Posted by sigh, a resident of another community, on Jan 23, 2007 at 2:45 pm
It's simply not true that your only choice is cable or bad service.
Generally speaking, poor reception is a function of having the wrong kind of antenna, a badly installed antenna, or incorrect cabling.
First, start with www.antennaweb.org to find the correct type of antenna for the stations that you wish to receive. Most likely for Palo Alto you are going to need a medium sized directional VHF antenna, but if you have buildings or trees around you, you will want to have an antenna pre-amp. If you are splitting the signal to multiple TV's, you should make sure that you are appropriately using an amp prior to the splitter.
Then go shopping at www.solidsignal.com for high quality cable, proper grounding, and a high quality antenna. Mount correctly and enjoy clear service.
The other choice would be to get an FTA (free to air) satellite receiver. Multiple PBS channels are available for free with an mpeg2 fta sat receiver. You can set up a rig for a couple of hundred dollars and get excellent PBS reception plus a bevy of free international content and (legally) never have to pay a dime. Google "free to air" for details.
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2007 at 4:07 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
If you have an adequate antenna and it is pointed in the correct direction, the problem may be in the cable between the antenna and the TV. That was a problem I had. Previous owner had used RG-59 coax cable instead of the coax designed for longer distances (RG-6 ?) Since replacing the cable was going to be a major hassle, I first tried installing an amplifier and it worked well for me. The one I am using was available at Fry's for $30
Channel Master model 3039 UHF/VHF Outdoor Antenna Amplifier
The amplifier attaches to the antenna, boosting the signal to overcome the loss and noise introduced on the run. Power to run the amp is transmitted over the cable from a box that you plug into a wall outlet near the TV.