Interactive Maps Hints and Tips

Fine tune the location of your antenna installation

When the map is first loaded, a pointer at the center of the map represents the location of the address/coordinate you entered.  Sometimes, the pointer is not where you expect it or want it to be.  This might be caused by inaccuracies in the address lookup database, mis-typed characters, improper interpretation of the address/coordinate, or simply because you have a very specific test location in mind.

drag pointerTo change locations, just grab the pointer with your mouse and drag it to a new location.  Each time you move the pointer, the list of channels and their predicted signal strengths will be updated automatically.  In most flat areas, signal strength changes very little as you move the pointer around.  However, if you live in a hilly area with possible terrain obstructions, small changes in antenna placement might make a big difference in signal strength.  If you have potential terrain blockages nearby, it's important to position the pointer as accurately as possible.

You can choose from the different map types ("Map", "Satellite", "Hybrid", or "Terrain") to see which one gives you the best overview of your neighborhood.  Some of the map types allow you to zoom in to see better detail than others, so choose the mode that works best for you.


Play "what-if" games with antenna height

antenna height

If you are in a hilly area or right at the edge of a signal "shadow", sometimes a slight change in antenna height can make a big difference in available signal.  If you'd like to see what happens when you change the height, simply edit the number in the box for antenna height.  When you edit the value, the list of channels and their predicted signal strengths will be updated automatically.  You can experiment with values in the range of 1 to 500 feet above ground level and see what happens.


Use the map to help point your antenna

If your area happens to be covered by high resolution aerial views in the maps, you can use landmarks and other visual cues to help you aim your antenna.

map type

First, put the map view into "satellite" or "hybrid" view.  Zoom in to the area around your house as much as you can.  If you are lucky enough to be in an area that is supported with high resolution imagery, you'll be able to make out lots of details on your house and the surrounding buildings.

show lines

map linesTurn on the option to show lines pointing to each transmitter.  This will draw lines between your pointer and each transmitter.  Thick lines will be drawn for strong channels and thin lines will be drawn for weaker ones.  Green colored lines are digital stations and red lines are analog stations.  If you have the pointer placed exactly where your antenna will be, these lines can help you visualize the proper antenna aim.  By looking at the lines in relationship to your neighbors' houses, the streets, and other landmarks, you can find objects to help you get your bearings while installing the antenna.

For example, you might notice that from you're antenna's perspective, it will need to be pointed just to the left of your neighbor's chimney.  Or you might find that the optimum antenna aim is almost parallel to your street.  If you discover that your signal paths are going straight through a tree, perhaps moving the antenna location will make it possible to avoid the tree and thus avoid some of the signal loss.

Some people prefer to use a compass to aim their antenna, but some people may find it easier to orient themselves with these kinds of visual cues.  After the installation is done, the lines on the map can provide an intuitive sense of whether the installation "looks right" for the desired transmitter directions.


Check current and post-transition channels

Make sure you're prepared for any channel lineup changes that will be in effect after June 12 (post-transition).  When all of the major analog broadcasts get shut down this year, many broadcasters will be making changes to their transmitter setup.  This could involve changing broadcast channels, changing transmitted power levels, moving to a different broadcast facility, or any combination of these things.  If some broadcasters in your area are switching to VHF broadcast frequencies (channels 2-13), then make sure you have the right kind of antenna to receive them after the transition.  If some broadcasters move their transmitter to a different site, you might see their signal coming from a different direction than before.

display options

When the map initially loads, it will show the "current" channel lineup.  If you want to check your post-transition channel lineup, just click on the radio button for the "Post-Transition" display option.  The map will then show only post-transition transmitters and the channel lists will show you what's expected after June 12.

If you select "Both" as the display option, the channel lists will show four columns with pre- and post-transition channels and their signal strengths.  This lets you do a side-by-side comparison of signal strengths to see if there will be any changes between now and June 12.  In some places, broadcasters will be allowed to increase their transmitter power after the transition and this might have an impact on what you receive.

When planning an antenna installation, it's always a good idea to check for upcoming changes so you don't waste any time or money revisiting this issue later.


See the coverage map for each station

station detailThere is a "radio button" (small circle) next to each transmitter in the list below the map.  If you click on the circle for any of the transmitters, the map will load a coverage map overlay for that station and also show a pop-up balloon with additional details about the selected transmitter (e.g., transmitter power, compass direction, etc.).  This view can help you see the signal "shadow" boundaries and relative signal strengths throughout an area.  Higher resolution coverage maps for selected cities are available as downloadable Google Earth files from our Coverage Maps area.


Zoom out for a "big picture" view of TV transmitters

map exploreBy zooming out many levels, you can see all the TV transmitters serving your area.  Green and red dots on the map represent all the digital and analog transmitters around you.  If you ever wondered where all your TV signals are coming from, here's a quick way to see all your local sources.  You can even play "what-if" games with different locations if you wanted to hypothetically "move" to a different neighborhood, city, or part of the country.  You can explore how the set of visible transmitters change as you move to different locations with respect to terrain blockages.  Just for fun, you can also experiment with antenna height to see how that affects the range of received channels.


Create a Radar Plot report for downloading, printing, and sharing

make plot 

radar plot thumbnailWhen you are satisfied with the pointer location and antenna height, you can press the "Make Radar Plot" button in the upper right corner of the screen to build a Radar Plot report from this information.  These reports summarize a lot of information about your local stations in a convenient compact format that can be downloaded, printed, or shared.  For more information about these reports, please take a look at our Signal Analysis FAQ .

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