The antennas capture the wavelengths in the air and convert them into sound and visual signals that you can watch on the television or listen to on the radio. If you want to build your own antenna to better tune the frequencies, all you need are some tools and materials. TV antennas require multiple extensions (or dipoles) to transmit channels on your TV, while FM radio antennas only need two dipoles to maximize frequency. When you finish building the antenna, mount it somewhere in the house so you can connect it to your receivers.
Method 1 of 3: Create a Simple Antenna
Step 1. Remove the insulating material from the end of a coaxial cable to make a simple antenna
Use a coaxial cable that is long enough to run from the TV to the nearest window for the best reception. Use a cable cutter to remove at least 6 inches (15 cm) of insulation from the end of a coaxial cable. Once the inner wire is exposed, straighten it by hand and lay it upright near the window. Bring the other end of the cable to the port on the TV to connect to the antenna.
- You can access 5 or 10 channels with a simple antenna.
- You may be able to improve the antenna signal by wrapping the exposed end of the coaxial cable in aluminum foil.
If you still don't see channels on the TV, check the settings to make sure the input is set to "Antenna" or "Air" instead of "Cable."
Step 2. Attach a straightened paper clip directly to the TV's coaxial port
Use a giant-size paper clip to access most of the channels on your TV. Straighten the paper clip by hand or with pliers until it is L-shaped. Insert the short end of the straightened paper clip into the small hole in the coaxial port of the TV. Once the antenna is in place, you will be able to receive some TV channels.
- Clipboard antennas work best near a window.
- Connect the antenna to the coaxial splitter and run a coaxial cable from there to the TV if you want to extend the range further.
Step 3. Create an FM radio antenna by stripping the end of an Ethernet cable
Use scissors to cut one end of the Ethernet cable. Strip about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) of insulating material from the Ethernet cable to expose the bottom cables. Twist the cables together with your hand as firmly as you can so that they meet at a point at the end. Plug the other end of the cable into the radio receiver and point the antenna up to access the stations.
Method 2 of 3: Make an HDTV Antenna
Step 1. Cut eight 17-inch pieces of copper wire
Purchase uninsulated 12-gauge copper wire to build the antenna. Measure eight separate pieces 17 inches (45 cm) long and mark the length with a marker. Use a cable cutter to cut the cables into eight pieces.
You can buy uninsulated wire at your local hardware store
Do not use insulated wire for the antenna, as it will not receive the signal as strongly.
Step 2. Bend the wires to make V-shaped dipoles so that the ends are 3 inches (8 cm) apart
You can bend the wires by hand or use pliers if that's easier for you. Take the ends of a piece of wire and bend it in half so that the ends touch. Straighten the wire so that it looks like a V and the ends are 3 inches (8 cm) apart. Repeat the process with the rest of the wires.
Bending the wires helps to better capture the frequencies for a clearer image
Step 3. Drill holes every 8 inches (20 cm) in the sides of a 32-inch board
Put a bit in the drill that is 1/8 inch (0.32 cm) smaller in diameter than the screws you want to use. Drill the first hole in a 32-inch board so that it's along the longest side and 1 inch (2.5 cm) down the end. Continue to drill holes every 8 inches (20 cm) for the entire length of the board before drilling holes on each side.
- Make sure the holes are lined up with each other so that the antenna dipoles are directly facing each other.
- Do not pierce the table completely. Otherwise, the screws may not stay secure later.
Step 4. Put screws and washers through the holes you have made
Line up the centers of the metal washers with the holes you made in the wood. Feed the ends of the 1/2-inch wood screws into the holes and turn them clockwise by hand. Keep turning the screws until they are fixed in the piece of wood.
Do not fully tighten the bolts, as you will need to place the wires under each washer
Step 5. Wrap the antenna dipoles around the screws so that the ends point outward
Lift one of the washers so that it is pressed onto the top of the screw. Position one of the folded dipoles under the washer so that the ends point away from the piece of wood. Make sure the bend in the wire is pressed firmly against the base of the screw so it doesn't move or shift. Repeat the process with the other screws.
- In total, you will have four dipoles on each side of the wooden board.
- Do not allow the dipoles to touch each other, as it can affect the signal strength.
Step 6. Place 34-inch (84-cm) wires between the dipoles to form a zigzag pattern
Cut two pieces of copper wire that are 34 inches (84 cm) long. Wrap the end of the wire once around the top screw on the left side of the board. Guide the wire around the second and third screws from the top on the right side of the board. Bend the wire to the left side of the board so that it goes under the lower left washer. Add another wire from the upper right screw that crosses through the second and third screws on the left, and ends on the lower right screw.
These wires are known as "phasing bars" and connect the dipoles of the antenna to improve the frequency with each other to receive a better image
Step 7. Tighten the screws so that the washer holds the wires in place
Use a screwdriver to finish tightening the screws on the board. Keep turning them clockwise so the washers press down on the wires underneath and to hold them securely against the wood. Gently pull the wires to make sure they don't loosen.
- If the wires come out or loosen from the washers, reposition them and continue tightening the screws.
- Make sure the antenna dipoles are not touching each other after tightening the screws. Otherwise, the signal will not be as clear.
Step 8. Glue the sections of the phasing bars where the wires cross to separate them
There will be two points in the middle of the table where the bars intersect. Wrap a piece of electrical tape around each wire at the intersection to prevent them from touching. Glue the other intersection in the same way to keep the wires apart.
If the bar wires touch each other, the channels may blur or short-circuit the antenna
Step 9. Solder an impedance matching transformer on each phasing bar
An impedance matching transformer has a coaxial port that connects to the television and two cables that connect to the antenna bars. Position the transformer in the middle of the antenna and bend the ends so that they touch the wires on the phasing bars. Heat a soldering iron and solder the ends of the transformer so that they are secured to the wires on the phasing bar. Allow the solder to dry for a minute before continuing.
- You can purchase an impedance matching transformer at an electronics store or hardware store.
- Do not touch the soldering iron while it is hot, as it could burn you.
Step 10. Connect a coaxial cable to the end of the transformer
Coaxial cables are the standards for connecting the television to the antenna or cable signal so that the image appears sharp on the screen. Screw the end of a coaxial cable directly into the transformer port until it is tight. Connect the other end of the coaxial cable to the port on the back of the TV.
Step 11. Position the antenna until you get a clear image on the TV
Keep the antenna vertical to get the best signal. Turn on the TV to observe the picture and move the antenna around the room until you get a clear picture. Try different channels to see what is available with your new antenna.
- You may have to reposition the antenna several times depending on the signal strength and the channel.
- Do not place the antenna outside, as there are exposed wires and you could short circuit.
- The channels you receive will depend on your location and signal strength.
Method 3 of 3: Build an FM Radio Antenna
Step 1. Divide 468 by the frequency you want to tune in to determine the length of the antenna
To get the best signal from a radio frequency, you will need to identify the correct length for the antenna. Pick an FM radio station that you listen to a lot to select as the main frequency you want to receive. Divide 468 by the frequency to determine the total length in feet for the antenna you need.
For example, if you want to receive frequency 98.3, calculate 468/98, 3 = 4.76 feet (1.45 meters). You will receive the best signal of 98.3 if the antenna is 4.76 feet or 1.45 meters long
you will still be able to access other stations with your station, but you may not receive them as clearly.
Step 2. Cut an aluminum pole the length of the antenna
Use a 1/2-inch diameter aluminum pole to make the antenna and mark the length needed with a marker or pencil. Hold the tube firmly in place as you cut along the mark with a hacksaw. Work slowly so you don't break the pole or saw as you cut.
- You can buy aluminum poles at local hardware stores. Perhaps you can ask the employees to cut the polo shirt to size for you.
- It doesn't matter if the pole you use is solid or hollow aluminum.
- If you don't have an aluminum pole, you can use an old broomstick.
Step 3. Divide a speaker wire in the middle to separate the wires
A speaker wire has two separate wires that are insulated from each other. Use a utility knife to carefully cut the junction between the two wires to separate them. Grab one of the wires in each hand and slowly pull them apart. Keep separating the cables until they are 1 foot (30 cm) longer than half the length of the antenna.
- For example, if the length of the antenna is 1.5 meters (5 feet), each of the cables should be 1.5 meters (3 1/2 feet) long.
- Tighten a zip tie around the speaker wire if you don't want the wires to keep separating.
Step 4. Strip 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the ends of the wires
Run a wire cutter around the last 2.5 cm (1 inch) of one of the speaker wires. Squeeze the handles and pull the cutter to the end to remove the insulating material. Repeat the process with the other wire so that both ends are exposed.
Stripping the ends of the cables allows radio frequencies to enter them so they can transmit a signal
Step 5. Wrap the wires around the pole from the center
Place the section of speaker wire that you split against the middle of the aluminum bar. Take one side of the wire and wrap it tightly around the bar. Leave enough space between each coil so that the exposed wire at the end of the wire can reach the end of the pole. Repeat the process with the other wire on the opposite side of the bar.
- Make sure to wind the cord in the same direction. Otherwise, the radio frequency may not be clear.
- It does not matter how many rolls the antenna has as long as the cable is firmly against the bar.
Step 6. Glue the ends of the speaker wire onto the ends of the pole
Hold one end of the cable against the end of the aluminum bar so that the exposed cable is flush with the edge. Wrap a piece of electrical tape around the wire so that the end is exposed. Otherwise, you will not be able to receive frequencies. Glue the other end of the wire to the opposite side of the bar so it won't unroll.
You can glue multiple places on the bar if the rolls come loose. Just expose the ends of the wires
Step 7. Hang the antenna vertically near a window
The FM radio antenna works best if you hold the rod vertically. Find a place near the radio receiver and a window to get a strong signal. Position tube straps every 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) along the bar and nail them into place on the wall to secure the antenna.
- Do not place the antenna outside as there are exposed cables and electronic devices.
- You don't need to install the antenna on the wall if you don't want to.
Step 8. Plug the other end of the speaker wire into the receiver
Route the undivided end of the speaker wire through the back of the radio receiver and look for FM input ports. Put the ends of the cable into the FM port and turn the radio on the frequency for which you made the antenna. Try other radio stations and frequencies to see if you can access them.
Sometimes the FM port has a coaxial connection. If your receiver uses a coaxial port, connect the port of an impedance matching transformer to the receiver. Splice the speaker wire at the two ends of the transformer to connect the antenna
- Be careful when working with a soldering iron as it can get hot and cause burns.
- Keep the antenna inside so it won't short-circuit or cause damage in bad weather conditions.