Introduction: HDTV Antenna Constructed of Baling Wire and Duct Tape - CHEAP

Picture of HDTV Antenna Constructed of Baling Wire and Duct Tape - CHEAP

More and more people are foregoing cable and satellite television to save a bit of family income, realizing that there is plenty of free television out there to watch.  Many of those people are purchasing overpriced and underperforming commercial HDTV antennae, when you can make a simple antenna yourself out of an inexpensive 3' or 4' long 1" X 4" or 2" X 4" board, some short wood screws and washers, and some inexpensive metallic wire (galvanized "baling" wire works just fine), and a couple of short pieces of tape (electrical tape; or if you want to truly construct a quality product, of course consider duct tape to go with your selection of baling wire).  You also want to find a piece of heavy cardboard about 2' X 3' in size, enough aluminum foil to cover one side of the cardboard, and some spray mount or other adhesive to glue the aluminum foil to the cardboard.

As far as tools go, you'll need a drill with a bit to match the size of your screws, a screwdriver to match your screw heads, needlenose or pointed pliers, and wirecutters.

As explained in the OPTIONAL last step, it is possible to construct two of these antennae facing different directions and obtain signal from multiple sources and directions.

This is a variation of the plans that are found on-line at another website at

Step 1: Measure - Mark - Drill Your Board

Picture of Measure - Mark - Drill Your Board

Measure and mark your board in the manner shown, and pre-drill with the appropriate size drill bit starter holes for the screws that will hold the antenna to the board, which essentially forms the "spine" for your antenna

Step 2: "Lace" the Board With Baling Wire

Picture of "Lace" the Board With Baling Wire

Thread washers onto screws, then drive screws "loosely" into holes you pre-drilled into your board.

"Lace" two lengths of baling wire in the manner shown between the screws and under the washers, pulling the wire relatively tight around the screws; then hook the four ends of the two wires around the screws towards the ends of the board; then drive the screws down tight to hold the wires to the board.

Where the wires cross over each other, insulate the wires from each other by wrapping one of the wires with either electrical (or if you want to maintain the baling wire/duct tape theme, then with duct tape) so that the two wires do not directly touch each other.

Step 3: Make/attach Wire "Vs"

Picture of Make/attach Wire "Vs"

Cut 8 lengths of baling wire that are at least 16" long, straighten the wires, then form them into "Vs" as shown.

It is easier to cut your wire a little long, form your "Vs", then cut each leg of the "V" to the appropriate length.

Attach one "V" apiece under the 4 washers/screws nearest each end of the board that is the "spine" of your antenna.  Loosen each screw in order to slide the wire "V" under the screw head and washer, then retighten each screw to hold the "V" firmly in place.

Step 4: Make/attach Antenna Reflector

Picture of Make/attach Antenna Reflector

Take your piece of cardboard (approximately 2'X 3' in size) and cover one side in aluminum foil or some other metallic covering  A heavy coating of spray mount adhesive will hold the aluminum foil in place on the cardboard.

Using some of the same screws you used to to attach the wire lacing/"Vs" to the frontside of the board, attach the cardboard reflector to the backside of the board, with the aluminum foil facing towards the antenna.

Step 5: Attach Coaxial/twin-lead From Antenna to Television Set

Picture of Attach Coaxial/twin-lead From Antenna to Television Set

Attach either a 300/75 ohm balun or the two connectors of antenna "twin-lead" wire to the two middle screws of the antenna (the two screws that do not have wire "Vs").

If using a balun, attach coaxial cable of sufficient length to reach from your antenna to your television set; if using twin-lead, use a similar length of twin-lead attached directly to the two middle screws of your antenna to your television set.

Hang the antenna vertically from one or the other end of the board so that the frontside of the antenna faces towards the predominant source(s) of television signals.  You may be able to increase both the number and strength of signals by adjusting the direction that your antenna faces.  You will avoid more sources of interference with television signals and accordingly should increase the strength of your avaialble television signal by (a) hanging the antenna as high as possible from the ground; and (b) hanging the antenna away from sources of potential interference or signal blockage (i.e., away from motorized appliances, furnaces, etc; and not behind metal roofing/siding that may block television signals).

Step 6: OPTION: Picking Up Signal From Multiple Directions

Picture of OPTION: Picking Up Signal From Multiple Directions

If television signals are available from multiple directions at your site, you can build a second antenna (steps 1-3) and attach it to the backside of your reflector.  Before attaching the second antenna to the first, cover the other side of the reflector with aluminum foil as you covered the first side, so that the reflector reflects signal from both sides.

Rather than attaching the coaxial cable/twin-lead directly from the television set to the antenna, use two short "pigtails" of coaxial cable/twin-lead (and two baluns, one on each antenna, if using coaxial cable), and then connect the two short "pigtails" using the "output" connections of a two-way coaxial splitter (a splitter can also be used to join signals from two different sources; also shown are several other antenna coupling/signal joining devices), and attach the coaxial cable leading to the television set to the "input" of the coaxial splitter.

When choosing the means for connecting your antennae, keep in mind that baluns somewhat diminish the signal being picked up by your antennae, so if you're collecting signal in a fringe signal area, consider using twin-lead and a 300 ohm signal combiner, rather than multiple baluns and a coaxial signal splitter/combiner, to combine the signals from your multiple antennae.

You may wonder how well this system of two joined antennae works.......I live between two metropolitan areas, one approximately 160 miles away and the other about 130 miles away, and both of which have multiple television stations.  I built a combined "back to back" antenna and hung it from the roof rafters in my attic, one antenna facing towards the one metropolitan area and the other antenna facing the other metropolitan area, and combined the signals from the two antennae using twin-lead and a Winegard SD-3700 signal combiner as depicted below.  Besides receiving signals from my six local television stations (those within 75 miles of me), many days I can also receive television signals from the stations from either or both of the major metropolitan areas, depending on the weather and other atmospheric conditions.  I dare you to find a commercially available television antenna that allows you to receive that much television signal.


silvermoon_wind (author)2011-08-22

I made one...a smaller version that hangs on an interior wall. Without the backing. Smaller...only 16" long but every single channel still comes in. Pretty cool!!!!

cool one make a article about it I want to learn more

geeksarrising made it! (author)2015-11-19

First prototype. Yes, ugly as hell. We named it "el engendro".

On the other hand: it works great. :)

if it works well then it is PEFECTO!!

men lahak (author)geeksarrising2015-12-13

fea pero jala!

HLParker (author)2016-10-27

WARNING: The linked site inthe Intro ( appears to have been pawned, that is it has been highjacked by criminals. When I clicked on it, my browser was sent to other sites, including and a site that forcibly downloaded a "FlashPlayer" that apparently is malware.

I found what appears to be the original site at the archived location, .

Muhammad HassaanY (author)2016-01-31

i live in pakistan and i am getting about 9 channels. with a rabit ear i only got 2 or 3.

Muhammad HassaanY (author)2016-01-31

i live in pakistan and i am getting about 9 channels. with a rabit ear i only got 2 or 3.

hmcbart (author)2016-01-27

I just moved into a new apartment and didn't have much laying around to use. I went with a smaller 2 "V" section attached to a cardboard tube. I then duct taped a 12" aluminum pizza pan behind it. It picked up 57 channels. Now I want to dismantle and make something that looks like art to place above the TV.

AnkurG3 (author)2015-10-18

I can't understand how to connect to antenna to TV using Coaxial cable. Can i do it without a balun and 2-set splitter?

weblar (author)AnkurG32015-10-19

The short response to your question is "no" - you need a balun to convert the signal gathered by the antenna to a format that can be carried by the coaxial cable and used by your television. If you construct this antenna with 2 antennae, front and back, you can join the 2 antennae into one signal with the 2-way splitter.

kai.h (author)weblar2015-12-27

If you make two of these, back-to-back, can they be joined without a Balun? I'm asking because I don't have a balun handy - if I can make two of them and connect them to the coax (I think I've got a 2-way coax splitter somewhere), without a balun, will this work?

AnkurG3 (author)weblar2015-10-27

I am using a single antenna but it is not picking any channels; please help.

AnkurG3 (author)2015-10-31

Hey weblar; we are stuck in the middle; completed the construction but it ain't even catching a glitch; please help.

AnkitN3 (author)2015-10-27

i want to know about frequency range of this antenna and it will be work in india ?

AnkurG3 (author)2015-10-13

Can i use iron wire?

weblar (author)AnkurG32015-10-13

You can use any kind of wire that conducts electricity, including copper, aluminum, galvanized steel or iron wire.

AnkurG3 (author)weblar2015-10-14


RavinduS2 (author)2015-09-08

it is good

NodakGameChaser (author)2015-08-18

Made one a few years ago, the thing worked great. I ended up leaving it at my old place when I moved and am looking to build another one.

NodakGameChaser (author)2015-08-18

Made one a few years ago, the thing worked great. I ended up leaving it at my old place when I moved and am looking to build another one.

BruceH5 (author)2015-06-06

KrassiS (author)2015-03-19

Interesting article - thank you for sharing and we'll give it a go. Does this have to be galvanised or would some of these other types do:

weblar (author)KrassiS2015-03-20

Other types of wire will also work well for construction of the antenna, PROVIDED the wire is not insulated.

PhilKE3FL (author)2014-05-22

Nice additions to the first version of this I came across, and which you mentioned on page 1.

However, I do have one point to perhaps reduce the work load. You stated that if you want to receive signals from more than one direction one could build a second antenna and then add more aluminum to the back of the first reflector.

Adding more aluminum is not necessary since the first coating of aluminum will reflect to the second antenna just as well as more aluminum will. The RF will have no difficulty going through a thin piece of wood or cardboard to reflect off the aluminum on the other side.

Next, I've done experiments that show that the length of each element doesn't change the overall characteristics of the antenna very much so as long as they are cut to the same length and the lengths are close to the design length all will be well. I haven't yet tested two or four different lengths to see what difference, if any, that makes. Humm, in some ways that's what a log periodic is all designed around, but not for the same reasons.

On the other hand if you don't need the reflector, I don't think it will add much but I haven't tested to see if I'm right, yet, and if you have stations in more than one direction I'd suggest making my 3D version of this antenna.

I designed what my wife calls the porcupine antenna which uses no reflectors and two of this type of antenna at 90 degrees from each other so that stations from any direction are received. We use two of these for TVs in two different locations in our house and we get stations from North East to South East, to South West and to West. The one TV station to our North is too far away for this antenna and is just another NBC station anyway.

You can see this antenna on my web site at:

Or, if you're in the heart of the city you can simply use only one section of the porcupine antenna, just a simple 3D version of the ol' bow tie antenna. I designed that antenna back in 2002 and the article was published in Popular Communications, January 2003, p 6-10 , "Phil's Easy Way To Improve Your UHF TV Reception"

Oh, one last note here. This antenna is a UHF antenna and while it will receive VHF stations it doesn't do it well so if you have VHF stations at the same or further distance than your UHF stations you may need to add a longer section, a VHF dipole, to the center of this antenna to improve the VHF reception. I've seen articles about this, but again I have not yet tested the idea.

To see my TV antenna tests you can go to my articles on I've tested, "Bow Tie Element Length Evaluation", "Transformer Tests", and "Bow Tie Antenna Angle Tests". They can be found at:

HowardSternisBatman (author)2014-02-17

I moved recently and while I previously had a 'profe$$ional' roof mount installation my new place was not going to accommodate such a setup. I cobbled this together last night from some odds and ends then just generally shoved it in to a window. Receiving 19 of a potential 26 channels which I am sure I can improve on with a little tweaking and/or getting this up in to the attic.

My son was impressed....'hey Dad how did you know how to make that?'..... instructables son, instructables.

thank you for posting.

TBriggs00 (author)2013-07-10

Other designs that I use.

Use this site to find the best direction for your area to point antenna

Great website for HD antenna design

SOFISINTOWN (author)2012-09-16

I made it with fencing wire and it works GREAT!
I get a lot more channels than before, and all crystal clear.
I did not add the reflector, and I wrapped the whole thing with electric tape.

Thank you so much!

: )

ktriplej (author)2012-09-15

I built one out of scraps and all I can say is thank you. It works!

rocketman221 (author)2011-05-14

Nicely Done.
MacGyver would be proud.

carlos66ba (author)2011-05-05

I have built a similar antenna and it works EXTREMELY WELL in the UHF, but not so well (for the sizes of this particular model) in VHF.

weblar (author)carlos66ba2011-05-05

One of the comments I read relating to the original design that I modified for this Instructable was that the lengths of wires for the "Vs" in the original design favored either UHF or VHF (right now, I don't recall which); but the commentator suggested the alternative wire lengths in order to accomodate a broader range of signal.

I am able to pick up and watch television stations from Channel 2 (the lowest station I can pick up, and one of the stations further away from me - over 130 miles) to Channel 50 (the highest available station, and again far away - over 150 miles) using the antenna dimensions/wire lengths depicted in this Instructable.

carlos66ba (author)weblar2011-05-05

Excellent! I am quite sure the lengths you are using are best for UHF, but then again, you know it works and that's what counts!

When I built an antenna like yours (almost identical!) it worked very well in the UHF but I could not get any VHF. Then the design I used for a DIY VHF was more like this:

I built it out of wood and some copper wires and put it in the attic, and worked wonderfully well.

About This Instructable




Bio: Intelligent tinkerer who would rather design and build exactly what I want rather than purchase something designed for the masses.
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