How should I go about making the strongest TV antenna possible?

I’m pretty sure I know the basics as to how antennas for televisions work. Although, I’m sure there are a few tricks to make the reception even better. That’s where the dopers come in!

I live in an apartment on the second floor. Is there any way to use the structure to my advantage by connected it to a particular metal surface in the apartment?

I’d also appreciate a few words of advice if anyone has them to share.


Shouldn’t you put the antenna on the roof and run a cable down?

Indeed. With TV aerials nothing else you do beats increased height for improving reception.

Apartment complex owners generally frown upon tenants installing things on the roof. I’m pretty sure the OP is talking about an indoor antenna.

That being the case, the single best thing you can do is move the antenna away from the TV. Modern TVs DVD players and video game consoles emit lots of EMI which the antenna can pick up, causing all kinds of interference problems. Moving your rabbit ears to the other side of the room is almost guaranteed to significantly improve reception. Use a coupler and an extension cable if need be.

I would have thought that the building would have had an antenna anyway, but I also expect most landlords would allow it if you ask first.

Getting an amplified antenna can help a lot as well as well as getting a directional antenna. I’m using a highly-directional amplified indoor antenna to pull in HDTV signals from El Paso 30+ miles away. And it’s only about 6 feet high inside the house (but it is actually touching the wall.)

Why don’t you just get cable?

Do you really think the OP is somehow unaware of cable? Did you expect the OP to go :smack: “Of course, why didn’t I think of that?” If he doesn’t have cable it’s because he doesn’t want it, can’t afford it or it’s not available to him.

I recently bought a (admittedly inexpensive) powered antenna for my HDTV, and it actually works better when it’s not plugged in. :confused: :rolleyes:

HERE’ one idea. I seem to remember another instructable that uses wire coat hangers to make a hi-def antenna, but I can’t seem to find it with the search. Trying to manually explore is taking a long time because I keep getting distracted by other instructable projects.

Because you maybe too close to the signal. You don’t need to amplify signals if you are too close and it can cause problems. Don’t plug it in and save the power.

A simple corner-reflector antenna might work. They are small and directional (UHF only).

Get a RF amplifier. Should be a few bucks at Radio Shack. I have one coupled with my directional antenna high in the tallest pine tree, and I get pretty good VHF recep over 60 miles.

Not that it matters anymore, as I now have cable. But the antenna is still in the pine tree, patiently waiting for February 2009.

Get some books from the AARL (I think it’s American Amateur Radio League?) and other HAM sources on antenna design.

You can make an antenna way better if it is only for one station. TV antennas are somewhat hard to make high gain because they cover such a wide range of frequencies.

You might point it at a transmitter that is line of sight from your appartment, or might find a reflection that works off of some neighboring structure, especially something like a big metal sign.

If you borrow a signal strength meter and experiment around with it, you may find much hotter spots to place your antenna.