Most people have never heard of it. DX’ing, or receiving stations from far away, of TV channels has been a hobby since television broadcasting started. Although anyone can pick up local television channels with an antenna, many derive pleasure from receiving
those elusive stations that are outside the regular reception range.
For years hobbyists stared at snowy, grainy cathode ray tubes waiting for the
first hint of DX (a far away station). Early DX’ers would photograph their
TV’s, then came tuners for your PC, so screen captures became available to
share. If you search the web you can find hundreds of sites related to
Recently, many have lamented the advent of digital television, saying the
hobby of TV DX’ing is over.
Au contraire my friends ! The digital revolution has made it so much
easier. Instead of staring at that rolling – barely noticeable, super grainy,
and weak analogue picture, trying to figure out which station you were watching
and where they are located, digital stations all broadcast their call letters.
This means when your digital television tuner locks onto their signal, it will
also automatically tell you graphically which station you are watching.
We TV DX’ers have heard it all:
‘You know you can just get cable (or satellite, or internet)’
As have any other hobbyist….
Hunter – You know you can buy meat at the grocery store
Fisherman – They sell fish at the market, don’t they ?
Cyclist – Why don’t you just drive there ?
Ham Radio – You could pick up the phone, you know
Knitting club – You can buy that at Sears and it doesn’t take years to make
Classic Car collector – You can buy a new car cheap you know
… but we all know it’s about the thrill, or the outdoors, or the friendship,
or the relaxation – whatever the reason, we do it because we enjoy it.
So , you may ask, “what do I need to get started in this fascinating Hobby?”
Most of you have the first item – a television. Any TV with a built-in ATSC
(digital) tuner is just fine. As with anything in this day and age, you generally
get what you pay for – better quality TV’s will usually have a better tuner.
Next, you want an antenna. There are many types of television antennas out
there, look for higher “gain” numbers when shopping for antennas.
Higher gain usually means larger size, which usually means better reception.
For an idea of what is available check here Of course there are many other
antennas out there, but that site gives a good general guide.
(Note: There are dozens of cheap off-shore knockoff antennas elsewhere. If you
don’t want quality and don’t want your antenna to last through the weather,
then buy the knock offs)
The number one rule when setting up your antenna is to mount it as high as
possible. Nothing will help reception more, especially for your local channels.
So now you’re all set up and ready to watch. You turn on your new TV, scan all
channels, and you get nothing but locals. Well, it wouldn’t be a hobby if it
was that easy, now would it ?
There are different reasons why sometimes signals will travel much farther than
they are intended to. Various propagation modes can enhance reception, such as
Sporadic E, tropospheric ducting, Aurora, etc. Those may sound like Star Wars
characters to most people, but those in the hobby are very familiar with these
To make it easy, there are websites that offer, real and near-real time
– William Hepburn’s Tropospheric Ducting Forecasts do a pretty good job of
predicting when to look for DX.
Check it out here
– John Harder offers this easy to understand graphical map of VHF propagation
based on live ham radio beacons and how far they are being heard. Although this
is VHF, it does give a good idea if what may be happening in the UHF TV bands.
Check it out here and then zoom in on your locale.
– Another ham radio based propagation tool is a site by VHFDX.net, which shows
contacts between ham radio stations as lines across a map. It may be a bit hard
to understand for the newbie, but there is a wealth of information on this
site. Have a look here
TV DX’ing can be a lot fun. It’s not really an expensive hobby either. Anyone,
of any age, can participate. Give it a try. There is a lot of information out
there on the interweb, Start surfing the ‘net, start surfing channels and