Cut Cable: How to Build A Powerful HD Antenna for About 10 Bucks

Have you ever wanted to eliminate your TV cable bill? You can when you build this low cost HDTV antenna. Believe it or not the HD Just-Cut-the-Cordreception over the air is better than cable since broadcasters switched to all digital formats. The cable companies have you believe that you have to spend $50 per month just to pick up the local stations.

I cut the cord two years ago and I haven’t looked back. I live here in the OC so most of the stations in my area are located  40-50 miles away so the antenna has to be pretty sensitive to pick these signals. When I started exploring this, most of the antennas I looked at cost over $90. I bought one of these but sadly I was disappointed with the signal quality with many of the stations dropping out. I’ll show you step by step how  I built one that picks up all the stations and costs less than $10 to build.

The Solution

I came across an antenna that had excellent reception that costs about 10 bucks to make. It’s called a Gray Hoverman HDTV antenna that is easy to build. I thought I would give it a try and I was surprised how phenomenal the reception was. I was able to pick up 128 stations clear as a bell.

I’ll show you step by step how to do it. To get the best reception, I recommend placing the antenna inside your attic so you get some clear line of sight signal reception. But depending on your location, you can get great reception by hiding the antenna behind the TV.

OK let’s get started. These materials I got from a local HomeDepot

 

Materials:

6 – Finish washers – these are found in the screw section of HomeDepot. One pack has 6 in it  for about $1.18

6- ¾” wood screws. They come in a pack of 6.

1- 4” x 4ft board –  HomeDepot to 4 ft.

1- 7 ft of copper wire #12 gauge

1- Matching Transformer – Radio Shack or pick up one off at Amazon here

75 ohm matching transformer

If you can’t find a 4 ft board you can have people at HomeDepot cut the board to 4 feet. The first cut is free. Place the board on a table and from the very top of the board mark 5” from the top. After that make another mark 10” from the first mark. Make two other 10” marks from that one.

 

 

Mark The Board

HDTV Antenna board markings

  1. From the very top of the board draw a horizontal mark 5 1/2” from the top.

  2. After that make another horizontal mark 10” from the first mark.

  3. Make another horizontal mark 10” from the previous one

  4. Make another horizontal mark 10”  from the previous one

  5. From each line make tick marks ⅝” from the left and right of the board. This is where you will put in the screws.

 

Make the antenna elements.

  1. Take the wire and make a 5 1/2” bend at a slight angle.

  2. Next measure a 7” bend and make a 90 degree angle to the left.

  3. Next measure 7” and make a bend it 90 degree to the right.

  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3  (3)times.

  5. Finally measure a 5 ½” bend to the left.

  6. Repeat the above steps to make the second antenna element.

Mount the antenna elements to the wood.Gray Hoverman HDTV Antenna Diagram

  1. Place the finish washers on the ⅝” tick marks you made earlier. Insert the screws and screw in leaving enough space to insert the wire under the washers.

  2. Insert the antenna elements under the washers and tighten the screws.

Install the Balun (matching transformer)

 

  1. Loosen the 2nd two screws and insert the two balun terminals.

  2. Tighten the screws on the the balun terminals.

 

The antenna construction is complete!!

 

Testing Your Antenna

  1. IMPORTANT: Most TVs come preconfigured to receive cable channels and NOT ANTENNA channels. You must configure your TV to accept Antenna channels. To do this, check with the manual of your TV online or if you are familiar with this setting go to the menu settings on your TV to set it.

  2. Once you have configured this setting attach a coaxial (RG59) cable to the antenna input of your TV and the other end of the cable to the matching transformer of the antenna you just built. Turn on the your TV.

  3. In the setup of your TV have it start scanning channels. Once this is done, about 2 minutes you should have a list of channels.

Testing Antenna Locations: Behind the TV

The first thing you want to do is to position your antenna behind the TV. In this way it won’t be seen and it’s a good place to start with testing.

Turn on the TV and start clicking the remote to see if you can pick up the 4 networks NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS and a local PBS affiliate. In the Orange County area we have 4-5 PBS affiliates.

If you don’t get all of these networks then you might want to position the antenna at different locations to see if you can pick them up.

Testing Your HDTV Antenna: The Attic

I happen to live in Orange County California and I noticed that my reception was excellent when I mounted the antenna in the attic. It was a bit more sketchy when I had it at the 1st floor level. When I moved it to the attic it was high enough to get great line of sight reception but not visible from the street which was great.

Some of you may get great reception just by putting your HDTV antenna behind the TV. Its up to you to experiment.

I placed the HDTV antenna standing upright in the attic and leaned it against the one of the roof rafters. I next attached a 20’ RG59 cable and connected directly to the TV I wanted to test it with.

All of the channels came it except ABC, so I changed the position a few inches and everything came in just fine.

Resources:

TVFool.com – this resource will help you locate where your stations are.

Amazon.com – If you can’t find a matching transformer (balun) in your local store order one here: 75 to 300 Ohm UHF/VHF Matching Transformer

Receipts and Part Numbers from Home Depot.

Material Receipts
Material Receipts