. There are many fine types from yagi, bowties, directional, and omni directional.

Tao Amplified HD Digital Outdoor HDTV Antenna with Motorized Cornet antenna
I have worked out a few specific antennas which incorporate what we call DB gain and a router system. Many of these types of antennas are sold on Ebay and Amazon but they have some issues. Let me explain some basic problems with these long range antennas as the router works haphazard and you can't see from inside your house where the antenna is. Also the actual range of distance is over rated.. Here is the rotor I used

Recently I tested  a amplified Cornet and Tao antennas and found each to be very light and excellent for collecting channels. However in both cases the router acted improperly, and in which case I purchased a simple router and mounted the unit on the side of the house with a pole. With a rotor always keep the direction of the antenna at Magnetic North or 0'degress, when completing antenna to rotor. It is important to remember to use quality antenna wire RG6 for example and good connectors. Furthermore make sure your connections are solid because if you lose a part of the shield from your connector(s) you will lose signal. Depending on your location and height off the ground your choice of antenna will be important.

One more important help I used was making a log book of the channels I might be able to receive and putting all the information down including the actual channel, the rf channel, the distance from each tv station, the number of sub stations, the magnetic position of the station, and finally the name of the television station. As I started to physically connect to each television station I circled the RF station number. This would eliminate channels I could get and not get due to either possible hills in the way or other factors. 

Log book for collection  DTV : Digital TV channels

Note I use power antenna and rotor for best results.

Be careful to even check channels that you get a small RF signal as you might get these channels by adding some height to the antenna or using another type of antenna with a preamp. Preamps are best used closest to the actual antenna and can get great results. Years before I used one and watched tv stations from Philadelphia  to Rhode Island with analog tv signals. The distance won't be the same with digital but it will help draw these other tv stations in better.

preamp mounted on antenna preamp-unit used for antennas
Remember to search / scan for new channels if you can use a rotor as your list of stations will increase!