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Digital TV Coat-Hanger Antenna

Build your own digital TV antenna from wire hangers, a piece of wood and some pipe.

Digital TV Coat-Hanger Antenna

Television antennas are comprised of a series of metal rods cut to exact lengths and positioned so they receive a particular television frequency. The following design was invented in the 1960s by an engineer named Doyt Hoverman. It is particularly sensitive in the UHF frequency range, the same range used for the majority of digital television transmissions.

This isn’t a project of my making, I merely wanted to comment on it in this space. All credit goes to Make:television for posting the (attached) instruction PDF.

Watch John Park do this.

Steps

Step #1: Mark the antenna frame

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Digital TV Coat-Hanger AntennaDigital TV Coat-Hanger AntennaDigital TV Coat-Hanger Antenna
  • Begin construction of the antenna by marking a 3” x 20” board as shown. Note that these dimensions are important to get a good signal with the finished antenna.
  • This diagram was modified from the version in the PDF.

Step #2: Drill holes for mounting screws

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  • Drill a 1/16" pilot hole for each screw location.
  • Don't forget the middle two holes!

Step #3: Cut four coat hangers and remove finish

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Digital TV Coat-Hanger Antenna
  • Cut apart four wire coat hangers as shown in the diagram to obain eight V-shaped pieces of wire.
  • Once you have the V shape, cut the legs to be 8" long as measured from the bend.
  • The ends should be 3" apart.
  • Remove any paint or varnish at the bottom of the V so they’ll make good electrical contact.

Step #4: Cut and straighten two coat hangers

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Digital TV Coat-Hanger Antenna

Cut the hooks off of two coat hangers, and straighten them out with pliers to obtain two wires, at least 22” long.

Step #5: Attach wires to board

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Digital TV Coat-Hanger Antenna
  • Attach the wire pieces as shown, bending the wire to make good electrical contact with the screw heads.
  • Note how the straight wires cross back and forth between the screws.
  • Remove insulation from coat hangers at all 10 contact points.
  • Insulate wires (with electrical tape) at points where they cross on the board.

Step #6: Attach TV transformer

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Digital TV Coat-Hanger Antenna

Attach the matching transformer to the center two connections of the antenna.

Conclusion

I put this project here because I completed it and wanted to add my comments. I omitted the base which I didn't build, and updated the schematic. Please move or modify it as necessary for content and copyright compliance!


Comments

  1. Frank wang says:

    Hi, how are you! glad to read your comment. I want to build it too, but I don’t have matching transformer. could you please tell me which store to buy from. thank you.
    my email is huangshiyufu@hotmail.com

  2. Hikus says:

    That’s a tough one… Try using all the same type of hanger, and maybe try a few different types of hanger to see which works best. Make sure there is good contact everywhere the metal should be connecting, and that the wires are insulated where they should not be connecting. The angles are very precise, and in my model I’m always surprised how little motions can destroy the reception. Let us know if you sort it out, and what you try!

  3. Hikus says:

    One thing the transformer does is take the coaxial cable and split it into two wires. I don’t know if a transformer does things other than that. To mimic it, try using alligator clips, or soldering wires separately to the inner wire and the ‘shielding’. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coaxial_cable to get a good picture of the wires. Attach the shielding to one of the center connections, and the inner wire to the other. Let me know how it goes!

    1. BoneHead says:

      Basically the transformer converts 75 ohm to 300 ohm so you can use coax cable which is shielded. If you don’t use coax you have to keep the two wires apart and away from radio interference. This is very old school , like the old TV’s on roof tops in the 1950′s.

  4. Lou says:

    This provides more channels and better reception than any store-bought antenna I have tried. I mounted mine on a wall near the ceiling and facing the transmitters in my area. Rather than plugging it in directly to the t.v., I plugged it into the amplifier box from the RCA flat digital antenna which it replaced and which never worked that well.

  5. Jason says:

    Ok, I’m frustrated! Built this design to a t and I get nothing. Did I miss something?

  6. Paul Francis says:

    Hi! I need to know more about the transformer. Also, where is the download link for the PDF file?

  7. Jim Bennett says:

    The transformer is the standard 75-300 ohm transformer for connecting a 75 ohm coax cable to the old 300 ohm flat wires like went to roof antennas. You can easily find them at probably any TV retailer or Radio Shack. Most older TVs usually included one in the accessory kit.
    Actually, a much simpler and still very effective antenna for digital TV reception is a single round loop antenna that can be made out of a coat hanger or bailing wire, just like the old UHF antennas. The simple reason that it works is that most digital TV channels are broadcast on UHF frequencies. Connecting the loop antenna to the 75-300 ohm transformer on the end of a cable connected to the TV allows for more effective antenna placement.

  8. swebsurf says:

    Will 12 or 14 gauge insulated copper wire work in lieu of coat hangers? I would just need to remove the insulation in the spots noted in the diagram. Thanks!

    1. Jim Bennett says:

      The gauge doesn’t matter, as long as it stays rigid. Certainly, any insulation needs to be removed. But keep in mind that this is a lot of work to create an antenna designed in the 60s to work with analog VHF TV, which doesn’t exist anymore. Digital TV channels are mainly broadcast on UHF frequencies, so a 50 year old VHF antenna design is inappropriate.
      I will tell you that I’ve been an A/V service technician for almost 40 years and what I have on my TVs are just wire loops (like UHF antennas) connected to a 75-300 balun transformer, connected by a 75 ohm coax cable to the antenna input to my digital TV tuner. Where I live near Denver, it works fine and it only took about five minutes to make.

      1. Jim Bennett says:

        OK. I did miss the part where they claim that this antenna is specifically designed for UHF frequencies, so it should work fine for digital channels. It should also be better than the loop antenna for weaker signal areas, if built properly.

  9. construction of the antenna by marking a 3” x 20” board and plugging it in directly to the t.v., plugged it into the amplifier box from the RCA flat digital antenna which it replaced.

  10. Mike C says:

    Just built this today and it works like a charm! I live in Colorado near the mountains and get a lot of interference but that wasn’t an issue for the antenna. Picks up almost twice as many channels as my Mohu Leaf and cost $13 to build. Got ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and CW, as well as countless other random channels. TTYL Comcast!

  11. mounika says:

    i have done this project but clarity is not their in the picture

  12. […] we moved to our latest home, the rabbit ears didn't work as well as they had in the past, so I made one of these. I didn't have any wire coat hangers, so I bought some wire. The whole thing took about 15 minutes […]

  13. Domanick says:

    Hi my name is Domanick and i am doing a science project what does a TV transformer really
    do?

  14. Dave says:

    Ok, I made and installed this over the weekend. I bought the transformer at Radio Shack in the mall for about $6. Whole project cost about $8 – I just moved into a new house that had an existing Dish Network dish on the roof. So I attached my antenna to it using pull ties. I live in Eastern LA county and faced the antenna at 285 degrees toward Mt. Wilson. After a few issues with the existing cable, I now have perfect reception. 60 plus channels. I tried it in the house and the reception was really poor so it has to go on the roof. I also bought a amplifier from Target to see if it would make a difference. After running a signal strength comparison through the digital/analog converter box this antenna works better without the amplifier. Now if I could only get Internet on the cheep too!!

  15. I used copper wire – I had scrap from wiring my 1400sq ft shop. I put wire nuts on the end for safety. The base is attached with Kreg screws