Make: Projects

Over-the-Air TV Antenna

Create an antenna for your TV to get the over-the-air TV stations for less than $10.

Over-the-Air TV Antenna



Step #1:

Over-the-Air TV Antenna

My wife LOVES the Summer Olympics. However, we don't have cable. I need to find a way for her to be able to watch. Of course, we could just get cable... but what fun is that?!

Step #2:

Over-the-Air TV Antenna

You will need the following materials: 1 aluminum can, something to mount the can to (I used a piece of scrap wood), coax cable and, most importantly, an impedance-matching transformer from RadioShack.

Step #3:

Over-the-Air TV AntennaOver-the-Air TV AntennaOver-the-Air TV Antenna
  • First, start by cutting the soda can in half the long way with tin snips, or shears.
  • Mount these can halves to something to keep them in place. I used a staple gun to hold them to a piece of scrap wood.
  • I also attached a small-gauge wire to the inside corner of each half. This will be a pain. I had trouble soldering this part, so I sanded off the coating from the inside of the can, and folded the wire into the corner and hot-glued it down. It works pretty well, but I feel a solder joint would be better.

Step #4:

Over-the-Air TV AntennaOver-the-Air TV AntennaOver-the-Air TV AntennaOver-the-Air TV Antenna
  • Next attach each wire to a lead on the matching transformer. I bought this transformer at RadioShack for $6.
  • I also attached the matching transformer to the wood with an elastic band, not fancy at all.

Step #5:

Over-the-Air TV Antenna
  • Finally, attach the new antenna with a coax cable to the back of the TV. You will probably have to run a scan for channels and make sure you have the TV set to "AIR."
  • I have to admit mine works really well. We now get about 8 channels, all local. The picture and audio are great! I even have the antenna set up in our basement family room, which has no windows or anything. Here is a picture of the TV displaying the local weather. Not too shabby for less than $10.
  • Now the wife can watch the Olympics!

  • Rich Reynolds

    Morning! I actually didnt measure the length of the scrap wood, it was just something I had laying around. I dont think the distance between the cans is important. (i could be wrong) As for the “wiring,” there isnt any. I literally hot glued the end of the wire to the edge of the can. I did sand off the coating and fold over the metal to ensure a good connection. I attempted to solder it, but the can was so thin it wasnt working very well. Honestly the matching transformer is the important part, the cans just “catch” the signal and direct it into the transformer (im completely dumbing this down by the way)

    Anyway, do a few google searches and youll find there are a lot of these around and lots of people have made a bunch of different style antennas. give it a shot! I promise it does work.