<<< Back to Eric's Robots

Antenna for Channel 8 (PBS)

Here is a project that your wife is sure to appreciate. My kids only want to watch kids shows, and my wife wants them to watch only public TV.

Solution #1: We canceled the satellite dish, gave our regular donation to public broadcasting during pledge week. Unfortunately, the over the airwaves signal is lousy...

I don't want to go back and pay for expensive satellite TV or Cable. The kids are only going to watch public TV anyway while my hard earned money would go to support the 149 other channels full of junk we would rather not watch.

Solution #2: I purchased a $39.99 Power antenna. It gets Channels 11 and up just fine, but is pretty lousy with the lower frequency channels. It has a sexy new Blue LED to show that the Power is on, but it is so bright as to be annoying. I took out the LED for one of my own projects and put in a nice old fashioned (dim) green LED instead.

I still couldn't get channel 8 well. Even with Power, channel 8 looks awful. Am I going to go out and buy a $100 + behemoth aerial and mount it on my house? No! The buck stops here!

Solution #3: There comes a time when you have to take matters into your own hands:

Build your own TV antenna

You will need the following materials:

  1. Twin lead Antenna wire (300 ohm) - 50' ($8 at Radio Shack)
  2. 75-300 ohm transformer ($5 at Radio Shack)
  3. Some 75 ohm coax cable to hook to your TV.
  4. Soldering iron/solder
  5. Black Electrical Tape
  6. (optional) pieces of wood/plastic to mount it on
  7. (optional) Cable ties
  8. (optional) Some bare copper wire (I used some surplus electrical wire)

Now, you will need to consult the directions at here. There is a nice explanation for why the Power antenna probably didn't work. Looks pretty on top of my entertainment system, however.

You can build the 'standard' antenna to pick up a range of channels as listed at the bottom of the link above, or you can building a dipole antenna that will be tuned to pick up one channel best. Chanel 8 should be 31" long. Consult this Table. Bare copper wire can be used to "find tune" the antenna and make it directional. One piece should be 5% longer, the other 5% shorter. Place them .2 X the wavelength of the station you are trying to pick up.

The final product

(Antenna in the middle of my living room)

Ain't she a beaut? OK, it ain't pretty, but it works great! You have to turn the chair in exactly the right direction. The kids like to spin the chair around when there is something on they don't watch.

Next on the list is to relocate this little gem to my attic. But I am so proud of it, I think I will let it sit in the living room for a while until I get tired of it (or Amy gets tired of it, whichever comes first.)


I would like to thank the sales people at Radio Shack who tried to help me out. Well, they didn't really help me out. Twin lead wire: "Huh? I don't think you can an build an antenna. This is just for hooking it up." 300 ohm to 75 ohm transformer: "Oh yeah, someone came in looking for one of those the other day and I couldn't find it. The computer says we have 5 though."

God bless 'em. They may not have known anything about building antennas or where to find anything I needed, but they sure were friendly and are keeping the lights on and at least keep the parts in stock. I will be back.

Update September 2004

The antenna was moved up to the attic. I was going to return the Power Antenna, but the receipt says they won't accept a return after 30 days. I guess I will have to dissect it and see what makes it tick (or not tick, as the case may be.)

Update January 2008

The switchover from analog TV transmission over the air in the US is due to be complete in February 2009. That means you only have 2 years left to use this particular technique - then you'll have to find another solution. You can sign up now for a digital to analog converter coupon, although there are not any of them in stores yet.


Home | Contact Us       Copyright 2008 Eric Z. Ayers