High-Definition Digital Television images have superior pictures from over-the-air signals (OTA) compared to cable. Even if you have cable, it is still worth having an antenna for the better picture on some digital channels. For an additional advantage, you can record time-shift from cable while watching OTA.
Since digital channels are moving from VHF to UHF, or have already made the switch, a small indoor antenna can be used. A special HDTV antenna is not needed, just buy or build a UHF antenna. A bought antenna may cost $100 or more. Fortunately, DIY antennas are easy, cheap, and often have better performance than the store-bought kind.
Instructions for DIY antennas can be found on various WWW sites. Some are rough contraptions made with coat hangers and tin foil to be hidden in an attic. But they work. However, I don’t have an attic or balcony so I need a smaller, neater design.
I am impressed by the Ruckman fractal antenna. I constructed two based on his design pattern but with different materials. Even though a high-rise across the street is obstructing most of the TV signals in my Richmond Hill (Toronto) location, I receive upto 14 digital channels from the CN tower and Buffalo. I also receive analog channels but they are fuzzy and uninteresting.
The antenna is flat and fits in a 7” x 7” space... it could be hidden behind a picture frame. Mine is attached to an old cassette storage box which sits on a corner shelf behind the TV and stereo. The wiring faces the wall so that no ugly guts are visible.
All the antenna materials can be purchased at a Home Depot, you need:
- matching transformer, 300 ohm to 75ohm
- small roll of 20 gauge bare copper wire
- small finishing nails or tacks
- machine screws #6 with nuts and washers, or wood screws
- flush cutting pliers
- needle-nose pliers
- an optional indoor amplifier if using signal splitters
Use you own artistic ideas when selecting material for the antenna form. A scrap of wood or plastic food cutting board will do providing that it can accept the nails which are supports for the antenna wire.
Sketch the antenna pattern on a blank sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper. Make several copies then tape one to antenna form, and tack in the nails at the apex of each triangle. Finally, add the wire and the binding posts for the matching transformer. Remove the paper.
The plot below shows one side of the antenna pattern. It is created from overlapping 4” x 4” x 4” equilateral triangles. I hope you can visualize your antenna design from the photo above and the plot below.
Fractal antennas are used in cell-phones because of their small size, efficiency, and bandwidth.
The antenna-in-a-box in the above photo is the second version. The first version is rough but more convenient for experiments. See hockey stick antenna
An antenna reflector is optional if you already have strong signals. But if a channel tends to pixelate, you may find that a reflector solves the problem. The reflector for the above antenna is invisible inside the box. The hockey stick antenna clearly shows the idea.
These are the channels I receive in Richmond Hill, Ontario:-
|14-1||Fox WUTV-DT||Buffalo||weak signal from directional tx|
|20-1||CBC CBLT-DT||CN Tower||ok|
|32-1||The CW WNLO-DT||Buffalo||ok|
|34-1||My TV WNYO-DT||Buffalo||ok|
|40-1||CTV CFTO-DT||CN Tower||no antenna needed for 790kw|
|43-1||PBS WNED-DT||Buffalo||weak signal 156kw|
|53-1||CityTv CITY-DT||CN Tower||marginal due obstruction|
|65-1||Global CHI-DT||CN Tower||ok|
|66-1||Sun TV CKXT-DT||CN Tower||ok|
Channels 14 and 53 work only at a specific location in my TV room. Perhaps reflections are causing a problem. For virtual channels and other information, see the map at remotecentral.com