How to Make a High-Powered TV Antennaby Robert Vaux
TV antennas have come a long way from the foil-enabled rabbit ears on top of your father's old box. With satellite dishes and cable companies running the show these days, it seems like old-fashioned antennas will go the way of the dodo. It's possible, however, to make a high-powered TV antenna that picks up UHF stations with ease, even those delivering HD signals. All you need is some reliable tools and a few common household items.
Wrap aluminum foil around a sheet of plywood measuring 15 by 30 inches and secure it with duct tape or similarly sturdy material.
Cut a 2-by-4 to length. You want it to stretch along the center of the plywood lengthwise, with enough room left over to fit into whatever space you have prepared for it (10 to 12 additional inches is recommended).
Center the 2-by-4 along the length of the plywood and nail it into place with roofing nails.
Mark the center of the plywood on the 2-by-4 with a felt pen. Then measure 3.5 inches in both directions along the length of the 2-by-4, and mark the locations with the pen. Then measure 7 additional inches beyond those spots and mark those locations as well.
Using screws and a screwdriver, lightly secure a pair of washers to the 2-by-4 at each of the locations you have marked (10 washers in all). The screws should be spaced sufficiently far apart so that the washers do not come into contact with each other.
Cut the hooks off of 4 wire coat hangers, and then cut the bottom of each coat hangar in the center. You should be left with 8 pieces of wire bent into a "v" shape. Make sure all of them are the same length
Run a length of insulated 12-gauge romax wire from the bottom pair of washers to the top, then back down to the bottom again. Crisscross the wire twice: the first time should be 3.5 inches from the lowest washer pair, and the second should be 3.5 inches from the highest washer pair.
Strip the insulation from the romex wire where it comes into contact with the washers. It needn't be precise, but at least one of the points where the wire crosses needs to still be insulated.
Slip the 8 "v" wires around the 4 highest and 4 lowest screws, pointing them directly outward from the 2-by-4. Tighten the screws around the wire "v"s and the romex wire.
Attach the TV transmission wires to the screws in the center and tighten. Connect the other end to your TV.
Mount the apparatus as high as you can (an attic is preferable). In some cases, you can mount the 2-by-4 in the existing antenna mount. Otherwise, you can build a simple platform for it by placing the antennae perpendicular to a thick piece of plywood and nailing pieces of bracing wood around the base of the 2-by-4 to hold it in place.
Turn on your TV. You should be able to get crystal clear reception.
- check If you live in an area with a lot of inclement weather and intend to place the antenna outside, you may wish to replace the plywood and 2-by-4 in Step 1 with a metal grill and metal pole. They will hold up to the rain and snow much better than wood. You'll need to drill holes in the pole and secure it with metal bolts in Step 3, instead of nails
- close Never mount your antenna near anything made of metal. It will interfere with the signal.
- close The tips of the "v" wires may be very sharp. If you're worried about being poked by them, you can sand the tips down using a grinder.