If you want to watch local TV channels for free, you need to buy an antenna. And in case you don’t want to spend a fortune on one, we’re glad to tell you that you can do one from scratch on your own.
With the help of a coaxial cable and very few tools, you’ll have your antenna. This means that you’ll finally save all the money you would otherwise spend on satellite companies that provide services you don’t use.
- 1 6 Steps to Make a TV Antenna From Coaxial Cable
- 2 Alternative 5 Steps to Make a TV Antenna
- 3 How to Improve Your Antenna Reception
- 4 How to Split the Signal
- 5 How to Amplify the Signal
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
- 7 Final Thoughts
6 Steps to Make a TV Antenna From Coaxial Cable
Let’s check this step-by-step guide to see how you can build a TV antenna using a coaxial cable.
1. Construct a Wooden Board
The first thing you should do is prepare a 22-inch long wooden board that’s around 1×3 inches or 2×3 inches. Then, lay down the board horizontally and move from the left side to the right side and not vice versa.
After that, draw the line at 17.5, 12.5, 7.25, and 2 inches, and don’t forget that you must put two evenly-spaced dots on every line.
2. Prepare a Copper Wire
Buy a copper wire or use one that you already have. Cut the wire into eight sections, where each is 14 inches. You should now have eight wires.
Measure around seven inches on every one of them and bend it in half in a way that there’s a gap of 3 inches between its two ends. If you’re doing everything correctly, you should now have a two-sided triangle.
3. Attach the Wires to the Wooden Board
Now you can finally attach the wires to the wooden board so that they extend outwards in a way that will make the board look like it has legs.
Do this by fixing the V point of each wire to the eight dots using washers and screws.
After you do this, use the wire’s remaining part to weave the attached wires to the board.
Note that the wires should never touch and ensure that the V points shouldn’t intersect more than once.
You should also make sure that at least one of the wires is insulated. In case you didn’t know, vinyl is an excellent insulating material.
If everything works well, you should now be looking at 2 X shapes in the V-shaped wire, where the first and second sets and the third and fourth sets are connected, respectively.
And there must be two horizontal lines connecting the second and third sets.
4. Put the Reflectors
The best thing to use as a reflector is a grill screen. Add two reflectors on the wooden board and put them in a way that they’re evenly spaced.
Each of these reflectors should be 15×9 inches, and you can attach them using screws. However, ensure that the reflectors don’t touch the V-shaped wires.
5. Attach a Balun
This is the final step that has to do with constructing the antenna. Now, all you need to do is pay a visit to the electronics store and buy a balun to use as a transmitter.
Attach the balun to the two center sections by following the instructions you’ll find on the balun’s label.
6. Attach the Antenna to Your TV
Congratulations on reaching the last and easiest step. Now, you need to attach one end of the coaxial cable to the right plugin of your TV.
Alternative 5 Steps to Make a TV Antenna
If you find the above steps too tiring or believe that the final shape doesn’t go well with your house decorations, you might want to consider this alternative option.
Let’s check and see the other method by which you can make a TV antenna by yourself without paying a fortune.
Bring some newspaper and an empty coffee can. Set the coffee can on its side and drill a hole in its lower half closer to its bottom. You can drill the hole using a hammer and a nail.
Push around 2/3rds of the nail into the hole you’ve just drilled and leave it there. Next, hold your coax cable and cut one of its ends with a wire cutter.
Then, bring a ruler and measure eight inches on the cable. After that, cut eight inches from the cable’s outer sheath and use a utility knife to strip it.
While the wire is lying against the sheath, measure 6 inches and strip the insulation off them using wire strippers.
Now, wind the uninsulated wire that’s on the end of the cable against the nail that’s on the outside of the hole you’ve drilled.
After that, hammer the pin, push it into the hole, and then add duct tape on the hole to ensure that the cable stays attached to the empty coffee can.
Lastly, take the empty can and place it outside your house in a way that it’s not touching the ground. Then, take the end of the coax cable that comes from the coffee can and plug it in your TV.
How to Improve Your Antenna Reception
If anyone tells you that antennas are not good, that’s only because they don’t know how to place them right. The choice of the antennas’ location plays a huge role in its reception quality.
This becomes even more important if you live in a place with a lot of interference. You probably won’t get it right from the first time, but if you keep trying, you’ll eventually find the perfect spot.
Note that you want no obstructions between the signal source and the antenna. And while having no obstructions at all is nearly impossible, at least make sure there isn’t a lot. You can put it in a direct line of sight.
However, if that’s not possible, it would be acceptable to stick it close to a window. This will prevent the antenna from receiving any interference signals from other devices in your home.
Another critical thing to consider is the direction in which you direct your antenna. Just like the location, you won’t get this right the first time, but you will make it by trial and error. Yet, there are some guidelines that might help you.
The most important one is to direct the antenna in the same direction as the signal you need to catch. Check where the signal tower is and place your antenna in that direction.
There’s also another factor you need to keep in mind, which is placing the antenna at a high place as much as you can. This helps it be in direct line of sight with the broadcast tower, and therefore there won’t be any obstruction between them.
You can also consider buying an amplifier, especially if you’re very far away from the broadcast tower.
Lastly, note that sometimes an antenna might get a better signal if it’s laying horizontally. However, if this is the case with you, you’ll have to stick to the first method we introduced – the one with the wooden board.
How to Split the Signal
If you have more than one TV at home, and you need each of them to view a different channel than the other one, you must split the signal that comes from the antenna.
After installing the antenna, try to examine how the coaxial cable is wired. You might need to take a look at the inside of the box where you’ll find a bundle of black cables in order to comprehend the configuration.
By doing so, you’ll hopefully understand where each of the wires goes; then you can label each of them. In case you’re one of the lucky people, you’ll find that the cable company already has them labeled.
If you don’t want to do any of the above, you could use a power splitter. This won’t only split the signal but will also improve and enhance the signal reception.
You might also want to consider using wall jacks for splitting the signal. Yet, note that if you don’t already have them installed, you’ll need to buy new coaxial cables and attach each of them to a separate TV set and the central location.
How to Amplify the Signal
If you’re going to split the signal, you must use an amplifier. This is also essential if the television is further than 150 feet from the antenna. For the amplifier to work properly, locate it towards the antenna’s side in the splitter.
An amplifier’s primary function is counteracting the effects of having your antenna signal divided.
Obviously, when you use a splitter, the antenna’s reception’s power and strength get weakened, and the amplifier strengthens it again.
All in all, having an amplifier makes all the difference between watching channels with low or high quality—your choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Far Can TV Signals Travel?
Ideally, TV signals can travel around sixty to eighty feet and give you excellent signals. If this is the same distance between your antenna and your TV, but the signal isn’t working well, there might be other reasons.
Such reasons might include any obstructions between the two or the height of the TV antenna and the source power.
Should I Consider the Coaxial Cable Length?
Yes, because long cables mean more signal loss. And while you can overcome the loss using a pre-amplifier, I don’t recommend buying long cables.
What Is the Best Height at Which I Should Mount a TV Antenna?
There isn’t a certain ideal height. The most important thing is to install the antenna in a location and at a height where there aren’t any obstructions. The more obstructions, the weaker the signal.
Watching all your local TV channels without paying any money sounds even more awesome now, doesn’t it?
All you need to do is decide on a method from the two mentioned above and get started.
I recommend you follow the first method if you must place your antenna horizontally to get a better signal.
Even though this method takes longer and is a bit more difficult than the second one, it’s proven to be excellent.
However, if you want to make your antenna quickly with straightforward steps, go on with the second one.
It’s also more decorative and won’t make your TV place look ugly in any way. You may use it as a piece of decoration itself – so it’s a two-in-one!