Wednesday 19 September 2018

Antenna Wiring - Michael Thurow

Following some comments I made on this blog George asked me to summarize my technique in a short article.
For antenna wire material I have used sewing thread from the early beginnings (my wife worked in the fashion industry and is usually my last resort if I need special stuff for my hobby). My favourite is thread as needed for Overlock sewing machines. It is from plastic fibre (not wool or cotton), very thin, extremely resistant and has a nice shimmer. Due to the plastic basis it reacts well with super glue and it can easily be pulled off without damage in case of a mistake. The downside is the price and the large size of the roll.
Regarding colour I prefer black for various reasons: (1) I want the wire to be visible, (2) if you look out of your window at any wire around they appear black (not copper or silver), (3) I also build biplanes and the antenna needs to look different from the rigging which is aluminium or grey, and (4) as follows:
For the wire end that runs into the fuselage I use hair from a brush or broom, which is also black. There is an incredible lot of useful material in the household! Depending on required thickness I cut it from a hand broom or from a painter's brush. The hair needs to be stiff but flexible. Due to the plastic material it again attaches easily with super glue. Any excess can be cut off with scissors.

 I start wiring from the rear. Depending on the original wire attachment I have two basic methods: If the wire runs directly out of the tail plane I just leave the upper end un-glued when merging the fuselage halves and insert the wire later, then close it and touch it up with enamel. If there is a small stump (like most Japanese planes have) I drill a small hole into the top of the stabilizer and insert a piece of very narrow photo-etch sprue bent around to form a double layer. Thus the short end showing out is split at the top and the wire can be squeezed in-between.

To fix the wire to the front mast I cut a small cleft into the top of the mast with the cutter - just very slightly without accidentally splitting it - and attach the wire in there with superglue. Then cut the surplus. If the wire ends a little further down on the antenna mast I first top 1 mm off and add this piece again after the procedure. The cleft prevents that the wire end sits on top of the mast (you could hide it under a drop of glue, though).
You may create isolators by fixing a small drop of thick acrylic glue to the wire, form it with pincers while drying and paint it white (bakelite).


With a little practice the procedure is quite full-proof. What really throws me off is when I inadvertently break the antenna mast, but there is a technique to resolve this, too...
(Sorry, not all pictures show Japanese planes but I took what I had available)
Thank you very much Michael for the quick answer and very useful advice. I will try it with my next model. But I would also like to hear from others. What are you doing with the antenna wiring? What technique and what material do you use?


D. Chouinard said...

Very informative! I'm always looking for different techniques to try, and rigging of any sort can be a source of frustration at times.

There is a product called EZ Line that has been out for a while. It's a stretchy, elastic type of material that's not supposed to sag over time. I have a sample of it and might give a try IF I can get back to the modeling table any time soon.

One thing I do like is the idea of replacing the tail attachment point with something quite a bit stronger than the little plastic bit. Yes, breaking off the antenna mast can be a problem! (We have all done it!)

Michael Thurow said...

How does the guitar string thing work, Jean?
Masts that are prone to bend I sometimes reinforce with a needle along the full length and sand them to shape, but this is very time-consuming.