Watching the local news and staying abreast of local developments is important. You may not know it, but free channels do exist in most metropolitan areas through what is called over-the-air (OTA) reception. Over-the-air HD broadcasts are available for free in most areas, so long as you have an antenna to catch them. You could easily go out and buy one but in this post, I’d like to show you how to build a UHF HDTV antenna on the cheap. YAY! Free TV!
The designer (not me) chose to call it The Stealth Hawk, cool name, no? And yes, there is a small shopping list. You’ll need the following, all of which could be had at your local hardware store. Before I begin, this is a strong YMMV of course. OTA reception is dependent on many factors. You should at the very least get some local channels (you may receive more, depending on positioning and distance). Cost should range between $10 – $15.
Things You will Need
- 10AWG copper wire
- Balun(standard 300:75 ohm type)
- Small plastic or wooden slab
- Screws for fastening
- Ruler or measuring tape
- Free time and hand dexterity
The design is rather straight forward and really, all you need are your hands to mold and shape the copper wire into the design you see below. Perfection is not required. Believe me.
So time to give it a go. Really, the antenna should be placed either against a wall or window. Mine is pointed in the South/South-West direction at or above eye height – your case will differ (see the TV Fool link below). Ideally, it should be placed outside, either on a roof or attic to for best reception – but not totally necessary. Experiment for best results.
Now to test, grab a spare coaxial (coax) cable and hook it up to your HDTV ATSC tuner (most modern HDTVs have this) and start scanning for channels! Finally, you can look up what channels are available based on your location by going to TV Fool and entering your Zip/Postal code.
Taking The Idea Further
I currently use XBMC/KODI as a media player running on a bunch of Home theater PCs (HTPC). It’s by far the best media player out there. Coupled with Tvheadend, a streaming server for Linux, you have the makings of a very interesting setup.
Yes, capturing a source does requires extra hardware – a capture device. After some searching, I was able to find an old WinTV-HVR-1600 Tuner Card on Ebay and proceeded to install it in my server, specifically, in my ESXi box. I then installed both the Tvheadend server and the Tvheadend plugin on KODI and voila, Free TV on all the HTPCs!