DIY

How to Make a DIY HDTV Antenna and Ditch Cable for Good

Christian Cawley Updated 26-05-2020

If you’re trying to save money and cut the cable, you might have found HDTV antennae are quite expensive. As not all channels are available online, accessing some over-the-air broadcasts (as opposed to cable or satellite) is useful.

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    But there’s the cost. You cut back on cable to save money. While the one-off spend might be affordable, a few moments of browsing Amazon proves that only a high-end device is fit for purpose.

    The alternative, then, is to build a DIY HD antenna using a few shop-bought components.

    How to Build a DIY TV Antenna for Your Atticante

    In this demo video you can see a working DIY digital TV antenna constructed with just a few parts.

    The process is straightforward. Using a piece of wood as a base, it requires a collection of household tools to receive TV signals from a nearby transmitter.

    Wire coat hangers act as antenna whiskers, which are secured to the board with screws and washers and linked with wire. In the middle, the received signal (enhanced with some disposable barbecue grilles) is routed through a balun to the coaxial cable, and to your TV.

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    A digital TV antenna such as this is best mounted in your attic space, as it isn’t particularly weather proof. However, it can be adapted for outdoors use by adopting more rugged materials. To start, however, we recommend this wooden version.

    Step 0: Tools & Hardware to Build a DIY HDTV Antenna

    To begin, you’ll need to collect your tools. Make sure you have:

    • A power drill.
    • An electric screwdriver.
    • Wire cutters.
    • Pliers.
    • Ruler or tape measure.
    • Hacksaw or handheld mini rotary tool (e.g. Dremel).

    As you can see, these are all standard tools that you should have access to already.

    Construct your DIY antenna with screws and washers

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    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” (coat hangers can be bought inexpensively in bulk on eBay).
    • Copper wire (I used six pieces of wire from an old PC power-supply unit).
    • Aluminum mesh grill trays as 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. Be sure to measure the length needed before installing the antenna.

    Balun Converter Adapter Balun Converter Adapter Buy Now On Amazon

    Step 1: Find Your Local Transmission Tower

    Knowing where the nearest TV transmitter is will help you to correctly align your antenna.

    You have different options for this. The simplest is to check your existing antenna and use the same alignment.

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    If you don’t have an aerial (perhaps you’ve been using satellite TV or cable until now) you can check your neighbor’s alignment.

    Online resources can also help you with finding local transmitters:

    Find a local transmitter by searching for your location and “local TV transmitter” if the answer isn’t listed above.

    Step 2: Preparing the Wooden Base

    Begin by preparing the wooden backing board:

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    • 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 eight points where the lines intersect.

    Build your TV antenna with a wooden base

    It should look something pretty similar to this.

    Step 3: Cut the Coat Hangers

    Next, cut eight lengths from the coat hangers, each 14 inches long.

    Each wire length must be bent halfway, to create a V shape, the ends which must be three inches apart. The measurements are essential for the antennae to perform correctly, so don’t just randomly fold them in half.

    Build your own TV antenna with old coathangers

    Cutting can be performed by hacksaw if necessary, but a Dremel-style handheld mini power tool is a quicker option.

    Step 4: Attach the V Wires to the Base

    Next, drill eight guide holes for attaching the V wires, using a narrow bit. With the holes drilled, attach the V wires, using the screws and the washers.

    Attach coathanger whiskers to your DIY TV antenna

    It’s okay to use screws with bolts here, but be sure to use the washers to ensure contact with the wire.

    Step 5: Catching the Waves

    Turn the base over and screw each disposable grill tray to the back of the antenna, two screws each. These act as a reflector, collecting the signal for your antenna.

    Use BBQ grilles as part of your HDTV antenna

    Next, join the V sections together with wire. Criss-cross these on the top and bottom sections and run straight along the middle.

    Attach wires to the whiskers of the antenna

    Strip a segment of insulation from the two middle wires. This makes attaching the Balun simpler.

    The Balun is the interface to the TV. 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 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.

    A completed DIY TV antenna

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

    Step 6: Receiving HDTV Images with Your DIY Antenna

    You’ve built 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.

    It’s smart to get a gauge of the correct angle needed to receive pictures before you mount the antenna permanently. This can take quite a bit of trial and error depending on your environment. 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.

    Step 7: Mount Your DIY HDTV Antenna

    The final step is to mount your DIY antenna. How you do this will depend on your location and the local signal strength.

    For instance, if your home can receive a good, strong signal, you might place the antenna in your attic space. Standard reception, however, will probably require you to mount the antenna on a pole.

    You Built a HDTV Antenna With Pocket Money

    A brand new HTV antenna that you can mount will set you back at least $50. For under $10, or less if you have all the components, you can build your own.

    As DIY builds go this one is straightforward enough for anyone to tackle. It might take a couple of hours to get right, but the results speak for themselves.

    Looking for something simpler? Check our list of the best DIY HDTV antennas you can build 6 Ways to Build Your Own DIY HDTV Antenna for Cheap Want to save money and build your own HDTV antenna, but don't know where to start? These DIY antenna builds show how easy it is. Read More .

    Related topics: Cord Cutting, DIY Project Tutorials, Television.

    Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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    1. Dogger
      June 9, 2020 at 4:16 am

      This looks identical to a UHF antenna. It should be noted that OTA HD signals in some areas are not broadcast on UHF but rather UHF-HI band. In particular where I live the actual RF channels are "not" UHF. In my case and others this antenna will not work as well as rabbit ears which are dirt cheap.

    2. Marty
      January 15, 2020 at 4:15 am

      Don’t want to state the obvious but I guess I will . You are using wire coat hangers the best way to cut them would be a wire cutter . Faster and easier than a hacksaw or Drexel . Besisides that nice job

    3. Lisa
      September 22, 2019 at 6:07 am

      It took me a little while to get good connectivity between all points. But the antenna works great! I can get about 70 channels when I face it east and about 50 when I face it southeast.

    4. Henry
      November 6, 2018 at 12:58 am

      I built the antenna as instructed and it does not work in my location whatsoever I have the antenna plugged into my digital converter box that goes to my TV and it does not work I live in a trailer in Lakeside California and it doesn't work

      • Greg
        July 23, 2019 at 2:28 pm

        Is the antenna inside your trailer? That could be the problem. Trailers are typically made of metal and that metal is grounded. You're essentially living in a Faraday Cage. Try placing the antenna outside, pointing it at towers, for a test. If that works, you may have to mount it outside.

    5. Henry
      November 6, 2018 at 12:58 am

      I built the antenna as instructed and it does not work in my location whatsoever I have the antenna plugged into my digital converter box that goes to my TV and it does not work I live in a trailer in Lakeside California and it doesn't work

    6. Henry
      November 6, 2018 at 12:52 am

      This antenna and looks great I did it hooked it up it does not work I'm located at Lake Jennings Campground I'm in a little trailer I got a digital box and does not work

    7. Todd
      December 3, 2017 at 9:20 pm

      For weak reception, could you advise on how to make it better? Maybe 2 of these side by side, or on top of each other, or add more V's?

    8. Scott
      October 17, 2017 at 4:51 am

      Christian, this is an awesome article and project! For antenna novices like myself, it'd be super helpful to add a note that you're aiming the "bowties" themselves towards the transmission towers. I've had mine up for a year and had awesome reception 99% of the time but it would completely cut out at other times. Multiple times I've used a compass, the mapping websites and just looked at the towers (that I can even see ~6 miles from my house) but could never get the signal to be rock solid. It wasn't until today that I realized I wasn't supposed to be aiming the board at the towers (like a traditional[?] "yagi" antenna) but the "bowties." I feel like a dummy but hopefully admitting to my error will keep someone else from pulling their hair out in frustration, too.

    9. Patrick
      September 25, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      Im planning to try this.. but i have a question, will this work if i use it as an indoor only?

      • Scott
        October 17, 2017 at 4:54 am

        Patrick, it will depend on your situation - how far the towers are and how many walls/ obstacles are between the antenna and the transmission towers but there's no reason it can't work inside. Ours is inside going through at least two walls and works well but, then again, we're very close to the towers.

    10. Patrick
      September 25, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      im plannng to do this but i have 1 question, can i use this as an indoor antenna?

    11. Joyce A. Holtzinger
      September 22, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Great, clear and concise instructable. I am going build this antenna and I have all needed parts except the aluminum disposable grill trays. I also know how to solder. I just have one question. I see you have used 3 different wires run between the screws. Could I use 2 longer pieces of wires confiqured in the same way?

      Thanks.

    12. KFritz
      July 4, 2017 at 12:07 am

      I don't see an illustration for attaching the balun. Perhaps there's something wrong with my desktop, but if not, could you please add an illustration?

      • Christian Cawley
        July 4, 2017 at 2:58 pm

        Unfortunately I don't have any of this hardware to hand to take a photo. However, the Balon should have one wire running from each screw to the gaps in the insulation (on the two yellow wires in my photos) where it should be soldered.

        Hope this helps.

    13. 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?

    14. 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!

      • Jtb
        March 12, 2017 at 1:36 pm

        Worked great for me!

        • Christian Cawley
          March 31, 2017 at 6:00 pm

          Delighted to hear that, Jtb!

      • Glen E.
        August 4, 2017 at 1:39 am

        You have obviously done something wrong like used plastic hangers or something because this antenna worked very nicely for me like it did for many others here. Maybe you can't follow instructions. But with this site and a dozen others showing the exact same design and YouTube videos with proof of reception it appears you are likely the only one having an issue....

    15. 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?

      • Rod
        January 23, 2017 at 8:43 pm

        The digital broadcasts are in the UHF band, same as the higher-numbered analog TV channels. It should work fairly well without modification.

    16. Anonymous
      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!

    17. 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).

    18. 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 !

    19. Anonymous
      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.

    20. Anonymous
      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.

    21. Anonymous
      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.

    22. Anonymous
      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.