Q:

Can I make an antenna that will pick up free-to-air channels?

A:

Quick Answer

Individuals who do not have cable or satellite TV service can receive digitally transmitted broadcasts via an antenna. Making an antenna is a relatively simple DIY project, although its effectiveness depends on the antenna's distance from the TV stations' transmitters.

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Full Answer

Popular Mechanics' design for a homemade rabbit-ears antenna calls for just a few supplies. Two 1 x 4 pine boards are needed. The larger one serves as the tower to which the ears are attached, and the smaller one is the antenna's base.

Eight rabbit ears are formed by bending 12-gauge copper wire into acute angles. The ears are attached to the tower with screws and washers. Four ears are positioned on each side of the face of the tower board, about an inch in from the edges. Two additional screws and washers are driven into the board, about halfway up.

Phasing bars, which are longer lengths of copper wire, are passed underneath the washers that hold the ears down, and they touch both sides of each ear's angle. The bars are arranged in a pattern that carries the transmission signals from one ear to another.

Finally, a transformer is attached to the two extra screws that were driven into the board. The phasing bars also pass under those screws. The transformer helps to boost the transmission signals, thus improving the antenna's reception.

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