How to Build a Homemade Digital TV Antenna

By Billy Brainard

Getting into the world of high definition television can seem overwhelming with all the terminology and different products on the market. The good news is that once you have an HDTV with a built-in HD tuner, the only other item you need is a good antenna. An HDTV antenna will allow you to receive free over-the-air HD broadcasts from your local TV stations in your area. By building your own antenna, you will save money.

Things You'll Need

  • Copper/metal wire coat hangers
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Safety goggles
  • Sandpaper
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • 75 Ohm balun
  • Wood screws
  • Washers
  • 1x3 foot piece of plywood
  • Saw
  • #14 gauge wire fence (2W x 3H feet)
  • Electrical tape

Step 1

Cut off the "heads" of the coat hangers using the wire cutters. Straighten each of the wires as straight as possible. Sand each of the wires down to the bare wire, to remove any paint or finish.

Step 2

Cut the piece of plywood to measure 4 inches wide by 3 feet long. Sand to a smooth finish to remove any splinters.

Step 3

Mount the #14 gauge wire fencing to the back side of the cut board, using the screws, washers and screwdriver. Lay the wire so the length runs parallel with the length of the board. Line up the top of the wire mesh with the top edge of the board. This will be the top of the antenna, and form the reflector to improve signal strength.

Step 4

Turn over the board and lay it flat. Starting at the top and about 1 inch from the right side edge, measure every 4 inches and put a pencil mark until you have marked four spots.Repeat this process down the left edge to also produce four marks. These marks should line up with the four on the right.

Step 5

Measure and cut eight pieces of the copper wire to 14 inches long. Bend each of the eight wires directly in the middle so that each leg will measure exactly 7 inches on each side. Bend them in the shape of a "V" till there is a 3 inch spread between the two ends. Each of these wires will now form a bowtie which will be the driven elements (signal receivers) for the antenna.

Step 6

Using the screws and washers, mount the one bowtie to each of the eight marks on the board. Do not fully tighten the screws at this point.

Step 7

Take one of the remaining pieces of copper wire and mount one end to the screw in the top right corner. Cross the wire over and mount it to the two middle bowties on the left side. Cross back over and mount the the wire to the screw on the bottom right screw. Cut off any excess wire.

Step 8

Again, take a piece of copper wire and mount the end to the screw at the top left corner. Cross the wire over and mount it to the two middle bowties on the right side. Cross the wire back over and mount it to the screw in the bottom left corner. Apply electrical tape where this wire touches the wire from Step 7 as it crosses over.

Step 9

Connect the 75 Ohm balun one wire each to the two screws on the second row of bowties from the top, one wire to the screw on the left and the other wire to the screw on the right. This is where your coaxial cable will connect from your HDTV.

Step 10

Tighten all the screws to a snug fit.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can also use #12 gauge solid copper wire in place of the coat hangers.
  • Be sure to wear the safety goggles when mounting the bowtie antenna to avoid injury to the eyes.
  • Never mount your antenna next to power lines to avoid injury or possible electrocution.