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I'm partway through installing my own outdoor TV antenna.

I've gone with a "through the roof and screwed into a beam" method rather than the "sit on top of roof and stabilise using 3-4 wires screwed into points on roof a few feet away" method.

PROBLEM: My antenna mast seems to be "shakier" than my neighbour's antennas though: it sways back and forth a little in light wind.

It's a pretty solid mast 3m (10') of 19mm (0.75") diameter, 1.6mm (0.063") thick galvanised steel, so I thought it'd be fine (looking at it now, some neighbours antennas do appear thicker, though it's hard to tell).

QUESTION: Is a little bit of movement going to affect the TV signal significantly? Do TV antenna masts need to be very rigid, or just steady enough so they're not swaying like crazy?

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3m lightning rod...hmm ground wire outside to ground might be OK. – Mark Schultheiss Mar 7 '11 at 19:43
I've heard both "you must always ground your antenna" and "you don't need to". Has a TV antenna ever been struck by lightning? I haven't grounded it (at all) yet as all 4 of my neighbours within 50m or so have taller antennas (and trees twice that tall). Also, it's not required by law (here). Grounding it would increase the unlikely possibility it's struck, correct? – MGOwen Mar 8 '11 at 4:11
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It sounds like your antenna is for terrestrial broadcast TV, in which case it should be OK. You want it to be facing the transmitter as squarely as possible, but a little bit of variance won't affect the signal reception too much. If you have digital TV broadcasts in your area, you may not even notice anything at all. Furthermore, if you do find that it's a problem, you can always secure it with wires later.

Satellite TV is more finicky: since the transmitter is much further away, you need to have the dish pointed more accurately. But satellite dishes usually have a sturdy base, and are smaller than terrestrial antennas, so they don't move as much.

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Great. Yes, it's for digital terrestrial (I didn't know people used antennas for satellite, I thought it was always a satellite dish). – MGOwen Mar 8 '11 at 5:26
@mgowen: when you're an electrical engineer, a satellite dish is an antenna. :) – Niall C. Mar 8 '11 at 14:33
OK, that makes sense. – MGOwen Mar 9 '11 at 3:03

The answer depends on the strength of the signal. A weak signal, particularly digital, can have problems if the antenna sways in a way that changes its direction.

If the signal is already adequate and the antenna only swings horizontally without turning, you should be fine.

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Yes, digital seems to be MUCH more finicky than analog was. Instead of getting a little static, the picture and sound completely break up and disappear. You'll want to make sure the entire system is designed and constructed better to support digital. – Brian Knoblauch Mar 10 '11 at 14:31

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