by Texas Homesteader ~
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One of my pet peeves is paying for something that used to be free. When we moved to the country one thing we discovered was that TV reception was poor at best. Everyone told us we would have to get a cable or satellite subscription if we wanted to watch TV.
As you can guess I immediately went on a mission to defeat that issue. When we lived in the city we had an antenna in the attic that provided excellent reception. That was before digital TV.
But once we moved here we were able to get acceptable reception with the same set-up. Then came the digital change.
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Analog To Digital Converter
In 2009, TV stations were required to start broadcasting in digital format. We had to either get a converter or buy a new TV.
But we don’t watch much TV. So we hated to buy a new one just to have digital reception. Thankfully we were able to obtain a converter for free through the FCC program.
Many people still own those older analog TVs both at home as well as in their travel trailers and such. They use a *digital converter box for them to be able to receive digital formats.
But then there was the issue of signal strength and this proved much more difficult a problem to solve. As you all know the digital signal is weaker and much more finicky than the old analog signal. But we refused to give up.
First we installed a *Power booster on the antenna. This helped, but we would regularly lose reception to weather conditions. And the signal was still weak so the picture would freeze up on us often.
Raising The Height Of The Rooftop Antenna
Next we tried mounting the antenna as high in the attic as possible. But it was still very unreliable. Partially due to our solar decking in the attic blocking the signal.
I contacted a local TV service company who reported they could install an antenna on a 30′ mast and run the necessary cables for $600.
Heck $600 will get several months of cable TV! We almost caved in right then and there and subscribed to cable.
But we decided if raising the antenna was the problem we would mount it as high on the roof as possible.
After installing the proper bracket and pole to the peak of the roof and properly grounding against lightning we were able to get the antenna about 25 feet high. (our roof peek is about 20 feet high and the pole is another 5 feet up)
Once the antenna was up in the air and clear of our solar decking, the reception improved dramatically. RancherMan then went online and found the list of FCC DTV Station Maps.
Using a compass he pointed the antenna exactly where it needed to be to get the strongest signal from the closest stations.
We live approximately 75 miles from the Dallas towers, which is considered the fringe area. That means all of our station signals are weak.
But 90% of the time we have an 80%+ signal strength. So we have over 80 channels available. Not bad for a one-time investment of about $150.
Roku Offers Streaming Convenience
As you know, broadcast TV is sometimes less than tolerable now days.
Cable and satellite offer many more options through many more channels. But most of them are repetitive or of no interest to a lot of people.
Thankfully we discovered a device called a * Roku.
We have DSL internet and a wireless modem. So this is better than cable and is a one time purchase of less than $90. (And a base model is only about $50 as of this writing.)
The Roku gives us access to hundreds of free internet-based channels, including movies.
Now don’t confuse this with cable. There are no “live” broadcasts through this device. But news is still broadcast after the fact through Roku. And countless shows are available on a replay basis.
One of my favorite Roku channels is Crackle. It’s essentially Netflix with a 30 second commercial every 20 minutes or so. And it is absolutely FREE.
There are also home improvement channels as well as cooking, DIY, documentaries, old movies and cartoon channels. And guys, there are hunting and fishing channels too.
Chrome Cast Allows You To Mirror Your Computer
RancherMan loves his *ChromeCast. It’s just a small thumb drive-looking device that plugs into the TV.
It uses the WIFI to cast shows & movies from his computer onto our TV. So by casting from his computer to the TV, he & I can schnoodle up on the couch and watch movies using this technology.
But ChromeCast doesn’t work with Apple IOS and we have Apple tablets. So he’s also looking into an *AnyCast dongle to be able to mirror our Apple Tablets to the TV too.
Amazon Prime Lets You Stream Shows & Movies
We love Amazon Prime for free shipping. But your prime account also allows you to stream shows & movies. So we enjoy that feature often. I mean we’ve already paid for Prime – why not use all the benefits??
Plus there’s an added benefit of no commercials while we’re streaming shows & sitcoms. That’s especially handy during the holidays when the same ole “If you loved her you’d buy her a truck for Christmas” commercials play over & over again!
Lately we’ve been streaming the Andy Griffith Show in the evenings – aaaahhhh, it was a simpler time for sure. And a nice way to wind down after a busy day.
And y’all – you can try *Amazon Prime For FREE! So it might be a good way to see what all is available through them. And take advantage of that free shipping and streaming music too!
So if you live in a rural area don’t give up on affordable TV. And if you live in the city, still look into the Roku, AnyCast, ChromeCast and Amazon Prime options. Cut that cable bill – your bank account will love you.
Other Budget-Stretching Articles
- Do You Get What You Paid For, Or Pay More For Nothing?
- Buying Products Used: Good For Your Budget
- MYO Pet Stain Carpet Cleaner
- Saving Money On TV
- Easy Ways To Save Money On Electricity
- Our 3 Favorite Rainwater Catchment Systems
- Easiest Self-Sufficiency Steps To Take NOW!
- Repurposing An Empty Coffee Canister To A Cute, Country Breadbox
- Repurposing Items To New Life
- …And MUCH More!!
Other Low-Waste Stories
- Our Low-Waste Coffee
- No-Waste Citrus Juice For Recipes
- Don’t Waste Those Onion Trimmings
- Ditch The Plastic – Using Glass In The Refrigerator
- 5 Zero-Waste Products We Love
- Food Waste in America: What Do Those Dates Mean?
- Zero-Waste Hygiene – Using A Safety Razor
- Buying Products Used: Good For Your Budget & The Environment
- Eliminate Plastic Produce Bags
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