Introduction: Powerful Modern Homemade HDTV Antenna
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)
- 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!
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Step 2: Cut Out Main Piece for HDTV Antenna
First you will need to cut out a piece of cardboard that is 13 x 14 inches. There is no pattern for this one. After cutting it out, then you'll want to attach aluminum foil to the back of it. I used my wood glue sparingly and attached the foil and smoothed it out. Then, flipped it over and painted it. If you want to decorate the front with markers or construction paper, feel free to do that. I then set it aside to let it dry.
If you haven't printed out your pattern yet, please do so.
Step 3: Cut Out Pieces for Antenna
First cut out your pattern pieces. Then take the pattern for the cardboard and lay it onto the cardboard. You may want to secure it down with a couple pieces of tape. Then, trace the pattern and cut it out. I used my box cutters to cut it out. You need two cardboard pieces cut out which contain the main longer piece and two wings that are attached. You should also cut out two of the mounting bracket pieces.
After cutting out the cardboard pieces, then you'll need to do the same with the foil. Use a scissors, not box cutters for this as they tend to cause ripping. You don't want to tear the foil at all.
At this point you should have two main cardboard pieces with the wings on them, two foil pieces which look similar to the cardboard ones and two mounting brackets. There is also a pattern piece for a stand if you want to use it you can.
Step 4: Shaping the Wings
If you notice on the pattern pieces for the wings, you will see that there are dashed lines which represent score marks. Try to fold the pattern inward and mark with a pencil onto your carboard wings where these lines are. Then, carefully and slowly take your box cutters and cut into the cardboard (but not all the way). Be careful! Once you do all four score marks, then flip the cardboard over and you can shape the wings properly. See image for details on how to do that.
After shaping it the way you want it, then add a little glue to the scored area to keep it secure. The sides of each wing should make an angle of approximately 90 degrees to each other. They're likely to spread out a little though - so to secure it at the correct angle, you should use some glue and hold it to dry. Hot glue would be good for this.
Step 5: Glue Foil to Back of Pieces
Now you'll want to carefully glue the main foil pieces with the wings on them, to the back of the cardboard winged pieces. Please note that the foil will not cover all of the long middle cardboard piece - as it is smaller than the cardboard piece. It will be flush with the side that is closest to the wings. Try to make the foil lay flat and smooth it out as much as possible. It's best to use a thin layer of glue. Set it aside to let it dry for a little while.
Step 6: Painting and Mounting Brackets
At this point, I painted the mounting brackets. Then, I checked if the main piece which is 13 x 14 inches was dry. Once it was dry, I then set it in front of me so that it was 13 inches long (from left to right) and 14 inches tall. I then used the pattern to cut out the areas where the brackets would go. I traced this area and then carefully used the box cutters to cut them out.
Next, I painted the other two main pieces which had the wings on the sides. I let that sit for a while to dry. Then, I took the mounting brackets and placed them in the slots. Please see images. I basically turned the mounting bracket sideways so I could get it into the hole in the main piece, then straightened it out. I made sure to keep it at the top of the rectangular hole and it stuck out quite far in the front of the main piece. If the slits in the sides of the mounting brackets are too small and the fit is too tight, feel free to cut them a little larger so it fits nicely. You can then add a few drops of glue to the sides of it and to the area where the box is folded outward holding it up. This just makes it even more secure.
Once everything is solid and dry, you can then attach the main pieces to the body.
Step 7: The Wiring for the Antenna
First, attach the two main side pieces with the wings to the mounting brackets at the slots. If you need to make the slots larger to make it fit well, you can do that. It's a good idea to add a couple drops of glue to secure it where the mounting bracket meets the main pieces. Then let it dry.
Lastly, the wiring is actually very simple. You'll see on the pattern piece that there is a circle on the pattern to show the center of the long cardboard piece that goes along the middle of the antenna. The circle is about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch in from the side. Use your pattern to mark that spot on your two main winged pieces. Then, use a drill to make two holes through those spots. Then the screws will need to be put through those holes. Then, take out your transformer which has the coax plug on one side and twin lead on the other. Take the twin lead wires - place washers on the back side of where the screws were put through the cardboard, then attach one of the wires from the transformer and tighten it on with a bolt. Do the same for the other side with the screw. You'll now have the transformer hanging there - and ready to be plugged in!
Take it over to your TV and plug in your coaxial cable to the other end of the transformer. Take the other end of the coax and plug it into your TV antenna spot. That's it!!! You are done!
This antenna is amazing and completely surpassed all my expensive store-bought ones! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! This project saved me a lot of money and I no longer have to deal with the old antenna problems and annoyances. I had a lot of issues with my antenna(s) and now I know I can make more of these (and this can be modified) for my other TVs in the house. Let me know how yours turn out too!