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Comments

  1. Bender says:

    Here is a question wouldn’t your design be better if it was more directional? Like if you had a back reflector plane like the one I made here?

    http://bendersrantblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/big-switch-to-digital-tv.html

  2. Osric says:

    Seriously, all those good folks had to take the plunge and buy their digtal converter box. They now have to replace their analog coat hangers with digital coat hangers.

    OK everyone, off to visit your Digital Dry Cleaners so you can stay up with the new technology.

    1. burak says:

      You have a great site. thanks

  3. Bob Boerner says:

    Just a general question…what audio codecs do the torrent files use? I ask because when I try to play the episodes with my new Western Digital HD TV player, the video displays fine but the audio does not.

    Here is the device I am using:

    http://wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?driveid=572

    here is the huge thread about the device and its capabilities:

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1080840

  4. Make: television says:

    @Bob Boerner

    Looking at the specs it should play fine.

    The Audio Codec for the HD .mov file is
    ACC, Stereo (L,R) 48,000 kHz

    Are you working with the HD .mov file or the iPod .m4v?

  5. Bill says:

    I watched this episode the other day and I remember electrical tape being used to insulate two wires. I don’t see any mention of this in this .pdf.
    Can you tell me what wires are to be insulated and where??

    1. tomreedtoon says:

      You insulate the two long coathanger wires where they cross in the middle of the board. That’s two places.

  6. Jim Cox says:

    I just made the coat hanger digital TV antenna. Once completed, I hooked it up to the converter and TV here in the “bedroom studio/ham shack” of my one story rural Indiana home. Even sitting on a table inside the house, it worked great getting the local channels, some of which aren’t so “local” as they are 30 – 40 miles away. ‘Works much better than the rabbit ears setup I tested for comparison.

    I presently have cable but I made this one for my son who lives in the projects of a nearby town and cannot afford an elaborate entertainment setup. I may build another in case my cable provider and I have a falling out. I can only imagine how well it would perform on top of our forty foot tower.

    Btw, I used a Christmas tree stand for the mount. And, yes, the crossovers should be insulated. A piece of electrical tape between them does the trick.

    They can say what they want for debunking the “digital” antenna. It’s all about the right dimensions. Thanks for a great alternative antenna, guys!

    Jim

  7. Roy Jacobsen says:

    After getting frustrated by a $100 “omnidirectional” antenna that didn’t tune in a couple of local stations, I put this one together, and it works great. Right now it’s just sitting on my living room floor, leaning up against a bookcase, and it’s outperforming any other antenna I’ve ever tried.

  8. Roy Jacobsen says:

    By the way, there’s a missing dimension line in the PDF. On page 2, there should be a horizontal line showing that the first screw holes are two inches down from the top of the board.

    Also, step 5 (on page 4) should mention that the wires should be insulated wherever they cross in the middle of the board.

  9. Gary says:

    We’ve always had difficult TV reception where I live (Shoreview, MN). Since the broadcast antennas are close by, you would think reception would be good, but not so.

    I simplified the mounting a bit. Instead of a 3/4″ thick board, I used a 2×4, added about 6 inches to the length and drilled a 1/2″ hole in the bottom. Then I put a 1/2″ dowel sticking up from the wood base. The 2×4 sits on the dowel eliminating the need for the flange and pipe.

    Total cost to me was $.75. The cost of the transformer.

  10. CMHDave says:

    I have all the pieces for this pretty much in place but I want to test out a minor modification before I post final pictures. To start with, the rabbit ears I have on the TV set now pull in our local PBS station with an 18-20 signal strength out of 100. I’ll measure what kind of signal strength I get with this as described. My minor modification is using cookie cooling racks from the dollar store (2 for $1) as a back “reflector” to further mimic the DB4 design. I am not sure if it’ll make an iota of difference but it doesn’t hurt to check.

  11. Chris says:

    I bought a $100 non-amplified antenna (Winegard Square Shooter) from a local electronics shop. It was overkill since I’m just outside the city. 2 days later I saw this post. I built the antenna tonight and placed it in the same spot. I measured the signal strength on both using a function on my TV and this antenna is a couple of % better than the store bought one on every channel. Ha! I’m mounting it in the attic, so this one will work fine.

  12. lance lopas says:

    Where can I get the transformer?
    I cant find any hangers here localy….. will 2.63mm thick wire work? (I have close to 100 ft of it & its all straight) If so how long are the V shaped pices? Any help would be greatly appriciated..

  13. MakeFan says:

    If anyone is interested in a simpler antenna design, get a length of wire, the longer the better, and throw it in your attic. And connect the wire to the center lead of the coax going to your tv, don’t connect anything to shielding. I am not kidding, it works extremely well, no design, no muss. You can imagine my surprise when I saw that this was a recognized antenna design at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random_wire_antenna

    1. Zack Hofstad says:

      I second the “copper wire sticking out the of the tv” method. I stripped down all but 3′ of a 20′ length of coaxial cable, plugged it into my tv, and voila. Granted, it’s not pretty, but I strung up the wire in my garage for the tv there, and the reception is incredible.

  14. Britain W. says:

    I unbent a paper clip and crammed it into the back of my converter box. I get everything in the yellow zone on AntennaWeb for my address. The PBS is a little pixely sometimes.

    Of course, the TV is on a upper level of the house near a window, so I wouldn’t necessarily try this stunt down in the family room, but it bodes well for if I ever actually source some wire hangers and try this antenna.

  15. williethewisp says:

    just wondering, what type of transformer is used, and where would i get one, as this seems like a nice project to make :)

    cheers in advance
    Williethewisp

  16. jim says:

    You can take the transformer from your old rabbit ear set if you make this antenna, since you won’t need your old rabbit ears anyway.

  17. Lance lopas says:

    I dont have a old set of rabbit ears! where do i get a transformer????????

  18. Anonymous says:

    Uhg. If you can’t figure out how to get ahold of the transformer then you probably shouldn’t be doing the projects. Go to Radio Shack or GOOGLE “75 to 300 ohm matching transformer”.

  19. Phillip Torrone says:

    hello anonymous commenter, you wrote “Uhg. If you can’t figure out how to get ahold of the transformer then you probably shouldn’t be doing the projects. Go to Radio Shack or GOOGLE “75 to 300 ohm matching transformer”.”

    please be a little more supportive, for many folks this is their first project or they’re not expert makers yet – we all started somewhere – keep it encouraging and inclusive :)

  20. williethewisp says:

    lol, missed that on the pdf, (materials list) but cheers for the help…

  21. anonymous says:

    I saw this project on the TV show (on the old rabbit-ears), and decided to give it a try. I didn’t have any of the materials, so I went around to a couple of stores to pick up the coat hangers, bolts, transformer, etc. The total cost to me was $15, and it works much much better than the rabbit-ears I used to find out about it in the first place! Excellent project for a newbie, and getting the transformer was simpler than I’d thought it would be: any decent electronics store should have one for about a dollar. Thanks, MAKE!

  22. lance says:

    Can i use 1 antenna for 2 tv’s with a splitter?

    Also does the antenna need aimed? Or is it non directional? I live inbetween 2 difrant countys & get signals form both…..

  23. Make: television says:

    @ lance,
    Not sure about the splitter question, we haven’t tried that yet. You should give it a shot with a splitter, and let us know how it works!

    We also didn’t experiment much with aiming the antenna (mainly because we were getting pretty good reception as is). But based on some of the comments we’ve gotten already, seems like adding a back reflector has really helped some.

  24. Andrew says:

    Thank you MAKE! You have relieved me from so much frustration of trying to get a good reception! Plus, we now get PBS! Hope to see the show on WQPT or iPTV (Quad Cities) soon! Thank you, thank you, thank you again! :-)

    A splitter works for me. I will most likely try a second splitter to go to another room.

    To elaborate, the splitter I’m using now goes to two separate digital converters. Both converters hook up to a DVD/VCR combo. One converter outputs to the player’s coaxial input and the other outputs to the auxiliary (AU) RCA input (RCA output available on the type of converter I have).

    I can record the AU channel on the VCR and watch another show from the other converter on TV channel 03. I can check what is being recorded on the AU channel on TV channel 00.

    I can also reverse the above set up. I can watch channel 00 and record channel 03. However, the VCR does not have to be on if I’m just watching channel 03 and not recording.

    Other notes: I can set the VCR to record AU or 03, but the correct digital converter has to be left on the channel I want to record. I have to block the infrared receiver from the remote if I’m changing channels. Also have to be careful to leave the volume up on the converter; if it is too low even turning up the TV might not make it loud enough.

  25. Andrew says:

    Thank you MAKE! You have relieved me from so much frustration of trying to get a good reception! Plus, we now get PBS! Hope to see the show on WQPT or iPTV (Quad Cities) soon! Thank you, thank you, thank you again! :-)

    A splitter works for me. I will most likely try a second splitter to go to another room.

    To elaborate, the splitter I’m using now goes to two separate digital converters. Both converters hook up to a DVD/VCR combo. One converter outputs to the player’s coaxial input and the other outputs to the auxiliary (AU) RCA input (RCA output available on the type of converter I have).

    I can record the AU channel on the VCR and watch another show from the other converter on TV channel 03. I can check what is being recorded on the AU channel on TV channel 00.

    I can also reverse the above set up. I can watch channel 00 and record channel 03. However, the VCR does not have to be on if I’m just watching channel 03 and not recording.

    Other notes: I can set the VCR to record AU or 03, but the correct digital converter has to be left on the channel I want to record. I have to block the infrared receiver from the remote if I’m changing channels. Also have to be careful to leave the volume up on the converter; if it is too low even turning up the TV might not make it loud enough.

  26. fholson.myopenid.com says:

    Re: Bender’s 1/14 “Question” about directionality. It’s a tradeoff. Performance is better when it is aimed right but if you need more than one direction it has to be turned
    or switch between two antennas. If you can get by without directionality, it is easier.

    Other similar designs on the web use “v” elements with 7″ legs (instead of 8″). Anyone know how this effects performance? The one I have with 7″ legs performs well but have not made an 8″ version yet. I have not tried a reflector yet but may.

    Fred, justcomm.org/dtv

  27. Josh Tolbert says:

    In the comments it’s stated that the wires should be insulated where they cross…Does that mean the entire cross area or just where the wires physically touch? Is there any reason I can’t just use regular stranded copper wire for the connecting wires? I’m guessing regular wire would work just fine, but I’d rather ask…

    Thanks!

  28. Josh Tolbert says:

    So, I built this project tonight, with a few minor changes. I decided to use 14AWG, stranded, copper wire with the insulation removed where I wrap it around the fasteners but left on everywhere else. For fasteners I used #10-24×1″ machine screws with corresponding nuts and #8 washers on each side of the wood. Everything was mounted on a 4×1/2″ board. I hung the matching transformer off the back side of the antenna instead of the front. For a base I’ve got four L-brackets with two holes in each side on the bottom, mounted on pair each side and across from the one on the other side of the board. I just used four of the #10-24 screws and nuts/washers to hold the L-brackets to the wood. I haven’t currently mounted the antenna to anything else for a base since it was stable enough with just the metal L-brackets to test with. It looks fairly hideous, but it *works*.

    The net result? I went from six analog and three digital signals with the old rabbit-ears to four analog and ten digital signals with the home-built antenna. I didn’t expect it to work this well, but it did. Total cost: about $9, including the 12′ of cable I had to buy and the fasteners.

    Oh, all of this was done with the antenna positioned pretty far away from the nearest window. I’m debating putting the entire thing on a board with some sort of reflector behind the coat-hangers (wire cooling rack would make a good reflector?), wrapping it all in black fabric and hanging it upside-down from the ceiling behind the fixed part of the glass door that leads on to my apartment’s balcony. Would the reflector idea work, and would wrapping the thing with fabric cause any real problems?

    Thanks again for the idea and plans for the project.

  29. George says:

    Besides missing an extension line for the 2″ dimension, it’s not clear what is 5 3/4″ from what. Spacing the holes at 5 3/4″ comes no where close to positioning the holes in places that resemble the drawing. Maybe the problem is the base shouldn’t be 30″ long. Something is wrong.

  30. George says:

    OK, the problem is the length of the board is given as 30″ on page 2 but 20″ on page 1. 20″ is better, but then the 2″ dimension should be 1 3/8″ or the 20″ should be 21 1/4″ and the 10″ should be 10 5/8″.

  31. Steve says:

    A couple things:

    After the DTV transition here I lost some channels. Rescanning didn’t bring them back, and I figured it must be an antenna issue, so I went ahead and built the above antenna. It certainly works better than a plain old UHF circle but it didn’t affect my missing channels.

    The detail was those channels had been temporarily on UHF before the transition, and after the transition they went back to their VHF channels (for reference this is KARE-11 and KMSP-9 in Minneapolis, MN). This antenna design really doesn’t work well for VHF, and believe it or not a $6 pair of bunny ears solved that problem for me!

    I have this antenna for UHF

    and it beats the home made one here by about 5-9% in signal strength on all channels. The coat hanger antenna does work, but before you invest a bunch of time in this project consider all your options. I had fun building the darn thing anyway, and might have a use for it in the future. My investment was about $4.00 for the transformer and screws.

  32. Ryan Smith says:

    By adding 2 Metal Mesh squares on the back of this and a subscriber amp I can cancel my cable. I used solid Copper Wire which seems to work better but it does cost a whole lot more than free clothes hangers.
    -Ryan

  33. Spike says:

    Works better than the amplified Jensen antenna I have for the bedroom TV and the amplified RCA antenna for the living room. Wish it would pick up VHF signals better though.

  34. beakmyn says:

    I used copper wire instead of coat hangers and went from 4 channels at best 70% signal to 13 channels with 88-100% signal (installed in attic).

  35. Anonymous says:

    Can someone please tell me how to hook the antenna up after you make it? Does it hook up to the converter box and if so, how? Thanks.

  36. UNCLEJACK says:

    GOOD PROJECT, I JUST THREW IT TOGETHER THIS AFTERNOON, AND WITH JUST PUTTING IT IN WINDOW NEAR TV GOT ABOUT 3 MORE CHANNELS, PROBABLY NEED TO CHECK TRANSFORMER, JUST ONE I PICKED UP FROM 20 YEARS AGO, CAN’T WAIT TO PUT IT OUTSIDE,SO FAR $0 INVESTED!

  37. Ed says:

    I live in Cherokee Village in Northeast Arkansas and according to antennaweb.org “There are no stations predicted to serve this location.”.

    Before “the big switch”, I was able to get a poor but usable signal from kait in Jonesboro. Since then my converter box cannot even detect the digital signal. Will this antenna design work well enough to at least give me kait again?

    1. tomreedtoon says:

      At UHF frequencies, antennas receive best when they are elevated above the lines of buildings. I’ve even known passing trucks to block TV signals. So if you can get your antenna elevated, you’ll get more reliable signals.

      Trouble is, this antenna (being made out of unfinished wood) isn’t really meant for rooftop mounting. If you have an attic you could try placing it there.

      I’d like to see a version of this antenna that is ruggedized for outdoor use. That would also involve running an aluminum wire down the side of the building connected to a cold water pipe, to act as a lightning rod in case of a direct lightning strike. And, of course, a DIY mount for people who don’t have chimneys to strap this antenna to. As it is, only expensive and hard-to-find rooftop mounts could do the job.

      As far as splitting the signal from this antenna, yes, you could do that…but a passive splitter would only give each TV or converter half the signal. You might try using an amplified splitter, or an amplifier and a passive splitter. (Any old TV antenna amplifier that works for UHF would work; they are available at Radio Shack or other such stores.) But, given the low cost of this, you might do better just building a second antenna, and use one for each TV!

  38. ebob2k says:

    Because the 3″ dimension of the wood is approximate, I’d think that a dimension BETWEEN the screws would be better unless it makes absolutely no difference in performance.

  39. walker6 says:

    I saw this antenna and I was looking to buy one for about $45 to $60 to use inside the house. I was using a pair of rabbit ear antenna(factory made) and also tried to use the loop(about six inch diameter factory made). My project work area is always ready to go (it’s in the basement). I grabbed the coat hangers from the back of the closet, then went to the extra boards pile and got an old picket from a fence I took out and a piece of 4 inch by 20 inch by 3/4 inch treated board(just laying there already cut). I cut the cedar picket (a soft wood that would allow the coat hangers to embed themselfs when mounted) to 20 inches long(3 1/2 inch by 3/8 by 20 inch), I cut the coat hangers then sanded them and mounted the hangers to the picket and to the treated board with the same hardware. I ran over to the TV junk drawer and pulled out a matching transformer and used two screws to attach the wires to the center antenna (2) coat hanger straight pieces. Ran upstairs and set the antenna on a foot locker next to the TV (leaning against the wall) and hooked up the cable from the TV to the matching transformer. I had to use some duct tape (as no project is complete without it) to tape the transformer to the antenna wood part. Without doing any adjustment to the antenna position the reception was very good! The signal was almost double what it was! Channel 40 the one I use for Startrek was 80percent by the TV meter and before it was marginal about 45 percent by the TV meter (during a rain storm I could not watch Startrek before). Thank you for putting this project here so I could get to build it.
    Roger

  40. VanHalensing says:

    My wife and I built this antenna, and it works better than the amplified one we had before. It picks up all of the local stations through all the apartment buildings in our complex with no troubles.

    The only suggestions I have are these:
    1. Use both the video and the PDF, some of the dimensions are hard to use unless you use them both. When it says a 3″ board, they mean 3″, not a 3″ wide board from the store (2.5″), they’re using exact dimensions. So, measurement wise, the screws are 2.5″ apart, which is important.
    2. I would use a 4″ board from the store (which is actually 3.5″ wide when you measure it, see number 1) for stability.
    3. The middle screws are centered, ignore the 10″ dimension on the right in the PDF, this causes them to be non-centered. Alternatively, you could change the 2″ on the top to 1 3/8″, which would also fix this.
    4. Measure your hangers, not all hangers are wide enough to provide 2 8″ V’s, so you may require more hangers, and you shouldn’t skimp on the length of those V’s, it will mess with your reception.
    5. If this is going anywhere people may touch it, I suggest using a metal file on the tips of your wires, those wires can be wicked sharp.

    Other than those minor things, this is an awesome antenna! We painted our boards black first, and sanded the coatings off of all of the hangers, and the whole thing is black and silver now, very cool.

    I suggest this antenna to anyone who is having antenna troubles.

  41. Alex Dickman says:

    Did any one metion this only does UHF, a lot of times PBS is on a VHF frequency. I just added two more wide coat hangers to it, seems to do the trick.

  42. KGDave says:

    John,

    This is a bow-tie array and was not dreamed up by Hoverman. His design uses two long wires that are bent to look like diamonds with stubs on the ends and has been optimized in other forums.

    To the design of this antenna, there is one serious error – the spacing between elements. 5 3/4″ is WAY too small for the best performance. 9″ is better, and the elements should be at least 8 1/2″ long, not 8″. Doing this will improve reception in the lower UHF (14-25) and provide real gain for high-VHF channels (7-13).

    PLEASE delete any references to Hoverman.

  43. KGDave says:

    John,

    This is a bow-tie array and was not dreamed up by Hoverman. His design uses two long wires that are bent to look like diamonds with stubs on the ends and has been optimized in other forums.

    To the design of this antenna, there is one serious error – the spacing between elements. 5 3/4″ is WAY too small for the best performance. 9″ is better, and the elements should be at least 8 1/2″ long, not 8″. Doing this will improve reception in the lower UHF (14-25) and provide real gain for high-VHF channels (7-13).

    PLEASE delete any references to Hoverman.

  44. KGDave says:

    I know I punched the submit button just once. Sorry about the double-posting.

  45. Most excellent guide! I’m going to try this tonight.

  46. Most excellent guide! I’m going to try this tonight.

  47. Anonymous says:

    I built this antenna yesterday as close to the instructions possible.  I got 14 channels scanned in and most are over 60% signal.  This antenna was hanging in my utility room in the garage which is mostly underground.  I can’t wait to get some more coax to get it to a higher level.  In my opinion it works as good as the $100.00 antennas.  I believe i’m going to replace the coat hanger metal with stainless wire and place it on a pole above my home.

  48. I have a beach house in SC located between Charleston and Savannah Georgia. I built two of these one with coat hangers and another with galv. steel wire. I added a signal amplifyer to each. The top floor antenna receives all Charleston Stations and most of the Savannnah stations (It is hung from the back of the dresser which holds the TV). The second Antenna is on the opposite side of the house (Savannah side) and one floor down. It initially picked up stations from Orlando, Jacksonville, and Daytona Beach Fla and most of the Savannah Stations–but is weather sensitive on the Florida stations. These results are amazing to me.
    I ended up mounting the antenna on the Charleston side of the house and it now gets all Charleston stations but no other stations–I assume the signal is blocked by the house.
    Attic mount is suggested if cabling is easy. Forget trying to use a standard splitter for 2 or more sets, it did not work but did not try an amplified version.
    Iam considering increasing building a board with double the number of wires and one center transformer to see if it will do better on the long range stations and perhaps also pick up all of the stations in Charleston-Savannah area. If anyone has tried this, please reply with your results.
    Another note: Experimentiing with the directional issues: 1) Definitely antenna is sensitive to direction and works much better if pointed at the stations. I also tryed to link two antennas positions at right angles to each other to pick up stations in different locations but this produced signals only slightly better than one well positioned antenna.

    Just wanted to share this and get comments.
    Clyde
    South Carolina

  49. Bruce says:

    I just put one together with my six year old and three year old. With that said, it looks like six and three year olds put it together. When my wife got home she said, “that’s nice but you are not going to leave it there are you?” LOL!!! We now have twenty channels thanks to your site! Prior to this we only had Roku–now we have options…muwa ha ha ha ha!!! Fun project.
    Thank you,
    Bruce

    1. J. Clyde Hincher says:

      The RCA signalenhancer will also boost performance–$15 at Walmart.

  50. Mark Smith says:

    I built this, and it worked fairly well. But I found that the addition of a reflector behind the “bowties” made a huge improvement to performance. The reflector needs to be 4-5 inches behind, so I mounted a length of 2×4 on edge to the back of the board with the antenna on it. Then I used an appropriately cut-to-size piece of half inch hardware cloth and attached that to the 2×4 with screws & washers. You could probably use cardboard with aluminum foil taped to it in a pinch, but the hardware cloth is more robust, and I already had some!

    Anyway, I’ve read that this can give a 4dB improvement to the signal, which is more than twice the power. And in practice, it really worked well. Probably the only possible drawback might be that this makes the antenna more directional too, so if your local stations are in all different directions, you’d have to rotate it as needed for optimum signal.

    I highly recommend adding a reflector. It’s such an easy extra and gives much better results!

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