On Thanksgiving day, my wife and I had a few friends over to celebrate the holiday and to watch some football. During one of the games one of the guys who, of course, has a degree in electronics, mentioned that he had cut the cord from the local cable company after building his own antenna. He claimed that he was receiving over-the-air HD broadcasts, and with Netflix, he was quite satisfied. However, being the skeptic that I am he could tell by the look on my face that I doubted how well any home-built antenna would compare to my DIRECTV connection. That meant that, as soon as dinner was over, we had to drive to his house for a look-see.

Once there he explained how he had obtained the build plans for the antenna from TV Antenna Plans, which provided detailed instructions, as well as a hands-on video. While explaining this, he showed us how the instructions called for the use of metal coat hangers that he had obtained from work for a fraction of the cost of other suitable products. Then, with those in hand, he followed the instructions and built two antennas. Next, he took me into the attic and showed me what appeared to be two amateurish imitations of real antennas causing me to immediately doubt their ability to provide the needed signals. Why two? He told me he felt that having two separate antennas, one for each HDTV, would provide the best possible HD signal.

How to Build Your Own HDTV AntennaOf course, I then had to see for myself how well these things worked, so we went down to the media area where I was amazed at the picture quality on both HDTVs. To my amazement, the reception and clarity were every bit as good as what I receive from DIRECTV. Another surprise was that, in addition to receiving the standard local channels, he was also receiving channels like a local 24-hour weather channel that is not included in the DIRECTV local channel lineup.

So will over the air broadcasting via an antenna work for you?

That depends on where you are. The old real estate saying ‘location, location, location’ holds true in this situation as well. If you reside in an area where TV broadcasting towers are located, you should get a high signal quality for your HDTV. However, if you live in areas where these towers are blocked or not anywhere near you, you may not be able to receive an adequate signal for your TV. So before going out and canceling your satellite connection, you must remember that the available signal for HDTV is a fickle beast and whether or not you will receive an adequate signal or not might be a hit or miss situation. To assist you in determining if you will receive a good signal or not you can try the website TV Fool which, after putting in your address, can determine the channels you may receive depending on the antenna you choose.

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