I Cut The Cable. Here’s How.

“You know what sounds like fun? Writing more checks every month,” said no one ever.

I remember looking down at my cable bill one day and noting the couple hundred bucks we had to shell out that month, and I had a Joe Thomas moment.

Used with permission from David Rappoccio

Maybe it’s because I’m not home a ton, maybe it’s because I have young children, or maybe it’s because the stuff I really like isn’t on anymore (c’mon Matthew Perry, make me SOMETHING that sticks around) but for whatever reason, I don’t watch much TV, certainly not enough to justify a monthly spend that would be much better burned in my fleet of old Volkswagens.

Notifying the cable company that their services were no longer needed was one of the most gratifying things ever. In fact, on the last check, my wife boldly voice some displeasure in the memo line.

That said, I’m still a Browns fan, and at least early in the season before they wheels completely fall off (usually I’m safe until at least mid-September) I like to watch those games. Also, my 5-year-old son and I like to watch some of the PBS stuff, and I want to be able to catch things like local news and the occasional live TV spectacle like the Super Bowl or Olympics, but without cable, what’s a guy to do?!

Fortunately, there’s plenty. I cut the cord, it was very simple, and here’s how I did it:

First, my friend gave me a castaway antenna that he couldn’t use anymore. Disobeying pretty much all of the instructions for a precision rotor-mounted outdoor antenna, I mounted it to a tripod, schlepped it to the attic, and pointed it vaguely at Toledo, and I was able to pull in the PBS channels from Bowling Green, but that’s all. Here’s the antenna I was using:


This was a problem though, because then I started watching PBS shows.

Everything from “This Old House” to “America’s Test Kitchen” had me thinking I could build my own garage and make fancy meatballs. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and have been in fact banned from ever watching a cooking show again because “…they give you false confidence in the kitchen” according to my wife.

I needed more channels.

So, I bought a signal boosting amplifier at Best Buy, hooked it inline between the antenna and the ONE television in my house, and lo and behold, there was glorious full-color HD TV. Kinda. I was able to pull in 11, 13, 27, and 30 pretty regularly, but 24 and 36 were a problem, and if you’re an NFL fan, you know you need to be able to pull in both CBS and FOX to get any enjoyment out of a season.

That’s when I decided to get really serious. Well, at least partially serious.

I did  a little research online, and found an antenna that I thought would work for me, and I was right! Here’s the one I bought: https://www.channelmaster.com/Digital_HDTV_Outdoor_TV_Antenna_p/cm-4228hd.htm

Now, I don’t have a big tower outside my house, but what I DO have is a satellite dish that the previous owners of the house had hooked up. All I needed was a little  height, and I figured ‘d be good go!

My first experiment was with a telescoping broom handle shoved into the metal tube that was concreted into the ground for the satellite dish. Result: Antenna 3 feet off the ground, no ability to keep it stable, reception = total crap.

So I headed to the hardware store and picked up a couple lengths of antenna mount pipe that they sell right beside the antennas that don’t work. Don’t buy one of those antennas, but DO buy a couple lengths of the pipe that they sell in a bin right beside them. I stacked 3 of those together, got the antenna about 15 feet off the ground, spliced the cable into the one that was there for the satellite dish, and it was AWESOME. I’m talking a full-compliment of local channels, completely FREE, and in crystal clear HD. I watched the Cavs win an NBA championship, I watched the Browns be terrible, and the Indians be very good. Everything was great, until the first big wind storm.

After buckling one of the lengths of piping in half and crashing to the ground under it’s own weight, the antenna was surprisingly still intact.

As of today, my current situation is this:

Not level, certainly not pretty, and if I’m honest, probably not high enough off the ground seeing as how it’s not even above my roofline, but I’m pulling in full HD signals for all the major networks. Most importantly, I’m writing zero checks for television anymore. My only monthly expense is the fifty-odd dollars for internet service, which is a huge help in a couple different ways. During football season, I like Monday Night Football, which I obviously can’t get over the air, so I sign up for Sling TV. $20/month for a few months of football season, AND they sent me a free Roku to watch it with.

If you’re considering cutting the cable, I encourage you to get to it. You’ll find that you’re not only spending less money each moth, but you’ll likely find that you’re spending more time doing things you actually like and want to do because you won’t be scrolling through channel after channel just trying to find something to watch. You might find, like me, that you spend more time on the floor with Hot Wheels and Mr. Potato Heads, or more time around a bonfire or grill.

Here’s a rundown for you:

Antenna I use:

How I know specifically where to point it:

Antenna Pipe:

Here’s how I watch ESPN during football season:

Good luck, and enjoy a cable bill free life!