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Making a realistic antenna

A few issues ago we managed to get "Tip of the Month" contributor Dennis Scheidemantle's last name just about as wrong as we could. Well, not only has Dennis forgiven us for our faux pas, he sent in another great tip.

Making a scale antenna with small, stiff wire is a pretty good way to jazz up a model, but how about making a working telescoping antenna that's in scale? That's pretty cool if you ask us, so we asked Dennis to describe his technique:

"I just came up with a way to make realistic-looking telescoping antennas for 1/24 and 1/25 scale vehicles - and all parts are easily available. The idea is to simply combine two different sizes of tubing and one piece of wire.

"I started with a piece of 29-gauge hypodermic stainless tubing from McMaster-Carr (, hypodermic stainless tubing, part 8988K429) Into that I slid a section of .018" tubing from Ngineering (, .018" tubing: part N2018-2) followed by a section of their .004" ultrafine wire (part N2104). They all fit together perfectly, and if stops are put on the bottoms, they can be raised and lowered like the real thing. You can use Ngineering parts only for a two-stage antenna or their .012" dia. wire (part N211) for a more-modern nonadjustable one.

"I also used the brass nozzle from a disposable lighter as the base. I chucked it in my motor tool and turned it down to size using sandpaper and files. You can Alclad or chrome it. Fill it with putty or gloss black paint and drill it with a #20 bit to fit the three-stage antenna, or use some black silicone and center it (if you're that good) and let it dry.

"You can then put a drop of adhesive on the bottom of the disposable lighter base on the tip-top as a button, and leave it round or flatten it as desired.

"For a fully hidden antenna, drill a hole smaller than the base (but larger than the tubing) in the fender, and the wire will disappear into the car when the antenna is not in use.

"I suggest that you assemble the tubing and wire 'telescope,' then cut it as one unit so as not to crush the tubing."

One last note: Extreme caution should be exercised when you're taking apart an empty lighter to use as a base. For those who feel uncomfortable with that procedure, a suitable piece of tubing, carefully cut and shaped, could be used for the base as well.


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