OTA HDTV Reception Q&A

Updates on the DTV transition and how to receive over-the-air digital television for free.

Location: Richmond, IL, United States

Hello there! I created this blog to share the information about over-the-air HDTV reception you have been wearily searching the Web or calling technical lines for, whether you have decided for less expensive means to get your favorite TV shows, or still adjusting from the over the air broadcast DTV transition that occurred on June 12, 2009. After working for a leading antenna manufacturer for almost 5 years, during which time I've shared my expertise with those who asked on the phone and by email at work, I decided to do the same in the Blogosphere! Confused about getting your local HD channels? Just click through the archives, some of the most useful information is in the early posts from 2005-06. If you want to get in touch with me with antenna related questions, just leave a comment anywhere on this site.

Friday, October 20, 2006


With flat screen TVs, laptops, mobile devices, and portable digital entertainment players suddenly becoming purchased for style in addition to functionality, common off-air antennas have gotten a bad rap over the years, classified as being eyesores. Fortunately, indoor antennas have evolved to have looks almost as stylish as the flat screen TVs, and there are a few outdoor antennas that can be attractive outdoors, most notably those entirely encased in plastic. Such outdoor antennas are available from Winegard, TERK, Terrestrial Digital, and Radio Shack.

The nice advantage about the plastic housings is that they can be painted. One idea is to use a monochromatic color to match the color of your residential building, essentially "hiding" the antenna while keeping it outdoors, where the most off-air field strength can be received. The important thing to consider is when selecting a paint, make sure it is a paint with no metallic compounds, because any metal in proximity to the antenna will change its reception performance, and usually not for the better. The other consideration is to make sure you select a paint that covers well, and one or two thin coats are all that are needed. Multiple thick coats of paint might eventually start reducing signal received by the antenna a bit. A brand I personally recommend is Krylon Fusion, a spray paint available at several leading hardware, automotive, and paint stores, like Sherwin-Williams. That paint covers plastics well, and literally bonds with the plastic as long as the surface is dry and clean before applying.

A monochromatic color to match the house is a conservatively attractive and functional style. However, I thought why stop there with my own antenna? That is why I went a step further on a Winegard SS-2000 SquareShooter I own, and pimped my antenna, as seen in the picture. Okay I have never seen the MTV show, but I am very familiar with the custom tuner car craze -- one of my occasional diversions is going to custom car shows and checking out the stylish designs and modifications of custom rides, street racers, and drift cars, like the ones you have seen in the Fast and the Furious movies. Well, I don't have a monster garage to get into the hobby, but I did take the customized paint and body idea and put it to my antenna.

Here is what I did -- I removed the plastic cover of the Winegard SS-2000 so that I would not affect the active antenna elements inside. Then I painted the outside cover blue with Krylon Fusion paint. After letting the paint dry to touch as directed, I then applied automotive vinyl custom race stripes that I purchased at Auto Zone. I made a pattern design alternating barb-wire tattoo stripes and simple lines, applied directly to the painted housing. Then with everything set, I reassembled the cover to the antenna, and yes I still get my off-air DTV signals as expected.

So there you are -- a unique twist to turn an antenna into an outlet of self-expression. However, please understand that this idea is for PLASTIC HOUSINGS and not the antenna elements inside those housings. Again, this idea can be applied to similar antennas from Radio Shack and Terrestrial Digital. You can also paint the Winegard SS-3000 SharpShooter housing and apply labels to it, as long as you remove the antenna elements and circuit board inside the housing, and the reflector, before painting the housing, and you can also paint the plastic brackets holding the reflector. It may be easier to do the painting prior to assembling the reflector on the SS-3000.

As far as traditional outdoor antennas go, the elements can be painted, or "masked" as well if desired, provided you use a paint that is NON-METALLIC. You can try ou the paint by just getting a small disposable piece of aluminum sheet metal and try the paint on the surface first. So now in the age where cell phones, laptops, and home theaters have become an outlet of self-expression, off air antennas can do the same, and be part of a stylish and functional HDTV experience.