Introduction: Simple and Cheap Indoor TV Antenna

Picture of Simple and Cheap Indoor TV Antenna

I haven't had a cable TV for the last several years since I found my family didn't need so many (too many) channels and could watch handful of channels for free through antenna. It's called OTA (over the air) channels. You may have to give up some of your favorite channels (I personally miss the Discovery and Family channels) from the cable TV providers, but it's FREE!!  Depending on your location and orientation of the antenna, you could get several to over 30 channels.

There are commercial products both indoor and outdoor.  The outdoor antennas certainly work (much) better than indoor antennas because their elevation from the ground is high so they can catch more signals and there is no obstacles such as wall or house structures compared to the indoor antennas.

But the indoor antennas have their own benefits: 1) you don't have to climb up the roof to install and maintain it; 2) you don't have to worry about thunder or lightening; 3) it's relatively cheaper than outdoor ones because it doesn't need long cable and fixture material.

So, as long as your location is in or near urban area and you have a proper spot inside your house to put it and want to create your own antenna with various shapes and sizes, give an indoor FREE TV antenna a try!

Here is my version.

The aluminum foil in the kitchen is always handy. I needed a support to attach two pieces of aluminum foil and found a piece of cardboard box. The size of each side of the aluminum foil is 250mm x 215mm. I didn’t test other than this size but it works good enough. You may want to try different size and shape of similar design for your TV. I could get over 20 channels with this.

Step 1: Previous Version

Picture of Previous Version

I moved to this new house a few months ago and as soon as we moved in, I quickly made this antenna.

I found this TV antenna design from internet some time ago and it really works quite well. A matching transformer in the middle in this picture is missing since I have already removed it to a new design. This one works fine but I don’t want to put this one on top of the roof because I don’t want to take any risk of thunder or even climbing up to the roof, nor to hang it on the living room wall because it is not that small (about 1m high) and doesn’t look pretty. So I decided to test very simple antenna that is cheap, small enough to be hidden behind a picture frame, and indoor.

Step 2: Parts List

I collected parts from my junk drawers and kitchen.

What you need are:
1) aluminum foil for food wrap
2) a piece of cardboard box
3) a TV impedance matching transformer (aka Balun) (I bought one from ebay for less than $2.00 with free shipping but you can buy one from local hardware or electronics store)
4) some wire (any size, 22-18 wire gauge work great)
5) TV connect cable
6) small screws and nuts (any size of your choice, if you don't have any, never mind, you can simply wrap wire through holes)
6) scissors, tape, hot glue

Step 3: Steps

Picture of Steps
It's quite simple to make so I didn't separate steps but listed below with a picture.
  1. The first step is to cut two pieces of the aluminum foil.  The size of each side of the aluminum foil is 250mm x 215mm but you can try bigger or smaller than these.
  2. Cut a piece of cardboard box to support the aluminum foil you just cut.  Put about 1cm gap between the foils as shown in the picture and attach them on the cardboard using any tape. You can use metallic foil tape around the edge but do not use metallic tape between the gap.
  3. Next, make small holes on the bottom edge close to the center for wire connection.  You can use small screws and nuts to make contacts of wire to the aluminum foil, but if you don't have any proper screws and nuts, you can strip wire long enough (say 3-5cm) and wrap the wire through the holes, twist the wire tightly and attach a piece of tape on top of it so that the wire and the foil make good contact.
  4. Now you have two short wires attached to each aluminum foil.  If you look at the transformer, there are two wires and a female TV cable connector. Connect these wires to the wires you just attached to the foil antenna.
  5. Using a hot glue gun or tape, you can finalize and secure the transformer and wires neatly.

That's pretty much everything for the antenna part.

If your TV is on the 2nd floor or 1st floor, you can directly connect this antenna through a regular TV antenna cable.  Once you connect the new antenna, do an auto-channel-scan.

Next steps will show you how I connected the antenna to the TV through cables the builder had already installed in the house and why.

Step 4: Connect the Antenna (1st Floor) and the TV (basement)

Picture of Connect the Antenna (1st Floor) and the TV (basement)

My family moved to this new house a few months ago. Since it is a brand new house, all the cable outlets on the walls in the living room (over the fireplace), in the master bedroom, and in the basement remain unconnected and exposed in front of the switch panel (power distribution panel) in the basement.

I wanted to put the TV in the basement and wanted to put the antenna as high as possible and hopefully to be able to hide the antenna such as behind a picture frame (I don’t have it yet though.) above the fireplace.

So I tested all the cables using my multimeter and identified which one was which and connected the two cables, one from the living room and one from the basement, and connected together (core and core together AND shield and shield mesh) as shown in the pictures.

In the pictures, I used a heat shrink tubes to cover the connections, but if you don't have them, you can use any electrical tape.  Personally, I don't like the electrical tape because they are sticky (-ier later) and hard to remove later and make it dirty.

Step 5: Result

Picture of Result


Ramsym (author)2017-10-07

this looks quite easy

hamfisted (author)2016-08-15

I'm going to be making this ariel after seeing the success my friend had with his.

Will this ariel still work as well if I spray it matt black so that it might look better?

JeonLab (author)hamfisted2016-08-15

Those spray paint you can buy from a hardware store are normally non-conductive, so it won't affect on the antenna. But somehow, if the spray paint you want to use is conductive, just be careful not to spray on the connector.

ParthA13 (author)2016-06-14

Can i made it without using transfomer

JeonLab (author)ParthA132016-06-14

I have tried once without the transformer and it still worked for those channels that their stations are close to my place.

HarbinR (author)2016-06-09

Its really amazing but i feel those will not help with better quality and clearance. YuppTV, which is offering the Indian TV Channels includes Tamil TV Channels also needed when we are in abroad to watch our favorite Tamil TV Show.

boltgunner (author)2016-03-04

Do the 250 mm edges or the 215 mm edges face each other at the gap?

JeonLab (author)boltgunner2016-03-06

That's 215mm edge.

blperry2001 (author)2016-01-28

To improve my signal reception for my OTA antenna. I went to Walmart and bought ($15) an RCA amplifier and now I get 65 (TampaBay FL) Channels. 5 months now and I don't miss paying that monthly fee to my carrier.

ender_scythe (author)2015-12-06

I have some RF cables, could I use these instead of the Balun? The RF cable is the cable with the single copper wire in the middle, it screws onto it's connector. I have some alligator clips to aid the construction.

Oh and what channels do you recieve?

JeonLab (author)ender_scythe2015-12-06

I have about 27 channels including some shopping channels. The most strong signal channels are 2-1, 2-2, 4-1, 7-1, 7-2, 9-1, 11-1, 11-2, 20-1, 50-1, 56-1, 56-2, 56-3, 62-1, 62-2.

ender_scythe (author)JeonLab2015-12-09

cool, oh and I tried it with the Coax cable, I got 28 channels with a smaller antenna (I probably live close to several stations).

JeonLab (author)ender_scythe2015-12-06

The RF cable is just a coaxial wire. As you said, the core wire and shield outside. The Balun is, on the other hand, a type of transformer. The antenna inlet on a TV and this type of home made antenna has different impedance and they are not balanced. That's why you need a balancer (a.k.a. Balun). So you will need a Balun. However, I would try without a balun. Depending on how close your location is to those towers, I'm sure you can get some channels. Give it a try without one.

Veeresh PA (author)2015-12-06

Sir, i didnt find matching transformer in my area. What can i do. Can i try without that. Pls suggest me.

JeonLab (author)Veeresh PA2015-12-07

I have tried before without the transformer and it worked, but less channels. It depends on how your location is close to those towers. So give it a try. Good luck.

BryanB7 (author)2015-11-17

I used your antenna on my scanner. It improved my scanner range by 52% . Thank you so much. I will try any thing once

JeonLab (author)BryanB72015-11-17

I'm glad my Instructable helps someone. But what scanner did you mean? TV channel scanner maybe?

BryanB7 (author)JeonLab2015-11-18

Thank you so much. I have been trying to increase the range on my scanner for years now but nothing worked. So I took a chance with your antenna and it works fantastic. So it dose not just work on TV.'s

rivera82falcon (author)2015-09-08

I'm getting ready to "cut the cord" and this design is simple and very well done! How far are you from a tower? I'm between 25-50 miles from at least five towers but curious if i'll reach any. Also, do you believe a matching transformer would work just as well with this design or should I order a TV Impedance like you did?

JeonLab (author)rivera82falcon2015-09-08

I don't know how far my house is from those towers, but 25-50miles sounds a little too far to me. I would do some test first before cutting the cord if you meant your cable. Just unplug the cable from the back of you TV and insert a wire (20-24 gauge) on the antenna plug center core. The longer the higher the better. If you can get at least a few good signal with it, you are good to go. Regarding the matching transformer, if you have one handy already, give it a try. I think it will work. Good luck and enjoy!!

rivera82falcon (author)JeonLab2015-09-08

Thanks for the reply. I should be attempting this this week and will return with results. Thanks again.

kingkaushal (author)2015-07-18

does it work in other countries I mean in india??

JeonLab (author)kingkaushal2015-07-18

If the digital TV frequency in India is the same range as in North America, it will work.

kingkaushal (author)JeonLab2015-07-18

ok thanks man but I don't know about this frecvansy of India or NA... can you please upload videos of making progress please

JeonLab (author)kingkaushal2015-07-19

Sorry I didn't make any video for this Instructable. The pictures shown in these steps are all I have. Regarding the frequencies in your country, I don't know either. Try Wikipedia or Google.

kingkaushal (author)kingkaushal2015-07-18

if you find more about this type project please share or I wish there is one video for making this it's help me

ranjith r n (author)2015-06-26

Is it possible to work in Indian T v

JeonLab (author)ranjith r n2015-06-26

I think it will work, but I'm not sure.

Mac36795 (author)2015-05-22

pbalu1 made it! (author)2015-04-25

bro I am interested in this type of antenna. how can I spend money for antenna

DanM2 (author)2014-11-27

not sure why you cut the coax, if you bought the balun, you could have bought a splitter. The way you did it will mess with the 50 ohm impedance of the coax. Your signal would improve with the splitter.

JeonLab (author)DanM22014-11-28

Well, as of today, I have 26 channels with this antenna, so I'm satisfied and not planning any improvement at this moment. Thanks for your comment.

DanM2 (author)2014-11-27

would love to see an nec2 simulation of it.

rimar2000 (author)2012-10-08

Awesome! Congratulations.

You would redo the union in step 4, these coaxial cables require the outer mesh lead be always around the inner. As you did, the inner cable could receive interferences (athmospheric or house) in that joint.

JeonLab (author)rimar20002012-10-09

Thank you for your comment and that's exactly why I wrapped the shield cable with the foil.

ricoderick (author)JeonLab2014-03-20

size of the wire top of the cardboard? please

JeonLab (author)ricoderick2014-03-22

That's 22 gauge.

rimar2000 (author)JeonLab2012-10-10

Forgive me, I did not see that.

audreyobscura (author)2012-10-08

This is nice, I also like the profile of your antenna design. Thanks for the share.

JeonLab (author)audreyobscura2012-10-09


AtomRat (author)2012-10-09

Great antenna, thank you very much for this simple design. I can use it in many situations if a quick one is needed that I can make out of scrap

JeonLab (author)AtomRat2012-10-09


Melibokus (author)2012-10-09

It es pragmatic an great. To transfer this idea with other frequencies, especially the wlan 2.4 GHz, what are the TV frequencies for this antenna ? MfG Melibokus

JeonLab (author)Melibokus2012-10-09

The channels I got are from 2 to 62. According to the TV channel frequency table from Wikipedia (, it will be roughly 50-800MHz.

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