With football season starting soon, I decided that I needed a DVR to be able to record games that I can’t be home to watch. After some research I decided to buy an Amazon Fire TV Recast and an antenna so that I don’t have pay Comcast even more money each month. Because I live a long distance from the TV broadcast towers I decided to buy a higher quality antenna than the typical indoor ones; I bought the ClearStream 2MAX Indoor/Outdoor antenna and the Onn Outdoor preamp to make sure that the signal is as strong as possible by the time it reaches the Recast’s turner.
Antennas work the best when placed outside, but I didn’t want to deal with getting it on the roof, figuring out how to get the coax cable inside, and I don’t particularly like the way they look. For these reasons I decided to mount mine in the attic. This seems to be an increasingly popular choice — the antenna is placed at about the highest possible point in the house, it is protected from the elements, and I can easily aim the antenna to get better reception. (Check out the FCC’s maps to help figure out where you should aim your antenna.)
My ClearStream 2MAX antenna mounted to a beam in the attic.
Once I mounted the antenna in the attic I drilled a small hole in the ceiling of one room and fed the coax cable from the antenna down the wall. I choose a location where I already had a speaker mounted to the wall and a cable concealer. Finally I painted the exposed part of the coax cable the same color as the wall and with some decor in the corner you can hardly tell it is there.
I can do this because the Recast is a networked DVR, it doesn’t connect directly to my TV, and supports WiFi. Therefore I don’t need to put it near my TV or near my router. In the future I may run the coax cable through the wall, but for now this was much faster and easier.
Grounding an attic antenna
Based on what I’ve read, it sounds like it is not required to ground an antenna mounted in the attic (if you mount an antenna outside you must ground it) but that it is a good idea. There are even some claims on the internet that grounding your antenna can improve your reception, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.
I decided that to be safe I would go ahead and ground mine, but I wasn’t sure how. There is no grounding bar in the attic, at least not one that I could find, and I couldn’t find much information on the internet on how else to ground it. But after a bunch of searches I found a banana jack outlet plug adapter on Amazon and a plan formed in my head. The plug adapter is designed to help people ground themselves while working on electronics and only connects to the ground of a standard outlet — like the outlet I plug my Recast into. So I bought the plug adapter, a coax grounding block, and a wire to connect the two. Hook everything up and now my antenna is grounded!
The components I used to ground the antenna.
I am not an electrician nor do I pretend to be one. But given everything that I’ve seen and read, this should ground the coax cable and antenna and help protect them from static build up and induced currents from lightning strikes. If you are an electrician and see that I’ve done something wrong, leave a comment and let me know. My hope in posting this is to get feedback and make it easier for other people who want to put an antenna in their attic.
I’ve had my antenna mounted in the attic and plugged into the Recast for a few weeks now and I can say that so far I’m pretty happy with everything. The ClearStream 2MAX antenna and preamp work great, though I haven’t tried watching TV in bad weather yet. I’m also thinking of installing a reflector for my antenna to see if that helps some of the weaker channels come in more consistently.
In my experience the Fire TV Recast is only okay so far and leaves a lot to be desired. After a few more weeks I may end up trying something else, like the Tablo Quad. If I do that I’ll be sure to write up my thoughts on how they compare.
So I’m not ready to cut the cord and get rid of cable yet, but I’m a lot closer than I was a few weeks ago when I decided to buy all this equipment. My hope is that we can start watching more free TV and less cable at my house, and when our contract with the cable company ends we can have a real discussion about if it is needed anymore.
To learn more about antennas, reception, and to see reviews of many related products check out Antenna Man’s channel on YouTube. It is a great resource that I’ve used a ton in choosing my antenna, preamp, and learning how to crimp coax cable.