I’m no longer receiving any channels, or I am not receiving the number of channels I was receiving. How do I test my antenna installation?

There are many steps to test an antenna installation.  This FAQ is divided into sections since all steps may not apply to every installation.

Initial Quick Fix Steps

Check to see if you have resolved your issue after each of these steps. 

  1. Verify that the TV is set to the correct input for using an antenna
  2. Verify all connections are tight and are on the correct ports
  3. If the antenna is mounted outdoors, make sure there is no water in the connectors on the coaxial cable
  4. Visually inspect the antenna, the coaxial cable, and the balun/matching transformer (the device that connects the antenna to the coaxial cable), and any other equipment that may be in the installation for any damage, and replace any items that are damaged
  5. If you have a second TV set, try it to make sure the TV is working correctly
  6. If possible, connect a cable directly from the antenna to the TV set with nothing else in between, including preamplifiers, amplifiers, splitters, DVRs, VCRs, home theater receivers, or any other equipment, and do a channel scan on the TV set to see if you are receiving anything (If you live in an area where a preamplifier is required to receive any channels, then leave it in place for this initial test.  If you are able to receive even one channel without the preamplifier, don’t include the preamplifier for this test since it is designed to eliminate as many possible failure points as possible.).  

If you still don't have any pictures on any channels after step #6 above, try a different coaxial cable between the antenna and the TV set.  If there still are no pictures, try replacing the balun/matching transformer.  If this doesn’t resolve the issue, it may be necessary to replace the antenna.  However, it is not common for an antenna to fail completely.  Its performance can become degraded over time if elements, or the interconnections between the elements, become damaged, but total failure is not common. 

If you do have pictures after step #6 above, the troubleshooting steps to take next will depend on what other equipment is included in your installation.  The quickest way to determine which piece of equipment is causing the issue is to reinstall the equipment one piece at a time that was removed in step #6 above, checking for pictures on the TV set after each piece of equipment is reinstalled.  When the pictures are lost, remove the last piece of equipment that was installed and make sure everything is still working.  If it is, you have identified the equipment that is causing the problem.  Troubleshooting steps for individual items are listed below. 

Troubleshooting a Preamplifier

  1. Verify all connections are correct and tight
    • Antenna output goes to the INPUT port on the preamplifier
    • Connect the coaxial cable going into the house to the OUTPUT/POWER port on the preamplifier
    • Coaxial cable from the preamplifier connects to the TO AMP port on the power inserter
    • Coaxial cable to the TV set connects to the TO TV port on the power inserter
    • Coaxial cable to the power adapter that plugs into the wall outlet is connected to the DC IN port on the power inserter
  2. If all connections are correct and tight, use a volt meter to verify the voltage going to the preamplifier is correct on the TO AMP port of the power inserter by using a short coaxial jumper and measuring between the center conductor and the body of the connector.  The voltage should be between 18VDC and 23VDC.
  3. If the voltage is not present in step #2 above, remove the cable from the DC IN port on the power inserter and measure the voltage between the center conductor and the body of the connector.  If the voltage is good at this point, it indicates that the power inserter has failed.  If the voltage is still not present, use a different short jumper on the power inserter and recheck for DC voltage out of the power adapter.  If there is no voltage, it indicates that the power adapter has failed.
  4. If the voltage is correct out of the power inserter in step #2 above, verify that the DC voltage is present at the input to the preamplifier by removing the cable from the OUTPUT/POWER port and measuring between the center conductor and the body of the connector.  Based on the length of the coaxial cable between the power inserter and the preamplifier, the DC voltage is likely to be lower than what was measured directly off the power inserter.  As long as it is above 12VDC, the preamplifier should work correctly.  If there is no voltage present, it indicates that the coaxial cable needs to be replaced.
  5. If the voltage is correct at the end of the cable at the preamplifier in step #4 above, remove the power adapter from the wall outlet to turn off the DC voltage, connect the cable from the power inserter directly to the antenna output, and then check to see if you have pictures on the TV set.  If so, this indicates that the preamplifier itself has failed. 
  6. If you still don’t have any pictures on any channels after step #5 above, try a different coaxial cable between the antenna and the TV set.  If there still are no pictures, try replacing the balun/matching transformer.  If this doesn’t resolve the issue, it may be necessary to replace the antenna.  However, it is not common for an antenna to fail completely.  Its performance can become degraded over time if elements, or the interconnections between the elements, become damaged, but total failure is not common. 
  7. If you are still having difficulties with your preamplifier after performing the troubleshooting steps above, please contact Channel Master Technical Support at http://support.channelmaster.com/anonymous_requests/new, and describe the issues you are having in as much detail as possible.  Please also note your email address, telephone number, and date of purchase of your preamplifier.

Troubleshooting Coaxial Cable

  1. Physically inspect the coaxial cable for any damage to the jacket.  Cuts and scrapes in the jacket can allow moisture into the cable.  If damage is found, consider replacing the coaxial cable.
  2. Physically inspect the connections, making sure there is no moisture or corrosion inside the connector, no braid is wrapped around the center conductor, the center conductor is straight and extending approximately 1/16” of an inch past the end of the connector nut, and that it is securely tightened when installed on the port.  If any problems are found with the connectors, try replacing them with good quality F connectors.  If moisture and corrosion is found in the connectors, make sure that you have cut off enough cable to be past the moisture in the cable itself before installing new F connectors. 
  3. If no problems are found during the physical inspection, you can use a volt/ohm meter to determine if the cable is shorted.  Remove the connectors from the ports on either end of the cable, and then check the resistance between the center conductor and the body of the connector.  It should be open.  If it is shorted, replace the connectors first to make sure they are correct.  If it is still shorted, it will need to be replaced.

 Troubleshooting a Splitter

  1.  A splitter will have one input, and two or more outputs.  Make sure the input is connected to the signal source (antenna, amplifier output), and the outputs are connected to the TV sets
  2. Physically inspect the splitter for any damage or corrosion
  3. Correct signal loss can only be measured with specialized test equipment.  Based on the internal design of the splitter, any resistance measurements made with a volt/ohm meter will not provide useful information.
  4. Channel Master splitters are not designed to pass voltage.  They should never be installed in a line that has voltage on it.  The voltage can damage the splitter.

Troubleshooting a Distribution Amplifier

  1. Verify all connections are correct and tight
    • Antenna output goes to the INPUT port on the distribution amplifier
    • Connect the coaxial cables going to the TV sets to the OUTPUT ports on the distribution amplifier
    • Coaxial cable to the power adapter that plugs into the wall outlet is connected to the DC IN port on the distribution amplifier
  2. If all connections are correct and tight, use a volt meter to verify the voltage going to the distribution amplifier is correct by removing the cable from the DC IN port on the distribution amplifier and measuring between the center conductor and the body of the connector.  The voltage should be between 18VDC and 23VDC.
  3. If the voltage is not present in step #2 above, use a different short jumper on the power inserter and recheck for DC voltage out of the power adapter.  If there is no voltage, it indicates that the power adapter has failed.
  4. If the voltage is correct out of the power adapter in step #3 above, it indicates that the coaxial cable needs to be replaced.
  5. If you still don’t have any pictures on any channels after step #4 above, try a different coaxial cable between the distribution amplifier and the TV set.  If there still are no pictures, it indicates that the distribution amplifier has failed.   
  6. If you are still having difficulties with your preamplifier after performing the troubleshooting steps above, please contact Channel Master Technical Support at http://support.channelmaster.com/anonymous_requests/new, and describe the issues you are having in as much detail as possible.  Please also note your email address, telephone number, and date of purchase of your distribution amplifier.

 Troubleshooting Consumer Electronics Devices (DVRs, VCRs, home theater receivers, etc.)

  1. Make sure all connections are correct as indicated by the manual(s) that came with the consumer electronics device(s), and that they are tight.
  2. Make sure all switches and controls are correctly set as indicated by the manual(s) that came with the consumer electronics device(s).
  3. Review the manual(s) that came with the consumer electronics device(s) for additional troubleshooting steps specific to that device.
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