June 12, 2009, the federally mandated switch from analog television broadcast signals to digital began. I remember first learning about the switch as early as 2000 back in my elementary school. T.V. was just T.V. to me. I didn't know much about analog or digital at the time, funny thing is; my family didn't even own a T.V. back then. Fast-forward to the present time and wow it really did happen. Okay then, you've got your $40.00 converter box coupon from the government, (If not visit: www.dtv2009.gov) and you've bought and hooked up your converter box only to find terrible reception on almost all digital channels. Now if you are like me, you went to your local electronics store and bought a professionally built DTV Antenna for about $60-$70. Right? Well, that is what I did and all I got was 20 digital channels, all with incredibly poor reception. So I decided to build my own DTV Antenna, and what do ya know, I'm now currently getting 37 digital channels, with an average of 82% signal strength reception. I have built almost a dozen of these antennas for my family, friends and even complete strangers. Everyone seems to ask me, "how do you build these antennas"? So I have finally decided to post directions on how to build them, I understand that there are multiple websites on how to build DTV Antennas, but I wanted to give direct, and very simple instructions that almost anyone could follow. Plan on spending a good afternoon or evening to complete this project, and please make sure you have all parts and tools handy before beginning.
(1) Narrow Wood Board (Length: 22" Width: 2.5" Depth: approx. 0.75")
(2) Small Wood Blocks (at least, 1.5" x 1.5" x 1")
(1) Flat Wide Board - Wood or Cardboard will do fine (22" x 15")
(6) About six Insulated Wire Clothes Hangers, have two extra hangers on hand just in case
(10) Wood Screws (phillips 0.75" long)
(4) Wood Screws (phillips 1.25" long)
(10) Wood Screw Washers (to fit the 0.75" phillips screws)
(1) UHF/VHF Transformer (coaxial connection) - about $4-$5
Available for purchase here: Amazon(1) Roll of Aluminum foil
(1) Roll of Duct Tape
(1) Tape Measure/Ruler
(1) Drill/Power Screwdriver (with phillips type drive)
(1) Sandpaper (if necessary to smooth out any wood splinters)
(1) Set of Pliers
(1) Set of Wire Cutters/Strippers
(1) Saw/Table Saw (if needed to trim down any of the wood used in this project, please use adult supervision, and all personal protective equipment)
Okay now, remember the objective here is to build an inexpensive antenna that is small and light enough to be convenient, yet effective enough to use indoors in your attic or family room.
(Complete this step on 4 of the hangers)
Start with getting the hanger wire ready. Undo the hook end of the hanger, and then use your wire cutters to snip off the two ends. The hanger should now look like the third picture from the left, shown above.
(Complete this step 4 times)
Now work out all of the bends in the hanger wire so you have just a straight piece of wire. Using your tape measure; measure out 14 inches and cut the wire. On that same piece of wire measure another 14 inches and cut the wire. (You should be able to get at least two 14" pieces of wire out of one clothes hanger) After doing this on the four unbent wires you should have a total of eight 14" insulated wires. You can just throw away the small left over pieces of wire.
*Note* Some of the images included may show more items than listed in the directions; no need for concern, I was just building multiple antennas.
(Complete this step on all eight 14" pieces of wire)
Using your wire strippers, remove about 2.25 inches of the plastic insulation in the exact center of every 14" piece of wire. You should now have about 2.25" of bare metal in the center, and about 5.875" (5 7/8") of insulated wire on both ends.
(Complete this step on all eight 14" pieces of wire)
Take your pliers and hold the wire in the center of the bare metal, then bend both sides up toward each other, so you have a "V" shape. You should now have eight "V" shaped pieces of wire. Make sure you bend the wire evenly, so both sides of the "V" are about 7" long.
Now get the 22" long Narrow Wood Board. Lay your tape measure down the length of the board, and make straight pencil marks across at 2 inches, 8 inches, 14 inches, and 20 inches. If you measured correctly all of the lines should be 6" apart from each other. While you are at it, measure in from the outside of the board on both sides about 0.75" and make dots on the line. (So you will have two dots per line, with both dots on each line about 1" away from the other) These four lines and eight dots indicate where you will be anchoring down the eight "V" shaped pieces of wire.
(Complete this step on the two remaining hangers)
Now to get the other two clothes hangers ready. Just as before, undo the hook end of the hanger, and snip off the ends. So you will have two clothes hangers ready for unbending.
(Complete this step for both of the two remaining hanger wires)
Begin by unbending the hanger wire into a nice straight piece of wire. Measure about 21.5 inches, make a mark, and then cut the wire, do this for both wires. You should now have two 21.5" long wires. Just throw away the small left over pieces of wire. Now using your wire strippers, remove 2 inches of the plastic insulation from both ends of the wires. Then from there, on either end leave about 4.5 inches of insulated wire, following those 4.5" of insulated wire; remove 1.5 inches of the insulation on both sides. Then measure 2" inward from both of the 1.5" bare metal areas, and strip about 1.5 inches of the insulation off in the center of the wires. I know this may seem confusing, but the idea here is just to have bare metal where the screws, washers and "V" pieces will meet the long pieces of wire. So just make sure both 21.5" wires look something like the following diagram.
Once you have the plastic insulation stripped in the proper areas, you need to bend the wires about 45 degrees inward in the two positions shown in the diagram above. You should now have the two wires properly stripped and and bent, so that you have the wires forming two "X" shapes as shown at the end of the picture sequence shown above. (Instruction #7)
Here is where it almost all comes together. Get eight of the ten 3/4" wood screws, and washers ready. Use your drill to securely anchor down the long pieces of wire, and the "V" shaped pieces of wire to the board. (The dots on the lines you marked earlier is where you will be positioning the screws) Use the close up pictures posted above to give you an idea of how they are supposed to go. Position the bare metal areas of the long wires on the outside of the screws, with the "V" shaped wires resting on top of them, but make sure both wires are tightly secured beneath each washer/screw combination. Make sure none of the washers or screws are touching each other, and also be sure to have the section where the long wires cross insulated.
This is how your antenna should look so far!
Make sure you have a bare metal area in the center of each long wire, this will be used at the very end to connect the UHF/VHF Coaxial Transformer.
Now get your two small wood blocks, and two of the four 1 1/4" long wood screws. Make sure to drill small pilot holes on both blocks of wood. Using your drill and screws secure the two wood blocks to the underside of the narrow antenna board. The underside should look like the last two pictures from the left, posted above. Make sure the heads of the screws are on the same side as the wires, so that it looks like the two picture below.
It is now time to get the Flat Wide Board ready. Try to be as close to the 22" x 15" size as possible. I just ended up using a thin piece of wood. (thick enough to hold screws, though) You can use whatever you like, even cardboard. However, I would recommend using wood, because it is much sturdier. Now using your aluminum foil and duct tape, go ahead and wrap up the wide board so one side is completely covered in a nice shiny, reflective finish.
After you have finished wrapping the wide board in aluminum foil, you can now use the other two 1 1/4" long wood screws to mount the narrow antenna board to the reflective wide board. Be sure to screw the screws in from the back of the board, so the phillips screws heads are on the non reflective side. Make sure you include the aluminum foil on the wide board, it is necessary for optimum DTV Antenna performance. Check out the multiple side view pictures, posted above.
Your antenna should now look like this.
Well, this is pretty much the last step, so just finish up, and get ready to enjoy free DTV channels in crystal clear clarity. You should have two last 3/4" long wood screws and washers left. So now just secure the two ends of the UHF/VHF Coaxial Transformer, to the two remaining bare metal areas in the center of each long wire. Once again, make sure the ends are secured tightly with the screws and washers, double check and be sure the metal ends are contacting the bare metal wire.
That is it. Check out your new DTV Antenna!
And there you have it! You have just built an excellent DTV Antenna that only cost you a fraction of what buying one would have. Congratulations, go ahead and set up your new antenna in your attic or even right next to your television in your family room. Simply just hook up your converter box/HDTV, via coaxial cable to your antenna, run a channel scan, and experience the fruits of your labors.
*Note* You may have to experiment with positioning your antenna for best digital reception, if you need help finding out which way to face your antenna visit: www.antennaweb.org for assistance based on geographical location.
Be Safe and Use Common Sense while building this DTV Antenna. I cannot/will not be held liable for any damages, injuries, or other losses