Build a DIY Recycled Antenna (To Get Free T.V!)





Introduction: Build a DIY Recycled Antenna (To Get Free T.V!)

About: Music, chemistry, electronics, etc.

Due to all of the recent talk about the "DTV Switch-Over", T.V. has been something that is on my mind. I recently scrounged a perfectly good T.V. on trash day. It still amazes me that people will throw stuff like this out.

Anyway, since I got the T.V. I've been experimenting with different ways to get signal. At first I was tempted to try to run a cable wire up from the basement at my house. My parents ruled that out. Then I tried using a paper clip in the antenna in spot on the T.V. That gave too weak of a signal.

That led me to build what my dad has dubbed the "Cantenna." It's all from materials that I got in my recycling bin or took from old projects. If I can find this stuff, you can too.

This is great because now I have free and easy T.V. that I pay absolutely nothing for (except electricity).

NOTE: I'd like to apologize. Image notes aren't working for some reason. If you're having trouble with anything, just leave a comment.

Step 1: Deciding on an Antenna


Seriously. This step will probably bore most people away from the project. If you aren't interested, just skip it!

When the paper clip wasn't working as an antenna for my T.V., I seriously was thinking about going out and buying a real antenna. Then I decided I would really try hard to be green. So I hit the interwebs and started googling. I found out that one of the best types of antenna for my purpose would be a "Dipole antenna." According to wikipedia (here), "These antennas are the simplest practical antennas from a theoretical point of view." Simple is always good. I won't get into all of the details here because that's what wikipedia is for.

So, I did some more googling and discovered that I could skip all of the calculations on wikipedia, and basically just hang up two halves of the same can.

Well, if you survived that you can continue to the next step now.

*Note: Image taken from wikipedia and used under Fair Use (It has a GNU free documentation license so I think that's okay).

Step 2: Materials

Except for tools, I didn't pay for very much of the project. I took the T.V. out of the trash (along with the coaxial cable), I am using a Dr. Pepper can that was going to be recycled, and the wire I used came from an old computer I took apart.



A Coaxial Cable

An old soft drink can

Duct Tape


Wire cutters

Wire Strippers

Soldering Iron


Electrical Tape or Heat shrink tubing

Step 3: Cut the Can in Half (and Wash It Out)

This step is self-explanatory. Just cut the can in half, down the middle and length-wise. Just look at the pictures if you don't understand.

I mainly used scissors, but I needed wire cutters to get through some of the thicker parts of the can.

When you have the can in two, just wash it out to get any old drink residue out of it. Be careful not to cut your hands on the edges! Also, you may want to do all of the cutting over the sink. My can dripped a lot as you can see in the picture.

Step 4: Strip the Coaxial Cable

The next thing to do is strip the coaxial cable. This will make it easy to wire the cans to it.

Stripping the cable may be a little bit tricky. I just cut of one of the ends off then started stripping the insulation away. As you can see from the picture, it doesn't have to be a very clean job, you just need to be able to solidly attach the wires to the wires in the cable.

Step 5: Solder Everything Together

Now you just have to solder everything together.

The first thing I did was punch one small hole in each can. This gave me something to thread the wire through and helped give a better soldered connection. I then soldered one wire to each of the cans.

Next, I soldered the wire from one can too the outside coaxial wire, and the wire from the other can to the inside coaxial wire.

Once everything was soldered I used electrical tape and hot glue to insulate everything.

Step 6: Hanging Your Antenna

Now that you've finished making the antenna, all that is left to do is hang it up so it can get a signal. Two good places would be in an attic or on a window. The best place would be on your attic window. Basically someplace high up and without much blocking it from the signal. You should also hang it somewhere convenient.

Just take all three factors into consideration and decide on a good spot.

Now, duct tape to two can halves to the window. They should be lined up and a couple of inches apart.

Step 7: Congratulations

Now you've finished your own CANtenna. If you used all recycled parts you probably didn't spend any money and now have free T.V. Enjoy it!

If you have any troubles, want to say anything good, or pretty much anything at all, just leave a comment. Feedback is always appreciated.

Also, if you like my 'ible you could always give it a vote in the Epilog contest.

Thank you and have fun with your Free T.V!



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Nice trick. But what about adjusting frequency?

The can is aluminum.What kind of solder did u use to mate the wires to the aluminum?

Awesome Instructable! Very easy to understand, I got 6 channels and it only took me 10 minutes to build.

Is this works in India??

also not downloading pdf

i have not made one of these yet.i didn't think it would work at first but my girlfriend insist i make one,so i guess i will.i've said this in another post but i'll repeat it.use silver solder to solder works much better than regular types.

silver solder will if everything is cleaned and fluxed.

You dont need to solder it. Just scrape off the plastic coating inside and the paint outside put yer wire on it good and tight then tape er down. Werked for me just dandy.

It does if well cleaned and you use flux

Haha, idk then. For some reason it worked for me. Thats interesting... Any ideas on why it worked for me?

Love this project - it has such a great "ET-phone-home" feel to it!

Now, to address your question:

Although solder won't actually "wet" to aluminum, your "cross-hatching" trick, with gouges in going in many different directions, will have created enough opposing "hills and valleys" for the molten solder to "grip" the roughened spots - sort of - similar to the way "scarifying" or "etching" glossy surfaces will improve the adhesion of a new coat of paint.

Plus, if the solder flowed through on the (presumably copper?) wire to both sides of the hole, it would form a fairly snug "plug", holding pretty well mechanically. Signal-strength problems may arise later, though, when corrosion works in between the solder and the aluminum.

If the material will stand the gaff, pop-rivets might be a longer-term solution. (Then again, the rivets might simply rip through the thin can walls before "popping" properly.)

Thanks alot. My cable was cut off and ny daughter needed tv asap. I went from no channels to 55... I used 2 cans and screwed wires to bottoms . The cans are sitting by the window and the picture is crisp

Erm, I don't think you researched this much. You'd have to be _extremely_ close to the television transmitter for this to work. If you want to make an antenna, you HAVE to make the measurements EXACT, not just cut a Coke can in half and solder coax to it. You also didn't consider putting a balun in between the antenna and coax, as the output of the antenna is 300ohm and the cable is 75ohm. Also, a simple dipole for UHF is very impractical. A yagi or stacked array would suit the situation more, or even just adding a reflector. I'm not trying to have a go at you, as this is a cleaver idea, I just think you need to research it a bit more.

5 replies

Lol it works great and I got 55 digital channels

Your wrong i made this and its great. Gets all the channels. Even more than the store bought one. I did use a sixteen oz. Can. Perhaps you should do a little bit of homework yourself...

In all honesty, I didn't spend too much time researching this. However, this provides a clear, reliable signal, and I believe that's all the experimental evidence I need to justify my project.

Very GOOD project. I was to believe that if a project gave results than that is what mattered. Your TV works and gets channels.........Project Success.........True? YES.........................................Very True.............................................enough said!

Sorry for double posting, but is your antenna picking up UHF or VHF? Because in a prime signal area, just about ANYTHING will pick up a VHF signal.