TV Antennas have been around for many years - and people have tried all sorts of unsightly things to "fix" them or make them work better - anything from attaching a metal clothes hangar to aluminum foil! I realized it doesn't work and I don't want to waste my money on more of these faulty antennas. Sometimes the best way to fix something is to Do It Yourself!!!

I decided to get rid of cable television many months ago. My local cable company convinced me to pay $10 a month for local channels - it seemed alright. Antennas seemed to be a thing of the past - didn't even think about trying to use one. So, a few months went by and the lovely cable company raised my local channel price to $35 a month; ridiculous for a few channels. I got rid of it and purchased an antenna. The first one hardly got a channel - and it had horrible reception. Wasted money on a second one - which I used for a while. But, if my cat would walk near the window, the channels wouldn't work. I'd have to move the thing constantly to try to get reception - even then it would go out many times. I put aluminum foil all over it and looked crazy and horrendous - and that didn't help. I really wanted to watch Masterchef!

So, I researched all over the web and I found some info on how to make a modern-looking HDTV antenna out of cardboard and aluminum foil. I mentioned it to my dad and he laughed at first - but after he heard about how mine turned out, he wants me to make him one! I read a ton of comments from people who had made this type of antenna, and they were raving about how it was better than their high-end $70 one! So, I must give big thanks and credit to the guy who created this design here - thank you so much for sharing this with the world! You can also get the template there as well. The instructions were great, but I am not good with electronics and the fact that I was able to do this - means it is simple! I hope my guide here and pictures will help those who are like me, and need things broken down even more. I tried to take lots of clear pictures.

Before we start, I just want to say that after plugging this in, without even placing it up high or in any certain direction or special location - I got more channels than I've ever received on that TV. I have more channels than what I had when I paid the cable company for them! They are all crystal clear - I love it! Also, don't forget to rescan for channels after hooking this up - that also increased the number of channels I received.

Step 1: Materials Needed for HDTV Antenna


  • A few feet of cardboard
  • Cardboard cutting Materials - scissors and box-cutter work well
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Glue (I used wood glue - it's super strong)
  • Drill
  • two screws with nuts and washers
  • 75 to 300 Ohm UHF/VHF Matching Transformer (about $5 online or $6 at Radio Shack) - here is a popular one on Amazon: 75 to 300 Ohm UHF/VHF Matching Transformer
  • 4 or 6 foot coaxial cable (any size is fine as long as it reaches) - if you don't have one, here's one on Amazon: Coaxial Cable (4 Feet)
  • *Optional: paint, markers or special paper to decorate the front of it

You can download the pattern for the cardboard and aluminum foil pieces here - at the designer's site. Thanks again to the designer for making that available! We really appreciate it! Keep reading to follow my own step-by-step process for making this! And, thanks to all the commenters for your insight and extra ideas!

Holly Mann is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Very cool! Does it matter what side of the foil you glue down - the shinny side or the dull side?
I glued the shiny side of the wings to the cardboard and the dull side of the main back piece to the cardboard and it still works great. I think it doesn't matter because it's the fact that it's metal that picks up the signal.
I don't think it matters - but I did glue the dull side to the cardboard.
thanks to sharing this ! the antenna work well you made my day ! i want hug you so much you so beauty women also !
This got me curious. Worth giving it a shot :D
I built one and it works GREAT! THANKS!!!
Yay that is great to hear!!!! Wonderful!
<p>Its dark so I dont have a photo, but I made this antenna,..... I beefed it up, structurally, and put it where an LMB goes on a satellite dish.works great out in the middle of nowhere! </p>
It may not look as cool as this or other homemade HDTV antennas, but you can save yourself the cost of buying anything new and the work it takes to put one of these things together by simply taking a spare coaxial cable and cutting about 8 inches of insulation off the end so you have the center wire exposed. Then move it around until you get the best reception. You will not believe it until you try it, but this works better than any other antenna I have ever used for over-the-air digital TV. <br> <br>I have tried every antenna possible from dollar store 10 buck antennas to $50 Phillips HDTV indoor/outdoor antenna and the bare wire works better than them all (even when I put the $50 antenna on my roof). I have removed the insulation from about a dozen or so coaxial cables for friends and families over the past 4 years and they are all still using them because they work better than anything else.they have bought themselves. <br> <br>I would make an indestructible for this, but it's so easy I couldn't explain it any better except to take a picture of it. I will say that it can be hard to slide the entire 8 inches of insulation off the end all at once so just cut an inch or two of the insulation at a time and it comes off pretty easily. <br> <br>Try it and you will be surprised how well it works. What do you have to lose?
<p>I tried the coax antenna from NotTheDude and it works perfectly. It works better than the $50 (soon to be trashed) HD antenna that I have on another TV. The best part, a cable company that I had in the past supplied the coax. </p>
<p>I tried the coax antenna from NotTheDude and it works perfectly. It works better than the $50 (soon to be trashed) HD antenna that I have on another TV. The best part, a cable company that I had in the past supplied the coax. </p>
<p>Thanks for the idea. I tried this and I got nothing when I did an channel search. How long was your coax? Only invested 15min and $0 so, it was worth the shot. It may have something to do with my location (flat Delaware - 40+ miles from stations).</p>
<p>Do I need a digital converter box or is this coaxial cable only attached to TV? My Toshiba TV was made in 2007 so its considered 'old' by LCD TV standards.</p>
<p>look up your lcd's model number and see if it has an NTSC tuner, if it does, then you are good to go, you will not need a converter. because it is already built in.</p>
So, I tried this, and what did I have to lose? A previously useful coax cable! I did get ONE channel with it. And then buried my &quot;experiment&quot; in the recycle bin so my husband wouldn't ask embarrassing questions. <br>He mocked my antenna making efforts while making HollyMann's antenna, but when I got 30 channels, and they are super clear compared to what the cable company was giving us, he stopped laughing. <br>The only downside, is which channels I get depends heavily on the direction the antenna faces. Right now I have it angled to get most channels...all except ABC. But I'm gonna have to reorient it once The Bachelor season starts! <br>
<p>perhaps you can make two antennas and orient each differently and connect them to TV via a splitter with two inputs and one output.</p>
<p>I was going to try my hand at Holly's lovely arts and crafts products but then I saw NotTheDude's post and I had tons of old cable wire on hand and a spare 30 seconds so I decided to try his plan because as he said &quot;What do you have to lose?&quot; Not much to lose but certainly I gained a bit. Try 39 crystal clear free channels including all the major local networks. I extend my thanks to NotTheDude for the great and inexpensive solution and thanks to Holly because her post led me to this comment.</p>
<p>I must admit, NotTheDude's antenna works great! It's pretty sad when a &quot;nontenna&quot; works better than any of the storebought antennae I have tried -- even the amplified omni-directional ones! Granted, I don't get every channel but I get most of them without having to constantly re-adjust it.</p>
<p>This tip worked amazingly! Thank you! I had been fighting with my store bought amplified antenna for weeks with no luck in getting more than 6 channels. I followed your instructions and hooked up the coax cable, and now I have every single channel coming through flawlessly. Thanks again.</p>
@Not the dude This worked extremely well! Would recommend if you dont want to do the nicer one. Thanx!!
<p>You are right. I would not have believed it until I tried it. It works as good as any antenna I have had. I am 30 miles from stations and pick up 23.</p>
<p>Thanks NotTheDude! I had a spare room and I didn't want to pay for another satellite receiver. Got a bunch of channels from your simple tip. :)</p>
<p>Worked great, <a href="http://www.instructables.com/member/NotTheDude/" rel="nofollow">NotTheDude</a>; way better than the factory made antenna. And I didn't have to go out any buy any more parts. I live about 30 miles from the towers that broadcast the signals and I got all the hard to reach channels I was trying to get. Thanks!</p>
<p>Thanks for posting this simple solution. I just tried it and it worked very well. I immediately got better reception than my $50 RadioShack antenna. How is this not more widely known?!?! I will be happy to give you credit, but where/ how did you discover this? Just curious. </p>
<p>It worked great for me. All the channels were found with best quality. Took me 2 min to make that antenna. The only problem is that it works if the open cable sits just in the middle of the wall :) Will try to move it around and find a place where it also works but not that visible. Thanks again.</p>
@NotTheDude... Thank you, thank you, thank you! It works brilliantly. I am 62 and have fkd with antennas my entire life. I refuse to pay for cable. Years before cable became reality the propaganda was &quot;TV with no commercials!&quot; Huh! Now we have to pay for TV with commercials? Ugh! No way. So I have tried many. My space currently faces the wrong way to receive half the stations in the Bay Area and with digital, new antennas, so they have said. Everyone has failed from repeatedly moving to adjust reception and breaks. None work well. When our new flat panel failed, from a loose wire I assume, i broke the wires connecting three different rigs and was on the verge of giving up. I looked up DIY solutions here on instructibles, saw your response and cut away on an extra coaxial cable as prescribed and viola! ...awesome!. Makes me think the manufacturers and industry are just friggin' wack job thieves or ...maybe you've made a super simple discovery!!!. In any sense i will repost this to friends on FaceBrick. Awesome disclosure man. This event inspires me to return and follow up on some instructibles which I have long postponed but will have time to post in the next few months. Cheers!
Yay! So happy you made on and are enjoying the reception quality! :) I have had tons of problems with antennas until this one - so I am really happy with it! Great reception and lots of channels! I also refuse to pay for cable and despise the commercials!!!
My dad said he's tried this but it didn't help him too much with channels or reception...
Best antenna I've ever seen wasn't an antenna at all, or even anything A/V. Got bored one summer (out in the sticks), teenage imagination. Took the 2 lead wire that went to the tree-like thing on the roof and you had to turn a knob on a clunky plastic box to turn that antenna, which was always breaking something... anyway, took that wire and attached one lead to each post on an old alternator (copper windings?). Never saw such a crisp clear signal. Dad wondered why the old farm truck wouldn't start though... <br>Nice post. Going to try it out. Happiness. B&gt;}
Sounds interesting - if it works - awesome!
<p>NotTheDude is the best. Antenna works great!</p>
<p>This instructable is a little old, but I made it, finished today, tried, tested, works perfectly. We were going to purchase one for our entertainment at a cabin we own that we did not want the expense of additional sattilite service for our TV. Since this works well here at home in our basement I'm fairly confident it will work there as well.</p>
<p>its nice information to make tv antenna yourself.<br>but you can make this like ANTENA TV BAGUS WAJANBOLIC<br>maybe ANTENA TV BAGUS WAJANBOLIC can help your problem<br><a href="http://antenatv-rakitan.blogspot.com" rel="nofollow">http://antenatv-rakitan.blogsp...</a></p>
<p>Is there a formula to calculate? Say, if I would like to receive 433MHz. What should be the dimensions of my antenna? Thanks.</p>
<p>I made it and it totally works! My neighbor said that you couldn't get broadcast TV (we live 60 miles out from an antenna in a valley) and another neighbor had to strap a huge antenna on his roof. I made it and got 32 crystal clear channels. <br><br>However, since I have moved it does not work. The antenna is pretty chinzy so I don't know if it's just falling apart or the location (all the neighbors have antenna towers). I will make another out of wood and report back in.</p>
<p>At first I was skeptical, but this antenna works wonders. It picked up 22 stations at 5 feet high through a block house (SWFL):<br>11.1 WINK HD</p><p> 11.2 WINK D2 </p><p> 20.1 WBBH-HD </p><p> 20.2 WBBH-SD </p><p> 26.1 WZVN-HD </p><p> 26.2 WZVN </p><p> 30.1 WGCU-HD </p><p> 30.2 WORLD </p><p> 30.3 CREATE </p><p> 30.4 FLCH </p><p> 36.1 WFTX-DT </p><p> 36.2 LATV-DT </p><p> 36.3 LAFF-DT </p><p> 43.1 WWDT CD </p><p> 46.1 WXCW HD </p><p> 46.2 MMAX HD </p><p> 49.1 WRXY DT </p><p> 49.2 CTNi </p><p> 49.3 SEE/Lif </p><p> 51.1 WLZE-LD </p><p> 51.2 ELZE </p><p>Connected it to my SiliconDust HDTC-2US and connect to it via Plex Media Server :)</p><p> 51.3 AYITI </p>
<p>I think i need to apologize for this one in advance but you see I was surfing the net and eating pizza when I came across this post and well...</p><p>Now I went with pepperoni, mushrooms, olives but i can totally see how the addition of bacon would help :)</p>
<p>I can not find a transformer of this kind, can i make this antenna without a transformer or any alternatives please?</p>
<p>Take a coaxial cable. connect the core of coaxial cable with one bolt and other will be grounded,using a copper plate. and other end of coaxial cable will be connected to set-top box or TV.. Just a trial and error method!! </p><p>I am trying the same thing,let me know if it worked with you!</p><p>Thank you!</p>
<p>Go to your local dollar store, I KID YOU NOT.</p>
works better than the amplified one I had before. I just used some tin sheeting I had for the aerials.
<p>Hello,</p><p>i loved the way use made an antenna. So the bolts are connected directly to the tin and the clips and and coaxial cable is connected to the other end! I am looking forward to make this antenna and the other one too,as suggested by the author!! Cool,thanks for sharing.</p><p>Thank you!</p>
<p>I am making a &quot;Free Electricity Circuit(CONVERSION OF RF WAVES TO DC)&quot;. My Professor said me instead of using a copper wire suspended in space use an antenna. Now the question is, Will this antenna help me to convert receiving RF waves to DC? Or Can I use this antenna?? Professor also said to add a multiplier at the end of circuit to to get maximum voltage!! </p><p>Thank You!!</p>
<p>I tried both the bowtie and NotTheDude's whip antenna. Here are the surprising results along with some more ideas for the whip: http://www.thewizardsmanse.com/fun-with-hdtv-antennas/</p>
I just finished this antenna today. I hooked it up and had my TV search for channels. I still got the same 0 channels that I got with the cheap antenna I bought. Any suggestions?
If your TV is an older analog TV you need to buy a digital converter box. These can be found cheap online.
<p>Thank you for your reply. My TV is actually a fairly new HDTV that I purchased about two years ago.</p>
<p>If you have a smart phone, go to google play and download DTV Antennas (free), it will ask you for your area code and it will show which direction your nearest stations are.</p>
<p>Can there be multiple pieces of aluminum foil overlapping or does it all have to be one big piece?</p>

About This Instructable



Bio: Army Vet. I love learning & being creative.
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