Almost Free Yet Another Dtv Antenna.

Introduction: Almost Free Yet Another Dtv Antenna.

About: Bytesize articles instead of a trilogy in one post.

My over the air dtv antenna. This is basically like the coat hanger antenna, but takes less space, safer if you have children around, and can be hidden behind a picture frame. I almost just poked my out with our coat hanger antenna. It was replaced with another foil dtv antenna. If you made one of those portable dtv converters, this will go perfect with it.

The video I watched to make my first OTA coathanger antenna and gave me the idea for the foil antenna:

Coming soon: Computer controlled OTA antenna. It's mostly done, Just have not made time to finish it. - still in progress..

New antenna:,

Step 1: Improvement Over an Existing Form.

I took the plans from here (, but it does seen to be in service any more) and just doubled it by hooking the ends (stubs) together and connecting the center stubs back to the hdtv converter via a transformer. I used cellophane tape instead of cardboard and paper clips to separate sections so it looks more seamless.

Update: apparently the web site with original instructions is no longer available. I will update this instructable with all the details soon. For the mean time I have some quickie drawings. I think the long sections might have been 14 - 17 inches long. I will have to remeasure everything.

Step 2: Double Your Pleasure.

This is the old coat hanger antenna that was just a challenge to deal with and definitely not kid friendly.

Step 3: My TV.

I can not afford a fancy hdtv, but I do have my old Commodore 1702 Monitor (any analog monitor or old computer monitor with rca inputs will work fine and if your dtv converters have rca outputs).

Step 4: Final Notes.

I actually made a duplicate antenna that is in parallel with the existing antenna. Works great! that is why there is no tv transformer on the cardboard page. I also recommend having the antenna on an outer inside wall of the home where there are no electrical  wires to eliminate any possible loss of signal. Since setting it up, I have not had to move it. The old coat hanger antenna is no longer is use. I just had not moved it yet at the time of the picture. Though it kind of gives you a comparison in size. Good luck.

Step 5: Extra Benefits

Using the antenna with Mythtv (linux based dvr aka digital video recorder and etc). I was tired so the camera might have shook a little bit. Last picture is using an old commodore via svideo with mythtv and the over the air antenna. Microsoft not required.

More information about mythtv:

Step 6: Save the Wall

Use our instructable to make a stand for the antenna.

Step 7: OTA DTV Listings.

Normally the tv listings will be available for your tuner. But if you do have internet (or access to somewhere that does), you can to and get more details.

Step 8: The Original Instructions From

The original instructions from less the pictures.

Aluminum Foil High Definition TV Antenna

Yes you can make an antenna from household items: aluminum foil, paper clips, string, and tape. You will also need to buy a cable adapter from Radio Shack, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, or anyone who sells TV accessories. If you get lucky, you can get it for 99 cents at the dollar store.

This antenna is small enough you can hide inside of every day items. For this sample it will be hidden in a photo box. Michaels craft stores has a good price on photo boxes. This antenna is not for outdoor use. The photo box was $3.50 and the adapter was 99 cents. A total of $4.49. Don't make me split hairs with the cost of foil, paper clips, string, and tape. You know you already have those. That beats the $20 HD antenna I bought in the store. The photo looks better anyway and the antenna did just as good if not better. Read below for instructions or watch the YouTube video above or at (removed).

What you need:

  • Aluminum Foil
  • Paper Clips
  • Non-metallic Tape
  • Scrap cardboard from a cereal box
  • String or strap
  • Stapler
  • Scissors
  • Cable adapter
  • 8 x 10 inch plastic or non metallic photo frame box.

Pictures: not included as the site has long been removed. Should of saved the pictures.

There are several kinds of cable adapters for sale. You need one that adapts the round female coaxial cable stud to a flat wire with two conductors in it. Some like shown below also have a male coaxial cable and terminals.

Since we are using a photo frame, we’ll use the inner box support as the antenna surface.Draw a line down the middle of the box (card paper if so) lengthwise, then 2 parallel lines a half inch on both sides as shown. Draw another line across the width in the middle.

Unroll 24 inches of aluminum foil. Cut the 24 inches of foil into six 4-inch pieces. A single 4-inch piece is shown below.

You should have 6 pieces of foil approximately the same size. Fold each piece of foil lengthwise in half. Repeat and repeat until you have a foil stick approximately a 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide.

Cut an 8-inch section from each of 4 foil sticks. Leave the last 2 sticks alone for now. Fold each of the 8-inch pieces into an arrowhead with a bend of approximately 45 degrees. Tape the foil arrowheads to the surface in the middle of each of the four zones shown. Do not tape the points of the arrowheads now; you will do that later.

Join two arrowheads with one of the last 2 foil sticks. You will use 6 to 7 inches of the stick. Let a stub stick out and cut off the excess. Place the end of the stick on the points of the arrowheads and carefully join them with paper clips.

Place a scrap piece of card paper (cereal box) over the straight foil stick and tape it down.

Place the last stick over the scrap card paper and join the points of the other two arrowheads with paper clips. You will use 6 to 7 inches of the last stick. Let a stub stick out and cut off the excess. THE TWO STICKS MUST NOT TOUCH WHERE THEY CROSS EACHOTHER. Be sure the scrap card paper prevents the two sticks from touching. Tape the stick down. Now tape down the arrowhead points and the second cross stick.

Position the cable adapter near the stubs. You will join the prongs of the flat wire to the stubs with paper clips, but first be sure the cable adapter is positioned so the flat wires reach the arrowhead points. If the prongs don’t separate from each other far enough, you may need to separate the two prongs by cutting the flat wire an inch or two down the middle between its two conductors.

Before continuing, double check that all paper clips are now taped down. Staple the flat wire CAREFULLY between its conductors to the photo box surface so there is no stress on the paper clip joints if the adapter gets tugged. The antenna will be ruined if the staple touches both wire conductors. This will hold the adapter in place while you do the next step.

Provide strain relief to the antenna. Don't rely on only the staple. You need something beefy here. Cut a slit in the box for the strap. Strap the adapter to the box with string or strapping. I had an extra strap and made use of it here. String will do the job too. This is important since it will prevent movement and tugging on the antenna cable from creating stress on the antenna.

Place a piece of card paper (cut from a file folder in this sample) between the antenna foil and the photo. Place this stack into the photo box.

Finished. So how well did the antenna work do you ask? It worked as well as or even better on some channels than a store bought HD antenna.

Of course you can use a larger photo box. You may want to use longer sticks and arrows. But longer sticks and arrows may or may not work in your favor. You may want to experiment.

Step 9: The Latest Antenna.

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    I try to pay you a complement and give you free whatever. I get kicked in hte posterior for it. By the way,your antenna idea has already been done by many people including me It is just a copy of their idea.


    Cool. I will try to add it to the hdtv antennas 2 instructable if I get time.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Wow this is great! Thank you.  I actually did stab myself with one of the v-shaped coat hangers while building it.  went in an inch but already a recent tetanus shot so was all good cleaned up and finished the job and loved the big bulky thing.  Then fearing for my 2 year old's life took it down. 


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Hope you get better!  Anyway, thanx, a million. The original site where I borrowed the idea from should get the real credit. I just put two and two together,


    13 years ago on Introduction


    Is it possible to use this concept (tinfoil on cardboard) for wifi antennas? I´m not really into watching tv but a wifi antenna that can be hidden behind a picture frame....yes, that would be a nice thing!



    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    I am not an engineer, but I do not see any reason why not. you would have know the wavelength of the frequency your transmitting and receiving at to adjust the lengths. I am currently working on several wifi antennas. It depends also on whether you are looking for a directional or omnidiretional use for the antenna.  You could use as a starting place,