How to: Get free HD television in Toronto

Residents in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) can enjoy free over-the-air (OTA) HDTV broadcasts from both Canadian and American television networks. Analog terrestrial broadcasts have ceased since July of 2011 in Canada so all Canadian television broadcasts have joined their American counterparts in broadcasting their programs digital high-definition with 5.1 surround sound.

Over The Air HDTV Reception in Toronto
Canadian Stations
Name Channel Info
CFTO (CTV) 9-1; 1080i/5.1
CITY (CityTv) 57-1;
CIII (Global) 41-1
CBLT (CBC) 5-1;
CBFLT (CBC French) 25-1
CFMT (OMNI 1) 47-1;
CJMT(OMNI 2) 69-1
CICA (TV Ontario) 19-1;
CKXT (Sun TV) 15-1
CHCH 11-1;
American Stations
Name Channel Info
WGRZ (NBC) 2-1; 1080i/5.1; from Buffalo
WIVB (CBS) 4-1; 1080i/5.1; from Buffalo
WKBW (ABC) 7-1; 1080i/5.1; from Buffalo
WNED (PBS) 17-1; 1080i/5.1; from Buffalo
WNED Kids (PBS) 17-3; 480i/2.0; Secondary WNED Stream
WNLO (The CW) 23-1; 1080i/5.1; from Buffalo
WUTV (FOX) 29-1; 1080i/5.1; from Buffalo
TCN 29-2; 480i/2.0; The Country Network – 24 hour country music videos

Equipment required

Television
Most local Toronto stations are broadcast from the CN Tower. The equipment you need is an ATSC tuner to capture the broadcast and a television capable of displaying High-Definition images. Most television sets, especially any flat-panel LCD or Plasma televisions, made recently in the last 5 years or so normally come equipped with such a tuner.

Set-Top Box
With older cathode-ray tube antennas, you will need a set-top box which converts the digital video and audio to an analog form that is compatible with older television sets with only built-in analog tuners. These devices are rather inexpensive (usually around $50) and maybe be purchased at chain electronic stores such as Future Shop or Best Buy or online.

Antenna
Digital broadcasts can be picked-up using standard television antennas because they are sent over the air in the same frequency UHF range as traditional analog signals. With that said, your old rabbit ears will work can are able to receive HDTV. You do not need any special antenna. In the next section directions to build a very inexpensive (almost free) HDTV antenna is shown. The design was adapted fromTVantennaplans.com.

Easy Do-It-Yourself HDTV Antenna

HDTVAntenna

Material

  • Metal Coat Hangers or solid core wires (~10 feet)
  • Pliers, wire cutter and screw driver
  • Insulated wires
  • wooden plank 20 inches long x 3 inches wide
  • 8 Screws, nuts and washers
  • Balun (~$1 at Active Surplus)
  • 75 Ohm coaxial cable (~$2-$5, depending on length)

All materials including the Balun can be purchased for cheap at Active Surplus in the Queen West district.

Directions
Please see diagram with measurements and how it should look.

  • Cut a piece of wood 2.5 inches wide and 21.5 inches long
  • Drill 4 holes 5.25 inches apart to form the 1st column. Then drill a second column of holes 1 inch away.
  • Straighten metal coat hangers and cut into 14 inch pieces
  • Bend metal pieces at the midpoint to form a v-shaped structures whose tips are 3 inches apart
  • Prepare insulated wire segments for connecting V-shaped structures together
  • Assemble V-shaped structures and insulated wires and balun to board using washer and screws according to diagram above.

Connection and placement
The balun acts as an impedance transformer to optimize transfer of the HDTV signal from the broadcast tower to your TV. Attach one end of the 75 Ohm coaxial cable to the balun and the other to the Antenna input of your television.

An ideal spot to place your new HDTV antenna is one where there is a clear view of the downtown core. Alternatively placing the antenna near a window and away from concrete structures will help improve reception.

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