Introduction: Homemade TV Antenna

Picture of Homemade TV Antenna

This TV antenna is not only omnidirectional, but also compatible with the new digital television. I actually get more stations with the new digital television signals than the old system. I get 35 channels and I an a long way from any large city. Some of the stations are over 60 miles away.

Construction is simple using copper tubing, PVC pipe and minimal tools. Tools include a hack saw, drill (hand or electric) screw driver and tape measure.

Step 1: Making the Antenna Step 1

Picture of Making the Antenna Step 1

Start with some 3/8 or 1/2 inch copper tubing. Bend a half circle in a 26 inch diameter with an additional 1 inch extra on each end. Flatten the inch on the ends and bend them OUT. Now make another half circle and bend the ends IN.

Step 2: Step 2

Picture of Step 2

Take a 1/2 or 3/4 inch PVC cross (depending if you used 3/8 or 1/2 inch copper tubing). add a piece of PVC to each connection so you can bolt the flattened edges to two of the PVC ends and the middle will fit into a notch to support it. Notice the two pieces of copper tubing do NOT come into electrical contact with each other except for the 300 ohm matching transformer.

Bolt the cross to a 2" PVBC end cap. Use a lock washer or double nuts so it doesn't loosen up. Glue the cap to a 20 foot piece of 2" PVC pipe.

Connect a 300 ohm matching transformer to the two pieced of copper tubing as in the picture. Connect cable to transformer, tape and run down the 2" PVC pole.

Drive a piece of pipe in t ground with about a foot above the ground and set the antenna mast over it and firmly mount the mast at roof level. As long as you mount it at the edge of the roof and don't go over 20 feet you don't need guy wires. if you go higher I would suggest adding some guy wires.

Trees between you and the station could reduce the signal so you may have to go above trees for log distance stations.

If you use a metal pole, it should be grounded to the ground rod by your electric meter.


macabrebaby (author)2013-11-03

I noticed you used a 75ohm coaxial cable to connect to the matching transformer. Is this part of the design or would a 300 ohm ribbon work better instead?

rbodell (author)macabrebaby2013-11-04

Interesting question, thanks for asking. I see no reason it shouldn't work as long as you have an older television where the antenna connection has screws you can put the other end under. If not you will need the matching transformer on the television end of the 300 ohm cable to connect to the more modern coax connection.

As for it working better, I Don't THINK so.
The ground around the outside of the 75 ohm cable shields it from other signals where the 300 ohm wire won't be protected from spurious signals of different frequencies such as engine spark plugs florescent lights and transformers.

With the ribbon wire you mentioned, the spacing is determined by the frequency. I don't even know if the ribbon wire does reject any outside signals from other tv frequencies. AS FAR AS I KNOW the spacing only keeps the signal from interacting between television frequencies and coax protects it from all frequencies. Would somebody correct me if I am wrong.

In the end it will probably be harder to find the 300 ohm wire and I seriously doubt the price will be worth the hassle.

If you do give it a try, please comment back and let me know the results of your experiment.

deirdrehbrt (author)rbodell2013-12-21

Actually, coax and twinlead prettymuch equally reject noise. The reason twinlead rejects it is because it's a balanced pair - and the noise is equal on both leads - it gets canceled out in the input transformer, as long as the noise signal is equal on both leads.
The disadvantage with twinlead is that it shouldn't touch metal, which can change the impedance on the cable. That's why the standoff insulators are important when using twinlead.

Hammerhead46 (author)deirdrehbrt2017-08-14

It also helps to put (2) Two twists per foot of run on twinlead!

This was standard practice up until coax started to replace the twinlead about 1975.

Also in Arizona we had to replace the twinlead about every 2 years as the sun would Bake the insulation making it brittle and then bye bye insulation.

rbodell (author)deirdrehbrt2013-12-21

Thanks for that.

macabrebaby (author)rbodell2014-01-03

It's a perfect tv antenna. Its omnidirectional design is just right where we live considering the source of the signals from different tv stations at different strengths. Now, I can pick em all up like they come from just one direction only. But my only problem was that the loop offers a strong invitation to birds to alight on the tubes. One medium sized bird did alight one day and broke my PVC ... I redesigned the loop to face the wind instead ... the signal is still the same. . . but the birds are gone. Thanks a load.

HazyShades (author)macabrebaby2015-12-02

Ha-ha was just thinking about the pigeons sitting on my stacked yagi old school antennas when I came across your post. The design is great, as is Omnitennas above (going to try to back engineer that pup :) But I need to stand it on it's side 'cause we have lot's of pigeons.

rbodell (author)HazyShades2015-12-02

I love old technology. Just scale things back to what really works best. I am in the process of building a house in Alaska that will have less living expenses than in the lower 48. Nothing new, just old technology and basic science.

rbodell (author)macabrebaby2016-02-08

Never tried it but probably about equal . but does your TV have the screw connectors for flat wire? If not you will need the matching transformer on the other end to connect to the cable jack.

Chunck (author)2017-07-16

Loop antennas are great, but I build square loops with a hairpin match for 2m SSB. I reconfigured the design for the TV bands and found if I use one for UHF and one for VHF and stacked them, they cover the bands nicely with gain. I run the UHF a half wave above the VHF with a matching harness. I built one of your antennas and found the performance to be close. The difference is your design is much easier for the average person to build without having to go through all the tuning and adjusting steps for the hairpin match. The gain difference for TV purposes is minimal. If yours was used for transmitting it would be a different story.

PhilS. (author)2017-06-06

I have made two of these and they work outstanding. 26 chanles.

PhilS. (author)PhilS.2017-06-06

Didn't get to finish my first attempt. ha Made with a hula hoop cut down to 26" ID and just used romex solid copper wire cut to 40 3/4" after forming an "eye" in the end- inserting into the hula hoop then hooking a 300 to 75 ohm matching transformer, it's up on two 10 ft pvc pipes swaying in the wind. Working like GangBusters.......... ha longest distance is around 20 miles, not to far..

ArnoldKelly (author)2016-04-06

I just built this antenna, exactly you instruct, and was only able to pick up about 10 channels. That was even with a signal booster. That is about a third of the channels my store bought antenna picks up. Any suggestions?

AltarM (author)ArnoldKelly2016-04-09

You need larger wing span for more channels. My RCA antenna is 150 inches which is huge, so you need a big wheel 12ft or larger wheel

Gelfling6 (author)AltarM2016-05-10

Not necessarily... As a instructor in a ham radio class I took many years ago said, You could receive signals off a wet piece of string, but only for the wavelength you have the string cut. rbodell's 26" Dia. circle is just the right full-wavelength (Both high & low of the sinewave).. Anything bigger, would be wasted bandwidth pick-up. Even a 13" circle (1/2-wavelength) would still pick-up signals within quite a few miles.. But, bigger? You're probably talking Analog VHF...

Hepstein01 (author)Gelfling62017-05-25


I would like to try stacking two or more of these at 0.25 or 0.75 wavelengths apart. But I do not know if the wavelength is 13 in or 26 inch. Appears to me to be nothing more then a 1/2 Wave dipole at 13 inches folded into each other. I could be wrong. What is the wavelength or resonant of this antenna.

rbodell (author)AltarM2016-05-10

If you change the diameter you change the frequency it will receive and no longer receive tv frequencies. The lengths of antennas is what "TUNES" them to the frequencies you want and rejects the ones you don't want.

imzzaudae (author)ArnoldKelly2016-10-17

Hello Arnold.

If you happen to have used a Channel Master line amp. There is a switch inside the upper box. I think it is buy default in the dual head position ? If you missed this and did not set it single head input it will not work properly.

rbodell (author)ArnoldKelly2016-05-10

Normally this antenna does better than most commercial antennas so there is probably something not rite.

Nearby trees can knock down the signal as well as buildings and mountains.

The height of the antenna can make a big difference with just a few feet sometimes. Get it as high as possible.

make sure that the two halves of the antenna are electrically disconnected. They can not touch.

That should get you going

omnitenna (author)2017-05-03

Although this antenna is technically omnidirectional, or capable of picking up signals coming from any direction, it shows some directionality, specially for the higher frequencies found on the UHF band. The reason for this is that TV signals are horizontally polarized, they propagate horizontally, also the antenna inherent design limitation plays an important role. All omni antennas have these limitations. Due to these factors and many others, there isn't such thing as a 100% omnidirectional TV antenna.

jamiemacculloch (author)2017-04-19

I made one using 1/4" tubing but it appears to be working from only one side I have turn the antenna to pick up the various stations and I'm still not able to pick up a couple stations that I could with the store bought one the stations I do get come in between 80-100% strength. my mast is 1-1/2 inch conduit any help would be appreciated

Cowil (author)2017-04-18

Hi - this looks like an awesome project - am very keen to build one!

However, I live in New Zealand and our digital tv is broadcast over 502-806Mhz. I'm assuming this antenna is a dipole one so if I enter the central frequency of this range (654 Mhz) in any of the online dipole length calculators, I get element lengths far shorter than what is stated in this project. Thinking the the transmission frequency range in the U S. must be a lot lower, I look up the range and found it to be 470Mhz to 890Mhz - not a lot different to what we have here in New Zealand.

I'm obviously missing something here...?

Scarlettink48 (author)2016-11-13

We live in the sticks so regular antennas don't work. But my dad built a ham radio tower as tall as a two story house. Could I hook our tv up to it? It has coax wires coming off of it but they are way bigger then the ones that go on tv's is there an adapter?

rbodell (author)Scarlettink482016-11-14

No television is in a different frequency range. Ask your dad to explain it.

Scarlettink48 (author)rbodell2016-11-14

Sorry dads not around.

rbodell (author)Scarlettink482016-12-02

OK let me make it simple. The length of an antenna is determined by the frequency of the signal you want to transmit or receive. The frequencies closes to those that the antenna is tuned to will come in strongest and those farther away from the frequency of the antenna will be weaker. By changing the lengths of the elements of the antenna, you change the frequency it receives. If you change it enough it will no longer receive in the television band.

While there is a lot of leeway in the materials, the diameter of the antenna must remain about 26 inches.

IL Rev (author)2016-11-04

I modified the parts a bit and am very pleased with the results: I used 1/2" self adhesive conductive copper tape ($3 per roll on Amazon). For the 'tube' I went to the local 'everything for a dollar' store and purchased a kid's 36" hula hoop. What looks like a solid hula hoop actually has a plastic connector under the UPC label - remove label, pull ends apart, cut to the 26" diameter and join the ends back together. I then carefully applied the copper foil tape to the outside edge of the hula hoop and left a 1" gap between the start and end of the tape circle. I also left the tape about 3 inches longer than needed and used these tails to wrap around the ends of the coax adapter. A generous application of electricians tape to each side of the coax/copper tape junction and ready to try it out. Indoors I placed the hula hoop with copper and coax horizontally on top of a floor lamp and connected to the TV. Scan brought me in 42 usable channels!! I am approximately 55 miles south west of Chicago transmitters. Previous indoor antennas yielded a maximum of 18 channels. I am not using a signal booster.

Total investment so far is less than $6. Preliminary results: I impressed myself!

Will update when tried outdoors ... hope this works for you too.

bekkamouri (author)2016-10-24

I don't have access to copper tubing. Can I use strips of aluminum instead? If not, what material do you suggest?

imzzaudae made it! (author)2016-09-16

I found your plans. Made a few adjustments and had at building one of my own.

Center plates are cut 6" square - nylon cutting board.

3/4 PVC arms

Center section Nuts and Bolts are 1-3/4 10s. Blue thread lock.

All of the other screws are 1/2" 8s. left over from building a garden shed.

Pipe is 1/2 inch outside soft copper coil. 84" cut in 2. Added 45s, a short spacer and caps.

Everything 1/2" 8 is drilled and tapped.

Copper caps are drilled and tapped # 8 for attaching matching transformer

Shown here without mounting brackets attached.

The Antenna is working well at ground level. Looking forward to standing a tower and mounting it properly! Ron

Screws 1 - 3/4 10s

imzzaudae (author)imzzaudae2016-09-19


Poor performance above channel 42 prompted me to re read the instructions.

I then re measured my tubes.

Each tube was 50" a full 8" longer than the plans called for. Then add 2" for the 90 deg elbow and the spacer on each end. After careful measurements where taken.

I removed the 90 deg elbows, spacers and caps from both ends of each tube.

Cut the pipes 39" then re attached the 90 deg elbows mounting spacers and end caps. Adjusted the 3/4 PVC arm lengths. Re bent the tubes to fit and re mounted the tubes.

Boom! The picture cleaned right up on 29 & 42, 51 is now not only there but flawless! Transmitter towers are close. After that everything is 45 and 60 miles.

Hoping to get them.

Tower is laid out in the back yard. will be mounting the antenna and standing the tower in the next few days. Will post pictures and results.


imzzaudae made it! (author)imzzaudae2016-09-24

I'm thrilled to confirm how well my project antenna is working! The tower is standing. The head is now 35' off the ground and working very well.

As everything is out 60 miles, I installed a Channel Master 15db pre-amp and I have 22 channels clear as a bell.

Great project

Dg27 (author)2016-09-07

BY far the best antenna I have eber made, Although I built mine smaller about a foot and a half.

Richard Yoza (author)2016-05-26

26 inch Diameter-- the circumference or length will be C= 3.14 x 26 = 81.64 inch length minimum of cooper tubing. So at least 2-two 42 inch cooper tube, bent in a semi 26 circle. NOT a 26 inch tube.. BUT more than 82 INCH COPPER TUBING !!!

RobinF29 made it! (author)2016-04-12

I made your easy to do antenna. It works better than any of the factory antennas I have bought. Thank you for the instructions!

RobinF29 (author)RobinF292016-04-12

This was made by my husband Marvin Felz but I helped some ;)

rimar2000 (author)2014-07-09

Very good design: nice, easy, cheap and efficient. This week I will make one of these.

rbodell (author)rimar20002014-07-09

Great, let us know how it comes out.

rimar2000 (author)rbodell2014-07-18

Well, after a few days doing other things, today I finished and installed it. It works perfect for UHF, but for VHF is poor. I wonder if the adapter 300 to 75 Ohms is really necessary.

The hardest part of all was placing it on the ridge of the house, because put in place the reins to stand it upright was not easy, I broke four colonial tiles, which are not cheap nor easy to get.

At end, I am very satisfied with the result, thanks for the idea. I regret not having taken any photo, is that I worked hurry because here is winter and the afternoon is short.

rbodell (author)rimar20002016-02-08

That is what is cool about this. It doesn't cost anything to experiment

rimar2000 (author)rbodell2016-02-08

Esta era mi antena. Captaba muchos canales cuando el tiempo estaba bueno, pero cuando empezaba a llover se cortaban casi todos. Lo consulté con un experto en antenas y me sugirió reemplazarla por una direccional. FUNCIONÓ. A la mía la vendí por Mercado Libre en unos 5 U$D.


This was my antenna. It captured many channels when the weather was good, but when it started to rain were cut almost everyone. I consulted with an expert in antennas and suggested replacing it with a directional. IT WORKED.

Mine (this) I sold on the free market in about 5 U$D.

AltarM (author)rimar20002016-04-09

?Como hacer esto (instructions)?

rbodell (author)rimar20002015-01-09

For best operation, the match is important. It also covers any mistakes in length of the antenna halves.

rimar2000 (author)rbodell2015-01-10

When you say "match" ¿do you refer to the 300 to 75 Ohms adapter? Please consider I don't speak English. Neither I understand when you say "antenna halves", pardon.

rbodell (author)rimar20002015-01-10


The better matched the antenna is to the receiver, the better they both work.

mathnado (author)2016-03-20

I built this and I am impressed. It works great, and is omnidirectional. I had a problem pushing the copper tubing through the holes. I would suggest, at additional expense, to drill holes through pvc couplings and then put the tubing through those holes and bend and glue couplings to "star" pipes. I wish I had thought of that before I made mine. All in all agreat easy project that works great!

dmuxlow (author)2016-02-07

Just wondering do you think for the hoop sections some pex or other type of flexible pvc pipe wraped in copper tape would work?

rbodell (author)dmuxlow2016-02-08

Yes that should work fine. This is very flexible in materials.

dmuxlow (author)rbodell2016-02-18

thanks. trying to do a solid copper one first trying at 480mm diameter as we are in a DVBT /PAL as someone wlse comented on here.

FrankL46 (author)2016-02-06

Would larger diameter copper tubing and a larger loop going to increase my reception. I have about a 10' section of 1' copper tubing left over from plumbing project.

rbodell (author)FrankL462016-02-08

No the length determines the frequencies it receives best

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a retired old geezer with way too much time on my hands for my own good.
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