How to Build a Television Antenna

By Omar Saad

Many people probably wish they could avoid the high cost of cable or satellite TV but feel that without one or the other they would have no access to broadcast television. The truth of the matter is that there are, in fact, quite a bit of free over-the-air channels available to anyone with a good television antenna. In many areas throughout North America one can pick up 15 or more free channels depending on the quality of the antenna. The best news, however, is that instead of going to an electronics store and spending $50 or $60 on an HD or digital television antenna, you can make one yourself that outperforms those models for about $10.

Things You'll Need

  • Six regular size copper coat hangers or 13 feet of copper wire
  • 12 washers
  • 12 wood screws
  • Power drill
  • Tape measure
  • Light sandpaper
  • Wire cutters
  • Pencil
  • Coaxial cable
  • UHF/VHF converter

Step 1

Cut off the tops of the copper coat hangers and straighten them out into long sections. You can also use copper wire found in spools at your local hardware store. Measure eight sections out to 12 inches each and cut them. Discard the short ends. If you are using coat hangers, you will need to clean the center of each section with light sandpaper or a serrated knife. You should still have two long sections (24 inches or longer) of copper wire that have not been measured out or cut.

Step 2

Take the two-by-four and measure 2 inches down from the top and mark off an "x" on either edge of the board's wide face. Measure down 5 inches and mark it off the same way. Measure off another 5 inches and do this again. Continue doing this until you have four sets of premeasured markings (eight total markings) going down the board.

Step 3

Now take the 12-inch sections of copper wire and bend them at the middle into a V shape. The ends should be roughly 3 inches apart. Do this for all eight pieces.

Step 4

Place the washers over the points you have marked off on the board, and affix them using the wood screws and the cordless drill. Do not tighten the screws completely yet. Try to keep about 1/8 of an inch of play for the washer to wiggle around.

Step 5

Take the eight pieces of copper wire that have been bent into a V shape and place one on each of the eight points on the board that you now have a wood screw and washer in. Place them between the board and the washer, with the inside of the V resting snug against the wood screw. Each V apex should be facing its counterpart on the opposing edge of the two-by-four, causing the ends of each V to be jutting outward from the sides of the board.

Step 6

Grab the two long pieces of copper wire that you had set aside in the beginning. Make sure that there is still enough room between the washers and the Vs that you have made to fit this final piece of copper wire. With the two-by-four laid on the ground and washers and copper Vs in place, run the first long wire down the left-hand side of the board, placing it between the copper Vs and the washers. Tighten the screws, leaving the third down from the top just slightly loose. Now do the same thing with the remaining long wire on the other side.

Step 7

Take your VHF/UHF converter and affix it to the third set of screws down from the top of the board. Once completed, tighten the screws.

Step 8

Screw one end of your coaxial cable into the VHF/UHF converter and the other end into your TV. Then turn on your TV and scan for channels.

Tips & Warnings

  • The finished product will not be particularly pleasing to the eye. Your best bet will be to place it behind your television or entertainment center.
  • Despite its appearance, this antenna should perform better than most non-amplified store-bought versions. Therefore, be sure to scan for channels thoroughly, because you might be able to get some that are normally outside of your local range.
  • This antenna will be able to receive both digital and HD over-the-air signals.