Free Digital HDTV for Dummies

September 19th, 2009

I’ve posted DIY UHF Antenna a while ago, and it seems that the name of the article is way too technical. Most people simply don’t know this antenna can be used to receive digital HDTV signal as well. Some even laugh at me saying I’m an idiot attach such antenna to my shiny new LCD TV. I pity the fool. UHF is a spectrum, HD is the content, and digital TV is the standard of signal carried over UHF spectrum.

So, wanna watch free HD channels over the air? Here’s the simplest DIY antenna, the Doppler Rectangular Ring Antenna. The end-result can be prettier than this one:

Materials Needed

  • 12 gauge copper wire 7 ft. (The wire must be insulated, no naked wire please.)
  • RCA Matching Transformer (a.k.a. BALUN)
  • Card board 12″x40″
  • Naked thin copper wire for BALUN fixing. You can strip the wire from unwanted phone line or network cable.

Tools Needed

  • Pencil
  • Ruler (with scale in centimeters, most rulers in Staples do)
  • Wire pliers (bending gauge #12 wire using fingers may work, but not my fingers)
  • Electrician’s tape
  • 3M magic tape

Steps (Shown as animated GIF)
Illustration of steps


  • You can buy/get all materials in stores like Home Depot or Lowes.
  • Please wear protective gloves and glasses, especially for those never worked with wires before. It will be tougher than expected. If you don’t know how to remove the plastic wrapping, use a small knife to peel it nicely.
  • Make best effort to bend perfect right angles. I personally used two pliers to do that trick. You can also use wire bending clamps, if you have it.
  • We need to keep the antenna as flat as possible, and that’s why I use 3M magic tape to tape the wires on the cardboard.
  • Polarity of BALUN is not an issue, so feel free to pick one and connect. It’s suggested to tie the poles of BALUN onto antenna via naked thin copper wires. A firm contact is required.
  • The cable connecting antenna to the TV shall not be longer than 6 ft, otherwise, a pre-amp is suggested.
  • The antenna is directional. You’ll need to pose it vertically as shown in the first picture of this article. You’ll also need to try several different orientations and locations to get the best signal.

You can find the answers to frequently asked questions here.

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