Life Hack: How to Literally Cut the Cord

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  Just been busy planning my next little trip: camping in Mt. Lemmon to attend their version of Oktoberfest, do some more hiking that I’ve become hooked on, and visit the observatory some 9000 ft high for some star gazing through a huge telescope.  Should be cool and something new to experience.

Also, there hasn’t been anything really interesting going on in the markets: Fed hints at rate hikes, market goes down the crapper, Fed official says maybe not, market surges, fed official says sike, market meltdown.  It’s infuriating really.  Those dopes have no concept of how your average citizen is doing, GDP is anemic, and corporate earnings growth (or lack thereof) really doesn’t justify the current multiples that a lot of companies are trading at.  I hate that the “all knowing” Fed is playing a game of chicken with Wall Street.  This easy money 8 year surge in the markets could easily have the rug pulled from underneath it, if the Fed doesn’t continue to feed the beast it created.  After all, inflation is non existent, so there should be no rush to increase rates.  The fed really needs to shit or get off the pot.  This wishy washy BS should not be going on.  Be picky on your trades.

While I’ve been away Campbell Soup (CPB) announced a multi-year, long overdue dividend increase of 12.5%, making that 31 of my holdings announcing increases.  So income continues to rise, despite not working.  PM should be announcing their increase any day now (I expected roughly 5%).  I was also exercised against on a TIF covered call trade when away on my last trip, but ironically that worked in my favor.  So all is good.

So now, for a little life hack:

How to Cut the Cord

Cable TV is expensive.  The local provider in my area has recently gone to an all digital signal in order to “free up band width” for faster internet speeds.  At the same time, customers will be required to rent a little box at a rate of $10 per month.  You need 1 box per TV.  So a family that has 3 TVs just added $30 a month to their cable bill.  Ridiculous.

I’ve already written about how cutting cable can save you $16,000 over 10 years, but today, I thought I would literally show you how to cut cable, and get free High Def over the air TV without having those ugly antennas all over the place.  Ready?  It’s pretty easy.

***Disclaimer: I’m not responsible for any damage you may cause to your home wiring.  Seek a professional for help.***

Step 1- Locate the cable wiring for your home.  On older homes, you’ll probably have black coaxial cables running somewhere around your house.  On a new home there is probably a panel somewhere in your home, maybe a closet bedroom for example.  For me, it’s located in the garage.

Behind this panel is the wiring for my phone lines and coaxial cables for cable TV

Behind this panel is the wiring for my phone lines and coaxial cables for cable TV

Step 2- Open panel.  You might get intimidated when looking at the wiring.

wp_20160913_08_42_06_proThe little green board and it’s attached wiring is for the phone lines.  I don’t need to bother with those lines (no home phone).  The other cables that are black/grayish and white, are the coaxial cables.  These cables carry the TV signal to the various rooms.

If you look close in the background, you’ll see a separate coax cable connected directly to another.  That line is for my internet connection.  I also, don’t need to bother this line.

Close up of the Splitter showing the signal IN and signal OUT

Close up of the Splitter showing the signal IN and signal OUT

The coax cables are all connected by a splitter.  You’ll see a total of 5 cables connected to the splitter.  One of connections says IN, the other connections have 7dB- these are the OUT connections.

Basically, the OUT connections and lines are running to each of the rooms in your house.  The IN is coming from outside your house providing the cable TV Signal.




Step 3- Grab you antenna.  This is probably the hardest part of cutting the cord.  Finding an antenna that works best for where you live.  This is more of a trial and error to find an antenna that works best for you.  So, keep your receipt and return an antenna if it’s not picking up enough channels.  You can check TitanTV for channel listing in your area.

wp_20160913_08_46_30_proThis is the antenna that works best for me.  It is an amplified antenna from old Radio Shack (cost $50).  In Dallas, I was able to pull in almost 70 channels, even channels from Oklahoma.  In Tucson, I get 28 (it’s a smaller market).  The only channel I can’t receive is the CW, which is also the only station being broadcast from a different area of all the other channels.  Also, terrain has an impact.  There are a lot of mountains in the area and that affects reception.  Dallas is relatively flat.  Luckily, CW has a lot of there shows online as well, so streaming from my computer to TV the next day is a fix for that.  Of all the antennas I’ve tried, this seemed to work the best for me, even better than the Leaf or more expensive outdoor antennas.  So again, this is the hardest part and requires trial and error.

Step 4- Connecting the Antenna, so all your TVs get reception from it

Disconnect the coax cable connecting to the IN of the Splitter

1. Disconnect the coax cable connecting to the IN of the Splitter


Connect coax cable from antenna to the IN of splitter

2. Connect coax cable from antenna to the IN of splitter






Step 5- Position Antenna and Scan for Channels on your TVs.  This is another trial and error step. Positioning your antenna may take a few attempts to bring in all of the channels, also adjusting the rabbit ears if your antenna has them.  AntennaWeb is useful for finding the location of the broadcast in your area and positioning your antenna.

wp_20160913_17_48_46_proLuckily for me, the antenna happens to pick up all the channels in the garage, tucked away on this stool, out of the way of everything else.  Close to the cable panel box and a power source, since I need to plug in this antenna for power.


Now go and rescan the channels on your TVs.  Make sure you scan for OTA, Air, or Antenna Channels (not cable).  Also your TVs should have a coax cable coming from the wall, connected directly to the back of your TV.

This is a picture of one TV running from the antenna.

You may need to play with the position of your antenna a little bit to get more channels.  Don’t forget to rescan the channels on you TVs.  Once you find the sweet spot, don’t bother the antenna.

Step 6- Clean Up.  Put the panel back on the cable box.  Leave a little space in between the panel cover and the wall.  You don’t want to bend/break the coaxial cable coming from the panel and running to your antenna.

wp_20160913_17_48_35_proI have this nifty picture covering the panel.  You can see the cable running just to the left of it.  But hey, this is in a garage, so it’ doesn’t really matter.

Also, following these steps, you can get all of your TVs running off of 1 antenna and avoid having a bunch of unsitely antennas around your house.






Pros and Cons of Antenna TV

+No cable bill that continually goes up

+You can get all the TVs to run off of just one antenna (break even is literally 1 month or less)

+The signal in uncompressed 1080i with digital sound.  Most cable providers compress their signal.

+You can save a ton of money over your lifetime

+Most major stations (NBC, FOX, CBS, ABC, PBS) should easily come in

-Some people might be intimidated in messing with their home’s wiring

-depending on your outside surroundings, some channels won’t come in

-Die hard sports fans probably won’t get all the games they want to watch.  Luckily I don’t care about sports much

-You may still want something like Netflix or other low cost forms of media entertainment

People looking at doing this set up may also want to research into splitters as well.  The MHz and dBs can make a difference on the splitter if the signal is running over a long distance.  Don’t forget to check Amazon or Ebay for the splitters as well.  The local home improvement and electronics stores charge way too much for them.

Worried about missing your favorite show.  Check out my home theatre pc build. Basically a computer I built that acts as a fancy DVR, steaming device, and is energy efficient.

Who out there has cut the cord and never looked back?  I’ve been cable free for about a decade.

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Readers Comments (44)

  1. I don’t watch enough tv for this to be worth it for me right now, but I really appreciate that your instructions included pictures. Will be bookmarking this for when my situation changes.

    • Aside from the morning news, I watch maybe 2 shows on tv these days. Most of my days are spent outside biking or hiking. Really, just a neat way to reduce the clutter or ugly rabbit ears in the home.

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