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TV installation

I am installing a TV on our narrowboat and wonder what the best sort of aerial is. We cruise the fenland rivers and bridge headroom is often low so we'd need something sitting low on the roof, or demaountable.

Asked by: Paul Taylor  | 2.39pm, Saturday 12 January


WW says:

I don't know what sort of signal strength you get in that area but, since it is fairly sparsely populated, I would imagine that it is 'patchy'. If so, you need to go for a directional aerial rather than an omnidirectional one.
Omnidirectionals have the advantage that they receive the signal from what ever location it comes from so they don't need to be pointed in any particular direction. The downside is that they will never pick up a weak signal as efficiently as a directional aerial.
Once locked on to the nearest transmitter, directional aerials will give a much better picture from a relatively weak signal.
One way to find the nearest transmitter is to look around to see where aerials on surrounding houses are pointing. However, in the middle of the Fens, it may well be that there aren't any houses to look at. In this case, you can go by trial and error or invest in a signal strength meter like the one made by Fringe Electronics and costing about £30.
On my own boat, I use an old Status 530 aerial which projects through the roof of the boat over the engine room. This may sound rather risky but in six or seven years of use, we have not had one drop of water through the seal around the mast. It has an integral booster to improve the signal strength in weak areas.
When not in use, the aerial sits about three to four inches above the roof but, when needed, it can be raised and turned to face the transmitter all from inside the boat - great on cold, wet evenings. The latest Status 550 and 560 models have a built in signal finder and cost around£140.00.
If you want a more conventional, demountable aerial, I would have a look at Log Periodic types which are fairly small and therefore easier to manage. I have had no personal experience of these but I know several boaters who speak highly of them.

Graham Booth  | 5.25PM, Saturday 12 January


Readers say:

I fear narrowboaters have become addicted to unnecessary daily aerial rituals. Since digital tv and the final boosting of signals, we find our Omnimax aerial almost invariably picks a good TV signal. In 2011 we were most impressed with the signal initially ascribing it to the flatness of the landscape. In 2012 we were in the North West including the Lancaster Canal and once again received excellent signals. In four months cruising there may a couple of evenings on which we could not receive TV.

Clive Dutson  | 2.38PM, Monday 11 February

Sorry I should have said 'In 2011 in the Fens and the East of England . . .'

Clive Dutson  | 2.40PM, Monday 11 February

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