Yes you read the title correctly, my 6yr old daughter built an Over-the-Air (OTA) High Definition Antenna so that our family could save $60/month by cutting Cable TV.
Below is the story and description of the process to build the antenna which I decided to include on my finance blog as part of my VA/VE (Value Analysis/Value Engineering) Projects which is a collection of creative ways to save money.
Cutting The Cord (Cable TV)
Yes - we're human too. Our family enjoyed Cable TV for many years, our living room filled with the soft glow of a thousand channels, a never ending menu of entertainment. But then the experts said we should probably limit our consumption of TV, time to intervene on time with the screen. Also, with the kids hogging the tube, I was getting tired of paying $60/month constantly watching Peppa Pig marathons.
We took a look at what our family enjoyed consistently: Kids stuff. Some daytime background TV. A few prime time comedies and cop shows. That can all be satisfied with the FREE over-the-air signals. Yes - FREE, legal, and totally uncompressed high-definition. It only took a few clicks on the Google and we had ourselves some home made HD antennas.
Sure - the actual antenna isn't pretty. But the satisfaction of making it by yourself is worth the eye-sore factor. It was also pretty amazing calling the cable company and hearing the words out of my mouth, "Please cancel my subscription." A near 2nd to the words, "I do."
Sure - you don't get ALL the channels. But as my wife says, "You can really only watch one channel at a time anyway." Also, if you really wanted some variety, Netflix is $10 monthly, and it gets you unlimited Peppa Pig.
A Grade 1 Science Project
My 6 year old daughter's Grade 1 teacher assigned a Science Project a few weeks ago. The project was to use 3-5 recycled materials to build an object that could serve a purpose and/or function. After brainstorming with her, we decided that it was great opportunity to try making an HD Antenna! It was the perfect opportunity to build something functional that we could actually use in our house and at the same time, come up with a creative way to save $60/month by cutting our cable TV.
Step 1: Watch a Youtube video
We also read a couple other articles online about how others have built their Shoe Box Antenna. We chose this one since it seemed the easiest, with the least amount of measuring or cutting.
Step 2: Collect the recyclable materials.
One person's garbage is another's HD Antenna. A cookie tin lid, coat hanger, a small cardboard box, some screws and washers, tape and glue. The only item we had to buy was a "Balun". (Roughly $5 at The Source or on Amazon).
Step 3. Assembly.
This did not have to be as precise as one would think. We basically taped or glued everything together rather roughly. The only important part was ensuring that the two antenna "ears" don't touch, but that the other metal bits were connected to the balun - because conduction.
Step 4. Adjusting Position.
We ended up splurging and made a stand for the antenna too. The kids filled an empty coke bottle with rice and taped an old flag stick to the back of the antenna. Voila - a sturdy swivel mount! We placed this near a window facing South-ish. (We're in the GTA so the signals are likely coming from the CN Tower, or at least from South-ish from where we are.)
Step 5. Scanning for channels.
Pretty much all HD TVs these days allow you to scan for over-the-air signals. We were able to receive the following channels: CBC (English & French), CTV, CITY, Global, OMNI, and TVO.