Picture of How To Save Analog Television - Pirate TV
Main TV image.jpg
Tired of the blocky, JPEG-like resolution of digital television? Do you long for the days of RF modulation and regulated-yet-unregulated content? Do you simply have the desire to toss your converter box out the window and make use of those rabbit ear antennae that are just lying around? If so, then you might be interested in becoming a savior of analog television! This Instructable will show you how to create your own fully-fledged low-power analog television channel, with any video source(including your computer) as a source of content.
We created one that went live the minute analog tv went dead. We're still the only analog station in NYC, but please join us in making more!! Long live analog tv.

Step 1: Find A Free Channel.

Picture of Find A Free Channel.
The first step is to find a TV channel that isn't being used in your general vicinity. Although after the 2009 DTV transition in June a lot of "whitespace"(i.e. unused television bandwidth) became available, most of this whitespace is still legally dubious and many of these channels are still tied to the original owners via legal identity and copyright. However, because of this legal ambiguity a lot of free space is still up for the taking.

The best option for finding free space is the FCC's own search engine for these things:


Simply type in the channel (try a range of 14 to 35) and your state, along with the type of broadcasts available. Try to avoid channels that correspond to channels in your area (i.e. CBS 2 in New York). While they might be free because of the DTV transition and broadcasting in a higher channel range, they are still virtually broadcasting through that channel and might also have dibs on it for visual identity's sake.
1-40 of 108Next »
snowdrop1101 made it!3 months ago
I made one about a year ago but it is a portable model and weighs about 5 pounds. it can also transmitt up to 100 feet.
trigun004 months ago

how far will be the range for a 30watt vhf tv transmitter? in plain terrain and with a good antenna.

atvdxtx4 months ago
Please may you give me a link to a cheap uhf tv transmitter?
StevenG104 months ago
How do you know if your broadcasting your tv
Yonkosw9 months ago

Thanks for the instructable.

Protip: Not everyone here is american.

HammE9 months ago

Quick question, this is technically violating Part 97 of the FCC right?

I'm late here, but I just found out about this. Time to use the attic sized antenna I have upstairs.

manasaich1 year ago

can anyone say how to create a new tv channel to show all people's home TV ???

please help me as soon as possible

JohnnyRock12 years ago
Doesn't it cost about $500 to get a license for a tv channel/station...
Dr.Bill3 years ago
Bottom line is...Get a license for Amateur Radio and do the Amateur TV thing.
Its a lot safer to your freedom and Wallet !
Ubergeek856 years ago
The one thing I don't like about pirate TV is the setup cost. Sure, it's small, but I'm broke.

I've been intending to do something like this for a while now. Planning on using a PC as a source, running through a VGA-to-composite converter, to a VCR to use as a modulator, through to an modified splitter to act as an RF amp, through to the antenna. I've got it all except the antenna, and haven't modified the splitter yet (I hate SMD components, it makes circuit bending so hard..).

Oh, and I'm in New Zealand too. We don't have much of a history of Pirate TV here. Hopefully I'll be a trendsetter.
you could just use an outdoor analog antenna, or 1(or more)set of rabbit ears...rabbit ears probably wouldnt give ya much distance though, unless you made sure they were waterproof and attached 'em to the roof of your house
Or pump it right into the Cable System where you are....
aceLED6 years ago
wut kind of shows do u put on ur channel? me and my friends wanna do this now just so we can brodcast our own tv show ;p
Dr.Bill aceLED3 years ago
Porn if you like. Or other stuff.
static3 years ago
Much has been made about being a license amateur operator somehow means you can legally broadcast content of interest to the general public. Sorry to tell you that Part 97 doesn't not permit US amateur radio operators to broadcast content to the general public. Broadcast content that's intended to serve other amateur radio operators all you want. In the event some members of the public may watch is not a problem.
Dr.Bill static3 years ago
You are right we don't Broadcast we Transmit to another station, However there is a time when we do broadcast and that is when we call CQ looking for someone to talk to.
blkhawk3 years ago
Your project should be classified under Technology→Wireless.
Nice write up. But, there is a much more simpler way. You can build your own channel with a Roku box. They are under $100 bucks. I got my channel up and running in a weekend. Just fyi...
how does it work. im keen, will evry1 that owns Roku be able to watch my channel. does Roku works outside US and UK?
HOW!! D:
Dr.Bill5 years ago
Got a VCR that works?
Got an old antenna amp that works?
Got a good TV antenna on the roof?

Hook the antenna amp so that its input is fed from the output on the VCR.
The VCR IS a transmitter.
The antenna amp amplifies VCR output and feeds that signal to the antenna on the roof.
The antenna on the roof is a tuned yagi beam antenna just as it sits.
Hook it all up.
Put tape of some movie in the VCR turn it on and play it.
Your on the air.
Point the antenna in the direction of a lot of other roof top antennas and, bingo, someone is going to receive your signal.
BtRanbo Dr.Bill3 years ago
Finally a good and simple advice. thanks mate
wb7ptr Dr.Bill4 years ago
Cool! Don't get in trouble though :)
johnnyme333 years ago
uhh... and how often are people caught? i rly dont like jail
You can even do it with a VCR. But you will need a proper amplification, to get anything useful out of it.
Just need an antenna amplifier placed in circuit backwards so it pulls the signal out of the VCR and pushes it to the TV antenna.
Most certainly can. That is RF coming out of the RF Out jack, usually on channel 3 or 4 analog ...
Nirgal385 years ago
Here in the US, the FCC has absolutely no sense of humor if they think you're violating their regulations. As a ham radio operator, I read their enforcement actions on a regular basis so if you're keen on paying $25000 fines or jail time, go ahead with this. Be REALLY sure that you're in the right because even if you win your case if the FCC decides to prosecute, you'll be out thousands of dollars in legal fees, etc. They especially frown on unlicensed broadcasters using the airwaves.
wb7ptr Nirgal384 years ago
... and the worst of it ... they'll CONFISCATE your nice little TV station!
Dr.Bill wb7ptr3 years ago
And anything else they think went into making it.
party pooper.
Hey, I didn't tell people not to do this. I just warned of the potential consequences if they do. If a person really wanted to do this legally, he could go out, get a Technician Class Amateur Radio Operator's license then can transmit using amateur TV and be perfectly legal. They'd still have to follow FCC regulations regarding amateur transmissions. Our local ham club just had a 6 year old pass the test so it's not that tough.
static Nirgal383 years ago
Yes, but the moment an Amateur radio operator in the US starts to broadcast content of interest to the general public, they are in violation of Part 97. Most reading this instructable are interest in broadcasting content to the general public not to the niche of amateur radio operators. Yes the test is not that tough, I suggest you take the test before stating what's perfectly legal.
Nirgal38 static3 years ago
Amateur extra class license here. And I wasn't talking about general interest broadcasting. I was simply talking about what it would take to transmit an amateur TV signal legally.
At last. Another adult.
civicturbo4 years ago
Nice instructable! I have a idea for a transmitter. Howabout a frequency adjustable RF modulator. http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy&hl=en&safe=off&q=channel+vision+rf+modulator&aq=0&aqi=g1g-v4&aql=&oq=&pbx=1&fp=cd4bd38bf506aaa7

They come in 1 to 4 channel versions for home use and you can change your channels easy. They usually work on 14-69 off air or the cable range. Now the signal is low so you need to amp it up. You can start small and cheap and use a 20db cable/antenna amp then connect this to an antenna, either a TV antenna or something with better gain made for TV broadcasting. I did somthing like this for a workout room in a central building for a planned master community but for FM. The goal was to send the tv sound out for people exercising and wearing fm radios like they do in health clubs.
We had a rack mount high quality RF mod and a fm antenna (31" of bare wire connected to thecenter conductor of coax from the Mod.)
Problem was it had 4 feet of range. So I turned the gain output wide open, then sent this to a common 10db tv amp, then into a 15db tv amp, then a 20db amp. now thats some gain! Now finally the signal was strong all over the lower floor, no static. The suprise was as I drove away in the work van could receive the station up to two blocks away! and the antenna was in the lower level of the building!
I believe thre sucesses here was a little luck and the fact that that tv amps were of good enoght quality that the signal didn't cause the next one to clip its input or output. I think you can try the same with the TV RF mod to get some range around your neigborhood.
Those that operate in the cable range will get you taken down real fast. You see as long as it stayed inside the coax it was cable TV. BUT outside that Coax those are Ham Radio frequencies and you will promptly run a foul of the law. We use those frquencies for Amateur TV nation wide...
Thank You ! I wanted to say this too and add that the FCC Fines are Hefty and the FCC is not backing down anymore because you have an inability to pay.
1-40 of 108Next »