Instructables

HDTv Antenna on a Direct TV mount.

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Picture of HDTv Antenna on a Direct TV mount.
I got my Tv converter Box (with the Government program Coupon). I hooked up with a regular rabbit ear antenna and although the signal and quality are waaaay better that the analog ones, I couldn't get all the stations and some where a bit erratic. I went on Google and start looking for HDTV antennas and I found several easy to make DIYs setups, but they can be big and ugly to keep in my living room. So, I build the antenna but and I use an old Direct TV dish mounted in my garage (I don't have the subscription and I don't want too), the dish has been in my place since I move, and the best thing, it's wired to my living room.

Note: The antenna works independently from the dish, I'm just using the dish as a mounting device and since it's already wired to the living room works great for me.
 
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Step 1: Materials

Wire , can be romex or cloth hanger wire.
Screws and washers, assorted ones
Standard wire mesh or similar wire screen, can use a metal rack shelves, chicken wire, etc. mine is 24" x 14"
Coaxial cable connection plug.
1 piece of wood, can be 2"x2" ir 2"x4" 14" to 16" long.
and of course a used Direct Tv or similar Dish.
soldier gun and electrical tape.

Note: I did mine with only 3 pairs of "Vs" (or ears if you may) but I have seen other antennas with 4 or 6 pair, which I guess incresses the reception.
will19475 years ago
You guys in the States are so lucky, we in the UK have to pay for a converter box and in a lot of cases a new aerial. You can pick up a box for about £15 but these tend to be crappy and a good one will cost £50 then another £50 for a decent aerial Plus £100 for installation of the aerial. If you want to watch one channel whilst recording another you need two boxes, and when bad weather is around forget it, digital signals only like good weather conditions.
Maybe so, but you also have FREESAT, a free satellite service and you only have to pay for the equipment.

We have nothing like that here, all satellite TV is pay, and the only free channels you get with a 1 meter dish are mostly international and PBS. You need a 6-12 foot dish to get anything on C-band and homeowner's associations can legally ban you from having them.
A couple of hundred pounds for a half decent HD Freesat box with only a couple of HD channels, lots of shopping and God channels some movie channels showing 40 year old B movies and soft porn, I should really say soft soft soft porn, you see more in soaps. Freeview is a better option as long as you can get a good signal, more channels and all new TVs come with Freeview built in but still only a couple of HD Channels.

But the sting in the tail is we all have to buy a 150 pound licence every year for the privilege of having a TV in our homes and we face a thousand pound fine and jail time if caught without the licence, they have detector vans traveling the country checking every address that hasn't got one. George Orwell got it right in his book 1984.

Something we both have in common though is that crook Rupert Murdoch and his media empire, hopefully he'll do some prison time for all the hacking is reporters have been doing. We will not buy his newspapers in Liverpool after the comments his paper, The Sun printed about the Hillsborough disaster and the 96 soccer supporters who were crushed to death.

Heehee, see the advantages of being a socialist state? Of course, we pay for the converter, and we also pay several bureaucrats to first take our money and then give it back to us, but at least we have universal...TV.
RickCain2 years ago
It would work better if you used a single bowtie driven element and moved it forward to the focal point of the dish.
Dr. dB4 years ago
Great way to recycle those old dishes!

Not sure why the chickenwire backplane would ever be needed, unless it's to increase the overall dimensions of the reflector - although these dishes appear to be made strictly of fibreglass or other plastics, they are still required to be inherently RF-reflective, and, therefore, metallic in some regard, or they wouldn't work at all...

Most are built using one of these methods:

1. "DIY screen" - aluminim sheet is punched with a gazillion tiny holes, making a "screen" of it, then it's stamped into a semiparabolic shape and powder-coated.

2. wire-mesh "sandwich" on fibreglass "bread" - pre-made metallic screening or "wire cloth" is laminated with fibreglass and resins and stamped into a semiparabolic shape.

3. "soup mix" - metal powder is blended directly into the resins, resulting in a conductive plastic, which is then molded or stamped, etc....
These Dish's are made of very thin steel and painted grey to reflect satellite signal from plate onto eye of satellite dish.
arte.sano (author)  Dr. dB4 years ago
good to know, I can get rid off the ugly chicken wire then!,
thanks
It's at least worth a try, since, as simple and elegant as your construction is, it shouldn't be much hassle to put back if reception goes in the dumper without it. 

This assumes that, as froggyman mentioned, there's no electrical connection between the "screen" and the pickup elements. If such a connection WERE needed, you'd need the chicken wire, after all, as it can be a considerable challenge getting at the conductive part(s) of the dish's own architecture.

I also wondered:

Would a single "V", standing-off the dish at the same "focal point" where the original LNB pickup was hung, perhaps gain enough from the dish's parabolic properties to make up for the fewer elements? Or would so few "sticks" compromise the bandwidth beyond usefulness?
Phil B5 years ago
It appears the digital converter boxes require an antenna for UHF. Some of these include an amplifier, which may not be necessary for your area. It depends on signal strength. I made a UHF antenna that worked quite well. It was highly directional and you might have to reposition it for different stations. I drew a parabolic curve on a piece of wood. A parabolic curve is a line equally distant between a point and a line. Start with a large sheet of paper or several pieces of newsprint taped together. Draw a straight line across the bottom of the paper. Make the line about three long. Find the center of the line. Make a point a foot or more above the center of the line. With two yardsticks, measure from the line at a right angle to the line and from the point. Look for the point at which the distance on both yardsticks is the same. Make a mark on the paper. Continue plotting points in this way. Some of the points will be ten inches from the point and ten inches from the line. Some will be six inches from both some will be twelve or fifteen inches from both. Many will be dimensions that end with various fractions of an inch. When you are finished, connect the dots. Cut the wood to fit this curve. Screw a piece of sheet aluminum a foot wide to the wooden curve. Make it long enough to follow the whole curve. At the center of the curve drill a hole and insert a dowel rod. Make it so it goes to the location of the original point you used in plotting the curve. Attach two strips of aluminum about an inch or so wide and six inches long, like dog ears. Connect your leads to these dog ears. The parabolic curve will gather signals and focus them at the dog ears very nicely.
zanne101 Phil B4 years ago
 Phil B
Have you done your instructable?  I'm having difficulty understanding - could use some pics.  Thanks

(can the curve be created with a pencil compass, or the old pencil and string idea?)
Phil B zanne1014 years ago
 I have done the Instructable.  It is at this link: www.instructables.com/id/Good_HDTV_antenna_cheap/  The antenna works pretty well without the parabolic reflector, depending on how far you are from the broadcast towers.  One person attempted a simple curved reflector without plotting a precise parabolic curve and got an increase in signal strength of 3x.  Google "make a parabola" for numerous pages on how to plot a parabolic curve.  A compass will not do the job.  There is a way to use string, but I did not find it very accurate because the string and device were not very precise. 


Phil, I can understand the concept you are talking about here but can not quite picture the process. Would you be willing to do an instructable for us?
Yes, I would. I have thought about doing one on this, anyway. Right now I am traveling. I will be home in a couple of days and will try to get an Instructable done on it by the weekend. When i tried this it was back in the 1970s. No one had heard of HDTV. I used it to pull in some UHF stations. We were getting stations from more than 50 miles away with this parabolic antenna. Thanks for asking. Oops! I meant to say, "Make the line three feet long." in the description above.
lairmo4 years ago
Ok so I built one...or my frankenstein version of one..Had everything on hand except $3.50 worth of nuts and bolts. Sorry pics are at night, but I just finished and had to set it up first. Scrapped the dish after building framework too large, but did use the mounting pole/bracket. Works great!! Getting 2 more channels than I was with the 7' Radio Shack antenna. Thanks for the idea.
DSC00525.JPGDSC00514.JPGDSC00517.JPGDSC00524.JPG
lairmo lairmo4 years ago
Here's a couple of daytime photos:
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So far, I've made at least 12 of these antennas(inside use)and my biggest expense has been for the 300 to 75 ohm balun connectors. If you're looking for these, SKIP your local "shack",which sells them for around $5.99,and order them from for ONLY $0.43 ea. in qtys of 10 or more!! I picked up 15 for the price of 3 at the "shack", and that includes shipping.
Hope this helps any of you. Before I forget, after you finish the project, remember to do a rescan every now and then as some stations my be on-line, but not up to speed. you may pick up a new channel when you do this. GOOD LUCK to you all.
brandt115 years ago
what kind of wire did you use for the connection between the v's. was it electrical wire or coaxial wire? how did you connect it to the cable that ran into your living room?
you use a regular electric with (like romex) to connect the V's, then you get a 300Ohm to 75 ohm coaxial transformer availiable here. For that you can simply cut off the 2 little conncetors, strip the wire about an inch, and connect it to the electrical wire, by twisting them together and adding a little solder for added strength then cover in electrical tape.

You can then connect it to your TV through a regular coaxial wire!
arte.sano (author)  brandt115 years ago
the wire came from a lamp, but any wire will do the work, is better to use an Isolated wires, Romex will work also. As I mention in my post above: "...I build the antenna but and I use an old Direct TV dish mounted in my garage (I don't have the subscription and I don't want too), the dish has been in my place since I move, and the best thing, it's wired to my living room." hope it helps.
thanks
froggyman5 years ago
well here is my completed antenna! I did some modifications to your design: I had 6 V's total, used aluminum foil as my reflector/filter, I soldered all of the joints(from the wire to the V's), and i put 3 sets of V's on one side and 3 on the other with the coaxial convertor inbetween them Ohh, and i found out that i needed one of those 300 ohm to 75 Ohms ocnvertor, these can be found at radioshack for a couple of dollars. It somes with a two wire (from antenna) to a coaxial cable (to TV)
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ok let me ask you this..it the v's touching the chichen wire or is the screen totally indepandant from the v's
the screen is independent from the the V's, it just acts like a "filter" and sometimes isnt needed
froggyman5 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
ohh and on step 2 does that black wire make a physical metal to metal contact or is it just touching it by the washers/srews?
rntonp5 years ago
Questions to anyone - 1. Does the type of "metal" used for the construction of the V's matter regarding reception? I have two entire rolls of pure copper tubing that was left at my home after I had a new A/C unit installed. They are out in my garage, but one is approx. 3/8-1/2" diameter and the other is close to 1" diameter (both are hollow obviously). I also have some scraps of solid, insulated wire that I think is copper and is probably 16 or 18 guage. I probably have 10 or 15 feet of this stuff. Anyway, would either of these be better in receptive capabilities if I built an outdoor antenna? 2. Also, is there a "rule of thumb" for reception? i.e. If 6 V's are good, are 12 or 18 V's qualitatively better? 3. What about incorporating a fractal design while maintaining the overall shape? Finally, again, what about building 3 or 4 of these designs displayed in this instructable and mounting them on a segmented pole, with each "section" or "antenna" being rotatable, with ability to in essence have 3 or 4 identical antennas - each separated equidistantly when "twisted".
ken26101 rntonp5 years ago
As for questions 1, you would want to use solid wire, i.e. electric wiring either left over from wiring a house or even going to a local hardware store that sells it by the foot. I personally used some left over 12-2 wire from when I rewired my house and just stripped down what I needed. Solid wire would be best for making your connections when putting it together and provides a much better way of transferring the signals it is receiving. Hope this helps and good luck with your project. I am getting ready to build me a bigger antenna and try a few things to see if I can get some stations from about 60 miles away.
ken261015 years ago
Thanks for the info. This little project sent me on a mission to save some money. I built the basic antenna, only not as neat as yours and added it to a digital tuner and WOW. I actually picked up my local NBC, Fox, 2 PBS channels and PBS HD and another local channel, which I couldn't do before. Now I can say goodbye to the local cable company and save my family over $200 a year now. The only bad thing about this project is that I am now wanting to try a few other things to try and pick up some other channels from about 60 miles away. Thanks again!!!
uofte5 years ago
Thanks for the project. I didn't use the dish or the grid - just made the basic antenna. It worked great! Crystal clear FREE digital channels, including about 6-7 HD channels. Very straightforward and easy. Thanks!
jefeickert5 years ago
Can you show me how to make a really good shortwave antenna? JIM
Jim...what meter shortwave antenna ya looking for? Try the ARRL website. Or google electronics projects...and look under either antennas or Ham Radio projects...Have fun, Dave
Drofnats5 years ago
This works, I made one, put it on the roof and its great. I didnt use a Dish. I used chicken wire (.5" square) as the backing, 8 'V's, insulated electrical cable - used a glue gun to insulate the V's/connections. Its much better than the rabbit ears - all the channels come in much stronger. I got several extra channels - unfortunately they included Oprah and a local Church channel, where's a 'guy' channel when you need it. Still, highly recommended. Well done.
marwanco5 years ago
Signal quality 92, 1080i. This is photo from 42 plasma TV. Thanks for instructions.
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dacarls5 years ago
I read this Instr.2x and still cannot find/recognize the length of the V-shaped wires. Its got to be important. Please help.
Dodge dacarls5 years ago
On step 2, mouse over the V in the pic... The wire is 14 inches, bent in half (7 inch legs...) Also, each of the three sets of V's should be 7 inches apart.
camp6ell5 years ago
could somebody explain the basic science of what's going on here? i'm about to make one, but have no idea what effect changing any of the parameters will have on the signal... thanks
i guess my question was: what purpose is the wire mesh/grill serving? anyway, i made the basic antenna, but didn't mount it to the dish or wire. i ended up just screwing to the wall in my attic, and this works fine - picks up all the hd channels in the area that it should.
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I did the same thing, no mesh. The difference with mine is a used a 4 foot long 2x4 and ran it 4 sets up and 4 sets down the other side so it loops over the top. I then screwed it into the rafters of my garage and tied it to the existing wiring that the dish originally used. Thanks for the inspiration.
How far away are you from the TV stations???
about 20-25 miles, according to the interwebs, and the antenna is on the third floor.
static camp6ell5 years ago
The mesh acts as a reflector. As you have proven, it's not always needed. The commercial products have to include it to insure the best chance it will work for the customer. Those of us in the rural are will need a more substantial antenna system.
Questor5 years ago
there IS a difference between High Definition and Digital. The boxes are there to allow the older TV's to receive Digital . . .NOT, necessarily, High Def
static5 years ago
As there is no such thing as a "color TV" antenna, there are nor DTV or HDTV antennas. Anyone who has the standard VHF/UHF TV antenna will be able to use it to receive the new digital signals. Your instructable does well, for those who don't already have an antenna for UHF reception. The bow tie arrays work well when your are close in to the tower. The further you are away the more UHF becomes a bear to receive. Not only is the signal weaker. The nulls in the transmitter antenna pattern, are more pronounced.
MiLeXx5 years ago
coOoOol mAn!!!!
Nicely done! What spacing are you using between the elements and the hdwr cloth screen?
arte.sano (author)  Jack of Most Trades5 years ago
Thanks. I'm using a 2"x2"x14" piece of wood, and the mounting piece is 2" from the dish, I have around 4" in between, maybe less, but remember the dish has a concave shape so at the ends of the elements the space is around 1 1/2". You can use a 2"x4" if you need more space.
blaclie225 years ago
worked well!!
my dish is really big. its is 3 1/2 feet wide. i didnt have screen so used a really big grill rack. but it works fine.
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arte.sano (author)  blaclie225 years ago
Man, that's cool I like the use of the grill!!, I will recommend to use the grill/screen following the direction of the wood, try to cover the V's ears. looks good!! cheers.
arte.sano (author)  blaclie225 years ago
Cool, share some pictures!!
dsandds20035 years ago
I think he meant to say dtv (digital tv). It is a bit confusing because with a lot of older sets you will need a converter box to get DTV which is VERY CONFUSING with H DTV. Thats our government for ya, Keep ya confused while they stick it to ya...Where I live in order to see tv after feb. 2009 I WILL have to subscribe to satellite to get a program. My antenna will not work when the nearest TV station is 64 miles away...Unless I spent HUNDREDS of dollars on a HUGE tower so I can have a line of sight to the station. DTV signals DO NOT travel like analog signals. Great job on your idea, looks GREAT!!
YMMV, but I built a 4-element VHF Yagi, put it 15' in the air and pulled in WISH-DT from 62.5 miles away. I'm going to build one of these soon for the other stations on UHF...
dsandds2003, Have you checked into this thoroughly? When I was installing my DTV converter, I did a lot of research online and several sites referenced that the signal carrier wave is identical to the old waves, it is just the data that has changed. Accordingly, the waves still travel the same way and can be received the same way. Although a directional antenna can improve reception to reduce drop out on the signal, everything else is the same. If you currently receive the signals over the air, and the broadcaster is not qualified as a low power station, which I doubt if you were receiving signal from 64 miles away, I'd suspect you should only need a signal booster on a directional antenna for this work. If you knew all this already and have found that you are still outta luck, then I apologize for sounding preachy. Just wanted to clarify with a little more detail in case. Actually, if I am incorrect, please let me know where you learned the fact that the signals DO travel differently so that I may learn the limits for myself. Thanks. BTW, anyone with basic questions should start with the government's page, www.dtv.gov.
recneps jude5255 years ago
This is correct. The same channel frequencies are used, it's just a different decoding strategy. A similar example is cordless phones and wifi. They both use the same frequency (in many cases) (2.4ghz), yet they're different signals entirely. The ONLY difference is the end decoder/encoders. And to dsandds2003: 64 miles is nothing. I'm ~90miles from buffalo stations, yet I still pick them up no problem. And its not line of sight. I have the antenna mounted on my wall, there's lots of trees and such in the way.
That sucks for you, the way they've done it here is Terrestrial, so you can get it with a UHF aerial, in HD, or you can get it in sattelite for areas that don't get decent terrestrial reception.
easyrider15 years ago
i wonder how good it would work if you used an old stop sign or RR crossing sign or something similar shaped and metal especially alun. for light weight. attach the bow ties to a 2"x2" piece of plastic wood for long life durability and then attach that to the "sign" or similar material. maybe even mount the whole thing to a pole that can be turned to adjust it for better reception. what do you think,anyone try that yet?
johnny q5 years ago
arte - neat project - sure looks good. so, is this a high tech version of rabbit ears (where you can bring in all line of sight channels) ? If it is, I really need to make and use one of these. Right now, I have a satellite receiver, but it would be excellent to have local channels at least, when our sat system is down.
arte.sano (author)  johnny q5 years ago
Well, I was looking for antennas on the web and I run into tons of DIYs approaches and I decided to make mine, and for what it's worth the darn thing works wonders. You should try it, It can't be easier to make. I have run into channels that I didn't knew that existed before, even with regular rabbit ears and the converter box. It makes a big difference in reception. good luck.
REFFI5 years ago
I installed a set top converter box on my mother-in-law's rabbit-eared TV. It has a combination UHF kind of dish with a rotatable bowtie element and conventional rabbit ears for VHF. As stated above, not all channels came in but she did have all three networks and a UHF PBS channel, AND was thrilled at the picture quality since she lives in an extreme fringe area.
Keith-Kid5 years ago
I'm a bit confused here. What do you mean by HDTV? High Definition channels from just the converter box? Could someone please explain the purpose of this ible? I really don't understand...
arte.sano (author)  Keith-Kid5 years ago
Well, It's and it isn't; with the standard converter box you will get only Digital Tv Signal (DTV), no High def. (HDTv) But the antenna will also work with a High def. TV or High def. receiver. Many channels over the air are starting to transmit some HDTv programs at 1080i, but you can only get the quality with a Tv set ready for high def. The antenna will also serve for that purpose.
GameV85 years ago
Very nice.