Guest Post: How to Get Over-the-Air TV

(Today we have a guest post from my very good friend Kyndal as she describes how she and her husband James get over-the-air TV in their Astro mini-van. I highly recommend you follow their blog at:

This type of post is a little different for me due to more specifics than creative writing but I guess some of you out there would really like to know about how we do some things. So, I’m expanding my writing repertoire for those curious folks out there. And of course I have to make it mine, so I am calling this the…

The  antenna at winter RTR before it was painted black.

The antenna at winter RTR before it was painted black.

Learning is fun Series:

The first topic on our list…TV, television, the boob tube, the tele. Here, I try to answer some of your questions and satisfy the curiosity that some might have…

Can YOU have TV in your home on wheels? If you want TV bad enough, you’ll have it! When we first started out we bought a Phillips portable 9 inch digital HD TV with FM tuner that we paid $111.00. We actually bought it on the road in January 2012, due to football season! It came with a cute little antenna that looked like a metal stick but in no time at all…it got broken so, we bought a rabbit ears antennae for $30.00 at a Flying J.

Even though the screen was small, we were still entertained, in the van, when the sun went down. The antenna tried to bring in channels but at the most we would only get 2-4 and 3 of them would be Spanish channels…no habla espanol, no bueno!

Time went on and in July we bought ourselves an Anniversary/Birthday present…a new TV!! We gifted ourselves a Sansui 19 inch super slim LED-LCD HDTV. What a difference the extra inches make!!
Sansui 19″ Class Led/lcd 720p 60hz Hdtv, Sled1953w


Our glorious 19 inch nightly entertainment!

At that point (July 2012) we were still using our rabbit ears to bring in the channels. Right around the Winter R.T.R. (January 2013), in Quartzsite, is when the biggest change in our TV reception changed drastically. We had no reception…one channel if we tried really really, really hard (and again football season at its peak) We actually drove into Ehrenberg for the weekends, roughly 20 miles away, to catch the games! Plus, I missed the whole entire season of my favorite show, “The Biggest Loser”… it just wasn’t cuttin’ it for us. We bought this new antenna, while at the R.T.R., and became the talk of the camp! It was a definite conversation starter for TV goers and all of the men, whether they like TV or not!!

TV=Another-view-500-224x300We bought a new antenna, that we now call The Black Ops Antenna…it looks like we’re honing in the Mother Ship! Haha! It is a ClearStream4 HDTV Antenna . We receive over the air digital and HD programming with no fees. We bought our antennae off of Amazon for about $75.00 in January, they are on sale now at Amazon for around $90.00. The dimensions are: 9.1 x 28.2 x 20.1 inches and weighs roughly 7.4 pounds. The antenna has a range of about 65 miles…the main reason for getting it!!
Direct ClearStream4 HDTV Antenna

The antenna comes in a box with all of the pieces that you need to put it together, it took about 15 minutes for my handy man. Out of the box the antenna (the black circles) are black but the “grill” and the metal pieces that connect together are silver, we have spray painted all of the silver pieces a flat black. The antenna is placed on a regular one inch piece of PVC pipe that we have also spray painted flat black…(.97 cents at Walmart). We purchased a cute little solar light at the Dollar Store and placed it at the very top of the PVC, ya know…for low flying planes!

TV-Elbow-PVC-500-224x300In this picture you can see where J’ has fit the PVC pipe into the 90* elbow. There are 2 rebar rods, about a foot long, inside of the PVC to reinforce it during hard winds. The PVC is held onto our cargo basket with 2 U-bolts that we picked up at Radio Shack for about $3.00 a piece. In this picture you can also see the RG6 rated coax cable running down the length of the PVC into the roof of the van…the next picture is better for the cable.
Mediabridge Coaxial Digital Audio Video Cable – (25 Feet) – Triple Shielded, F-Pin to F-Pin with Easy Grip Connector Caps

J’ drilled a hole through the roof with his 18 volt Dewalt drill and a Titanium bit to feed the RG6 rated coax cable through to the inside of the van. The hole was filled with silicone caulk…and seems to be holding up pretty good!

tv-running-rg6-thru-roof-350x262The coax cable being run through the ceiling of the van, down along our interior trim to the TV

J’ drilled a couple of holes in the back of the TV, at the top and fed a small piece of rope through the holes of the TV We use the rope to hold the TV in place instead of a mounting bracket…too many crashes onto our heads while getting water! We also installed a pigtail (the black cord taped to the back of the TV), so as not to pull on the fitting on the TV. Believe us, you do not want a bad fitting when you’re trying to watch the rose ceremony of “The Bacherlorette” and the cord accidentally gets moved!


Showing how the rope acts as a mounting bracket.


Hopefully those images will help clear up any questions about how our antennae is set-up, when we put it up outside…which is most of the time. However, there are times when we don’t want to put it up, can’t put it up or are just not sure if we can or if we should. For those times, we will take The Black Ops off of the PVC pipe and place it on the front dash. I do not have pictures of this, because we’ve only had to really do this a time or two in a casino parking lot, but I’ll run down how we do it.

We have pretty big sun shades up in our windows at all times, when we are parked. We also have two separate black pieces of fabric we put on the sun visors and push them to the side windows so the side windows are blacked out too. The antenna fits right on the dash board and is balanced by the steering wheel. I am accident prone so I make sure to wrap the corners in a towel before doing this so the antennae doesn’t rip the sun shade (yes, I learned the hard way) and so the other edges don’t poke ME in the eye ball…or Savannah (yes, I learned the hard way!). Even with the antenna up there, Savannah can usually still sleep on her bed that sits in the driver’s chair. Doing it this way, the antenna is out of the way, it can’t get broken and isn’t outside bringing peeping eyes onto the scene.

All in all, we love our Black Ops and our TV, we don’t wish for satellite although it would be nice to get the History channel and TLC and some others, we love the ongoing cost….FREE!

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask and if I don’t know them J’ will!

I hope everyone had fun learning today. You can catch us back here…some day…some time!


I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

20 comments on “Guest Post: How to Get Over-the-Air TV
  1. Looks great. I use a 3 watt power antenna and it seems to work quite well. Of course I do use a small touch of battery power and am using 65 watts for my LED tv, but this antenna would fit inside a Triscuit or Wheat Thins box. It would be interesting to see how much better yours works. I think I will get one for the mountains because seems nothing works where I go and maybe this will since it has a 65 mile range. Thanks for sharing.
    Martin Hamilton recently posted…Choosing Foods To Help You Lose WeightMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Martin, it depends on the mountains. When I was in the Colorado Rockies, I just gave up on TV because everything was in a deep valley. Where I am at in Northern AZ we get very good TV reception because it is mostly rolling hills. They put the broadcast antennas on top of the highest hill and everyone gets good reception. Both in this camp and the last James and Kyndal got around 15 channels.

      Free TV is another reason why we all fell in love with boondocking in AZ.

  2. kathy says:

    I have this antenna for my home, works great. I also have the tv in my sewing room. Yay. something I don’t have to budget for. Of course I have to budget for the power to run it all. lol
    kidie,luci,and the big white moose

    • Bob Bob says:

      Kathy, there is always something else you need! Or not, TV is one of those things you can learn to do without pretty easily (says the man with a cable satellite TV dish outside his trailer!).

  3. Kevin says:

    I loved your how-to post, it gave me some great ideas. It would be great to see more of these “How I did it” posts.

  4. Diane says:

    Great info, Thanks!!! I have been curious about TV antennas and how well they work. I visited Kyndal & James blog…loved it and adorable pup!!!!!
    Diane recently posted…my kidsMy Profile

  5. CAE says:

    I love this How To type articles. Very helpful.
    I built this one and it works pretty well. Cost almost nothing:

  6. HoboHounds says:

    I’m not interested in network/cable shows as much as movies. Does anyone out there get by with watching movies on their laptop instead of on a television?

    • Bob Bob says:

      HoboHounds, I have a 9 inch Sony portable DVD player that I love!! For 5 years I just bought DVD of TV series and movies I watched. The reason I used the DVD player is because the laptop burns more power and is so extremely valuable to me as a work tool that I don’t want to waste and reduce its life with endless of hour of entertainment.

      The reason I bought them instead of ripping and burning them for free is I have problems with the morality of that. Intellectual property is just as real as physical property. I try not to steal either.

      But the majority of people do so that works quite well for them. I decided I was paying as much buying them as I was if I got Sat Cable TV so I just stopped buying them and got Sat Cable TV.

    • DougB says:

      Here’s an unhelpful non-answer for you: My only evening entertainment is movies on DVD. I don’t even have a radio in the trailer. I get by just watching movies fine, but not on a laptop because I don’t have one. I do have an iPad, but it’s a pain to keep up with preloading movies onto it. The desktop uses too much juice, so I use the TV I already had. So yes, I get by with watching only movies, but not recent ones, and not on a laptop. If I had a laptop, I don’t think I’d frequently use it to play DVDs or even satellite content unless I: 1. had a solid backup system set up, and 2. was financially prepared to replace the laptop sooner than I’d like.
      DougB recently posted…The Battle Goes Slowly, SireMy Profile

      • Bob Bob says:

        Doug, I agree totally and share the exact same thinking. My life is on the laptop and I want it to last a long, long time!

  7. Bob Bob says:

    Marshall, what antenna are you using for your data signal?

  8. Diane says:

    Not sure if all libraries have movies to check out (like you check out books)…but the one local to my area does, could be a good option if near a town with a public library.
    Diane recently posted…my kidsMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Very good idea Diane! Most do rent movies, and most larger county libraries are tied together so you can order it from one branch and as soon as it comes available anywhere in the system they will deliver it to your branch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


CommentLuv badge