6 Ways to Build Your Own DIY HDTV Antenna for Cheap
You’ve heard it’s possible to build your own HDTV antenna to receive digital terrestrial (DVB-T) signals. It sounds like a good idea, and a big saving. You’re planning on cutting the cord, and this sounds ideal. But is it possible?
Yes, it is! Here are six ways you can build your own HDTV antenna using household items.
Reasons to Build a DIY HDTV Antenna
So, why might you opt for a DIY antenna for your digital TV reception? Couldn’t you just buy one of the best TV antennas ? Use cable or satellite instead?
Well, several reasons spring to mind:
- Over the air TV is cheaper than cable, and you want to cut the cord (but first consider these cord-cutting pitfalls ).
- You can’t afford a factory-built antenna.
- Your antenna has blown down in a storm and you need a replacement fast.
- You just like making your own gear.
Whatever is motivating you to build your own HDTV antenna, you have several options. Each of these follows a slightly different design, and they can all be constructed using household items.
It doesn’t matter how low your budget is. If you want to receive digital TV signals over the air, these four antenna builds are ideal.
Once you’re done, you should be able to receive the usual OTA TV channels. If you’re “cutting the cord” you should pair these free TV channels up with a low-cost media streamer, such as an Amazon Fire TV Stick or a Raspberry Pi running Kodi .
1. A Homemade TV Antenna From a Paperclip
Amazingly, it’s possible to receive pictures over the air with just a paperclip as a DIY TV antenna!
This will depend on signal strength, distance to the transmitter, and weather conditions, but
With favorable signal strength, transmitter distance, and weather conditions, you could be watching TV using a piece of common stationery!
As explained in the video, all that you need to do is unfold the paperclip into an L shape. Plug the shorter end into a coaxial cable, which is then connected to your TV.
Admittedly, that’s the easy bit. For this to work, you need a long cable to achieve roof-height elevation. In the video, YouTuber LaneVids hangs his cable in the attic, and takes the viewer down to his main TV. The picture is clear, if occasionally jerky—but this homemade TV antenna is only a few inches long!
It’s worth adding here that in some (albeit rare) cases, the paperclip may not even be required. Again, this depends on weather conditions, but some users have reported digital TV signals being received with only a cable.
While it must be pointed in the right direction, this might be all you need to receive a HDTV signal.
2. Card and Foil DIY TV Antenna
A slightly more elaborate option, this version of the DIY HDTV antenna should set you back less than $5. With over a million views, we reckon quite a few people are using this DIY TV antenna.
This build requires:
- 4 x pieces of cardboard or foamcore board (two at 8 x 11 inches, two at 8 x 8 inches)
- 1 x sheet of aluminum foil
- This printable template
You’ll also need some PVA glue, a stapler, and some hot glue.
When you’re done, you should have a lightweight, box-like antenna ready to receive TV shows.
(While the $5 total is probably the bare minimum. If you already have most of the materials, you shouldn’t need to spend more than $10.)
3. “Fractal” Homemade Antenna
A visually stunning antenna for HDTV reception, this DIY build is probably the most aesthetically pleasing version of this project.
- Sheet of aluminum foil
- 1 x balun converter
- 2 x short wires
- 1 x sheet of clear, flexible plastic
The build requires two printed copies of the template, each glued to a sheet of foil and cut out. In turn these should be glued to each side of the plastic sheet, making sure to line them up.
With the wires stapled or glued to the “legs” of the fractal design, connect the balun to the antenna. and your usual coaxial cable plugged in.
Head to Hackaday to get the template and full steps for this build.
4. The Coat Hanger DIY TV Antenna
Finally, here’s one of our own HDTV antenna projects. Although bigger and uglier than the other projects, this DIY antenna is also the most durable. I built this in 2015 and it still works.
The key components of this build are:
- A short length of 3×1 wood
- 8 x metal coat hangers
- 2 x disposable barbecue grills
- 18 x screws and 18 x matching washers
- Some wire
It’s worth noting that this version of the antenna is more complicated than the others.
As befits a project that is bigger and sturdier, this will take longer to put together than the other builds. However, once tested and mounted, you will be able to receive reliable over the air digital TV.
In the video above, I’m testing it downstairs and the signal is good enough. However, since moving it to the roof space, the results are perfect.
Read our HDTV antenna tutorial for the full instructions.
5. Big Bertha: DIY Antenna for Long Distance Reception
Built back in 2009, as of 2018 this homemade digital TV antenna remained in use. Hardy and constructed for longevity, “Big Bertha” is also huge.
The reason for this is that it is designed to receive HDTV signals broadcast over longer distances. While the other builds on this list are ideal for city and suburban use, Big Bertha is for the countryside.
Essentially, Big Bertha is the coat hanger TV antenna, doubled up, and mounted on an aluminum post. The finished build is huge, while the results are impressive.
Learn hoe to make this homemade TV antenna by following the detailed Instructables guide.
6. DIY Super Long Range TV Antenna
If Big Bertha isn’t enough for you to watch TV in remote rural areas, try this.
Described as a “Super Long Range Axial/Helical “Rural” Antenna,” it is genuinely huge. Via the video above you can check the concept and evolution of this DIY TV antenna project. Although a longer video, the highlights are compiled at the beginning.
A long piece of wood, plenty of wire, and a round BBQ grille come in very useful for this project.
While detailed plans for this remarkable build are not available, you can gather enough information from the video to build your own.
DIY HDTV Antennas Made Easy and Cheap
Although we’ve listed them here in order of difficulty, each of these homemade antenna projects is a comparatively simple build. Once made, you’ll need to spend some time fine-tuning; make sure you know where the nearest transmitter is.
As long as the antenna is correctly lined up (and at the best elevation), good TV pictures should be received.
We’ve shown you how to build six DIY antenna projects:
- An antenna using just a paperclip
- The card and foil antenna
- A fractal antenna
- The coat hanger antenna
- Big Bertha
- A super long-range DIY TV antenna
Remember, these antennas are designed for use with digital television. If you’re aiming to receive analog signals, you’ll need a different solution.
Also, if your TV doesn’t have a digital decoder built in, you’ll need to get hold of one. The coaxial cable from the antenna should be connected to this.
If you’re new to DIY technology hacks, try some basic DIY fixes first to prepare yourself before proceeding.