Grabbit Ears - The BEST Indoor Antenna

#1
Grabbit Ears are uniquely named according to their characteristics.

First, they are God's rabbit ears. What I mean is that the inspiration came from the Lord, and the name as well. I didn't know a three bay antenna "wouldn't work". I was interested in a fractal version of the 2-bay Hoverman (bowtie) design. I found one on youtube and I made it. I was very disappointed as it seemed to be less effective than the 2-bay bowtie. That's when "What about a 3 bay?" sounded in my head. I'd heard of 2,4, and 8 bay but no odd numbers. I thought "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" and said to myself, "Do it!" Good thing I have no schooling in this area or I may never have tried it.

Second, the Grabbit Ears are digital and do a great job of grabbing bits! Grab bits.

And last, Grabbit Ears are sort of the new replacement for rabbit ears. I used to say "If rabbit ears worked prior to the transition, Grabbit Ears will work after."

(Remember, no antenna works everywhere, but if you are an indoor antenna user, Grabbit Ears will work.)

How to make Grabbit Ears

You will need:

Tools:
Ruler/tape measure
Needlenose Pliers/wire cutters


Supplies:
4 wire clotheshangers
#6 x 1/4" screws (4pcs)
#6 x 1 1/2" screws (2pcs)
#6 nuts (10pcs)
#6 beauty ring (8pcs) (used as collapseable washer)
300/75 ohm matching transformer (balun)

Procedure:

Open and straighten hangars.
Cut 8 pieces to 14" in length (2 are for connection and 6 are the elements)
Bend these into approximately a 40 degree angle, making "bowties"
Set two aside for the middle bowtie elements
Bend stars/fractals out of the remaining 4 (The bends are 1.75" from the angle and 1.75" apart)
Bend the two remaining pieces in the center, around a nail, forming a loop.
Measure approximately 4 1/4" from the center loop, each way, and cut the wire.
Use needlenose pliers to form a small loop at either end.
This is a wire approximately 7 1/2" long, with a center loop and two end loops. Measured from the center of the end loop to the center, measures 7"

Assembly:

This method works for me...

First star element:
Take short screw
Add beauty ring
Add star
Add connector bar with closed loop at the end
Add nut and tighten. Not too tight for final adjustment.

Next add the second star using the same order above.

Then the center bowtie:
Take long screw
Add beauty ring
Add element with two stars (Just made)
Add bowtie
Add second beauty ring
Add nut and tighten tightly making sure the rings collapse and hold the bowtie vertical to the connector.

Spread the star elements slightly as in pictures and tighten tight to collapse the beauty ring.

Repeat for the other half.

Next, find a peice of wood that your long screw will protrude enough for two more nuts and drill two holes 1.75" to 2" apart.
Use 2 remaining nuts to affix to backing
Add transformer using last two nuts.

Enjoy!

phone 022.jpg phone 023.jpg phone 024.jpg phone 025.jpg phone 026.jpg

You might notice in these pictures that the element assemblies are offset - one higher than the other. This was done for eye appeal and hasn't affected reception as far as I can tell.
 
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#2
Jeff, I BELIEVE IN THE GRABBIT EARS! ;)

Now, there's no reflector in this design, correct? Can we call it bidirectional? Does it work roughly as well as the 4228 to the front and to the rear as well?

Seems like the wood might be blocking some signal from the back, no? Might make a difference what kind of wood is chosen, or somebody might come up with a better material?!

One suggestion for an edit: you need to list the balun in the supplies, with specs. I'm assuming you're talking about the regular 300/75 ohm transformer you can get everywhere for a few bucks.

Rick
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#3
Whatinnthehell is a "#6 beauty ring" and whereinthehell can I find them?

Also, you can often find serviceable baluns for indoor use in the dollar store.
 
#4
Jeff, I BELIEVE IN THE GRABBIT EARS! ;)

Now, there's no reflector in this design, correct? Can we call it bidirectional? Does it work roughly as well as the 4228 to the front and to the rear as well?

Seems like the wood might be blocking some signal from the back, no? Might make a difference what kind of wood is chosen, or somebody might come up with a better material?!

One suggestion for an edit: you need to list the balun in the supplies, with specs. I'm assuming you're talking about the regular 300/75 ohm transformer you can get everywhere for a few bucks.

Rick
Rick,

There is no reflector in the design. It does work roughly as well from front to rear or rear to front. I would call it bi-directional in its normal configuration hanging with bowties horizontal. (Actually, I think the surface that Grabbit Ears rests against - wall, brick or wood or window -acts as the reflector. They work better against the surface than away from the surface. When moved away from a wall Grabbit Ears work best laid flat and are omni-directional.) Also, when I've used it outside on a mast, I've had better success with it mounted flat. If laid flat inside or out, the antenna is pretty much omni-directional.

Now, I wasn't aware that wood was a problem with signal. I have mounted them on paint sticks, bamboo, clipboards, and other wood pieces and haven't noticed any differences in performance. I have also painted them and again, I noticed no degredation in signal.

I've added the edit -thanks for your help!
Highdefjeff

Here's some more pics:
iti.jpg l.jpg ldf.gif lerwe.jpg lf.jpg
 
#5
Mr. Pogi

I've used any combination of washers and screws to hold them together. All seem about the same. I shopped at Lowe's and Home Depot to get the hardware. I will try to get the specific name of the "beauty rings". They are used as a chrome accent around a flat head screw but compress well for use as a washer.
 
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#6
There is no reflector in the design. It does work roughly as well from front to rear or rear to front. I would call it bi-directional in its normal configuration hanging with bowties horizontal. (Actually, I think the surface that Grabbit Ears rests against - wall, brick or wood or window -acts as the reflector. They work better against the surface than away from the surface. When moved away from a wall Grabbit Ears work best laid flat and are omni-directional.) Also, when I've used it outside on a mast, I've had better success with it mounted flat. If laid flat inside or out, the antenna is pretty much omni-directional.

Now, I wasn't aware that wood was a problem with signal. I have mounted them on paint sticks, bamboo, clipboards, and other wood pieces and haven't noticed any differences in performance. I have also painted them and again, I noticed no degredation in signal.
Well, if the wood acts as a reflector, improving gain in one direction as you suggest, then by definition it must decrease gain on the sides or to the rear. Somebody here taught me you can't have a net increase in gain.

I'd be very curious to see the effects of a rod or mesh reflector on the Grabbit. I have one of those "omnidirectional" indoor antennas, and adding a little tin can reflector made a huge difference.

A lot of people give up on pointing an indoor antenna, since the signal can bounce and come from any direction. But if you think about it, that's exactly when you want a highly directional setup -- to avoid multipath. But you might need more than one antenna. Like my two tuner / two antenna setup. :becky:

Man, HOW can they patent all fractal antenna designs. It's unamerican! You almost have to go DIY to get a decent antenna, nowadays.

Rick
 
#7
Well, if the wood acts as a reflector, improving gain in one direction as you suggest, then by definition it must decrease gain on the sides or to the rear. Somebody here taught me you can't have a net increase in gain.I saw somewhere here that wood might absorb signal. I don't know but I have used a laminating plastic. They've all worked within normal operating parameters. (Looks the same to me :cheesy:)

I'd be very curious to see the effects of a rod or mesh reflector on the Grabbit. I have one of those "omnidirectional" indoor antennas, and adding a little tin can reflector made a huge difference. I'd be curious about the use of a reflector also. Have any pics of how you added a reflector?

A lot of people give up on pointing an indoor antenna, since the signal can bounce and come from any direction. But if you think about it, that's exactly when you want a highly directional setup -- to avoid multipath. But you might need more than one antenna. Like my two tuner / two antenna setup. :becky:I've put just a little effort into running two together but lost more than I gained. Maybe I didn't do it right.

Man, HOW can they patent all fractal antenna designs. It's unamerican! You almost have to go DIY to get a decent antenna, nowadays.
Rick
Who are they who think they can patent all fractal antennae??? Patenting all fractal antennae is like trying to patent the fractal geometry or antenna theory. I should patent all 3-bay antennae!
 
#8
I'd be curious about the use of a reflector also. Have any pics of how you added a reflector?
No. Unfortunately, I'm a dinosaur -- never got into that aspect of the computer age. I don't even have a camera on my cell phone. Maybe in 2013.

I don't mean to suggest my setup is in any way optimal. I just found an old, square tin can somebody sent Christmas cookies in, maybe 15 years ago. I had my Monoprice HDA-5700 placed all over the apartment, and slowly figured out the best place was right beside me -- so I could move the tin can to the back or to the front or WHEREEVER it needed to go for a given station. Per the mfr instructions, the HDA-5700 lays flat, with coax output pointing toward the station, so I think it looks like a little Yagi inside, and I'm just adding a reflector to the rear.

I eventually got sick of playing around with the goofy tin can, and got a real antenna -- a CM-4221HD. I use it as an indoor antenna, and I'm able to get everything I could want (over 50 channels) by rotating it on a little lazy susan I rigged up.

I've put just a little effort into running two together but lost more than I gained. Maybe I didn't do it right.
What I'm doing now is using both the 4221HD and the Monoprice, but I'm not ganging or stacking them. I'm not combining them at all actually. I have the 4221HD facing north (toward Milwaukee) running right to the F connector on my TV, and I have the Monoprice/tin can facing south (toward Chicago) hooked up to an Insignia converter and then to the RCA jacks on the front of the TV. I use the TV/AV switch on my remote like an A/B switch.

Now, the Monoprice + tin can is still far inferior to the (slightly modified) 4221HD. Therefore, I consistently get fewer channels this way than with the 4221HD on a lazy susan. But the great advantage is, I no longer have to rotate the antenna constantly. It was cramping my surfing style. :becky:

Who are they who think they can patent all fractal antennae??? Patenting all fractal antennae is like trying to patent the fractal geometry or antenna theory. I should patent all 3-bay antennae!
Darn tootin! And I should patent my two antenna / two tuner design. :clown:

Rick
 
#9
They work!

They work! :)
9 Channels
Tower is about 10 miles away (Allentown, PA)
No amp
39.1 PBS
39.3 PBS (Spanish)
39.4 Create
60.1 ?
60.2 ?
69.1 WFMZ
69.2 WFMZ Weather
69.3 MeTV
69.4 R-TV
Grabbit Ears 001.jpg

I compared it to a $50 RCA ANT1650R Indoor multi-directional flat antennawith an amp and I get the Same exact channels.
I'll be returning the RCA!
Very Cool...Thanks!
 
#12
Finish washers

The actual washers I use are called "Finish washers". They are thin, chrome, and not flat washers. They easily deform to trap the element parts as the screw and nut are tightened together. Again, I will say that I have used a number of washers (lock washers, etc) but have settled on the finish washers because they make for the simplest construction with the fewest pieces needed to secure the connections. I have not been able to determine that one washer makes any difference in reception. All of the combinations have worked just as well, as far as I can tell.

Regarding wood and mounting options...

I have mounted a number of these on wood pieces of different sizes. Some I have painted and some I have stripped of paint. Here are some examples. 1357581055503.jpg 1357581073607.jpg 1357581090080.jpg IMG_20130107_114846.jpg

I recently made these and tested them against each other. I was unable to detect any clear differences in the reception of all of these models. There seemed to be the slightest edge on reception using the lightning bolt design, but this one is on wood and painted using a red metal-flake paint. (I've also used copper paint and silver paint, and left the original finish of the coat hangers.)

I have mounted them on plastic, pvc tubing, and glass patch embossing plastic. IMG_20121222_160955.jpg Again I was unable to determine that any one style is better than another.

I consider Grabbit Ears as the "BEST indoor antenna" for a number of reasons.

1. Due to their small size and light weight, they are very easy to position or re-position.

2. Despite their small size, they have great "strength". I estimate this to be at least a 30+ mile antenna.

3. Grabbit Ears are not only strong, but they receive all VHF and UHF channels (necessary in all but two states I think).

4. Grabbit Ears have also worked better than some alternatives in high noise and/or reflection environs. (I used a 50db amplified RCA digital rabbit ears antenna, a 4-bay channel master and an 8-bay channel master in some tough indoor situations, but the Grabbit Ears easily outperforms those I tried.) I believe the 3-bay design does a good bit to overcome the cancellation of signal due to reflection. (NOTE: When compared to the 8-bay outside, I found the 8-bay more difficult to maintain due to high winds at my location. The 8-bay received two fuzzy analog channels that the Grabbit Ears did not. At my 30 mile distance, there was no benefit to the 8-bay outside versus the Grabbit Ears inside.)

5. Grabbit Ears also work very well with amplification-- leading me to believe that they receive a "clean" signal. Using an amplifier has not been problematic in any of the instances I have used one. They only got better. Grabbit Ears may be 45+ mile antenna with amplification.

6. Last but not least, they are easy and cheap to build.

Build 'em and test 'em. They work.
 
#13
Now who can tell me how to mount four of these together into a 12 bay?

Two of these together with a splitter/combiner does gain a few points in signal strength and allows me to gain two weaker channels with a little adjustment now and then.
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#14
I just did my first test of GrabbitEars, on my 7" portable Eviant TV in the kitchen, with a 12 foot RG59 coax from the dollar store.
My TVfool: TV Fool (Note that channel 39 now broadcasts on channel 15)

Previously in this location on the same TV, I have used the detachable rod antenna that came with the Eviant. Now, the Eviant has a really decent tuner and does a decent job of getting my closest stations (all low power). Some problems with the rod antenna are that my 2 local LP stations (West) are 8 and 15 RF at about 90 degrees from my (south) translator towers, and one of those is VHFhi. So if I want to watch those, I have to move the rod. Also with the rod, moving around causes all channels to drop out or pixelate.

I connected the GrabbitEars, laying flat on the kitchen counter, and VIOLA! EVERY channel came in - no pixelation, and no dropouts wherever I stood. So I picked it up and placed it vertically in the window - and lost reception! After trying a few locations, I found that the best location is on top of my kitchen cabinets, laying FLAT. I know that defies all logic, but so does the entire GrabbitEars design! Now, it didn't pick up any of my channels from my North translators, but I never expected that. But 11 channels (25 subchannels, not counting duplicate programming) should provide enough entertainment for most people.

I will test the GrabbitEars again head-to-head against both a Mohu Leaf Plus and a DB-2 on my bedroom TV soon. But I'm already quite impressed. I'm now thinking of ways to modify the design to make it a "paper-thin" antenna that can fold or roll up for travel with my portable TV.

Jeff, I think we may have a winner.
 
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#16
Grabbit Ears Travel 'Tenna

But I'm already quite impressed. I'm now thinking of ways to modify the design to make it a "paper-thin" antenna that can fold or roll up for travel with my portable TV.

Jeff, I think we may have a winner.
Thanks for your kind remarks in the testing of the Grabbit Ears antenna. Did the Leaf antenna or DB-2 work well on your Eviant TV at that location?

Also FYI, the Grabbit Ears can be completely flat. The first ones that I made for mailing were flat and on glass patch plastic. I had been trying to make a small travel antenna for truckers.

I'll try to add a couple more pictures. When on plastic they fold in half and fit right into an 11X13 envelope (Actual dimensions folded are 8" x 13"). I took another type of clothes-hanger (The kind with the two clips for slacks) and clipped it closed for travel. Hang it with your clothes or whatever. Then, unclip, unfold, then reclip to the opened antenna and hang by the hangar hook. Easy to do.
IMG_20130130_111041.jpg IMG_20130130_111142.jpg IMG_20130130_111234.jpg

Also, the ones that I mounted on clipboards attach easily to a car or truck window using the clip, or can be hung by the loop on a hook.
 
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nbound-au

The Graveyard Shift
#18
Its biderectional in any dimension. Theoretically at best this antenna might match a 2bay bowtie. So its what i would call weak. Even if it is better than rabbit ears or a flat panel antenna.


Note: Im not trying to discourage people from making these, and not saying they dont work. Just trying to be realistic about gain before it becomes the next greendish!
 
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#20
Its biderectional in any dimension. (All 11 of them? String theory joke...:behindsofa:) Theoretically at best this antenna might match a 2bay bowtie. On a serious note, I wasn't aware that there was any 3-bay antenna theory. It has been said that 3-bay isn't supposed to work. Whatever the case, I am confident that the Grabbit Ears outperform the 2-bay bowtie, especially due to the VHF reception of Grabbit Ears. So its what i would call weak. Even if it is better than rabbit ears or a flat panel antenna. All things being relative, Grabbit Ears outperform most (possibly/maybe all - who knows) indoor antennae and outperform some outdoor antennae as well. In relation to other similar sized indoor antennae, I call the Grabbit Ears strong.


Note: Im not trying to discourage people from making these, and not saying they dont work. Just trying to be realistic about gain before it becomes the next greendish!
Personally, I'd prefer that people buy them instead of making them :cheesy:. To say they don't work would deny the truth, as described above by other individuals, and as I have found in my own experiences. What the gain is for Grabbit Ears is unknown, but it is realistic to say that if your indoor antenna doesn't do it for you, try Grabbit Ears. They have worked for many people and outperformed many indoor (and some outdoor) antennae.

God bless,
Highdefjeff
 
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