Quick links: Try it here
The tool starts with a few paragraphs like the following:
"Now you can check your location for free TV with our interactive mapping tool. See the local TV transmitters on a map and check their signal strengths. This tool give you all our latest database updates, coverage maps, and signal analysis on a dynamic map with lots of information about every transmitter right at your fingertips. This tool will let you do all of the following:
* List available channels for any location
* Adjust the location being analyzed (to fix address lookup errors)
* Play "what-if" scenarios with different antenna heights
* See the direction of each transmitter to help you point your antenna
* Overlay coverage maps for each station
* Generate a summary report, which can be shared, printed, or saved for future reference"
: Click on the words [>> Start MAPS <<] to begin using the tool.
: Fill in the form for the location you would like analyzed. You can enter your location as a street address or as a coordinate. To use coordinates instead of an address, select the appropriate radio button where it says "Select input method".
You can enter a location at any level of accuracy you wish (e.g., zip code only, cross streets, exact address, etc.). It is recommended that you enter your full address or exact coordinates, if possible, because this affects the accuracy of the report. If there are any terrain obstructions in your vicinity, a rough analysis might not be accurate enough to give you a realistic view of what you can get.
: Click the button marked [Map this]. This will bring up a map of the specified location, and a list of available channels shown below it.
(optional): You can reposition the orange marker (representing you) by dragging and dropping the icon on the map. Sometimes, the address lookup engine is not that accurate, and it may be necessary to fine tune the location by moving this marker.
The maps defaults to a "Terrain" view initially. You might be able to get more zoom levels or a better estimate of your location by switching the map to "Hybrid", "Satellite", or "Map" view.
The latitude and longitude of the marker location is shown just below the map. Each time you reposition the marker, the list of available channels is automatically recalculated and updated.
(optional): You can adjust the analyzed antenna height by editing the number in the "antenna height" box just beneath the map. You can enter any value in the range of 1 to 500 feet above ground level. Each time you change the antenna height, the list of available channels is automatically recalculated and updated.
This is the easiest way to play "what-if" experiments with antenna height. You can quickly test several antenna heights to see if any of your reception difficulties can be solved with a taller antenna mount (e.g., on the roof, or using an antenna tower). This depends a lot on your proximity to local terrain obstructions, and this feature makes it very easy to test.
(optional): You can get some visual cues to help you aim your antenna by enabling the checkbox labeled "Show lines pointing to each transmitter". This will draw reference lines on the map going from your location to each of the transmitters. Thick lines represent strong signals and thin lines represent weaker ones.
It is best to use this feature with the map in "Satellite" or "Hybrid" view if there is high quality overhead imagery available for your area. You might use it to identify landmarks or neighbors' homes that can be used as reference points to aim your antenna. The lines can also help you determine whether certain obstacles (e.g., tall buildings, trees, etc.) can be avoided if you relocate the antenna.
(optional): The coverage overlays for transmitters in your area can be turned on by clicking on the radio button next to any of the callsigns. This will cause the map to zoom out, load the selected coverage overlay, and pop up a balloon with a few transmitter stats. If you are no longer interested in seeing the overlay, click on the radio button labeled "Overlays off", which is just above the list of channels.
You can use this feature to learn about any of the transmitters around you, or maybe to figure out why a particular channel is difficult to receive. Perhaps there is a terrain obstruction you did not know about, or the transmitter is not at the location you thought it was.
(optional): You can automatically turn this analysis (location and height) into a regular radar plot report (see previous post
) by pressing the button labeled [Make Radar Plot >>]. This will create a share-able version of the analysis results that you can pass along to others when asking for help.