Sunday, March 6, 2011

Build your own DTV Antenna

The weatherman said it was supposed to be a rainy weekend, so  I figured we needed a project to work on.  I recently saw a variety of blog posts about building an antenna to pick up HD signals over the air.  I thought that would be nifty, since I don't subscribe to cable or satellite.  I'm also a big fan of salvaging junk from around the house, and trying to build something with it.  (My buddies and I once managed to build a brick-launching trebuchet with scrap from my friend's barn).

I don't remember where I originally saw the idea for building a Digital TV antenna out of coat hangers, but when I went to go searching for it, I found the Make TV video and accompanying PDF Instructions. That was neat, since I'm a Make magazine subscriber.

I scrounged around for a slab of wood, a bunch of hangers, screws and washers, some electrical tape, and the required tools (drill, sandpaper, screwdriver, wire snips).  I had everything but the 75Ohm-300Ohm F-connector transformer.  I swear I have one lying around who-knows-where, but my search was fruitless, and the local hardware store was able to bail me out for $5.  Remember your old wood-paneled TV with the two screws on the back for an antenna, and you needed a fancy adapter to connect it to your "cable box" with coaxial cable?  That's the one.

Anyhow, it all went pretty smoothly.  Here it is in 3d glory!  (a couple prongs needed some swivel-love)

I stuck it up on the roof (remember that rain forecast?), and tried running the auto-scan on my TV.


I only got 4-5 analog stations, and no digital stations.

As a control, I tried running the channel scan on the TV with nothing attached, and with just the coax cable that goes up to the roof.  I managed to only get CTV and French CBC (Radio Canada) (I'm slightly annoyed that the highest quality station I can receive is French, which I would estimate is watched by about 4 people in this city).

So, it was an improvement... we can now additionally get TVO, a really fuzzy CBC, and Global.  I'd probably have done as well with a pair of RadioShack (whatever they're called now) rabbit ears.  

TVOKids was on, so we settled in to watch Dino Dan.  That was good enough for the kids, and the reward was that they thought it was really cool that Dad's project meant they could see a new show.  Success enough for me.

They then went on to watch another 2 hours of TV.  Maybe it's a good thing it didn't work any better!

1 comment:

  1. Oh CBC was coming in just fine -- their funding's been cut, it just looks like that now. ;)