Keepin' It Simple, the $7 HD Antenna





Introduction: Keepin' It Simple, the $7 HD Antenna

There are TONS of options to build your own tuned HD antenna, but if you're looking for a quick and easy[Lazy] way to get setup give this $7 rig a try!

This is a passive antenna and it rely's on a fair signal strength. Before you start make sure you have sufficient coverage in your area using this link (USA Only, else check with your local governing body).

Step 1: Getting the Parts

I picked up all my components listed below at my local Lowes. We essentially need a matching transformer and some wire. Fortunately I found a H-bracket Sign Holder that works perfectly for this purpose.


1xRCA Outdoor Matching Transformer

2x The Hillman Group 17.25-in x 5.625-in Sign

Total Cost: $6.71

Step 2: Setup

The setup is fairly simple.

  • Align the H-bracket aside with a gap of about 3 inches.
  • Connect the two terminals of the Matching transformer to the center of the H-bracket as shown the image. I've used binder clips to hold the terminals in place, you may want to consider a more secure connection.
  • Plug in the Coaxial cable from the TV to the transformer.

Thats all! Now tune in.

Step 3: Aha!

I live near the 35 Mile radius from most transmitting towers and my TV managed to tune into 123 Channels (Yes, 123 in SoCal ! ). It took me about 5-10mins to scan through all of them though.

I hope you've had fun checking this out :), and if you do make one shoot me a tweet! @nicolsson



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    70 Discussions

    There seems to be a lot of knowledgeable people here. I have a question. I have great picture but no sound, but only on one station, the one that comes in the strongest. Did have sound until last week. Thought it was TV went and bought new TV and another antenna but the same kind. Same thing on both TV's Checked tv with a satellite connection, both of them, works there. Have narrowed the problem down to the antenna.. Could anyone point me the right direction??

    More than a comment, a question for those knowledgeable about TV signals: Why not use FLAT 300 ohms twisted cable to get less signal attenuation, instead of the only one type (75 ohm coaxial) input Jack in 99.99% of the modern TV sets?

    Years ago, I was able to get some very good quality TV antenna cable bought at Radio-Shack (when RS was in much better shape than now!) That cable had the very best characteristics of the other two: the lower signal attenuation of flat 300 Ohm cable with the interference rejection of the coaxial RG-59U cable, and good weathering protection. That cable was constructed by enclosing a paralell 300 Ohm cable inside a braided sleeve and heavy duty cover. Unfortunately, is seems that it is no longer avaliable. Amclaussen.

    2 replies

    300 ohm actually loses more signal than 75 0hm just read the name! 300 ohm impedance vs 75 ohm impedance the name says it all. your shielded cable you are referencing was just shielded 300 ohm... but it still had greater attenuation (loss) than 75 ohm...

    Your confusing impedance with resistance, I think. 300 ohm twin lead, does indeed have lower loss than RG-59 coax. If you step up to RG-6 coax, then loss is pretty similar. Line loss can be made up for with amplification at course (ie the antenna). Coax has become the wire of choice due to the preponderance of cable.
    I started assisting my dad with ota antenna installs, when I was about 10 years old, 2 years of college for electronics technology and returned to continue until my late 20's. We did antennas on towers, on tripod mounts on the roof (my favourite for cost/performance) and in attics (doesn't work well through aluminum siding or metal roofs). We were quite distant from any station, with only a very few to choose from, and our go to, was a 10 element yagi, tuned for the desired channel.

    I just made the antenna. Love it! however, I have some stations that come in clear then go to nothing and then it states that there is no signal. I would say that out of about 30 or so stations I get about 20 consistent. I tried it first inside behind my flat screen then I decided to mount it to my old disconnected Dish network Dish they left on my house. Now I get the stations I mentioned above but still have issues with some stations as mentioned. I do not have an amp but would be willing to try it with this if someone could enlighten me on how to hook it up to my antenna I made from this instructable. BTW, It was not stated if the Antenna should lay flat or upright when mounted? Please advise? Thanks for this great Antenna! Chris

    7 replies

    An amp will not prevent the signal from dropping. The purpose of the amp (to state the obvious) is to amplify the signal. If the signal drops or is interfered with in any way, the amp will not be able to amplify the signal.

    That said: You can purchase an antennae amplifier, most likely from your local radio shack or television accessory isle in your local hardware store. If you can't find one in your local brick and mortar store, Google will help you find one.

    An "antenna" amp is a signal amp.

    yes the signal will drop, however the question is how much, The purpose of the amp is to increase the signal above the DROP OUT level (trying not to make comments on Scott Walker's College education here). As with all receivers even digitals need a minimal strength level to work if an amp brings it up enough it will allow it to work. NOW here comes the rest of the story.. the amp's sensitivity and selectivity. That is, its ability to work I the appropriate frequency range and reject interfering signals. In most cases a high end amp isn't needed due to the relative lack of interference that affects digital signals, however in some situations they can be required so I wont come out and discount their use, its just that the majority of the time the extra expense isn't needed.

    Chris, I believe it will work best mounted vertically, since that is the way the TV waves travel. See my other note re the app I installed on my cell phone to determine which direction your signal is coming from, then orient your antenna toward that transmitter.

    Actually Television transmissions are cross polarized. that is they are both horizontal and vertical. What you see at the stations is actually only the towers which the transmission antennas are mounted on. the actual antenna itself from around an electrical 3 meters long on down depending on the frequency. so the physical size of the antenna can be as small as 1.5 meters in physical size depending on configuration, and is quite often an array of these smaller antennas to increase gain. With a small antenna like this, there is no true orientation, rather, you need to see which works best in your given location, as there are multiple considerations that will make it work differently for different places, from metal ore and deposits in the soil to factories and metals structures near you, and even atmospheric conditions such as temperature inversions, air pressure and e humidity and even the time of day, as well as the frequency of the channels you are watching, with VHF being affected more than UHF. If you will note, traditional outdoor TV antennas are Horizontally mounted, This gives the best reception and interference immunity, however small antennas such as set top or "rabbit ears" work best when diagonally oriented, and you have to find which direction the rods need to lean for the best reception, this is due to the fact that they are utilizing the cross polarization of the transmitted signal. As you may have noticed by now, Antenna Design and Theory is a highly specialized field on its own, You can just touch on it with good results, or you can really get into it and accomplish some amazing things.

    Thanks for your answer, I will try vertically as right now it is in the Horizontal position. I will check on the location too. Good Stuff! Also, was anyone able to give me advice on an amplifier that would work with this type of antenna? Where would it hook up at the antenna or television. Thanks?

    The amp location depends on the type of amplifier you are using, the easiest are "bullet amps" that are inserted between the cable and the matching transformer and then a voltage injector is installed at the TV and plugged into an outlet with a wall wart. Others just hook up at the TV... they just need to be a 75 ohm TV antenna amplifier. you can find the anywhere from a big box hardware store, to Walmart and Radio Shack (before R/S dries up and blows away)

    I am sans cable. Have two $20 or so book style antenas about 7 ft off ground and still have a couple of stations , minneapolis St Paul -close to wi line. I recently put a $10 bow tie in attic as a couple of stations pixilate at times. Have a $15 amp , 10db gain I think on the line. With antenna in attic all tuned stations boom in. Question is, the map shows I should have two marginal stations that if I work at it should also get. this is an old house and have old knob and tube wire in rafters of attic.

    Thoughts on just jumping on those wires, 12-14 guage and would say could get 2 runs close to 20+ feet, and then the transformer. It couldn't hurt but it sounds like we have a couple of knowledgeable folks on this thread. Better to have amp close to antenna or the reciever?


    6 replies

    I think you should reuse the old wire you have and make cool fractal (modiefied bow tie) antenna. I did and works great.
    I also duobled the the size from these.plans. . Scrol down page.

    Don't know for sure but I believe you want the amp as close to the antenna as possible. Keeping the S/N ratio as high as possible going into the amp. Best of luck.

    in analog You are correct, however the error correction in digital makes the S/N ratio a non issue

    Basically correct, but up to a point, ScottE4.

    In digital, theoretically you would either have an image or not, 0 or 1. BUT... error correction works only to a point, so that as soon as error correction goes above a certain point, it first makes the image fractionated (it appears as big block of scintillating colors, called by many people as "Pixelating", then audio gets intermittent, then, as the digital error is too large, the image goes completely black or cuts. The same thing happens to cable TV, when the available bandwidth is momentarily reduced (to accomodate internet or telephone in the same connection). In cable, the image suffers the most "pixelation" when the scene has violent movements, explosions etc, as the digital compression is way too much and the real, limited available bandwidth is consumed. So, my comment to your comment is that even in digital, S/N ratio still matters, as the transmission is not 100% perfect and error correction and compression artifacts interact and the resulting image quality is deteriorated and or lost. Amclaussen.

    no, not up to a point what you are describing are digital remnants, are not the result of error correction, they are the result of two different things, the first you note is the result of signal dropout where there isn't even enough signal for error correction or any other technology to work, Analog technology would have dropped out long before this point was reached with digital. as for your comment on bandwidth, this is also not true, What you are describing is a flaw in in the receiving equipment itself and not the bandwidth. Digital receivers are nothing more than dedicated computers. ad just like a desktop or laptop price is reflected in quality. The speed of the multiple processors inside the TV are what determine if they are going to handle all of the image that is necessary to reproduce the image properly, this has nothing to do with the bandwidth of the transmitted signal, the ability to handle the speed required for proper video reproduction. Its no different than a slow computer failing to handle the requirements of streaming video, however the software for streaming video will just drop out, but a TV manufacturer would be out of business if their firmware just shut down, so they allow video dropout in the form of video remnants (unrefreshed pixels, aka pixilation)

    OTA digital tv recepion is not "streaming" in the same way steaming internet media