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We all like to complain about how Rogers (the local cable TV incumbant) likes to gouge their customers and tends to raise their rates at least once a year while tending to also lower the picture quality.  We also like to just sit on our couches and watch TV while doing so and that is about what our complaining amounts to.  My brother decided that with the switch from analog to digital over the air (OTA) TV broadcasts it was finally time to do something about this.  There is now an entire generation that doesn't really seem to know that there was a time when TV was recieved over the air using an antenna for FREE by most people.  Yes said picture tended to be a bit grainy and suffer from some ghosting but it didn't cost an arm and a leg.  Now with the switch to digital broadcasts the grainy and ghosting issues go away.  It either works or it doesn't.  As an added bonus what you actually get if it does work is actually higher quality than what you get over cable or satellite since they need to compress stuff in order to cram in as many channels as they can.  So back to my brother.  Being a geek he decided that he would analyse the local channels and use some free antenna modeling software to modify a popular design to improve reception of the channels we get around here.  After coming up with a design and doing some research on what materials might work to construct it he came to me for help actually turning the plan into reality.  Together we visited the local metal supermarket and home depots to pick up the required supplies and started work on two antennas (one for each of us).  We used 1/4" solid copper for the main elements and PVC pipe and fittings to build a frame to support the elements.  We build a jig to bend the copper and carefully measured out everything as per the design.  There was a lot of hmming and hawing over exactly how to mount things and what materials to use.  We ended up with aluminium mast posts since they won't rust and leave ugly stains on things.  We purchased commercial mounts (channel master) to attach the masts to our houses.  We also both ended up using channel master pre-amps in order to minimize signal loss from the long lengths of cable running down our tall houses.  In the end we managed to pull in all of the local channels with good solid signal strength.  While the total parts cost a few hundred dollars this is a one time fixed cost and will be paid for easily after a few months (cable was running around $70/month).  We manage to get most of the shows we used to watch but now in high def (HD) and we don't pay anything on a monthly basis anymore.  Not bad, not bad at all.


   

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