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! 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 boxcutter 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
  • 6 foot coaxial cable
  • *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!

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.
I suppose it would be the dull side, but I can't be certain
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!
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?
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>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>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>I can not find a transformer of this kind, can i make this antenna without a transformer or any alternatives please?</p>
<p>here is the end result</p>
<p>I just finished making one. Works well and picks up 12 channels. Looks nice on the wall too! Here are a few tips I learned on the way to help others make one:</p><p>- when cutting the foil for bow ties, secure them down to the stencil with blue tack, that way you can easily peel it off and separate them without damaging the foil </p><p>- it is worth investing in heavy duty foil since the extra thickness is forgiving when you try to secure it to the cardboard backing</p><p>- I used the double currogated rad board for extra rigidness, if you do this, make sure to make the slots a little larger, you can start slow and make them larger as you fit it to prevent making them too big. I used some heavy duty craft scissors to trim the slots larger</p><p>- after you attach the bow ties to the base, add a bit of crazy glue to the joints to hold them stirty </p><p>- double sided tape works well to attach the foil to the cardboard. Get some GOOD quality tape</p><p>- I used 3M adhesives to attach it to the wall. The ones I used are for picture frames that have Velcro on the one side. This way, I can remove it if I want without damaging the antenna or the wall</p><p>- I used Bristol board on the front to make it look appealing. I picked black so that if I cut too much into the Bristol board and exposed the core (which is white) I could paint it with a black sharpie</p><p>- cit the cardboard with a precision exacto knife with a deep blade. You can then cut with a sawing motion back and forth by moving the blade. This is helpful if you use thick cardboard like me</p><p>- be careful when cutting out the holes in the reflector. I did mine with the foil already attached and it is easy to ruin the foil</p><p>- when you score the bow ties to bend them out, take your time, you can even use a carpenters square. I then put some gorilla glue in the seam and put elastic bands over the bows to compress them together. The next day, they will fold out. I put too much glue and it seeped out the other side so had to cut the excess off</p><p>- just take your time making it. It will turn out better. I made mine over several days. It leaves a little bit of anticipation each day to work on it and excitement to see the end result :)</p><p>I hope these tips help and you enjoy yours as much as I am enjoying mine. Cable is about to go bye bye.</p><p>Good luck!</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?
I built it last week. Still trying to get the most out of it. No more cable soon. Still passed from 5 channels to 11.
Just completed this yesterday. Excellent antenna design! It Added +70 channels, before this and using a paper clip antenna, only received 11 channels. For extra support, a couple of 13&quot; x 1/2&quot; strings were used, each string glued to the counterpart wing, before adding them, everything was falling apart. Thank you HollyMann!
<p>OOOOO WOOOOOW I am gong to try this very soon and thank you</p>
can anyone give me the measuresments for this im using phone and cant print template thanks?
I was skeptical, but I built this and I love it! At first I aimed the antenna the wrong way (backwards) and I still got more channels than my store bought one, around 20. As soon as I directed it the right way, boom, 46 channels clear as a bell. Thanks for the tutorial, now I'm going to go and enjoy some of my favorite shows.
<p>I made it. It works great !</p><p>It gets the same amount of channels as a Amazon prime $30 antenna. So if you have 1-2 hours to kill and all the crap laying around this will work great. It does not need to be 100% perfect cut out and it rocks. </p>
I did NotTheDudes idea. It didnt do jack squat for me. Im very disappointed.
<p>Thanks for sharing this HDTV Antenna design. I did not have any antenna before, so thought to give a try on this one. It is working good, and I am getting around 60 channels. All prime channels with very good quality w/o any signal drop. Initially I was getting less channels but when I aligned this antenna to tower direction, I got all good channels.</p><p>Once again, thanks a lot!! </p>
<p>Thanks for sharing this HDTV Antenna design. I never had any antenna before so thought to give a try on this one. It worked great, and I getting around 60 channels in my location. </p>
<p>NottheDude, the stripped coaxial cable &quot;antenna&quot; is an amazing discovery. I was already experimenting with antennas in my smallish apartment. I had found an excellent commercial antenna giving me 13 of the 15 available channels in Ottawa, with useable to excellent signal strength on all 13 once I located it in one particular area of the apartment window. It is about 20&quot; by 20&quot;. Making your antenna, I found stripping the cable was hard at first (I had to watch a U-tube video to get the idea) and I cut my finger, but it was worth the slight bother and could now do it fairly quickly. RESULT: Using your simple stripped cable antenna in the same spot gave me about 85% as good performance as this commercial antenna (the HD Frequency Cable Cutter), It almost seems impossible but it's true!</p>
<p>I went to a swapmeet and found a splitter with two wires and stripped both and I'm still in the process of finding the right spot to get all of the channels but this idea works really good, I just can't get one channel but the rest come in better than before, my one suggestion is you learn from my mistake and do the stripping or don't do the stripping inside actually if you don't get all the way to the core when you cut the case you'll end up with a little mess to clean up so do the stripping over a trash can so if anything goes flying it goes into the trash, but overall I'm pretty happy I found this and will pass it along to whoever I think wants it</p>
<blockquote><strong><em>which type of ruler you used here?kindly reply me fast..<br></em></strong></blockquote>
<p>kindly reply me fast..</p>
<p>can i use this antenna in any type of television?..is there any restriction to use .</p>
<p>I just made it in a few days and I'm just fourteen years old. I got twenty-four channels FROM MY BASEMENT!!!</p>
<p>I made antenna in a few days and I'm just fourteen years old. Super easy and it got me twenty-four channels FROM MY BASEMENT!!!</p>
<p>&quot;I don't believe it. Prove it to me, and I still won't believe it.&quot; ~Ford Prefect</p><p>Well I don't believe it. Nothing had worked for me. NOTHING. Not store bought antennas, not pie tins, not the stripped coax I ruined. Nothing. But I thought, why not. And it it works! It works great! I mean, I had some channels coming in, but not all of them. Now I have all of them! It really really works. The only alteration I made was using foam board instead of cardboard. I had a cardboard prototype, but it was a bit too flimsy, but showed promise. The rigidity of the foam board seems to have helped as I finally did get all available ota digital channels. Thanks for the post!</p>
I finally finished this up earlier tonight. At first I got a bad signal on one channel. I played with it moving the antenna around and even used a few different cables. Finally I ended up getting 3 channels and so I stopped messing with it for a bit and just watched but suddenly I lost signal to all 3 channels and haven't been able to get them back. Would it make a difference that my transformer is 75-300 Ohm?

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Bio: I will be back on here shortly. I've had some things going on in my life and haven't been on here in a ... More »
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