You have heard that you can build your own HDTV antenna to receive digital terrestrial (DVB-T) signals. This sounds like a good idea and a big savings. You are planning to cut the cord and that sounds perfect. But is it possible?

Yes it is! Here are four ways you can build your own HDTV antenna using household items.

Reasons to Build a DIY HDTV Antenna

So, why should you choose a DIY digital TV antenna? Could you just buy one of the best TV antennas ? Should I use cable or satellite instead?

Well, a few reasons come to mind:

  • Wireless is cheaper than cable, and you want to cut the cord (but check out these cord-cutting traps first. traps, ).
  • You cannot afford a factory antenna.
  • Your antenna blew up during a storm and you need a quick replacement.
  • You just love making your gear.

Whatever motivates you to build your own HDTV antenna, you have a few options. Each one has a slightly different design, and they can all be crafted using household items.

It doesn’t matter how low your budget is. If you want to receive digital TV signals over the air, these four antennas are perfect.

1. Paperclip Antenna

Surprisingly, using a paper clip as an antenna, you can take pictures over the air!

This will depend on signal strength, distance from the transmitter and weather conditions, but if they are all favorable, you can watch TV using plain stationery.

As explained in the video, all you have to do is unroll the paperclip in an L shape. The shorter end must be connected to a coaxial cable, which is then connected to the TV.

Admittedly, it’s easy. For this to work, you need a long cable to reach the height of the roof. In the video example, YouTuber LaneVids hangs his cable in the attic and takes the viewer to his main TV. The picture is clear, if a bit harsh at times, but then again, the antenna is only a few inches long!

It is worth adding here that in some (albeit rare) cases, a paperclip may not even be required. Again, this depends on weather conditions, but some users have reported that digital TV signals are only received via cable. Although it must be pointed in the right direction, it may be all you need to receive an HDTV signal.

2. Antenna card and foil

A slightly more sophisticated option, this DIY version of the HDTV antenna will set you back under $5. Over a million people have watched this video and we believe that many of them have made their own version of this antenna.

Requiring four pieces of cardboard or foam board (two by 8″ x 11″, two by 8″ x 8″) and a sheet of aluminum foil, this build comes with a printable template you can use.

You will also need some PVA glue, a stapler and some hot glue. When you’re done, you should have a lightweight box antenna ready to receive your TV show. Note that while the $5 total is probably the minimum, if you already have most of the materials, you don’t need to spend more than $10.

3. Fractal antenna

A visually stunning HDTV antenna, this DIY build is probably the most aesthetically pleasing version of this project. Requiring some aluminum foil, a balun transducer, two short wires and a sheet of clear flexible plastic, this antenna is not an eyesore. If anything, it will make your TV room even better!

The assembly requires you to print two copies of the template, gluing each to a sheet of foil and trimming around the edges. In turn, they should be glued to each side of the plastic sheet, trying to align them as closely as possible.

With wires connected to the «legs» of the fractal design (pushed through the holes and sewn, bolted or glued in place), the balun can then be connected to the antenna and your regular coax cable will be connected.

Head to Hackaday for the complete steps for this build.

4. Antenna hanger

Finally, here is one of our own HDTV antenna designs. Even though this DIY antenna is bigger and uglier than other projects, it is also the most durable. I built this in 2015 and it still works.

The key components of this build are a short piece of 3×1 wood, eight hangers, and two disposable BBQ grills. You will also need 18 screws, 18 matching washers and some wire. It is worth noting that this version of the antenna is more complicated than others.

If you’re new to this sort of thing, try some basic do-it-yourself fixes first to get into the zone before continuing.

As befits a project that is larger and stronger, it will take longer to assemble than other builds. However, after testing and installation, you can get a reliable digital TV. In the video above, I test it at the bottom and the signal is quite good; The antenna is currently installed on our roof with excellent results.

Read our HDTV antenna guide for full instructions.

DIY HDTV Antennas Made Easy and Cheap

Although we have listed them here in order of difficulty, each of these projects is a relatively simple build. After that, you need to spend some time fine-tuning; make sure you know where the nearest transmitter is. As long as the antenna is properly aligned (and at the best height), good TV images should be obtained.

We looked at four DIY antenna projects:

  1. Antenna using only a paperclip
  2. Card and foil antenna
  3. fractal antenna
  4. Antenna hanger

Please note that these antennas are designed for use with digital television. If you want to receive analog signals, you need another solution. Also, if your TV does not have a built-in digital decoder, you will need to purchase one. (A coaxial cable must be connected to this.)

Once you are done, you will be able to receive normal OTA channels. If you’re «cutting the cord», you should pair these free TV channels with an inexpensive media streamer like an Amazon Fire Stick or Raspberry Pi with Kodi.

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