Author Topic: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna  (Read 30467 times)

Milkman666

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 79
  • Location: Ottawa, Canada
How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« on: January 17, 2013, 06:58:24 AM »
I haven't seen this posted here, so I thought I'd share (forgive me if this has been posted previously).

I built this antenna (minus the lazy susan) with materials I had around the house, but even if you had to buy all the stuff, it shouldn't cost much. I have the antenna mounted in my attic and I consistently get 12 full HD channels (some English, some French) without the need for moving the antenna at all.

www.tvfool.com is a good tool to help you determine which channels you can expect to receive, and which way to aim your antenna.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tv/build-your-own-digital-tv-antenna


"Everything works if you let it" - Travis W. Redfish

ketchup

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 699
  • Age: 23
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2013, 09:38:26 AM »
My dad built one of these a few years back out of old coat hangers after the store-bought one got a whopping one channel.  His DIY antenna gets all the local channels (not sure how many, but all the ones anyone cares about).

He still watches only about three hours a year of TV (and that's usually a single baseball game).

CDBDIs

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 799
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2013, 11:10:23 AM »
Very cool...may try this.  Any recommendations to buy cheap the impedance matching transformer? 
Thanks for posting!

strider3700

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 503
  • Location: vancouver island
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2013, 11:38:44 AM »
walmart has a pack with a balun and transformer in the electronics section.  I think it was $2 when I bought mine. radioshack, cdntire, pretty much anywhere selling electronics will have them.  The clerk is unlikely to recognize the term IMT. tell him you want to hook up rabbit ears to the tv and describe what it looks like. they'll get you to the right section.

  I built one of these antenna's and it worked ok but later changed to a different homebuilt design that was more difficult to get right but worked better for my location.   digitalhome.ca has an OTA section with numerous home built antenna designs. 
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 11:40:17 AM by strider3700 »

curiousfunk

  • Stubble
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2013, 12:52:51 PM »
I've made two DB4 antennas like this.  The first antenna was similar to the OP's: copper pulled from 12/2 romex screwed directly to a 2x4 stud.  It worked as well as my previous UHF/VHF roof top antenna.  Which is to say, great! - except a few of the lower-freq UHF broadcasts were unreliable in bad weather.

I later revised my antenna per this lengthy article:
http://blog.jdpfu.com/2012/08/03/diy-hdtv-antenna-deployment-and-results

With help from this video (linked in the above article):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8jsDxNgHn4

Tweaking my element spacing and lengths, and the addition of the PVC insulators took care of my low-freq broadcasts reliability issues.

[EDIT - replaced wrong youtube clip]
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 02:35:04 PM by curiousfunk »

tfordon

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 57
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2013, 01:09:04 PM »
I made the antenna described here with great success: http://www.diytvantennas.com/sbgh.php

I just used some steel wire I had lying around.  All the channels come in clear with no problems even in a bad storm.  I'm actually going to a buddies house tonight to build him one to put in his attic.

strider3700

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 503
  • Location: vancouver island
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2013, 02:34:20 PM »
my first was a DB4,  the second was the gray hoverman which was a big improvement for stability but really directional and half my stations are 90 degrees from the other half.   my third was the stealth hawk http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=123803

  I get every channel that can realistically be expected to.  I wish seattle would move their towers to bellingham or just crank the power up a bit more and cover vancouver,   I should be able to get that

Milkman666

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 79
  • Location: Ottawa, Canada
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2013, 06:14:41 AM »
It's nice to see people post links and info on other designs. The original design I posted works very well for me, and there is no real opportunity to pick up additional channels in this area without some serious effort (investment), so I don't really have any need for a different design.

These antennas do work though... I don't miss cable at all. My favourite part is having the cable company call me trying to lure me back. They make me all kinds of freebies and offers, so I counter with ridiculous offers of my own. Last time, I said I'd sign on for the premium package if the installer cooked a pot roast with all the fixins for my family. Still no cable.
"Everything works if you let it" - Travis W. Redfish

tfordon

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 57
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2013, 07:55:22 AM »
Last time, I said I'd sign on for the premium package if the installer cooked a pot roast with all the fixins for my family. Still no cable.

I'm surprised they weren't desperate enough for business to cook a pot roast.  You would have gotten a great story (and a pot roast) out of it.

strider3700

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 503
  • Location: vancouver island
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2013, 07:06:18 PM »
our cable company "convinced" me to go back by giving me a year free cable,  faster internet and free long distance on the phone all for a lower price then I was paying for just internet and phone.  They then gave me a $100 visa gift card.   I sat the cable box still in it's package on a shelf, spent the $100 and waited for my free year to expire before cancelling again.  I figure I'll get another great offer in a few weeks time now that a competitor is rolling out fiber in the neighbourhood.

DoubleDown

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1190
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2013, 01:54:36 PM »
I made the antenna described here with great success: http://www.diytvantennas.com/sbgh.php

I just used some steel wire I had lying around.  All the channels come in clear with no problems even in a bad storm.  I'm actually going to a buddies house tonight to build him one to put in his attic.

Thanks for posting this. I built one of these this weekend for about $8 and it works great. Took about 20-30 mins. It works as well as or better than the fancy HDTV antennas I've bought at the store in the past.

TomTX

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 898
  • Location: Texas
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2013, 05:19:22 PM »
It's nice to see people post links and info on other designs. The original design I posted works very well for me, and there is no real opportunity to pick up additional channels in this area without some serious effort (investment), so I don't really have any need for a different design.

These antennas do work though... I don't miss cable at all. My favourite part is having the cable company call me trying to lure me back. They make me all kinds of freebies and offers, so I counter with ridiculous offers of my own. Last time, I said I'd sign on for the premium package if the installer cooked a pot roast with all the fixins for my family. Still no cable.

The last time I called, I told them that cable TV would be worth $5/month for me, if they included the premium movie channels.

They didn't bite....

I built one of these antennas and did not get a great signal - I'll have to try again apparently.

SweetTPie

  • Stubble
  • *
  • Posts: 30
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Memphis, TN
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2013, 09:58:08 PM »
For those who have made these, how far do you think that the tower can be and still get good reception?  I am about 65 miles away.

strider3700

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 503
  • Location: vancouver island
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2013, 01:12:44 AM »
go here http://www.tvfool.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13&Itemid=1 enter your address choose digital only.  Anything with a Pwr(dbm) of better then -100 you stand a chance at.   I get stations that are 62 miles away according to that site.  The one that is 80 miles away I get pretty strong if I aim the antenna directly at it(at the cost of all the others).   The next closest is 130 miles and I don't get any of them except under interesting atmospheric conditions. 

tfordon

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 57
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2013, 10:44:35 AM »
I built one of these antennas and did not get a great signal - I'll have to try again apparently.

Where did you mount your antenna?  The elevation of your antenna, direction, and material between signal can make a huge difference.  I got much better performance mounting my antenna in the attic.  If the attic doesn't work, some of the designs are weather resistant and can be mounted outdoors.  Even if you had to buy a commercial antenna, the one time cost isn't too bad.  I've heard great things about the DB8: http://www.amazon.com/Antennas-Direct-DB8-Extreme-Multi-Directional/dp/B000EHWCDW, obviously home build is way cooler and more bad-ass though.

SweetTPie

  • Stubble
  • *
  • Posts: 30
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Memphis, TN
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2013, 08:44:03 PM »
Great news!  Thanks.  It looks like most of them are -75 or better, and knowing that it should work is motivation to try it.  I cut the cable last week, and while I don't really miss it much, spring is coming.  Having the local channels is nice in spring when one lives in Oklahoma, so that you can find out where the tornadoes are and where they are going.

go here http://www.tvfool.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13&Itemid=1 enter your address choose digital only.  Anything with a Pwr(dbm) of better then -100 you stand a chance at.   I get stations that are 62 miles away according to that site.  The one that is 80 miles away I get pretty strong if I aim the antenna directly at it(at the cost of all the others).   The next closest is 130 miles and I don't get any of them except under interesting atmospheric conditions.

darkelenchus

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 290
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Akron, OH
  • True wealth comes from good health and wise ways.
Re: How to Make a Cheap 'n' Easy HDTV Antenna
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2013, 04:47:23 PM »
I built one with a similar design a few years ago, when the store-bought HDTV antenna failed to pick up a good number of our local channels. The home-built one was able to get a much stronger signal and every local channel.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle

dave1

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 55
  • Location: Denver, CO
Antenna Help
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2013, 09:27:35 AM »
Hey Guys,

I live in a major metro area (Denver) with the broadcast antenna less then 5 miles away as the crow flies.  But there's a problem: my house happens to be situated on the backside of a mountain which apparently blocks all of the signal.  I've tried rabbit ears and I get nothing.  Is it worth building a large antenna?  I've thought about going out and buying a nice roof mounted one just to see if I could get anything but I'm hesitant to waste my time.  Does anyone have experience with this situation.  My gut tells me that no antenna would work in this case but i'd like to hear from others.

I currently have directv but hoping to pull the plug soon.  We don't watch much TV so it's hard to justify paying for the service every month.  In fact the only thing we watch is the foot network which my wife likes.  Thoughts on getting access to that without satellite or cable?  I don't think they stream online do they?

DoubleDown

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1190
Re: Antenna Help
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2013, 11:31:43 AM »
In fact the only thing we watch is the foot network which my wife likes.  Thoughts on getting access to that without satellite or cable?  I don't think they stream online do they?

We're not into that particular foot fetish thing, but to each his own! My wife does really like the Food Network a lot, though ;-)

Sorry, couldn't resist... I think that channel is only available through cable or satellite, they only have a couple of small segments available online. As it turns out, when we canceled cable we still received all the analog cable channels (including food network) for free since the signal still comes through the same line that gives us internet service.

Try checking likely antenna reception your address here. It might give you a decent idea of what kind of reception you can expect from different kinds of antenna setups or whether a rooftop antenna will help. FWIW, I built one of the homemade designs described above, and it works much better than rabbit ears even though it's not mounted on the roof or in an attic. Good luck!

http://www.tvfool.com/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29