Introduction: Indoor / Outdoor Bowtie Antenna
I've always been fascinated with the standard bowtie antenna, and found that they had good properties. so when I was at a RadioShack a while back and saw 2 of them on the rack for $5 each, I couldn't help myself and added 2 to my collection making 3. I had a couple ideas behind this.... 1. a good antenna that stays home. 2. a not so great, I don't care if it gets bent in half. antenna for travel with my usb TV tuner. and 3. what if I made an outdoor version of this antenna and stuck it on my roof?
So as ideas and events came together. I needed an antenna on the roof, and I happily found one on the side of the road for free which worked great ( being a bit bent and also at that time sitting on a metal roof. I attempted to tie it to prevent drifting as possible). however we moved and now I had a more? challenging environment. so I picked up a preamplifier, which happened to have combining inputs. so while I was up on the roof for fun I grabbed a bowtie and some plastic wrap, and quite happily picked up 15 digital channels that way.
After being up there for a few seasons "A". I had more time and a day to complete the project fully. "B". I had an intermittent fault in the cable. "C". i finally decided to implement the original idea.
The original idea was to encase it in something like a pipe, I had a pipe set aside but it didn't make the move. there was also the idea floating in my head that a smaller pipe might be better but would require being squished in to an oval, so a trip to the store landed me with a 3 inch piece of pipe and my recently acquired heat gun.
- Yes it recycles, although I bought the antenna and the pipe. ( I had a piece of PVC lined up but it didn't make the move to the new house, in the end I opted for a smaller diameter. so I'm happy with the outcome anyway ).
I'm going to take a minute to stress that "Knives Are Sharp" !!!!!!!!!!.
- and one minor injury, a cut to my finger. Which was acquired in the process of removing the Balun from its plastic enclosure.
Step 1: Prepare the Antenna / Make an Antenna.
So I picked up an antenna for $5 back when they sold them at RadioShack. ( an consumer electronics store that is a quarter of the size of a Best Buy, and also filed for bankruptcy in 2015. and has/had controversial feelings in the quality of its materials from many different groups of people. I personally have come to the conclusion that it was about 50/50 depending on what was purchased. )
But you could easily make one and I'm sure there are plenty of ideas on this site alone. ( because I looked at a lot of them). I also purchased a balancing transformer and terminal strip when I was there.
Between the quick coat of acrylic spray paint and plastic wrap ( in this case it was red ), this worked quite well and allowed me to pick up stations 90° from where my antenna was pointing. that is until a fault developed in the twin-lead cable, so I decided to put the original idea together and rather than squishing everything into the tube. After finding out the fault was in the cable, I decided to rip apart the transformer and glue everything directly to the antenna, much like I saw elsewhere online.
And because I can and the fact that this is where it happened…
I'm going to take a minute to stress that "Knives Are Sharp" !!!!!!!!!!.
- and one minor injury, a cut to my finger. Which was acquired in the process of removing the balun from its plastic enclosure.
There were actually 3 faults. two of which were at each end of the cable, one at the transformer and one on the antenna. The 3rd was the coax connector to the transformer. so the whole thing needed to be torn apart to get under the plastic.
Step 2: Heat and the Band Pipe to a Fitting Shape.
I didn't take any pictures of this, but it's pretty simple. lay pipe on floor, Set heat gun to aim at the center, Turn on high, wait a while, press down.
I did this on a concrete floor and found out that it sucks the heat away, so try a different surface. also the pipe's static clings to all the dust and dirt on the floor.
Once that is done, go through and make appropriate holes and attempt to figure out some sort of mounting. I used a piece of insulated copper house wire.
Step 3: Combine Antenna and Pipe, to Make Antenna-pipe or Indoor / Outdoor Antenna.
Go through and make appropriate holes and attempt to figure out some sort of mounting. I used a piece of insulated copper house wire, and 1 hole on either side to do a picture frame type wire loop, and I threw a few on the bottom for ventilation and drainage in case moisture or water got in. And of course one for the cable to connect.
I used an end of an old coax cable to hold the connector, well I used hot glue around it to hold it in place.
I put a dab of hot glue at each corner of the antenna to hold it to one side of the pipe and keep it from wiggling and rattling.
I then took the plastic packaging that is hard to open and really annoying ( I save and recycle this stuff, as it is awesome once opened…. ). and cut 2 squares out for each end and hot glued them on. I also glued around the wire hanger mechanism to prevent water from coming in that way. once the glue was all dried and set up, I carefully cut around the plastic to match the shape of the pipe.
Step 4: Enjoying My Work After Installing on the Roof.
Say HI to the Kitty cat "TAT", Who I found on top of the chimney and most likely disrupting my highly secure mounting mechanism(s).
This thing will pick up most stations if oriented in the correct direction, especially now that it's on the roof. combining this antenna with the bigger antenna allows me to pick up a couple stations 90° off of the other one. which means I have an antenna that picks up in 3 directions!
The next project I hope to do is replace the big antenna with a copper pipe Gray Hoverman antenna that I will be making and some sort of Mount. if you follow this link i am sure you will find a whole bunch of ideas > Gray Hoverman Antenna by unclesam I'm planning to do something similar to that, but I want to try it as a one piece jig bent.
After finishing this project I was stumbling around on the inter-webs and discovered somebody who has reviewed a bunch of those flat antennas. much to my surprise he uses the $5 RadioShack bowtie as a control and found that almost nothing could beat it, which is probably why they stopped selling it.
After the preamp the cable runs down to the basement and goes to the power injector and into a distribution amplifier and splitters. We have one LCD TV and a tube TV with converter box. I have an HDHomeRun and a Elgato Hybrid USB tuner.
The USB tuner/HDHomeRun are the best things I've ever done. there's nothing like wandering up to the roof with a laptop or ipad and adjusting the antenna(s) with the signal strength meters right in my hand and then bounced to all the channels to check the quality.
I will try and answer questions in the comments below, but it takes me a while to write stuff up/reply to things.
Also this was my 1st published instructables ( it's about time, as I had the account for years now ). I have others that I need to do/ finish yet?
Step 5: An Update Y20181125
An update for the Date of Y20181125.
still going strong, I've barely changed anything. the plastic end caps have fallen off and so I briefly had a bees nest in their.
I need to add some updated pictures.
and I never mentioned the other antenna on the roof attached to the old satellite. don't buy that piece of junk, unless you need something that is extremely directional. although I was only able to get very few channels and only if I had it pointed exactly at them. plus the one I bought was defective and had 2x neutral polarized prongs on the cord's plug so I had to cut one of them to a hot polarized prong which then caused the plastic holding the prong's to melt and me to ultimately replacing the entire cord.
I have both lost and gained channels due to partnerships, licensing and the FCC's free-for-all auctions that had a channel in Pennsylvania decide to sellout and move to a DC sub-channel. some new sub-channels moved in. I even had a Local news & NBC affiliate de-affiliated because the channel was trying to get more viewers in DC and Comcast decided now that they owned everything it was a duplicate in the DC market…. so I'm left with no OTA major network affiliates apart from ION and PBS's (and a sub of NHK-World). which ultimately led us to getting satellite through DirecTV.
and oh By the Way I'm hitting a different channel in Pennsylvania WITF which is 2x states away!! ( If only I could consistently get West Virginia PBS ? IN WV ? ). I was recently looking at a coverage map…. I am not even close to the predicted line of signal drop off. which is a good thing as they added a subchannel of Fox and old tv shows on AntennaTV.
and TVFool.com has literally become my go to site for it's channel information.
the app "Signal GH" by generally helpful software ( requires an HDHomeRun ) was totally worth the price, i need to track down an equivalent android version yet.