Build your own home TV antenna with a paperclip or clothes hanger
Luke Bouma • April 7, 2019if( has_post_thumbnail( $post_id ) ): ?>
A TV antenna is a great way to get a multitude of HD channels including, in many areas, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC for free. While you can buy an antenna for under $50 at stores such as Walmart or Target, you can also build your own antenna with items you likely already have in your house.
Here are two ways to make a cheap and easy antenna for your TV.
One note before we get started: if you have a smart TV you will need to use its menu to scan for channels after you install the antenna. To do this, go to settings on your TV. There you will find a channels menu with an option to scan for local channels. Without this step, your TV will not show all the available channels.
The Paper Clip Antenna
If you live in an area with great over-the-air TV reception, a paper clip may be the first option you want to try. All you need to do is straighten out the paper clip and put it into the cable/antenna plug on your TV (that round connector you used to connect the cable outlet from your TV).
This is not a great antenna, however, many people report they are able to get the channels they want using a paper clip.
The Clothes Hanger Antenna
Do you have an old metal clothes hanger lying around? If it is the right size, you may be able to straighten it as if it were a bigger paper clip and plug it right into your TV.
For even better reception, you may want to think about using a coaxial cable in combination with your clothes hanger. To do this, you will need to screw one end of the cable into the TV and the other end onto the wire clothes hanger. This will allow you to move the antenna around for better reception.
Take any length coaxial cable (the cable you used to screw into the back of your TV from a cable box) and cut the connector off from one end. With a knife, carefully cut off the rubber and protective layers around the core of the coaxial cable, about a ¼ inch or so from the end (I do mean be careful, the wires are sharp so please do not cut yourself).
Now, wrap the bare coaxial cable around the clothes hanger antenna as tightly as you can. This will allow you to move your home-made antenna around to find the best point of reception. Generally, the higher you hang the antenna and the further away it is from your TV, the greater the reception.
Homemade antennas can be a lot of fun to make and use. As always, there is a bit of “you get what you pay for” when you make your own antenna. If you are not receiving the reception you think you should with a homemade antenna, you may want to look at buying one from a local store as their antennas are specifically built to pick up TV signals.
AntennaWeb.org is a great site that helps you find which channels are available for free over the air in your area. Simply enter your address and they will give you an idea of what you can expect when using a TV antenna.