UHF antennas are useful in areas without cable or satellite service but where over-the-air television reception is readily available. There was a time when a simple coat hanger would do the trick as a do-it-yourself (DIY) solution, but with digital television signals, a more complicated method is necessary. While a bit more involved than a wire hanger, several easy-to-create UHF antenna designs do exist that can even bring you over-the-air HDTV where available.
Most DIY UHF antennas can be created using that same coat hanger solution, only modified to pick up the digital frequencies in common use. The more advanced the design, the more hangers you'll need. You should also get something to mount your antenna to when necessary. PVC is a good, sturdy material that's easy to work with and good for all weather if you're mounting an outdoor antenna. For indoor antennas, wood can provide a good mounting material. Pressed wood is inexpensive and available at any hardware store. You'll also need a connector for your antenna. A 300 Ohm/75 Ohm Balun, which can be found at most electronics stores, can provide a connection that's compatible with coaxial cable and wires.
Your antenna design has to take in the frequencies of the television stations you want to pick up. Different design types are capable of picking up different frequencies. Find your local frequencies using a channel locator like the one at SiliconDust's website (see Resources).
You can create a simple indoor antenna using little more than a circular hanger attached to a Balun (a UHF/VHF transformer that converts the television signal into a form usable by the television) known as a loop antenna. For HDTV, you can go with a more complicated Gray-Hoberman Antenna design.
To make your loop antenna, cut a wire coat hanger and shape 2 feet of it into a circle. Solder the Balun onto the hanger ends and attach to a coaxial cable. Run the cable to your television and connect it. The antenna is multidirectional, meaning it can gain transmissions from anywhere in the area that are strong enough for it to pick up. Once connected to your television, you will have to move the antenna throughout the room to determine the best location for reception and find a way to keep it stationary in that spot.
The Gray-Hoverman is a bit more complicated to make, but plans are available on the Internet (see Resources). The design utilizes two rows of parallel v-shaped wires extending from the center of the mounting that are linked by two more wires, which connect them all. The linked wire sections form the body of the wired antenna mounted on PVC or wood. The Hoverman design can access signals from up to 60 miles away without needing an outdoor mount and is far less expensive than retail HDTV-capable antenna models. Like the loop antenna, the Hoverman antenna is multidirectional.
UHF Vs. VHF Antenna
In the days before digital broadcast television, local channels from two to 13 were broadcast in VHF (for "Very High Frequency"), and...