How to Make an Outdoor TV Antenna

By Robert Vaux

Television reception can be difficult in areas with a lot of interference, such as valleys or homes surrounded by trees. Expensive antennas or satellite dishes can solve the problem, but you can also build your own antenna out of simple household items very inexpensively. This version is based on a commercial antenna known as a DB4, which gets excellent reception and may even pick up HD signals in certain areas.

Things You'll Need

  • 24-inch length of 1-by-3 inch wood
  • Screws and match washers
  • Magic marker
  • Measuring tape
  • 2 lengths of insulated copper wire
  • Pliers
  • 8 coat hangers
  • Screwdriver
  • Ohm transformer with coaxial female part
  • 2 15-by-9 inch grill screens
  • Coaxial cable

Step 1

Select a placement for your TV antenna. Pick the roof top if you can manage it, or a nearby pole or mount if you can't. Generally speaking, the higher you can place your antenna, the better.

Step 2

Attach 8 screws and matching washers in 2 rows of 4 along the 3.5-foot length of a 1-by-3 inch piece of wood. Placement of the screws is very important. The first row should be .75 inches from the left-hand side of the wood and the second row should be .75 inches from the right hand side of the wood. The topmost screw on each row should be 2 inches from the top, the next screw down should be 5.25 inches from the topmost screw, the next screw down should be 5.25 inches from the second screw, and the bottom screw should be 5.25 inches from the third screw. The screws should be firmly attached, but not tight; you'll be connecting other components to them before you tighten them.

Step 3

Cut the tops off 8 wire coat hangers and unfold them into 14-inch lengths. Then fold each one in the middle to make a "V." Each arm of the "V" should be exactly 7 inches long, with 3 inches between each tip.

Step 4

Connect each wire coat hangers to each of the screws by sliding them down until the screw rests at the base of the "V." The hangers should stick directly out without touching each other.

Step 5

Run 2 lengths of copper wire along each row of screws. The wires should cross over between the topmost screws and the second topmost screws, and then cross back between the bottom-most screws and the second bottom-most screws. Strip the insulation at the points where they touch the screws, so that the wiring is in contact with the metal. In addition, strip a piece of insulation from the center of both wires, between the second and third screws.

Step 6

Tighten all the screws so that they hold the coat hangers and the wiring firmly.

Step 7

Flip the piece of wood to the opposite side and screw in a pair of 15-by-9 inch metal grill screens along its length. Make sure the grill screens do not touch any of the coat hangers.

Step 8

Connect an ohm transformer to the center of the wires at the points where you stripped the insulation away.

Step 9

Mount the antenna at your chosen location.

Step 10

Run a length of coaxial cable from the antenna (connected to the ohm transformer) to the TV (connected to the "Antenna In" jack in the back of the set). Then turn on the TV and watch normally.

Tips & Warnings

  • Insulation of the wires can be tricky. They need to be insulated at the points where they cross but should be bare and uninsulated at the points where they touch the screws and the ohm transformer. You can use bare copper wire if you like, so long as you provide some form of insulation to keep the two wires from touching.
  • Inclement weather may eventually damage the wood of the antenna. You might consider treating it with a waterproof sealant before you begin Step 1.