Total DTV for Less Than $20





Introduction: Total DTV for Less Than $20

The recent change to the way broadcast television is transmitted has got a lot of people freaking out. This Instructable is a start to finish guide to getting your current television DTV compatible and fully functional. If you already have a DTV compatible television then the steps regarding the Converter box can be ignored.

1. Get Converter Box Coupon
2. Quench your thirst
3. Amazon a Box
4. Collect a few materials
5. Voila!!!

Step 1: Get a Converter Box

1. go to before the end of July 2009 and apply for a coupon.

2. When you receive it purchase a converter box

- I bought a Tivax STB-T8 Digital to Analog TV Converter Box at
- After the coupon and saver shipping $9.99

Step 2: Quench the Thirst

First you must get two can's of Arizona Ice Tea or equivalent sized aluminum cans.

Okay, I don't recommend drinking 2 of these 23.5 ounce cans of Ice Tea in one sitting, but who am I to argue if you are this excited.

Technical Details
I found a similar design using two halves of a beer can, I have since forgot the site. But I did some digging and found some information to help me design this and figure out why it works.

UHF (Ultra High Frequency) is the frequencies that the FCC has reserved for the new Digital Television Formats to be transmitted on.

These frequencies range from 300Mhz to 3,000 MHz (3Ghz). This means the wave ranges from 10cm to 1 meter in length, making two of these aluminum cans end to end along with some 18 gauge speaker wire a perfect way to intercept these waves

Step 3: Cut Your Can

Cut 1/3 of the can away.

I haven't really tested effect of the cutting the can vs leaving it whole has on the signal quality, but I can say that the 2/3 of Aluminum Can is how I cut it and I get excellent signals in a basement.

Feel free to experiment and comment on this.

Step 4: Wire the Cans

Note:Check Step 5 and 6 before wiring the Can, you may want to feed the speaker wire into the tube first

Get a 10 foot section of 2 conductor speaker wire. This can be picked up at any local electronics store i.e. radio shack.

1. Peal the two conductors apart at one end about 5 to 10 inches (or what ever you are comfortable with).
2. Strip each conductor 1.5 to 2 Inches
3. Loop them securely around the tab of the cans (one conductor to Can 1 and the other to Can 2, see image)

Step 5: Acquire a Tube

Not a necessary step, but a cardboard tube makes a great home for this. (makes it look less messy)

Many companies that handle their own shipping may send and receive items in these tubes, so ask your company or a local small business if you don't want to buy one.

approximately 3 1/4 inches in diameter

Step 6: Drill a Wire Hole

Using a drill, make a small hole in the center (end to end) of the tube and feed the loose end of the speaker wires through the hole.

You may find it easier to feed the speaker wire prior to connecting it to the Cans

Wire the loose ends to a terminal to coaxial connector ($4 or $5 at radio shack)

Step 7: Connect Your New Dipole Antenna

Connect your newly created antenna to your converter Box or your DTV.

I'll Post images of the signal Strength on both my converter box and my DTV when I get a chance.

$2 for Ice tea
$9.99 for converter Box (Shipped)
$4 for Antenna Connector
<$4 of speaker wire

Hillbilly Antenna for your Digital TV, Priceless :-) Enjoy!!

(Spray Paint as needed)

Step 8: Results

As promised here are some results from INDOOR use of my antenna.

At my Home I was able to get all but one of the "Strong" Signals, None of the Weak. Almost all the channels have -2 and some have -3, but they are the same signal as the -1's

I got the signal information from here, just enter your ZipCode

Signal Strengths As reported by my Tivax STB-T8

2-1 : 100 %
4-1 : 100 %
7-1 : 100 %
20-1: 30-60 %
38-1: No Signal
50-1: 100 %
56-1: ~55 %
62-1: ~60 %

The Rural Area I was able to test my results against a Philips Magnavox Antenna to see if there was a noticeable difference.

9-1 : 70-100 %

9-1 : <50 % (I had to fuss with it quite a bit)

If I brought this to the roof I may have had better results. Also an addition might be to make two of these and connect them in parallel and configure them one on top of another 90 degrees out of phase, so you don't have to adjust for different sources of the signals.

Hope this helps.



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    Please be positive and constructive.




    It bothers me to a degree that a soda can picks up these frequencies so well. I wonder how it might affect our food?

    Food??? I hope you're joking, right? Break out the foil hats... No differently than any other RF signal that has ever been transmitted. We're not talking microwaves here. Even that has been broadcast for decades and occurs naturally.

    No no no, its not the radio waves that bother me, its the fact that a soda can picks it up so well.

    well it is the 4th highest electrical conductor out there

    I guess just to be safe you shouldn't drink from any 2/3 aluminum cans.


    Priceless! love it man!

    "No way to prove"?  Just put your cell on Silent and get a call without answering it-if he passes out, that's proof.  If he doesn't, that's proof as well.

    What do you think the underground electrical wire is made out of??? Aluminum. Copper and Aluminum are the two top conductors used in conducting electricity. I'd be more worried about plastic bottles than aluminum cans.

    I have a digital TV but the screen is broken,is there anyway I can use the parts to make my own analog to digital box?Anybody?