DIY antennas: Build your own DTV antenna!

Consumer Reports News: April 17, 2009 06:08 AM

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If you're committed to getting free over-the-air TV broadcasts after June 12th, you'll need either a TV (or DVD recorder or TiVo) with a built-in digital tuner, or you'll need a DTV converter.

What you may also be hearing (but not from us) is that you'll need a new fancypants digital TV antenna to pull in these new signals. Thankfully, that's simply not the case. In fact, the truth is that with a few simple household items from your closet or basement, you can build your own DTV antenna in less than a half-hour, often for a fraction of the cost of a store-bought model.

We spent just a few minutes on the web looking for some basic antenna designs that almost anyone can construct. One of the best—and first—we came across was by the editors at Make magazine, which basically consists of a wooden plank and a fistful of coat hangers. Check out their how-to video (above) to see how it's done. As a bonus, they throw in instructions for building a low-cost video steadicam.

A similar project is explained on Metacafe.com's DTV antenna project.

If you need something larger, such as an attic model, check out this video, which will help you construct an antenna that connects to a motorized rotor, so it can be remotely rotated for best reception.

An even larger, more grandiose attic model (that resembles something Vlad the Impaler might keep in his basement dungeon), can be built from this design from the good people at wikihow.com.

For those with cancelled satellite service who’d consider using the left-over roof-mounted dish as an antenna base, consider this plan from the folks at Instructables.com.

Harboring a grudge against your neighbors? This YouTube clip offers up an unsightly satellite-based antenna, which is apparently providing its proud owner (and what looks like a 9-inch battery-powered TV) with 12 “good” digital channels.

And for those just looking for something a bit more ambitious, consider this outdoor weatherproof DTV antenna, which adds a pair of disposable charcoal grill toppers to the tried-and-true stick-and-coat-hangers design. Unfortunately, the guy who put the video together used unauthorized music from a Warner Bros. artist for his backing soundtrack, and Warner had the audio—including the spoken instructions—removed. Fortunately, in this case pictures are worth thousands of words, so you should be able to get the gist of it.

Which leads us to the question: Have any of you tackled your own DIY DTV projects? If so, we'd like to hear about them. So send us your stories, and include links if you have the photographic evidence. —James K. Willcox

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