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  #1  
Old 09-04-2002, 03:31 AM
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caver01 caver01 is offline
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Alternate antenna ideas!

Attached is an image of my car with replaced antenna. I did this for 2 reasons:

1. I was not getting the best range with the stock antenna.
2. The cat wants to chew on my stock antenna.

Ok, so I took a spring, pulled it straight, left a loop at the end and straightened out the other end. Then I took the insulation off a tiny wire from inside a modular telephone cord and slid a small section of this insulation over the straightened spring. This will slide down later for insulating the new antenna as it exits the circuit board cover.

Next, I desoldered the stock wire antenna and replaced it with my own. I bent it down and out the same hole that motor lead exits. Slid that insulation down and under the circuit board THEN I bent it out and up. The usulation stops well before exiting the car's back window.

So, now I have this tiny bare silver wire antenna. It is strong, it stays upright, it gets much better reception, and it looks more attractive than the stock wire.

Drawbacks:
1. So far, I only wish it was just a bit longer. The spring I had on hand is what I used. It's late, so if I had the time, I could have used a better-suited spring.
2. I am only slightly worried about the rigidity of the new antenna, not that it will bend, but that it might be TOO stiff. If the car flips, it may put undo pressure at the solder point.

Revisions and other thoughts:
1. I might like to try another spring, and perhaps one that is NOT pulled straight. This would give it some flexibility.
2. A better method of attaching the antenna might include a body-mounted version. This would either have to be wired to the circuit board (very inconvenient if the body needs to be removed) or I might come up with some kind of contact connection when the body is in place.
3. Ever taken apart a Nokia phone? The 8260 has no external antenna. How did they do that? well, there is a copper strip that zigzags under the cap. It's attached with double stick tape. I WANT that on my bit. Ideally, I take a copper sheet, cut out a piece for the INSIDE of my car body. Then, I carefully cut it into a zigzag of sorts. The result could be attached to the inside of the body, thereby creating a HIDDEN antenna that ends up having a LOT of overall length. You have to see the phone to get the idea. Then, this could be linked to the circuit board with a contact spring. That part should be easy enough.

Any thoughts? Anyone want to try my flat-hidden copper sheet antenna? If it works, I see fleets of bits out there with NO visible antennae!

--caver01
Attached Images
File Type: jpg car1.jpg (69.4 KB, 10035 views)
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  #2  
Old 09-04-2002, 10:48 PM
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Looks nice, like a Mini-Z! You have to try the copper zig-zag idea, let us know how it goes!
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  #3  
Old 09-04-2002, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
3. Ever taken apart a Nokia phone? The 8260 has no external antenna. How did they do that? well, there is a copper strip that zigzags under the cap. It's attached with double stick tape. I WANT that on my bit. Ideally, I take a copper sheet, cut out a piece for the INSIDE of my car body. Then, I carefully cut it into a zigzag of sorts. The result could be attached to the inside of the body, thereby creating a HIDDEN antenna that ends up having a LOT of overall length. You have to see the phone to get the idea. Then, this could be linked to the circuit board with a contact spring. That part should be easy enough.
Super ingenius! So far you've got at least 2 people who want to hear more about this when you do it!

Good luck!
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  #4  
Old 09-05-2002, 09:38 AM
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caver01 caver01 is offline
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Nokia-style antenna FINISHED!

Ok, I did it. It took a while, but I did it. I have NO visible antenna on my car now.

I will post pics tonight, but basically, what I did was this:

First, I already have a spring-wire antenna setup. This was a solder job that is necessary for my new INTERNAL antenna to work correctly. I carefully bent the spring wire forward 90 degrees at a point about 4-5 mm above the edge of the circuit board cover. This resulted in my spring wire antenna pointing straight forward.

Next, I took a small round tool (screwdriver shaft would work) and tightly wrapped a double loop into the spring wire situated vertically. This double loop is slightly smaller in diameter than a pencil eraser.

So, if you can picture this now, I have a tiny round looped spring wire (loop is on edge, in other words, the circule can be seen from the side). This loop is situated JUST ABOVE the center of the circuit board. Getting this? The idea is that this loop is going to serve as a spring-fitting connection point to the UNDERSIDE of plastic body. Now, when I place the body on the car, this loop touches the inside center of the roof with slight compression. The point is that I want to make electrical contact to the part described below:

Now for the Nokia-style antenna. . .
I started with a paper cutout of what amounts to a flattened body layout. My plan was to cut out a copper sheet (.003 mm I think, not quite foil but a little thicker than that) and once I had the copper fitting correctly, cut it into an elaborate zigzag. This plan failed. It was just too hard to get a pre-fit and I found that I was constantly making adjustments to position, cut a little copper here, cut a little there etc. Solution was to start over with a new piece and totally ignore my paper template. This was MUCH better:

I started with a 2mm strip of copper that was 18" long. (sorry for mixing metric with inches!) The sheet I had was only 9" long, so I cut a 4mm piece and cut that lengthwise, leaving the end attached so it was one continuous piece 2mm long. In addition, I left a square tab at the end of one part to serve as a starting point and electrical contact under the roof of the car.

Now that I had the copper ready, I started out by trimming the larger tab at one end so that when placed on the roof, my spring-wire antenna above would touch the center of it. I taped it in place on the roof (this tape will come off later). Next, I began running the copper strip, flat along one of the roof struts to the back, folding it and flattening the folds where I needed to make turns. I made my way to the rear deck lid, went horizontally, then back along the rear of the body. Next, over the rear wheel well, a "W" on the door, a "M" on the front hood, another W on the other door, then to the back roof strut, and back to the roof where I trimmed off the excess. I taped it down the whole way to keep it in place. Eventually, I untaped the starting point which needs to be unobscurred copper so it can make electrical contact. By that point, the rest of it was taped down, so I could start to neaten the tape and tape down the end so it did not bump the start.

I went around the job and retaped where necessary, cleaning up my work and checking position so the flat copper strip could not be seen through the windows. When I was satisfied that it would not catch on the wheels, tape was not seen through windows, etc. I attached the body to the chassis! The looped spring antenna now touched the copper tab on the roof, and following my zig-zag, I now have a TOTALLY HIDDEN, 15-inch copper strip antenna!

Does it work? That's the real quesiton isn't it. After spending 3 hours screwing around with this idea and ruining my previous antenna to get here, I was excited and scared to test it. It works like a champ! I am only getting a SLIGHT increase in range (I have never had the best range anyway) but my car now has NO visible antenna and at virtually NO sacrifice in weight and space. I can easily re-route my contact spring antenna so as to minimize body cavity intrusion (to make room for LED battery etc.).

I DEFINITELY recommend that someone else try this to see if you get similar results. I had already tried coiling my stock antenna and had signal problems. I don't think the stock antenna with the insulation it has works all that well coiled around inside the body. The copper strip is the only way to go for me now.

Drawbacks?
I don't see any yet! No more kitty bites on the stock antenna, and no drag or balance issues associated with the stock wire. I do have to mind the copper in case I add LEDs or something else inside so I don't short something. I may make a second version with thinner strips to make more zigzags and increase the length. My tape job is functional, but something more permanent now makes sense. Pics coming soon!
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  #5  
Old 09-05-2002, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
It works like a champ!
Excellent, can't wait for the pics!
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  #6  
Old 09-05-2002, 12:54 PM
Token User Token User is offline
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Interesting idea - I have sticky backed copper foil used for stained (leadlight)glass work at home ... could make for an interesting solution for my WRX.

Very cool mod.

Thanks caver01.
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  #7  
Old 09-05-2002, 01:14 PM
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The NEXT question is...

WHERE to buy the material?

caver01, NICE work! I want to try the technique too! But I don't have a Nokia as an organ donor!
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  #8  
Old 09-05-2002, 01:31 PM
payaso payaso is offline
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I do have a nokia phone like this, but I don't want to tear it up for my cars sake. Hey Token User, where can I buy the stidky back copper foil your talking about? Cause that sounds like the ticket.

silla
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  #9  
Old 09-05-2002, 02:05 PM
Shacky Shacky is offline
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Would something like this help?

Antenna Booster
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  #10  
Old 09-05-2002, 02:23 PM
payaso payaso is offline
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I'm checking on it now...
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  #11  
Old 09-05-2002, 02:53 PM
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caver01 caver01 is offline
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Materials for this mod

I thought about the stained glass foil, and this might work, but you would really have to be creative with your folds. This will make more sense when I post pics, but my copper flips with each turn where a fold exists. This would put a sticky side out until the next fold. I love the idea of self-adhesion because you get rid of the tape, but you would need to make every turn a double fold to keep sticky side down.

CLARIFICATION: I called this a NOKIA-STYLE antenna, but it is definitely NOT from my old phone. I made this from scratch using .003mm (I need to verify that number) copper sheets. I went to my local hobby store and picked up a 12" wide roll of the stuff for 15 bucks! Obviously I have way more than I need, but it is nice to have the material for other projects. My hobby store had this near all of the other dowels, metal stock, brass, etc for model making. They also had sheets of aluminum and stainless. I have no idea why I wanted copper. I don't even know for sure if the Nokia antenna was copper. Perhaps aluminum would work as well. In any case, I think I chose the right guage because it folds easily, yet is not so flimsy that it is hard to work with.

I will post pics tonight when I get home from work and clarify the thickness.

I was thinking about pulling off the tape now that I have the copper in place correctly. Then, I could carefully lift it out of the body shell, put adhesive on the under side and set it back. Might be a real mess too! I can live with some tape for now.

--caver01
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  #12  
Old 09-05-2002, 02:58 PM
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caver01 caver01 is offline
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Antenna Booster

The antenna booster is what made me think of this. The booster is nothing more than a second antenna like inside the nokia phones these days. I have a hard time understanding how they can do anything without contact to the actual antenna. I might have used the booster, but it really is the wrong shape, and once you start modifying it, you might as well just install your own from scratch and get extra length to boot.

--caver01
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  #13  
Old 09-05-2002, 03:06 PM
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caver01 caver01 is offline
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Stained Glass Foil

Adhesive copper for stained glass foiling can be obtained online pretty easily. Nearly every art glass supplier sells foil like this in spools. Also, most cities have stained glass artists and usually supply shops. Check your yellow pages for stained glass.

The foil for stained glass is used to line the border of cut glass which is then soldered to adjoining cuts. The solder and foil form the joint that holds the glass. This technique, similar to "leaded" glass work was developed by Louis Comfort Tiffany at his studios in NY.

I would love to find out how the sticky foil works however. I don't think I would want to do double folds to keep the adhesive down, but I suppose you could do short runs and tack them all together with solder when you are done. I'd probably melt the car body doing that!

--caver01
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  #14  
Old 09-05-2002, 03:09 PM
payaso payaso is offline
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Hey caver01, could you send me a business card size piece of what your using? The LHS here don't carry it. I will pay for it..
let me know.

silla
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  #15  
Old 09-05-2002, 03:27 PM
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caver01 caver01 is offline
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Copper

Hold on. I used a 9-inch strip, doubled, so about 18 inches overall. Straighter the better. A business card size might do OK, but all the turns you will have will be a real pain. For example, when I hit my 9" length about 3/4 finished, I had to deal with the next piece going the opposite direction. I had to fold it over and wasted a little bit of space. Not really a big deal.

Perhaps if you cut the business card into a square spiral, then fold the corners to get it into a straight line, THEN you can start putting it inside.

Ahh, what do I care! You can do it however you like! Sure, send me a Self Address Stamped Envelope and 50 cents and I will send you a business card of copper.

Now, I am not interested in making a business out of this, and certainly not going to sell anything through this wonderful forum. I do however want some feedback from someone else who might try this.

Consider yourself the lucky one who asked first!

--caver01
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