Introduction: Emergency TV Antenna

About: There are some things you should just NEVER do.....


Forgot to pay the cable bill one too many times?

Just moved into new housing and want to watch TV right now!?

Fed up with cable?


You want television right now! What can you do?

Well you can rely on handy everyday household objects to get you up and watching TV immediately!

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Step 1: Materials

You will need:

1. A metal clothes hanger

2. Some sandpaper or an emery board

3. A small shinny metal paperclip (A large 'regular' one can be used but is more likely to damage the antenna connector on your TV - so I prefer, and recommend, using a small one.) And possibly pliers to bend it.

4. Cellophane (aka 'Scotch') tape (Optional)

Step 2: Remove Coating From Coat Hanger

Take the sandpaper or emery board and rub the bottom (underside) surface of the hook of the metal coat hanger. This would be the surface that would touch the rod you would hang it on.

You want to be able to contact the bare metal and most hangers have a coating on them. Keep sanding until you see shiny bare metal.

Step 3: Unwind the Coat Hanger

Hold onto the hook of the coat hanger and twist the body to unwind the wire joint so that the coat hanger becomes a long piece of bent wire instead of a closed loop. But don't straighten it out, just undo the connection.

Step 4: Bend Paperclip

Take a small paperclip and unwind it so that it looks kind-of-like an 'S'. Or maybe a saxophone?!

Note that the short end is bent at a 90 degree angle and the bent portion is about 1/4 inch long. This is the part you will be inserting into the center of the antenna coaxial connector on your TV.

Step 5: Locate Your TV Coaxial Connector

Look on the back of your TV and find the coaxial connector labeled 'Antenna In' or 'Cable' or something similar. It looks like the silver threaded cylindrical object shown in the photo above. This is a coaxial connector for your antenna/cable connection.

Step 6: Apply Tape

Place a piece of cellophane (aka. 'Scotch') tape over the end of the coaxial connector. This is to prevent the paperclip from shorting the center contact to the outer rim of the connector.

As mentioned, this step is optional since you can 'plug in' your paperclip without having it touch the edge of the threaded connector, but it helps insure that you don't defeat your emergency antenna by shorting across the antenna input.

Step 7: Install Paperclip

Take your small paperclip that you have bent into such a fancy shape and push the short 90 degree bent portion of it into the small hole at the center of the antenna coaxial connector. It should slide in very easily. If it does not go in easily, don't force it, you don't want to damage your TV. You may have to pay for cable after all :-(

You have effectively created a 'hook' hanging off of your 'antenna-in port.'

Step 8: Hang Your Hanger

Now you can hang your unwound coat hanger onto the 'antenna hook' you have just created.

You have now finished the 'electrical' portion of this Instructable and have constructed a small antenna connected to your TV.

Step 9: 'Roll the Dice' and See What Comes Up!

Now its time to use the auto-tune feature of your TV to identify your stations.

Admittedly this is a poor antenna and the quality of this antenna and your distance to the broadcast antennas will have a major impact on the number of channels that you can receive.

You need to go into your television's set-up menu and make sure to select 'antenna input' (instead of 'cable input') . The 'antenna' input choice makes the input more sensitive and helps the TV set deal with the lower input signal of over-the-air terrestrial broadcasts. The 'cable input' is looking for a much stronger input signal.

Go through the TV menu and have it auto scan for channels.

I live about 20 miles (as the crow flies) from several broadcast antennas and I was not expecting much. However, the TV did identify 13 channels. However, only 3 of those were stable for viewing. BUT three is better than none when your in a bind!

If you want to check on possible channels that you might get (especially if you upgrade to a 'real' HDTV Antenna) you can Google "tv broadcast towers near me" and find several websites that give TV station call letters and signal strength based on address or zip code.

Good Luck and Enjoy!