If you’ve been looking around this site you may have noticed that I tried to build a DB8 that was superior to the many versions of popular DIY bowtie DB4 antenna’s across the web. Well it was large, did not fit in my attic, and performed about the same in real life as the more compact design I had already built. I will put up plans for the original DB4 I built out of coat hangers and the DB8 that pulled in stations from 60 miles away in my attic. This antenna should pull in stations from 60+ miles away. If 60 miles is more than you need and this looks like a monster, try to build a simpler DB4 or DB8 Antenna.
Basically, a DB16 antenna is made up of four Db4 antenna’s “ganged” together in a proper way. Before you do your build check out the tools on this page to see how many stations you might get and how far away they are. There are similarly designed professionally made ones available to buy; DB8 Multidirectional HDTV Antenna and the DB4 Multi-Directional HDTV Antenna. At the time of this writing they were not bad at $60 and $50, respectively. You could build the DB16 below with junk lying around your house or you could spend about $20 on all new materials for a strong and durable outdoor installation.
- 62′ 8 to 14 gauge Solid Copper Wire or ~22′ of Romex – Yes, you may use coat hangers
- Remove any insulation
- Cut thirty-two 14″ Sections, eight 19″sections, and four 34″ sections
- Two 43″ 1×3 or similar
- Two 24″ 1×2 or similar
- Look for dirt cheap scrap wood if on a budget
- 42 1” Screws
- 42 Regular or Lock Washers
- 1 Balun (Available at Amazon($2.99 + FSSS), RadioShack, or your neighbors/parents garage)
Step by Step
Step 1: Paint the wood with an oil based sealer if you are mounting your antenna outdoors or if looks matter to you.
Step 2: Cut the wire into thirty-two 14” strips, eight 19” strips, and four 34″ strips and straighten them. A drill and pliers come in handy here, watch the video.
Step 3: Form the whiskers using the thirty-two 14″ strips. Bend the whiskers at the halfway point and leave 3” of space between the ends. From the bend to the end of each whisker should be 7″.
Step 4: Mark where the screws go (black dots) according to the diagrams on this page. Place two sets of marks centered on your wood 1 1/4” apart by running your tape measure lengthwise down the wood and marking at 3”, 8 1/4”, 10 7/8”, 13 1/2”, 18 3/4”, 24”, 29 1/4”, 31 7/8”, 34 1/2”, and 39 3/4”. Drill pilot holes unless you’re feeling lucky. For the red dots(at 10 7/8” and 31 7/8”), drill a hole large enough to fit your gauge of wire through. Repeat for the other side of the DB16
Step 5: Put your screws with washers into the holes and tighten them until they have ½” remaining.
Step 6: Place your whiskers into place
Step 7: Criss cross the 19″ lines into place bending as needed according to the picture at the top of the post. You’ll need to add some electrical tape to insulate the lines where they cross. This in essence, creates four DB4 Antenna’s, that we will be hooking together in the next steps
Step 8: Tighten the screws down to hold the whiskers and 19″ transmission lines in place.
Step 9: Attach the two 24″ pieces of 1×2 to the top and bottom each “DB8″, or 43″ antenna. This should leave about 6.75” of between the ends of the bowties.
Step 10: With the remaining 34″ lines (Four Total), feed your wire through the rear(through the red holes noted above)and fix them to the 19″ transmission lines. We will be connecting all of the left transmission lines together and all of the right transmission lines together for the Four DB4 antennas. Hook up the upper left DB4 to the bottom right DB4 and the upper right DB4 to the bottom left DB4. (ie. Upper left DB4’s left transmission line to lower right DB4’s left transmission line with one 34″ line; Lower left DB4’s left transmission line to the upper right DB4’s left transmission line; repeat to form a second “X” for the right transmision lines.)
Step 11: You should now have made two “X’s” at this point. Put one of your baluns leads where the two wires carrying the left signals cross and put the other lead where the two wires carrying thr right signals cross. INSULATE the other two spots that cross with electrical tap or similar, otherwise your signals will cancel, because one wire was carrying a left signal and the other a right signal.
Step 12: Make sure you’re bowties are still 3” apart and then plug in the antenna to your television!
Step 13: Test where you get the best reception. Location is everything, even a few inches can make a huge difference. Elevation also generally better, but keep in mind that attics cut about 40% of your signal. Many televisions have a signal strength meter that might help you find a good location.
- For More range – Add a reflector(Article coming soon, place the reflector 4 inches behind the bowties)