Thursday, February 25, 2010

a home made digital TV antenna

Had I not almost everything I needed laying about the tool shed, this antenna might have cost as much as $20 to make.
A piece of 2x4. Some wire. A piece of PVC pipe. Some little lag bolts.
I purchased a balun (a type of transformer) on Ebay for $3. You can by a similar device at Lowe's for about $4. I didn't know it at the time.
I pretty much followed these directions to build my antenna:
But incorporated some of this guy's plans:
The antenna works great inside.
But this behemoth is, as are most antennas, not particularly pleasing to the eye.
And we have so much stuff to knock around in here.
So I decided to put it outside.
The thing about that is this: Once outside, an antenna is pretty much a lightening rod.
Especially when you hang it high, on a pole.
Our antenna pole, including its stand, is about 20 feet from the ground up.
The antenna that sets at its apex has to be seriously grounded.
Some good information about grounding an outdoor antenna can be found here:
Scroll down until you see "Grounding Outdoor Antennas."
And so, between the stuff needed to mount the antenna (I already had some 1" metal conduit, but had to purchase two 4x4s and a bag of ready-mix concrete (about $20)--(I didn't want to mount the antenna to the roof) and the stuff needed to ground it (grounding rod, grounding wire, clamps, grounding block ($35), the coax cable and little ends ($20) needed to connect our big, fat, old-timey analog television to the digital converter box ($25 from Ebay), you're talking well over $100 to set up an antenna that cost almost nothing to make.
Which is still cheaper than paying the satellite people (those pirates) $45 a month for 30 channels of infomercials and the opportunity to pay even more money to watch a half-way decent (pay-per-view) movie. (In all honesty, I like and will probably miss the Biography channel, Science channel, and maybe one or two other channels as well. But $45 a month still seems a steep price for something only somewhat better than the "free" over-the-air TV I grew up with.)
I don't know if there is a "store bought" antenna that works any better than this one. Certainly the indoor antennas we tried during the initial change-over from analog to digital television didn't work worth a crap.
With this antenna stuck in the window, we get 7 channels--various far flung affiliates of NBC, CBS, ABC, ETV, and FOX--plus their "sub" and so forth.
All clear and smooth.
I think we'll get even better reception once I actually mount the antenna to the pole I've assembled.
Anyway, this is all in anticipation for June, when our contract with the satellite company is finished and we can cancel service.
You can probably tell.
I can hardly wait.


  1. You're so creative! I'll have to show this to hubby!

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