|Do It Yourself TV Antenna|
With so much crap on cable at a rediculously high price, I gave Comcast the boot. Without cable though, I needed an antenna to pick up the local stations for FREE.
At first I bought a basic antenna from the local home center for about $20. It is about the size of a laptop computer. My problem is that it only picks up two stations reliably (FOX and a religious channel). Both each have two sub channels. PBS and ABC are very hit and miss (more often miss). NBC and MyNetworkTV are very snowy (the translator stations for both are still in analog since they are not considered by the FCC to be full power stations and were thus exempt from the June 12, 2009 changeover.
I could have installed a rooftop antenna or bought a different indoor antenna. But a chance converstation with a friend of mine pointed me to a website for building a television antenna out of metal coat hangers. The directions can be found at make projects.com.
I admit I was skeptical that it would work but doing some pricing on materials I would need put the investment at less than $10 so I figured I didn't have alot to lose.
The materials I used follow the directions specified above. I used a 2x4x48 that I found in the bargain bin at the local home center for under a dollar. And where the two diagonnals cross, they must be insulated. By chance earlier in the day I had a Frappucino at Starbucks. The cup was still sitting on my desk with a plastic drinking straw still in it. I just needed to cut it to the proper length.
Once I built it I put it to the test. Where the store bought antenna reliably picked up two stations, the coat hanger also picked up the two that the store bought antenna was hit or miss on. The snowy analog stations also came in with less snow (but not entirely snow free).
It still does not tune CBS or NBC at all. The CBS signal around here is very tricky as the digital antenna is side mounted on their tower on the side facing away from me. The NBC station has a weak trasnmitter signal. And the main ABC affiliate for the area (we have two) has their tower 50 miles north of everybody else so it requires aiming differently.
I've been told to tune in the missing stations, I need to make modifications so VHF signals (channels 2-13) can be received. The coat hanger whiskers only work for UHF (Chanels 14-52). Trying to find such parts though has proven very difficult as few retailers carry good old fashioned rabbit ears anymore. I'm skeptical though as the PBS station while coming in as channel 35 transmits its digital on channel 11 (VHF). It is possible however that due to their tower's location (20 miles away) and very strong transmitter that it "forces" itself into a UHF antenna.
I would definitely suggest building such an antenna. It only took me an hour or two to construct and my materials cost me less than $10. I only had to buy the board and transformer. Small packages of screws and washers can be purchased for under $6 total. Metal coat hangers are the only item I am not sure where you can find or for how much as now days all hangers are plastic.
One website mentions a reflector. The closest I've found is a piece of metal for about $20. I have not tried a metal cookie sheet but I believe one would work if holes were drilled for anchoring it down.