Amateur Radio Station KG4IGC

Summerville, South Carolina EM93va

My home brew broadcast TV antennas

I don't know about you, but my wife and I got really tired of paying for cable TV. We used to love having cable, but over the past 20 years we have noticed that not only was the price going up, but the selection of channels were not that great either. I remember back when cable TV first came out  you used to get around  40 or so channels with Showtime, HBO, and The Movie Channel for right around twenty some odd bucks. Now, you have the capability of having a hundred or so channels and a nice hefty bill at the end of each month. The bad thing about it is, you have to ask yourself, how many of these channels do I actually watch? Well, with the basic package that we had we only watched about seven or eight channels on a regular basis. The rest were filled with stuff  we did not watch like sports, religion, reality shows, and oh yeah, tons of infomercials. 

We finally cut the cord to try and save some money when I became disabled and no longer could afford to pay the hefty nut that the cable company wanted each month.  Back when the government did away with  analog TV and switched everything over to digital, we took advantage of the coupon program and got our first two digital converter boxes. I bought two RCA model DTA800B1 boxes and went online to find some sort of TV antenna to build. I decided to build what everyone was calling a bowtie antenna, but it is actually a dipole array. I followed the instructions with the exception that I soldered all my joints and I used # 12 solid copper wire instead of the coat hangers that was used in the video.  The resulting antenna was rather flimsy but seemed to work fairly well indoors. I was able to pull in about 18 free digital TV channels no problemI added a splitter so that I could run the box that was in my bedroom off of the same antenna that I used in the living room and as expected, there was some loss in the signal. I solved that problem by installing a small Radio shack cable TV amplifier  right at the antenna, and that helped boost the signal quite a bit. If you need the manual fot the RCA DTA800B1, click here.

Being the experimenter that I am, I decided to try a couple of other antenna designs. My second antenna was a log periodical.  I was going to include the link to where I found the instuctions how to build this antenna , but unfortunetelly the link is no longer available. You can find a similar crude design  for this antenna here. This was a really simple antenna to build and recieves really well, but   the beam width is very narrow. You almost have to be pointed right at the TV station to get a really strong signal. I guess this antenna would be optimal if you had it on a rotator. Unfortuately, my rotator is manual. If I want to turn the antenna, I have to go outside and turn it by hand.   I decided to install an A/B switch at  the base of my indoor dipole array so that I could switch between antennas when  I am having trouble pulling in a signal using the indoor antenna. 

My XYL has an old analog Sony Trinitron TV in her library that she wanted to get up and running so  I had to scrounge around and find another digital converter box. I was given an Apex  DT-250  and an RCA  1921GM amplified antenna by a friend for free because he could not get it to work.  The box came with no remote which was a real issue because the only button on this unit is for power. There is no way to change the channels without the remote. I tried to use a universal remote but finding codes for Apex products is a real challange. I wound up buying an Apex remote off of Ebay for twenty five bucks, and the unit fired right up. While waiting for the remote to show up, I did some research on this converter box and found nothing but bad reviews. It seems that this box has a overheating problem which causes capacitors to blow. It is also not very user friendly and finding a manual is very hard to do. If you need the users manual, click here

When we disconnected from our local cable TV provider, I lost the ability to have television in the hamshack. My old analog TV sat useless thanks to the new digital requirement. There was no way that I was going to throw away a perfectly good TV just to go spend a ton of money on a flat screen in which I cannot afford anyway. I have searched and searched yardsales, goodwill, and thrift stores for about two years in hopes of finding a cheap used converter box to no avail. I know, they are a dime a dozen on Ebay but you have to understand, I am on a fixed income so to spend thirty or fourty dollars on a used box will prevent me from paying a bill. Money is tight these days so one has to be resourceful whenever possible. 

By a stroke of good luck, my father had a brand new Zenith DTT901 still in the box stashed away in one of his closets. He was generous enough to let me have it at no cost, and I could not thank him enough. By far, this is the nicest converter box that I now own. There are buttons on the front to operate the channels manually and an on off button. It also sports a really cool looking LED in the front of the unit that changes from red to blue when the unit is turned on. I love the blue LED as it stands out with all my other computers and ham equipment that have blue displays or buttons. The clock in the picture is  a heathkit GC-1107 kit that I built a few years ago. If you need the owners manual, click here.

Here is my latest and greatest digial TV antenna. It consists of  five full wave loops cut specifically for certain frequencies of the broadcast TV channels. I got this design off a video on Youtube and if you would like to build one for yourself, click here.  Reception of recieved signals on the higher channels are two to three bars better on the signal meter when  compared to my dipoles. Channels 2 and 4 tend to give me issues evey now and again but I can move the antenna just a couple of feet and the channels will come in. I basically just followed the instructions in the video to build this thing using his measurements. The wiring could have been made to be a little clearer with perhaps a drawing and is very difficult to follow in the video. I had to watch the video several times stoping and starting at certain points to try and follow how he wired the antenna but I think that I finally got it right.Below I have tried to make better pictures so the builder can better follow the wires. I hope that the pictures help, I have made both front and back pictures to better help with the wiring.
  • My first homebrew dipole array
    My first homebrew dipole array
  • RCA Digital converter box Model DTA800B1
    RCA Digital converter box Model DTA800B1
  • Radio Shack Amplifier and A/B switch
    Radio Shack Amplifier and A/B switch
  • Homebrew digital TV Log Periodical
    Homebrew digital TV Log Periodical
  • Log periodical line of sight
    Log periodical line of sight
  • Sony Trinitron TV,RCA 1921GM amplified antenna, Apex  DT-250 digital box
    Sony Trinitron TV,RCA 1921GM amplified antenna, Apex DT-250 digital box
  • Phases full wave loops on my front porch outside hamshack
    Phases full wave loops on my front porch outside hamshack
  • Zenith DTT901 digital box
    Zenith DTT901 digital box
  • Phased full wave loops
    Phased full wave loops
My first homebrew dipole array
My first homebrew dipole array