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.
<p>I'm gonna try that as well because the wings on mine have sagged with the humidity. </p>
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>Thanks for you</p>
<p>Can anyone tell me how to adjust the little ruler in the PDF file that apeweek provided to match a real ruler? The only adjustment I can find is &quot;zoom&quot; in the PDF itself. How do you adjust a file on the internet with a printer?</p><p>My printout comes out a little off in size.</p>
<p>Setting printer to 96% in your printer setting is accurate.</p>
<p>Don't know if you figured this out already, but if it is printed on legal size (8.5&quot;x14&quot;) paper it will print very close to scale. I printed mine this way and the antenna works great.</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>Tried this with minimal results. It did provide the 3 closest channels to me (all PBS) but no &quot;real&quot; channels. I also tried another idea from the internet - connecting the exposed center coax wire to a grounded switch plate screw and got 2 more channels (uses the grounded electrical system as an antenna). The bow-tie worked great (got all 9 local stations-farthest 75 miles away) and I recommend to all.</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>Run your channel scans at night .. You'll be amazed at just how many channels will pop up, and always point the UHF elements (bow ties) in the direction of the broadcast tower .. Good luck! </p>
It took me more than 15 minutes just tracing and cutting and another 1-1.5 hrs to construct. Are you sure you did this project? Mine works great.
Sorry rockymtns99. I see now you were commenting on the NotTheDude guy.
<p>Well well well, what can I say?</p><p>It works lol.</p><p>I've been having heaps of issues with ABC digital in sthn Bris and while reading this half time at the footy came up so I thought &quot;why not&quot;.</p><p>A dig around in the box of bits secured an old piece of coax so I bared 8&quot; (20cm) and plugged it in.</p><p>The result? </p><p>Perfect reception on every channel!</p><p>I'm sold and a big thanks to NotTheDude for an amazingly simple trick.</p><p>I'll have to dig out the texts now to try and figure out why it works lol.</p><p>(this is bound to take me a lot longer than making my reception work)</p>
<p>I must be on mars then, doesn't work at all. no different than using a coat hanger...</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>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>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>Does anyone know how to adjust printer so that the little ruler at the bottom of each template page in the PDF template file matches a real ruler? I have found no way to adjust the template with a printer. I'm really stumped on this one</p>
<p>Don't know if you figured this out already, but if it is printed on legal size (8.5&quot;x14&quot;) paper it will print very close to scale. I printed mine this way and the antenna works great.</p>
<p>So glad I found this instructable! I built this over the past weekend. For the 4th time in about 6 years, since changing over to DishTV, our local stations were about to be removed due to an argument over how much the local stations want DishTV to pay to include the channels (free OTA channels that are paid for by commercial/ad time)! WTF? So I decided to break free of the reliance on getting local tv from my satellite.</p><p>We live in rural Northern Lower Michigan and all broadcast towers are more than 25 miles away. I tried 2 retail antennae with no real acceptable results. The first was a RCA &quot;rabbit ears&quot; type, &quot;HDTV digital&quot; antenna that was crap - got just 2 so-so stations. The next was a flat panel style with a supposed 50 plus mile reception range - got 3 stations with only 2 acceptable enough to watch (all 3 were PBS channels, nothing for local news).</p><p>I looked to the internet and saw this homemade bow-tie antenna and thought &quot;What have I got to loose?&quot; From the comments here, I felt that my chances were pretty good that it would work better that the other antennae, so I went a step farther and purchaced a 24&quot;x36&quot; piece of corrugated plastic sign material and a gel rapid fuse glue from Lowes (under $10 for both) so I could put it outside, if needed for better reception. To attach the foil I used a can of exterior spray glue that I already had and the balun (not attached in pic) was from an old tv in the house. As you can see from the pictures, it was much sturdier that the cardboard (and more visually acceptable). Total assembly time was about 2 hours.</p><p>First impression after I hooked it up were disappointing. Then I remembered that I have a drop ceiling with metal grid on first floor of house, and a metal layer in the ice shield on the first 5' of my roof. I then took it up to a tv on 2nd floor and a miracle was immediately apparent! I was pointing it in a random area as I connected the antenna when I was suddenly scared by someone talking on the tv program that was being received. It was from the farthest away channel! After a channel scan I was receiving ALL 9 available channels! This means I am getting stations with broadcast towers up to 74 miles away!</p><p>I am going to do some research and learn if there is any way to improve the physical sturdiness of the design to make it stand up to being outside in our rough winters up here. Other than that, I am very pleased in the strength of reception and ease of building it. I think I can add an amplifier and bring a coax cable down to our main TV. THANKS FOR POSTING THIS INSTRUCTABLE!</p>
<p>I forgot to add that I went back and connect each of the retail antennae that I purchased to the same 2nd floor tv. only 5 stations on the rabbit ears, and only 4 on the flat panel. For my need, his bow-tie antenna is amazing!</p>
Hello holly im about 60 miles from any tower and im going to make the bow tie and was wondering if it could be boosted i have a $50.00 amplified and it works kinda alright just wondering if I could do better
<p>Works really well, better than the antenna I had bought to boot!! I was pleasantly surprised! </p>
<p>Thank you to Dave Muse for his original project - http://hubpages.com/art/make-this-powerful-hdtv-antenna-out-of-cardboard</p>
Slapped one together without too much attention to detail. Thought i would get an idea of how well it works before investing much effort. Even with some ragged edges, close enough measurements and folds in the wrong places, it works surprisingly well. I wouldn't post any pictures of this one, but I'm impressed enough that I'll make another that is suitable for public viewing when friends visit. Don't worry about being perfect, it will work.
Forgot to mention the finished antenna is actually quite small.
would this work better or worse if I made the entire thing out of aluminum?

About This Instructable



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