Today I did something I should have done a long time ago. No, I have not stopped wearing parachute pants. I finally bought a TV antenna to pull in free HDTV over the air.

For about two years now, I’ve been paying Telus about $30 a month to get a very small set of TV channels in HD. I get all the local channels in the Vancouver area and then a few American channels that cover the four big networks, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox. The $30 a month doesn’t get me any specialty channels at all. I don’t even get the regular sports channels like TSN and Sportsnet. A few months ago, I realized I just don’t watch a lot of TV, at least the channels that I have. I usually watch network TV maybe twice a week at most. On Saturdays, if there’s a Canucks game on CBC I’ll watch that, then perhaps Saturday Night Live later that evening. On Sunday, I’ll most likely catch most of the animation shows on Fox. Other than that though, I don’t watch any other TV with my current TV subscription.

It occurred to me that wasn’t a great use of $30 a month. I already use torrents to watch shows on channels that I don’t have. I wondered if there was a way to eliminate my current TV package and still get the shows I usually watched live. That’s when I discovered receiving HDTV over the air using an antenna. Now I hadn’t even heard of people using antennas for TV since the early 1980s. I couldn’t even remember the last time I saw a TV with an antenna attached to it. The antenna has made a big comeback in the 21st century though. Lots of people are using them to get free HD channels over the air and cutting out those expensive cable packages.

You can make your own antenna but if you want save some time and hassle, there are dozens of TV antenna models on sale. I went to a discount retailer and picked up an indoor antenna for $11. It looks like this one but way cheaper. Now the installation was quite easy since all I needed to do was connect the coax connector to the back of my TV. The chances of success with using your antenna really depend on a few factors. First is where your home happens to be. You probably need to live within 50 miles of a broadcast tower. Second, is how unobstructed will the antenna be from that tower or towers. It’s quite possible to live within walking distance to the tower but if your house or apartment is blocked by another building, you might have problems. You must have a clear line of sight to the tower.

Luckily for me, I live fairly high up on the 28th floor. Also as important, my apartment windows face north, which gives me a great line of sight to the broadcast towers on Mount Seymour. Just based on the first place I put the antenna, I was able to register seven HD channels. With those channels, I am able to watch all the programs I usually view during the week. I won’t miss any hockey nor any of my cartoon funnies. This made me quite happy as I can now cancel the my TV package tomorrow.

If you don’t watch that much TV and are still paying for channels, consider buying an antenna. It might save you money in the long run. In my case, it pays for itself in just one month! As a starting point, you can visit this site, which will tell you what stations you’ll be able to receive based on your current location.

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