Judging from the number of emails I have received on the subject, there seems to be quite a lot of interest in building your own UHF antenna for HDTV reception. I’ve discussed this topic a few times in the past, but here are some resources for prospective antenna builders.
The other day when I was at Home Depot, I took a closer look at the wire they had for sale. The 8 and 10 gauge copper wire looked good to me, but I still would like a material a bit more resistant to damage.
I told the associate in that section what I was after, and asked him if they had any aluminum wire or rods. He acted as puzzled as if I had asked him if they carried gold bars. The only aluminum material he could think of was electric fence wire (which turned out to be galvanized steel) and rods used for arc welding. Neither seemed like a good choice.
While I was waiting on a street in front of several houses today, I was struck by the large number of antennas on one house. It was a fairly small house, but it was covered in dishes and antennas; I counted 11 in all.
Mounted on one side of the house:
The Channel Master 4251 is generally regarded as the most powerful consumer UHF television antenna ever produced. The 4251 has acquired somewhat of a legendary status because production stopped sometime around the year 2000, and no comparable consumer antenna is sold today. It was a 7-foot parabolic dish, similar in design to a satellite dish, but designed for a different set of frequencies. The sheer size of the 4251 meant a large signal capture area, and the parabolic shape meant that it could focus and amplify signals better than any other television antenna available. Unfortunately, that sheer size also meant a large area to catch the wind. A 4251 required careful anchoring to prevent damage during high winds.
The Washington Post recently published an article asking an important question about the digital TV transition in the United States. Will people who depend on over-the-air television be able to receive the same stations that they could before? The answer is: possibly not.
After the transition to digital television on February 17, 2009, television stations in the United States will move to their final channel allocations. A majority of stations will be on UHF (channels 14 to 51), rather than VHF (channels 2 to 13). Many people will need a UHF antenna if they want to continue receiving their current stations. I previously mentioned two good indoor HDTV Antennas. But an outdoor antenna might be your only option if your stations are weak. Two good outdoor UHF antennas are the Channel Master 4221 Mid-range outdoor rooftop UHF antenna and the Channel Master 4228 Long-range outdoor rooftop UHF antenna.