How to Make a Digital TV Antenna Out of a Satellie Dish

By Marshal M. Rosenthal

The advantage of a digital antenna over those used for analog television is that digital TV broadcasts do not have ghosting or other signal discrepancies. A satellite dish can be adapted into a digital TV antenna in order to receive television broadcasts. A few tools commonly found around the house will be needed, as will adult supervision if you are underage, due to the use of power tools and a soldering iron.

Things You'll Need

  • Coaxial cable spool, 100 feet
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Utility knife
  • 1/2-inch diameter PVC pipe, 4 feet long
  • Newspaper
  • 1/2-inch diameter PVC cap
  • Bonding glue
  • Soldering iron
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Portable drill
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • Hot glue gun with glue stick
  • Electrical tape

Step 1

Cut off one end from a coaxial cable spool using a pair of scissors. Cut off a 10-inch length from the cut end with the scissors.

Step 2

Make a slit in the outer insulation from one end of the 10-inch length of coaxial cable to the other end with the blade of a utility knife. Pull off the outer insulation with your fingers. Make a slit in the inner insulation from one end to the other. Pull the inner insulation off with your fingers. Place the cut length of coaxial cable on a table. Repeat this entire process to make an additional two lengths of 10-inch coaxial cable that no longer have insulation on them.

Step 3

Cut off a five-foot length from the end of the coaxial cable spool. Remove the insulation from the five foot length in the same manner as was done with the 10-inch lengths.

Step 4

Place the PVC pipe horizontally on a table. Insert one end of the five-foot length of coaxial cable into the hole on the left side of the PVC pipe. Reach into the hole on the right side of the PVC pipe and grab the end of the coaxial cable. Pull the coaxial cable through the PVC pipe until about an inch is visible out of the right side.

Step 5

Place a sheet of newspaper on the table. Place a PVC cap face down on the newspaper. Drill a hole through the center of the PVC cap with a portable drill. Smooth out the inside of the hole with the drill.

Step 6

Place bonding glue around the rim of the right side of the PVC pipe. Push the coaxial cable that is coming out of the right side of the PVC pipe through the hole in the PVC cap. Place the PVC cap onto the right side of the PVC pipe. Hold the PVC cap against the right side of the PVC pipe for a minute. Let the bonding glue set for at least a half an hour.

Step 7

Heat up the soldering iron for 10 minutes. Solder an end of one of the 10-inch lengths of coaxial cable to the top end of the coaxial cable that is coming out of the PVC cap. Let the solder cool for two minutes.

Step 8

Rotate the PVC pipe a quarter turn. Solder an end of another of the 10-inch lengths of coaxial cable to the top end of the coaxial cable that is coming out of the PVC cap. Let the solder cool for two minutes.

Step 9

Rotate the PVC pipe a quarter turn. Repeat the procedure to solder the last 10 inch length of coaxial cable to the coaxial cable coming out of the PVC cap. Let the solder cool for two minutes.

Step 10

Stand the PVC pipe on the table with the PVC cap facing up. Measure 4 inches up from the PVC pipe on each of the 10-inch lengths of coaxial cable. Bend each of the three 10-inch lengths of coaxial cable down at a 45 degree angle in relation to the PVC pipe at the 4-inch mark using the jaws of the needle-nosed pliers.

Step 11

Make a 10-inch slit in the outer insulation at the end of the coaxial cable spool using the blade of the utility knife. Pull the outer insulation off of the 10-inch slit with your fingers. Scrape 4 inches of the inner insulation from the end of the coaxial cable using the blade of the utility knife to reveal the inner wire.

Step 12

Place the dish face down on the newspaper. Drill a hole though the center of the dish with the portable drill. Turn the dish over. Push the coaxial cable coming out of the hole in the PVC pipe through the hole in the dish. Place the PVC pipe against the dish. Hot glue the PVC pipe to the dish. Let the hot glue set for 10 minutes. Reapply the hot glue. Let the hot glue set for 10 minutes again.

Step 13

Solder the end of the coaxial cable coming out of the hole in the dish to the inner wire at the end of the coaxial cable spool. Let the solder cool for a minute. Wrap a strip of electrical tape around the two wires where they meet. Solder the outer insulation of the coaxial cable to the back of the dish. Let the solder cool for two minutes.

Step 14

Stand your digital antenna against the side of a building or on a lawn chair. Aim the front of your digital antenna towards the broadcast towers that are providing the free digital television signals. Trail the coaxial cable spool into the house and over to your digital television. Unwrap the rest of the coaxial cable from the spool. Screw the coaxial connector at the end of the coaxial cable onto the coaxial connection on the back of the television set.

Tips & Warnings

  • Mounting the digital antenna that you have made to the roof will improve upon the reception, but should be installed only by a qualified television repairman/technician--this will avoid improper mounting as well as the chance of the dish being struck by lightning.