In the US, television signals are transmitted over the air via a system called ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee). These signals are unencrypted digital television signals. They can be picked up with an HD Antenna and fed into an ATSC Tuner (such as the one built into your TV). You are probably in range of many over-the-air broadcast channels, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW, PBS, and other smaller networks like ION or PBS. If might be an affordable option to build your own antenna.
What supplies do you need to make your own TV Antenna?
- Coax cable, for your TV.
- 6 wire hangars, preferably with some kind of plastic coating that you can remove in sections with relative ease.
- 10 wood screws, not too long so they don’t punch through your wood.
- 10 fender washers – about an inch in diameter and with a hole wide enough to be secured by the wood screws. Grab a handful at Home Depot for a dime a piece.
- Wood – I used a single 2×4 about 2.5 feet long, a wider piece might work better for spacing but mine worked fine. You can find suitable wood scraps at Home Depot for free if you’re polite.
- UHF/VHF transformer. Also called a balun, I found mine at Radioshack, labeled as a 75-ohm 300-ohm transformer for 6 bucks.
- Drill – for the wood screws
- Pliers – to make shaping the hangars easier
- Basic wire cutter/stripper – to strip the hangars in appropriate sections. I just used the wire cutter region on my pliers.
- Tape measure
http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx – Check here before getting started to verify that you have some stations nearby. Make sure to note that your house has multiple stories available (whether it does or not), because if I don’t check that box then the site only shows one available station listed for my location. For reference, I am able to pick up channels at a listed blue antenna type.
Directions to Make Your Own TV Antenna
1) Watch this video to get a visual of what we’ll be doing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWQhlmJTMzw I think mine ended up slightly different from this guys’ but they both should work comparably well.
2) Clip the top portion of 8 of your hangars on both sides of where the hook begins.
3) Use the pliers to straighten out the hangars into long wires.
4) Take four of your long wires and cut them into eight, 14 inch pieces.
5) Use your wire strippers to strip the last inch on each end and middle 1.5 inches of each short wire.
6) Bend the short wires at their center, until each end is about 3 inches from each other. Set these short wires aside for a bit
7) Take your board and make a mark at the following lengths from the top of the board: 2”, 8”, 14”, and 20”.
8) Make two new marks at each of these lengths, about ¾ of an inch from the edge of the board. This will be where your screws/washers go in.
9) Take your two remaining long hangar wires and line them up against your dots. Using the pliers, bend one hangar wire so that it stretches from the very top left dot, to the dots on the right at 8”, straight down to the dot at the right at 14”, and finally down to the dot at the bottom left at 20”. The final shape will be __/. Do the opposite with the remaining hangar, so that it fills the top right, middle lefts, and bottom right.
10) Clip excess wire from the bottom of these long ones, then remove a generous section of insulation around each wire near each dot, making sure that they remain covered where they cross. Last, remove a section of insulation in the very middle of each wire. This is where your transformer will attach.
11) LOOSELY fasten 8 of your washers to each of your 8 dots using your wood screws. Make sure that they are loose enough to slip two wires in easily.
12) Place one of your short wires on each screw so that they stick out the sides, and line your long wires up on their respective dots.
13) Fasten down all those screws! You’re almost done!
14) Take your transformer, and fasten one metal prong to each side of the very middle portion of the long wires. You should have a male coax attachment hanging out in the middle, flaccid.
15) Hook up your TV and search for channels! Good luck.