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HDTV antennae are quite expensive, aren’t they? If you’re cutting the cable but have realized you still need a few channels that you can’t find being piped to your home-built media center through the Internet, then having access to some over-the-air broadcasts (as opposed to cable or satellite) can prove useful.

But there’s the cost. You cut back on cable to save money –so what’s the point in spending money on an expensive HDTV antenna? After checking Amazon for low-cost antennae, you’ve probably realized that only the high end devices are fit for purpose.

The alternative, then, is to build your own, using a few shop-bought components and items you might have sitting around in your workspace.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Tools & Hardware to Build a DIY HDTV Antenna

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To begin, you’ll need to collect your tools. You’ll need a power drill, an electric screwdriver (or screwdriver bit for a compatible drill), wire cutters and pliers. All standard tools that you should have access to already. You’ll also need a ruler or tape measure.

The HDTV antenna is built from the following components. Note that all measurements in this project are in inches:

  • 22 inch section of 2×3 or 1×3 wood board.
  • Woodwork pencil
  • 18 screws, no deeper than your choice of wood (1″ or 2″)
  • 18 washers that fit between the screws and the wire.
  • Thick wire for antenna “V”. I’ve used coat hangers, which can be bought inexpensively in bulk on eBay, for the antenna Vs. You’ll also need some copper wiring; I used six pieces of wire from an old PC power-supply unit, not the only use for a discarded PSU How to Make a Bench Power Supply From An Old ATX PSU How to Make a Bench Power Supply From An Old ATX PSU If you have an old computer ATX PSU lying around, you can give it new life as a bench power supply. Here's how. Read More .
  • Aluminum mesh grill trays, typically found in disposable BBQ kits.
  • 1x Balun – this is a small coaxial plug with adjustable screws for connecting wires (pictured below). You may have one lying around from an old analogue TV. If not, you can pick one up online or at a dollar store.
  • A length of coaxial cable to run from the antenna to your TV.

muo-diy-tvantenna-balun

Step 2: Preparing the Wooden Base

Begin by gathering your hardware, and preparing the wooden backing board. I had difficulty purchasing the exact size required as my local DIY chain couldn’t cut more precise than 9 inches, but it shouldn’t matter as long as you keep the same measurements between the wires:

  • Draw a 1 inch gap down the middle
  • Starting 2 inches from the top, mark a line crossing that gap every 5.25 inches.
  • You should have 8 points where the lines intersect.

See the accompanying image if you’re confused.

Step 3: Cut the Coat Hangers

Cut eight lengths of 14 inch from the coat hangers. Each wire length will need to be bent halfway, to create a V shape. The ends of the V need to be 3 inches  apart. The measurements are essential for the antennae to perform correctly, so don’t just randomly fold them in half.

Cutting can be performed by hacksaw if necessary, but if you have a Dremel-style handheld mini power tool (one of the most important tools for any beginner in electronics Beginner's Electronics: 10 Skills You Need to Know Beginner's Electronics: 10 Skills You Need to Know Many of us have never even touched a soldering iron - but making things can incredibly rewarding. Here's ten of the most basic DIY electronics skills to help you get started. Read More ), this is a far better, and quicker option.

Step 4: Attach the V Wires to the Base

Each of the Vs will be screwed into the base where the lines intersect, so grab the drill, and with a narrow bit, drill the eight holes. When you’re done, attach the V wires, using the screws and the washers.

You should now have something that looks like this.

Step 5: Catching the Waves

Turn the base over, and use two screws to connect each of the disposable grill trays to the back of the antenna. These will act as a reflector, sending the signal back to our antenna.

Next, join the V sections together with wire. This should be criss-crossed on the top and bottom sections, and run straight along the middle. Use the photo below as a guide. Notice how I’ve stripped a segment of insulation from the two middle wires. This is to make the next step, attaching the Balun, simpler.

muo-diy-tvantenna-wires

The Balun is the interface to the TV, so you might want to think ahead and make sure it’s correctly positioned for connecting and reconnecting a coax cable in an enclosed space. Soldering the Balun will make the connection permanent, but if you’re unsure about this, take a look at our soldering starter guide Learn How to Solder, with These Simple Tips and Projects Learn How to Solder, with These Simple Tips and Projects Are you a little intimidated by the thought of a hot iron and molten metal? If you want to start working with electronics, you're going to need to learn to solder. Let us help. Read More first.

Congratulations, you’ve built a HDTV antenna using household parts!

Receiving HDTV Images with Your DIY Antenna

You’ve build the antenna – now is the time to try it out!

Connect the device to a suitable HDTV, open the TV’s menu and start scanning for channels. As with any TV antenna, you’ll need to try out several positions to get the best results, so be patient. You might find that fixing the device to your outer wall is a better option than hiding it in the loft or fixing it to the ceiling.

I found that placing the antenna on a table and slowly positioning it in line with the existing roof antenna produced great results. It’s a case of whatever works for you and your surroundings, but I was blown away by just how well this worked.

Alternative HDTV Antenna Builds

By now you should be watching TV. Congratulations, you just cut your cable FREE MANUAL: Cut That Cord! How To Ditch Cable FREE MANUAL: Cut That Cord! How To Ditch Cable Are you thinking of getting rid of your cable TV service? If so, here's a guide to getting it done. We'll show you all of your best alternative options, including equipment and services to sign... Read More  (however, consider that there might be hidden costs Considering Canceling Cable? The True Cost of Cutting the Cord Considering Canceling Cable? The True Cost of Cutting the Cord When you add everything up, do you really save money by cutting the cord? We do the math involved with cancelling cable in favor of Internet services. Read More to this activity).

But just in case this didn’t work for you too well, or you found it too complicated, here are some alternative DIY HDTV antennae.

First is this, a HDTV antenna made from cardboard and aluminum foil. It can prove to be a little fiddly, and the design will eventually result in parts of the antenna dropping off, but other than this it is a good build and an exercise worth completing.

We also recommend you take a look at this simpler design, again requiring cardboard and aluminum foil, although you will need to cut an intricate “tree” into the foil.

Did you build the antenna as explained above? Have you got a strong HDTV signal for a fraction of the cost of a shop-bought antenna? Perhaps you have some questions; use the comments box below and we’ll talk.

  1. Al Race
    May 19, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    Robert Zinda, I"ve designed antennas for transmission and reception, both separately, and know that THIS design and similar works well UNLESS you have a crossed wire then it produce opposite results (no picture). Please follow the instructions and don't improvise as you quoted "made some reflectors that i could adjust in case i needed to fine tune the reflection. hooked up my UHF to cable connector and brought this spinney catch on everything and cut you up ugly monstrosity inside my home. Then ripped out the simple flat wire Fm antenna" YOU don't adjust this, YOU hooked it up to UHF, not the VHF if your tv is that old then you'd need a converter anyways, YOU used flat wire from an FM antenna. It's obvious that the real problem here is YOU and hot the antenna. It's a shame that YOU were the first to post a criticism that may deter others from following a pretty decent design. I'm being politically kind to you and your posting. My true thoughts and feelings are that you're a little hard ass punk that doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground and you run your mouth when you should just shut up, but you don't. You don't deserve a good diagram because you'd just bitch about anything that didn't go your way because you're, again, an idiot. Thanks for your critique of this project..

    • Janet
      October 1, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      What exactly are you talking about and to who?? You paragraph made absolutely NO sense after a few lines! WTF?

  2. Robert Zinda
    May 4, 2016 at 8:06 am

    What a waste of time! I was having trouble with 2 channels locally FOX & NBC were sometimes missing a word every so often while I was using a regular flat wire FM antenna just draped around one of my speakers, i just canceled Dish service and needed to get something going for when i wasn't in the mood to screw around with the fireTV stick and Kodi.
    That's another story entirely there, what another piece of work that is.

    Like i said I got every channel in my area maybe 40 or so but i wanted to stop that occasional loss of signal when i was moving around my place. So i spent the time to make one of these antennas. I had everything to do it and took the time to do it exactly as instructed, destroyed some metal hangers, cut some wood, measured. screwed, cut & striped wires, made some reflectors that i could adjust in case i needed to fine tune the reflection. hooked up my UHF to cable connector and brought this spinney catch on everything and cut you up ugly monstrosity inside my home. Then ripped out the simple flat wire Fm antenna thinking this was going to be the sh|t! proceeded to never get reception ever, I was able to get reception after i disconnected it and just held the piece the raw cable wire in the air!

    This needs to be removed from the web to keep others from wasting their time on such BS!

    Plus could it be any uglier and more dangerous? If you have kids plan on hearing them crying within minutes after you get done screwing around with this monstrosity, they will more than likely end up cut or poked in the eyes by the ends of sharp coat hangers that will do nothing for your reception at all. Throw some tinfoil on a paper plate and touch some wire with alligator clips onto it and you will have made an antenna that's infinitely better than this and it will take you much less time and will not look as ugly or be nearly as dangerous and hard to find a place to put it, but I know exactly where it will end up, in the trash just like mine did.

    • Christian Cawley
      May 4, 2016 at 8:31 am

      Well thanks for the constructive comment. This antenna is currently in my attic, beaming pictures to the TVs in our house, as demonstrated in the video.

      Feel free to show off your paper plate in a video, we'd love to see it!

  3. John G
    December 28, 2015 at 3:11 am

    I have a question. There's a multi-element antenna in the attic of a second home that has not been used for years. I'm not sure if it is intended for FM radio stations or analog TV. Is digital TV at such different frequency that this antenna is not suitable for digital HDTV? Any easy modification to "tune" it for digital TV reception?

  4. Matthew Day
    August 11, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Characteristics of the stacked bowtie array...

    Wideband (centred on the frequency that the element are a half wavelength at).

    Quite broad directionality, aiming less critical but poor at rejecting ghosting on analog.

    A more advanced version has two stacks side by side - this tightens the directionality (this is the actual metalwork version I have in the loft.

    NB. note that the feed/phasing lines to the top and bottom elements are crossed ... they are half a wavelength long, so the signal from them would otherwise be in antiphase, so the crossover means the signal is in the correct phase.

    One of the other types - with the tree, is the log periodic - characteristics - super wideband.

    PS. many cheap set top antennas that are not properly wideband designed end up working better BACKWARDS on lower channels

    • Christian Cawley
      August 11, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      Useful stuff Matthew, thanks for adding it!

  5. Anonymous
    June 10, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    In answer to the questions. Yes, this antenna only captures terrestrial TV signals - from a TV transmitter antenna in line-of-site to the horizon. (In a city, the signal bounces around the buildings - but the transmitter tower still has to be "in view" if you could see-thru to it with Superman vision).
    ......
    The antenna type shown above is a "Quad BowTie" and yes the arm lengths and spacing are important for optimum results. If you live in the city with lots of nearby TV stations transmitting; then what's above will work fine. If you're in the country and trying for one or 2 distant stations; then you need to make the correct length legs and spacing. Just Google: Quad BowTie antenna and you'll find tech/design help. You'll probably also have to Google to find the particular TV transmitter's actual frequency (MHz).

  6. Anonymous
    June 10, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Gee - what a convoluted comment system. I've been working at this for 1/2 an hour - registering, confirming, passwording, and generally mucking about - just to make a comment. If I didn't have something important to say; I'd be long gone .... Ha !

  7. Adam Hoier
    June 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    not to rain on the parade....but love my Mohu Leaf Ultimate. i cut my brighthouse tv service, cause i found i just wasn't watching enough tv.....they give you the whole "guide" but then the decent shows you WANT to watch, are not available cause you have to upgrade to a higher priced tier package.....etc.....and found myself simply channel surfing....since getting the mohu leaf ultimate i've found i watch more tv now, than i did before lol.....less surfing. aha, of course, YMMV, but in my little city, i pick up 60 channels.....now granted, some of them are hispanic, government based, etc...but bound to find something on 1 of those "local" channels....i watch more tv now than i ever did haha. less surfing through a guide, of shows i find i can't access without tossing another 30$ to brighthouse....sure yes, the antenna was 45 bucks, but i'm pleased.....and now saving about 40$ each MONTH off my cable bill, with highspeed internet service only...

    but yea, with all antennas, this can only pick up local stations.....obviously, if there's not many local stations available in your vicinity, it's not going to pick anything extra up.

  8. Tejasvi Rana
    June 10, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Hi Christian,

    Nicely written article! I'm from India and just want to confirm if this antennae catches terrestrial signals?

    • Christian Cawley
      June 11, 2015 at 8:36 am

      This is an antenna for digital terrestrial broadcasts. As there are no longer any analogue terrestrial broadcasts in my part of the world I'm unable to confirm.

  9. Jon Green
    June 10, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I'm guessing that the effectiveness of this antenna depends upon the country, and the frequency ranges used there. For which country does this design apply, and how should we modify it for others?

    • Christian Cawley
      June 11, 2015 at 8:35 am

      As explained in the video, the design used is a US one which also works in the UK. I suspect it will also work across Europe, although I wouldn't like to say any more than that.

  10. b8917hy
    June 9, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    HD homemade is nice (not saying it's to my tastes but) I want this.
    this bit of geeky tech....

    https://www.satellitephonestore.com/promo/explorer-710?gclid=CMK19rzjg8YCFZI8gQodVL8AhQ

    Yes, thats a satellite data node.
    650kbps up/down. weighs ounces not pounds. runs on AAA's ...not. ok maybe lithiums.

    can do live streaming to a sat using your own device. Iphone, Android, Ipad...

    in a backpack.

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