Introduction: HDTV Antenna Constructed of Baling Wire and Duct Tape - CHEAP

About: Intelligent tinkerer who would rather design and build exactly what I want rather than purchase something designed for the masses.

More and more people are foregoing cable and satellite television to save a bit of family income, realizing that there is plenty of free television out there to watch.  Many of those people are purchasing overpriced and underperforming commercial HDTV antennae, when you can make a simple antenna yourself out of an inexpensive 3' or 4' long 1" X 4" or 2" X 4" board, some short wood screws and washers, and some inexpensive metallic wire (galvanized "baling" wire works just fine), and a couple of short pieces of tape (electrical tape; or if you want to truly construct a quality product, of course consider duct tape to go with your selection of baling wire).  You also want to find a piece of heavy cardboard about 2' X 3' in size, enough aluminum foil to cover one side of the cardboard, and some spray mount or other adhesive to glue the aluminum foil to the cardboard.

As far as tools go, you'll need a drill with a bit to match the size of your screws, a screwdriver to match your screw heads, needlenose or pointed pliers, and wirecutters.

As explained in the OPTIONAL last step, it is possible to construct two of these antennae facing different directions and obtain signal from multiple sources and directions.

This is a variation of the plans that are found on-line at another website at

Step 1: Measure - Mark - Drill Your Board

Measure and mark your board in the manner shown, and pre-drill with the appropriate size drill bit starter holes for the screws that will hold the antenna to the board, which essentially forms the "spine" for your antenna

Step 2: "Lace" the Board With Baling Wire

Thread washers onto screws, then drive screws "loosely" into holes you pre-drilled into your board.

"Lace" two lengths of baling wire in the manner shown between the screws and under the washers, pulling the wire relatively tight around the screws; then hook the four ends of the two wires around the screws towards the ends of the board; then drive the screws down tight to hold the wires to the board.

Where the wires cross over each other, insulate the wires from each other by wrapping one of the wires with either electrical (or if you want to maintain the baling wire/duct tape theme, then with duct tape) so that the two wires do not directly touch each other.

Step 3: Make/attach Wire "Vs"

Cut 8 lengths of baling wire that are at least 16" long, straighten the wires, then form them into "Vs" as shown.

It is easier to cut your wire a little long, form your "Vs", then cut each leg of the "V" to the appropriate length.

Attach one "V" apiece under the 4 washers/screws nearest each end of the board that is the "spine" of your antenna.  Loosen each screw in order to slide the wire "V" under the screw head and washer, then retighten each screw to hold the "V" firmly in place.

Step 4: Make/attach Antenna Reflector

Take your piece of cardboard (approximately 2'X 3' in size) and cover one side in aluminum foil or some other metallic covering  A heavy coating of spray mount adhesive will hold the aluminum foil in place on the cardboard.

Using some of the same screws you used to to attach the wire lacing/"Vs" to the frontside of the board, attach the cardboard reflector to the backside of the board, with the aluminum foil facing towards the antenna.

Step 5: Attach Coaxial/twin-lead From Antenna to Television Set

Attach either a 300/75 ohm balun or the two connectors of antenna "twin-lead" wire to the two middle screws of the antenna (the two screws that do not have wire "Vs").

If using a balun, attach coaxial cable of sufficient length to reach from your antenna to your television set; if using twin-lead, use a similar length of twin-lead attached directly to the two middle screws of your antenna to your television set.

Hang the antenna vertically from one or the other end of the board so that the frontside of the antenna faces towards the predominant source(s) of television signals.  You may be able to increase both the number and strength of signals by adjusting the direction that your antenna faces.  You will avoid more sources of interference with television signals and accordingly should increase the strength of your avaialble television signal by (a) hanging the antenna as high as possible from the ground; and (b) hanging the antenna away from sources of potential interference or signal blockage (i.e., away from motorized appliances, furnaces, etc; and not behind metal roofing/siding that may block television signals).

Step 6: OPTION: Picking Up Signal From Multiple Directions

If television signals are available from multiple directions at your site, you can build a second antenna (steps 1-3) and attach it to the backside of your reflector.  Before attaching the second antenna to the first, cover the other side of the reflector with aluminum foil as you covered the first side, so that the reflector reflects signal from both sides.

Rather than attaching the coaxial cable/twin-lead directly from the television set to the antenna, use two short "pigtails" of coaxial cable/twin-lead (and two baluns, one on each antenna, if using coaxial cable), and then connect the two short "pigtails" using the "output" connections of a two-way coaxial splitter (a splitter can also be used to join signals from two different sources; also shown are several other antenna coupling/signal joining devices), and attach the coaxial cable leading to the television set to the "input" of the coaxial splitter.

When choosing the means for connecting your antennae, keep in mind that baluns somewhat diminish the signal being picked up by your antennae, so if you're collecting signal in a fringe signal area, consider using twin-lead and a 300 ohm signal combiner, rather than multiple baluns and a coaxial signal splitter/combiner, to combine the signals from your multiple antennae.

You may wonder how well this system of two joined antennae works.......I live between two metropolitan areas, one approximately 160 miles away and the other about 130 miles away, and both of which have multiple television stations.  I built a combined "back to back" antenna and hung it from the roof rafters in my attic, one antenna facing towards the one metropolitan area and the other antenna facing the other metropolitan area, and combined the signals from the two antennae using twin-lead and a Winegard SD-3700 signal combiner as depicted below.  Besides receiving signals from my six local television stations (those within 75 miles of me), many days I can also receive television signals from the stations from either or both of the major metropolitan areas, depending on the weather and other atmospheric conditions.  I dare you to find a commercially available television antenna that allows you to receive that much television signal.