Update May 2015: this antenna was built in 2009. It is now 2015. We still have it and it's still doing it's job. I've since put an amplifier on the mast and we now can get that fringe channel lightly to the left of the others without any longer having to use the rotor to turn it. Actually, I leave it set facing the fringe channel and the stronger ones are the ones that compensate. I go up on the roof to check things every couple of years and so far all is well. I would recommend stainless hardware throughout if doing this. My plated stuff is doing well but stainless would have given many, many years of carefree use. Oh, I also now have a 60" Sony Bravia LED instead of the old Sony analog TV we had at the time of the original construction.


Original Post

We've had Cable TV and Cable Internet. It seems that there is less and less on cable than there ever was. Cable in my area is $49. I eventually cut down to basic for $20 and supplemented with Netflix. Netflix is excellent by the way but that's another story. We also have my macintosh connected to the TV so we can Hulu any program that played recently.

I'm finding that even basic cable has little 'value'. By value I mean I get the basic local channels and a bunch of junk otherwise. The channels I look at I could get for free if I used an antenna. Hence, I've decided to minimize.

Here in Southern Maine the TV stations are mostly in Portland about 30 miles away. Some are further, about 50-60 miles away. Most HDTV antennas work for 30 miles and a few claim to get up to 60 miles. I decided that I need more antenna than that. Something where 60 miles might be the limit but a doable and good limit. I've decided to produce a DB8. A DB8 antenna has 8 receiving elements, or 4 pairs of elements. It's basically two DB4 antenna's combined. The last picture in the segment is a commercial one.

What follows is my foray into the world of HDTV antenna construction and trying to squeak the most out of it for a moderately fringe TV area I live in.

BTW, the last segment contains all kinds of HDTV signal information and links to places to assist you in learning more. I was a teacher for 30 years (no I don't want any help with my grammar, I said I used to be a teacher) My job was simplification and clarity. I hope this instrucatble is up to that.

Step 1: Plans and measurements

I want to give credit to this website for the dimensions for the antenna. And the diagrams uploaded as part of this instructable. At the site you can find a bit more information.


The measurements should be exact or as exactly as you can get them. I will describe the materials as the steps to building this occur. Most of the actual antenna construction part can be purchased at Home Depot which is where I got the raw construction materials.

The first diagram gives the overall dimensions of one array.
The second diagram shows the wiring and dimensions of the wiskers
The third diagram shows the measurements of the wiring

I suggest you print these three pages.
<p>Hello Author. Thanks for the detailed instruction, we now have Attic installed DB8 Antenna, getting 81 channels of which 17 are HD :).</p><p>Prior to embarking on this DIY antenna, my adventure took 3 months in total, tried 5 different off the shelf antenna's, thanks to Amazon, and returned them. They all had some or the other channels missing or reception were spotty (pixelation). At best i could get 32 channels with these indoor antennas.<br>With the custom made, i now have good reception for almost all channels. Am yet to encounter pixelation! <br>I would like to thank you for the detailed tutorial, followed it word to word, material to material. Only change was for the reflector screen, used EVERBILT 1/4 inch 23 gauge galvanized Hardware Cloth found at Home Depot.</p>
<p>So pleased. Mine is still going strong on my house in Maine. Lots of weather and it hasn't suffered at all. Amazing results. Way to go. You should include a picture of it!</p>
<p>Hi Dan. Here are the pics. My house is about 28.5 miles from the tower in San Francisco, CA. As you can see great HD results. I cannot tell you how happy i am with the quality. I've new found craze to watch TV after building the antenna :).</p>
I don't know a single thing aboot TV antennas but, this one works like mad!! I just finished one as per this ible. I used wood on the supports and steel for the mesh bows. I haven't even had a chance to do the lightning protection yet. I'm in a signal hole and have never been able to get any indoor antennas to work. I built this one because of the positive responses and the fact that outdoor antennas are so expensive (plus they really can't guarantee that they will work)!! Thank you for posting this! I am aboot 40 miles from Atlanta, Georgia and am now getting 51 channels (some are radio stations???) whereas before I could only pickup 3 clear enough to watch!! Awesomeness!!
Ha! I happy for you. 40 miles and that may channels. Who needs cable?
Scratch that? I moved the antenna and rescanned for channels this morning. Now I have 63 channels (4 of those are radio stations???) Now I'm thinking aboot using the leftovers to build another to face west for getting Alabama channels! The only question I have is ....... could this pick up farther channels with an amplifier of any kind? I saw one at Lowes for like 12 bucks. I live in an off-grid tiny home so this was very exciting for us! Next, I want a wifi antenna so I can watch netflix without using data on my phone! [atinyhomecompanion@blogspot.com]
<p>Consider installing an antenna rotator instead of building an entirely new antenna. It should be less espensive. I have an amplifier installed but only because one of my stations is 64 miles away. It comes in either way but sometimes drops off in heavy rain or snow. This helps. You should use the tool at the bottom of my instructable to see if there are any further stations within shooting range of your antenna. An amplifier might not do any good beyond what you're getting in now.</p>
Thanks for replying. I may give that a try.
By the way, I have made several believers out this in the past two days. People can't believe that I am getting so many air channels with this thing. I have directed everyone to your instructable to build one for themselves. Some have even said that they would drop cable or satellite in favor of this to save 150 bucks a month!
I am also a guest speaker at a tinyhouse jamboree in March and plan on showing this to everyone there! Awesome!
<p>I don't live in a tiny house... but not a really big one.. I am a fan of small trailers though. I used to have a teardrop and since then I've converted a 14 foot cargo trailer. Looks like a small motel room inside. </p><p>As far as dropping cable.... Long ago, when I built the antenna I cut cable tv and kept the internet. I upped my subscription to a little higher level to get a faster connection. My daughter subscribes to Amazon and shares her subscription with me and I we do the same with her regarding Netflix. I purchased a mac mini which connects directly to hdmi on the tv... (we got a 60&quot; sony btw) and I use a program called vuze to download virtually anything I want. I also subscribed to a VPN (very private network) to protect myself. It reroutes my ip address via Switzerland so no tracing. </p><p>All in all I have local channels with the antenna, other movies/tv via amazon and netfix. And anything that has pretty much played at the movies or on tv from last night to forever via the computer. Sometimes I can even watch movies that are in the theater or haven't even come out yet. Yep, I guess my scruples are in a shambles but I get good entertainment.</p>
I would like to swipe wifi from our library down the road. Its about 2 miles away so an antenna is needed. We are off grid so we have to work harder for creature comforts. Plus, not having bills is a lot easier on the wallet!:-)
https://youtu.be/LaAf6Ltgal8<br>If you're still trying to build a Wi-Fi antenna, you should check out this YouTube video from kipkay. I built one a few months ago and I'm picking up Wi-Fi from McDonald's about three miles away.
<p>You need to do a little more reading. Specifically, the frequency ranges. Broadcast TV in the US ranges from 54 to 890 MHz.<br><br>Wifi is generally 2412 to 2484 MHz and 4915 to 5825 MHz. It's usually written as 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.<br><br>Higher frequencies mean smaller wavelengths. In the antenna design, that will mean that you will use a much smaller antenna. So the long whiskers on this antenna would be much shorter. On the back, you would want more like 1/2&quot; holes. The overall size will be much smaller. <br><br>Wifi is also much lower power than broadcast TV, so you will need to increase the gain. Some people really like the enclosed yagi antennas (i.e., &quot;cantenna&quot;). I like parabolic mesh antennas. I have set up links that went many miles with relatively cheap gear. It really helps to be in control of both ends, so you can use directional antennas for the link.<br><br>... and ... <br><br>Don't steal wifi. It's illegal. It may seem ok at the time, but you won't like what happens when people start throwing around phrases like &quot;unauthorized access of a computer network&quot;. Just because you are a little farther away doesn't mean you can't be found. <br></p>
<p>Not that I would promote such a thing but that would be difficult. It's not a matter of having an antenna that could pick it up, it's that the signal would never get to the antenna to be picked up. wifi can be boosted and an antenna built to directionally send it to a certain place but they'd have to do that in order for you to receive it. It would be like you trying to make a TV antenna that is designed to receive a signal 50 miles away if the station is only transmitting a maximum of 20 miles and not in your direction.</p>
<p>Meh, I don't know what he gets but reality is the same. Most over the air channels are junk just as the cable. But at least with cable you can get popular networks like Fox, CNN, Discovery, Animal planet, History channel, Comedy, Cartoon Network, TNT, ESPN, other sports networks etc etc. Yes you can get great picture quality and great satisfaction of the diy job. But honestly, no good content. Apart from 3-4 affiliated channels like Fox, NBC, ABC, you get local news, a bunch of low res weather channels, church TV and some old low res movie channels. That's my experience anyway. This whole cutting the cord thing is not that easy. </p>
<p>That's true, but like you said, most of the air channels are as junk as cable so why pay through the nose for cable then? An antenna gives you minimal junk for nothing. Cable or dish gives you maximum junk for a high cost. Why pay for junk. That's the reason we opt for cable cutting.</p><p>Like I said in another post. My entertainment consists of the antenna, shared subscriptions with relatives for netflix and amazon and a Mac mini connected to directly to the tv where I download Anything that played on any channel from last night and any movie I want. Yes, the computer cost me about a year of cable but I'm on my third year with it now. Not counting internet cost which we all have anyway, My entertainment bill, which includs everything anyone else gets is $7.99/month</p>
<p>Meh, I don't know what he gets but reality is the same. Most over the air channels are junk just as the cable. But at least with cable you can get popular networks like Fox, CNN, Discovery, Animal planet, History channel, Comedy, Cartoon Network, TNT, ESPN, other sports networks etc etc. Yes you can get great picture quality and great satisfaction of the diy job. But honestly, no good content. Apart from 3-4 affiliated channels like Fox, NBC, ABC, you get local news, a bunch of low res weather channels, church TV and some old low res movie channels. That's my experience anyway. This whole cutting the cord thing is not that easy. </p>
<p>Can I ask your opinion about our installation needs? This will be an indoor-mounted antenna. From our location, we are about 60 miles from Chattanooga and Knoxville, TN, and they are about 110 degrees apart in direction. Both cities have the three major networks, so we probably don't need to get both simultaneously. From www.tvfool.com, all show a 2Edge path with signals of -75 to -90 dBm. Should I build an 8-bay antenna for this? Thanks!</p>
That probably wouldn't help much. You'd get small gain for your trouble. Your best bet is to go for height if you can. 5-10 ft can make a difference. You might need a few support wires though. Then after you get it up, check which direction gets you the best reception. Maybe one direction has lower elevation or fewer trees to go through. Trees and leaves though usually don't matter till they get wet or full of snow.
<p>Thanks for the great info on this page, and for keeping it going!</p>
<p>The antenna has been built. Now I have found that someone (probably DirecTV installer) has cut or hidden the coax from the area where I was going to place the antenna. So I ordered an inexpensive wire tracer to help locate it. I'll keep you posted.</p>
<p>For the whiskers, can I use pieces from our old rooftop antenna?</p>
Yes you can. It will work fine.
What is the distance between the wisker mount and the reflector?
The distance doesn't matter much but it's about 3&quot;
<p>can I use expanded galv. metal as a reflector screen it has 5/16 spacing with 3/16 strips</p>
I think so. Anything that will be stable and have 1&quot; or less spacing will do.
<p>Looking at plans to build this and I have a question. What would your recommendation be for grounding. I remember back in the day my father would disconnect everything from the TV during storms.</p>
<p>Is there any reason the height could not be doubled to create 2 6 bay antenna's?</p><p>All my reception is edge 2 due to local geography. Right now I am getting 100% signal on some local towers that are 4.9 and 7 miles away. <br>I also do get some very good fringe reception at 100 miles out right now. <br>I am however sure that is due to change once the leaves are back on the trees. I have currently been testing with an old Realistic antenna. <br><br>Currently I have been looking into the Antennacraft HD-1850 and the Winegard HD8200U. I figured deep fringe antenna's with their large surface area would would increase my chances of consistent reception.</p><p>Sounds like building the equivelent of a DB16 would be cheaper than buying a new DB8e. It might be over kill. However you cant beat surface area.</p>
<p>Excellent instructions and detail! I built a single 4-bay antenna using your instructions, out of scrap lumber, coat hangers and leftover Romex, just to test things out (cost me all of $2.50, for the balun). Wanted to share my experience, and ask a question.</p><p>I should first admit that there are 7 transmitter towers all located very close together, about 11 miles south of me, and that's all I care to pick up. 11-mile haul from high-powered transmitters is certainly not a &quot;fringe&quot; location by any stretch of the imagination. However-- I live in a 2-year old 1-story home that's built like a Faraday cage (Low-E 3 windows, radiant barrier roof decking, foil-backed rigid sheathing in all exterior walls, etc.)! And it's an urban location, so erecting a tower, or even a sizable mast is not going to win me any friends at the HOA picnic...</p><p>So I built the 4-bay antenna on the quick-n-cheap... I didn't even bother with the reflector for the baseline test, though I know it will make a large difference in the gain. I tested it inside my house, at ground level, and the results were awe-inspiring. I was able to get rock solid signal on 20+ channels from all our local broadcasters! Only the PBS station was flaky at times. :) </p><p>Now I'm ready to build the long term antenna for attic mount. I have a question for you about your design. I've seen a few other designs of 8-bay antennas, and most others directly cross-connect the phase lines of the two 4-bay assemblies. Your design, by contrast, suggests using two baluns (1 for each 4-bay assembly) and a coupler. I'm wondering which strategy to go with. Do you know whether there is a significant difference, and if so, can you explain why it matters? I'm not well-versed on antenna theory, so I'm really just looking for advice from someone who knows more than me. :)</p>
As soon as the weather breaks I'm going to be taking down and bringing home a 28' tower, Big Bertha will be the first to rise and reside there. It is probably 65 miles to the nearest city broadcasting signals, that had me reluctant to purchase a $200 HD antenna, but I'll gladly build this one. Thank you! <br>(After reading all the positive feedback, I actually think I'll be plesantly surprised by the number of channels available. Even if my reception proves to be spotty at best, it'll be fun, basically free of cost to build, and the result of my handiwork. Those are good things and all are made possible through your wonderful Instructable, Thanks again!)
28 feet! Nothing helps like height. You'll be surprised at what even 10 feet can do.
<p>Hi deceiver read up on the phased array. Its also known as a Collinear or Panel antenna. Unlike a Yagi-Udi beam it uses a full wave not a halve wave like a dipole. So lengths are doubled which works out that your antenna at 9.5 inches is closely tuned to receive 591.150MHz as its best frequency. But other things like the reflector can alter this slightly. Love learning about this stuff. I know a lot of people are saying who cares, it works that's all that matters but some people like to change antennas to suite their area or may even want to use the same design on a scanner radio receiver so it's nice to know what makes it tick. Cheers all.</p><p>Element<br>arrangements collinear arrays. Elements are </p><p>1/2<br>Wavelength Long (each side so this means the full width of both is a Full<br>wavelength).and spaced 1/2 Wavelength from each other set.</p><p>Reflector<br>should be 5% longer than the wavelength.</p><p>The front<br>Elements or Whiskers should be 0.2 of the wavelength distance from the back reflector. </p>
<p>Hi all, Just some advice, we all think stainless is the best<br>for connection if we can afford it but be aware that stainless and aluminum can<br>have electrolysis if put together. Try to keep water away from where they<br>contact each other some how. I can tell by the positive comments that the<br>antenna works but can someone explain how the 19cm was worked out for the<br>elements. Dipole antennas are half wave. This is 4 dipole antennas stacked on<br>top each other per side of bigbirtha and the 4 elements phase connected to make<br>it more directional. Each whisker should be a quarter wave. So at 600MHz the<br>size of the whisker or element should be close to 12cm.19cm is more for 375MHz. I&rsquo;m not saying 19cm is wrong I just want<br>someone to explain why its so. Maybe it is 5/8 wave or ,64 wave the antenna<br>designer used? Or maybe your TV band close to 400MHz where you live. Thanks all and Thanks Deceiver for putting this antenna up for people to see and Thanks for answering peoples questions.</p>
Aluminum will react to any metal. Galvanized is actually best when used with it. Stainless is better than plain steel. This antenna uses stainless in areas that usually are structural and it's not load bearing. I figure the connections should last whatever life I want out of the unit using stainless on aluminum. At least the fittings won't rust.<br><br>As far as the whisker length and frequencies. I've always admitted that I am no expert. Far, far from it. So, I can't really comment, and make much sense, regarding the math. If you google 'whisker length UHF antennas' you'll find reference to antennas of multiple bays and wide configurations. All the whiskers are 9.5-9.75&quot; in length.
<p>Thanks Deceiver, I am more curious than knocking the whisker length. I know you have been very humble about the antenna and not tried to make out you knew all. I was looking for you or anyone that read my comment one day to teach me something about the long length of the whiskers. I will check the web page you have given me. I have made lots of Yagi Udi antennas and are wanting to try a phased array like yours but until I know why the whiskers are oversize I can't adjust it to my frequency. I love building antennas and trying to get channels that normally people cant receive. It's challenge and a lot like fishing, you just don't know what you may get. Thanks for replying so fast.</p>
<p>Sorry don't know how 19cm was in my thoughts when it's 9.5 Inches which is 24.13cm for the element which makes it 295MHz. I'm very curious how this size of 24 cm was worked out because I want to make an antenna the same as big birtha but for a different frequency and would like to know the way big birtha element size was worked out because using the normal way its wrong. It's unusual to use element size more than quarter wave per side because quarter wave is 75 ohm impedance per dipole so if the designer has gone for half wave on each side or 5/8, .64 wave then the impedance would be way out and yet this antenna is 75 Ohm times 4. Thanks</p>
<p>I made two of these antenna's from two different instructions but with different length whiskers. My first has 7&quot; whiskers and the other 10&quot; whiskers. The 7&quot; one on good days picks up channels 5 all the way up to 66, bad days, no channel 5 and blocky channel 7. The 10&quot; antenna on good days picks up channel 2 up to channel 45. I experimented with both together and got all the channels nice and clear.</p><p>I'm experimenting with making an antenna with different length whiskers, 7&quot;, 8&quot;, 9&quot; &amp; 10&quot; on one post. I interchanged out whiskers. I got all the channels 2 up through 66 with the one antenna but many were going blocky on the high and low ends. My theory worked...for the most part, but could be the spacing or too few whiskers of one particular length.</p><p>Have you any thoughts of what I am attempting with varying whisker lengths as far as spacing or how they should be ordered. I have short on one end up to the long on the opposite. </p><p>With channel 2 a longer wave length, what I am trying to do is have a set to pick up the longer wave length channels 2 up to 11 and then a set that will tune in well 11 up to 30, a set that will tune into 30 up to 50 and a set to tune into 50 up to 66. </p><p>I see plans for 7&quot;, 8&quot; and 9 1/2&quot; but I don't think one length can really get the whole spectrum of channels clear. Your antenna, I assume gets all the lower channels but won't do well for 50 on up. 8&quot; might get the entire spectrum on a good day but channels 2 and 66 on windy days most likely won't come in. My 7&quot; gets all the high channels really well and on bad days, channels 9 on up will come in.</p><p>So the challenge is to make one antenna that has whisker lengths to pick up the entire spectrum of channels on bad days. I would be happy to hear any thoughts of even something you'd like to experiment with.</p><p>I'm approximately 35 miles west of Chicago from the TV broadcasting towers.</p>
Hmm.... It all sounds like interesting experimentation but unless a channel is broadcasting at very low power or there are blockages between you and them then at 35 miles all channels should come in fairly clearly with the standard antenna. 35 miles isn't that far for a standard house mounted antenna. I wonder why you're finding such discrepancy between different designs.
<p>Ok, so I ran many more experiments including building an antenna with whiskers closer to the 1/2, 1/8 and 1/16 wave lengths of the spectrum of channels. Oddly, I was getting some and not others at all and many were flaking out. I connected my two current antennas and my new one together and every different configuration was having different channels coming in clear, some flaky and others not at all. I had channels coming in I had no idea where they were coming from that never showed up before. </p><p>I duct taped my first two antennas, made like yours, on top of each other and hung them in a different spot in the attic. I got most all the usual channels except I just wasn't getting all the way down to channel 2. Channel 2 is CBS and I wanted to get down to that one. I was getting almost outdoor rooftop reception inside my attic. I was planning to build a more weather resistant antenna and put it outside.</p><p>I then decided to make a Gray Hoverman antenna. took a couple hours. I taped it to the back of a big piece of cardboard and hung it in the attic for a quick test. I amazingly got channel 2 clear but 50 was flaky. I also have odd channels being picked up but not good.</p><p>I hooked all three antennas to go into the TV and now I'm getting ALL the main channels plus a couple odd ones, in a different direction than the way my antennas are pointed.</p><p>The first picture is the Hoverman, wires taped to the piece of cardboard. My octopus attic duct work (I didn't put in and is a bad idea (don't do this)) is acting a little like a reflector for the antennas. The second picture shows the two like yours taped together. Works perfectly fine like this.</p><p>I think I'm happy for now. I have everything I was trying to pick up with the antennas in the attic and don't have to worry about proper outdoor grounding.</p>
<p>I don't know what to say... you've got a lot of reflectors or signal blockers up there in duct work and foil. Do what works I guess.</p>
<p>i also have a 2nd question i have a bunch of shorter pieces of 1/4&quot; copper tubing that isnt really long enough for anything else would this also work for the wiskers or would that be to thick</p>
<p>would enlarging the antenna , would it enlarge its range or are these idea dimensions.</p>
I was curious as to whether you have the radiation pattern for this antenna or if it is similar to the Antennas Direct db8 radiation pattern
No, but it should be similar.
Thank you. That's what I was thinking too and planning on using when I point the antenna. I'm hoping to catch 2 major broadcast areas that are approximately 160&deg; from each other.<br>
<p>In all I've built 3 so far, each pointing in the 3 main directions that my local transmitters are clustered. Most signals I'm picking up are around 30-40 miles.They are installed in my attic hung from the rafters with the L bracket shown. They work very well, and are DIY cheap if you are creative. I built all three for about $5. The only items I needed to buy were the baluns, which proved to be a challenge in today's cable/satellite world! For the phase lines I used 12 ga. solid copper stripped from some scrap Romex, and for the higher gauge bare copper elements I found a short piece of scrap high voltage wire that was stranded. Pulled apart, the 10 ga. individual strands were perfect. The wood came from 4' planks on pallets, screws and washers were whatever I had laying around. Sometime in the future I do still plan to build an outdoor antenna, with an array of 2 or more as deceiver has built.</p><p>Lessons Learned:</p><p>*Baluns are hard to find nowadays! You can buy them online, but over time I did find them here and there at big box stores.</p><p>*Direction is everything. Satisfied with your reception? Keep playing until you are certain you have the best reception possible. Drift will occur from AM to PM, and less often in weather. Although digital is 'All or nothing', I've found lower signals will still produce some ghosting effects even while holding a solid picture.</p><p>*I tried several methods for stripping the insulation off the middle sections of coated wire. Best I found was to slice the top and bottom of the section with a wire stripper, and just pull it off with a pair of pliers. Or you could burn it off as deceiver did :) This is hands down the most tedious process of the build.</p><p>*If you plan to build more than one, build just one at first. It helps to learn from the experience of one, and using the finished antenna as a template for measurements on the rest will speed things up tremendously.</p><p>*On the elements, lower gauge (thicker) you can find is better. These whiskers are prone to any little bump or nudge. I found the 12 ga. wire I used on the first antenna would bend easily and required regular adjustment. This doesn't affect the phase lines of course, so a higher gauge is acceptable.</p><p>*I used the L brackets I had laying around to mount, which helped keep the antennas steady but adjustable for fine tuning. I screwed the long section on the rafter, and screwed the short end on the top of the antenna allowing me to turn it left-right.</p><p>In all great build. Simple, Fast, Effective.</p>
<p>Does it matter which wire is on top at the crossover? Do you alternate?</p>
No, as long as they are not touching (Insulated from each other).

About This Instructable




Bio: Retired Jr. High teacher of 30 years. Always into lots of things. Now I seem to be into them more. Love woodworking, guitar, portrait painting ... More »
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