Picture of Pop-Bottle-Cap Antenna Protector
Power antennas are great. You can make them go up, and, well, down, and... well, they make the radio work. The radio's important so that you can listen to, uh, well, sometimes there's good music. Anyway, they're fun to watch, and I want to keep mine working.

When Nissan (or whoever Nissan handed the specs to) designed this specific antenna, they didn't bother to weatherproof it. Sure, the mechanism has a little spout at the bottom to let the rain out (which, if I lived in Seattle, or Florida, would be all it needed), but around here, moisture will pool in the housing during the day, then freeze at night. Then the nylon gear rack inside the antenna breaks into pieces and I have to tear it apart again.

So I got to thinking, and then to hacking. Here's what I came up with: the pop-bottle cap antenna protector. (Also my first instructable! And entered in the Transform It! challenge.)

(Disclaimer: Cut metal has sharp edges, and wire has a way of whipping around and poking you in the eye if you aren't careful. Bits of wire sometimes take flight when you cut them off. Work carefully.)

Check out the vid: 

Edit: I'm totally blown away by the great response/comments I've been getting on this. Thanks all!

Step 1: What you Need

Picture of What you Need
You need: 

A bottle cap or two (beer caps are more fun to look at, I used an Izzie cap because it matched the truck)
The motor from a wind-up toy car (we need the steel spring inside; just hit it with a hammer and it'll come apart)
Duct Tape
Wire (I used a tangle of aluminum wire I found beside the road; avoid wire that will rust)
(Optional) Turtle Wax and a rag


Tin snips
Something to mix the epoxy on, and with
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ag311 months ago

sugru around the edges on the cap and mount might improve weatherproofing and remove the scratching concerns.

Steamfunk1 year ago
Brilliant! It's quirky, cool. What a neat conversation piece. I think it's awesome.
abbage282 years ago
Yes. Awesome.
Paulie1513 years ago
A nice idea, but I would think that over time the edge of the bottle cap would scratch the antenna.

I think a more plausible solution would be to simply drill one or two holes in the bottom of the antenna motor housing, to allow drainage. You could also attach a piece of vacuum line to direct the drainage if you wish. That's all they really do on the ones that are made to do this already.
They have that. They don't work in this instance. Water goes in, then it sticks in the plastic gears, freezes over night, and then in the morning you turn your car on with the radio on and ST-T-T-T-T-T-RIP goes the gears.
Ah! Well that just sucks!!! lol
Leanael4 years ago
nice man! Kudos!
Styluss4 years ago

I applaud your creativity here! Excellent mod!
XOIIO4 years ago
Great project XD It's one of those ones that brings a goofy smile on my face when I see it working.
mobilejray4 years ago
Very clever!
My only recommendation would be to clean your fingernails before your next post on Instructables - sorry, but it's gross!
Kinda have to agree. Great idea but clean your fingernails, wash behind your ears and sit up straight! ;-)
Comb your hair and don't talk with your mouth full!
And always wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident. :-p
ilpug Sabata4 years ago
are you the guy with the lime?
If you've got a problem with a little dirt under the nails, perhaps you're on the wrong forum. I mean *really*!

I was about to comment that the poster's nails were of the perfectly appropriate length in order to serve as the God-given, free and incredibly useful tools we were all born with...dirty or not. Too many folks clip, grind, chew or otherwise mutilate their nails until they are nearly useless appendages.

If they only knew how useful fingernails are; but they never will.
Darwinfish (author)  mobilejray4 years ago
LOL sorry about that. The stuff on my thumbnail (I assume that's what you're talking about) is spray paint, wearing off slowly (because I don't wash with paint thinner). If it looks nasty now, you should've seen it when it was fresh. XD
I can photoshop it out if you want - you are an amazing maker.
If you are that picky, obviously you don't do much work. My fingernails get cleaned every day besides hand washing and showering, but then dirty again a few minutes later.
Wats up, Ac-dc? dont you remember me? its Tesla! I invented half of you!
criggie4 years ago
Glue a bottle cap to the top of the aerial, so when it lowers, it covers the join. No moving parts.
That could become an aerodynamics problem for the antenna.

Adding a bottlecap drogue chute on the end could modify the antenna into a new instructable - how to replace a bent/broken power antenna.

Your mileage may vary, depending upon road conditions and driving habits. ;)

Darwinfish (author)  criggie4 years ago
Funny you should mention that, I thought the same thing the morning after I finished this. Either would work, and yes, the bottle cap glued to the antenna might even work better. But this is more fun to watch. XD
Attach it with sugru - will glue the cap to the antenna and act as a seal when its closed. Awesome.
Good idea - but we don't have that product here.
I only buy it on the internet from their website.
Mine's a non-retracting 3" steel tube schnorkel which does double duty as an FM radio aerial at the same time. Also (mostly) protects the cellphone aerial from branches etc. Also, I don't get ice problems because I park in a carport.

Nice fix - good work.
Calorie4 years ago
Nice job. I got a good laugh out of it (in a good way.) My Camry suffers from the bent antennae phenomena. I've given up on my power antennae.

One suggestion though. You might want to find a way to prevent the cap edge from being sharp. Or perhaps it is better to say you want to prevent any scratching and keeping the friction to a minimum.

Great idea. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, and the most fun.
Fik4 years ago
Good idea, but I think there may be risk of electrically grounding the antenna with the bottle cap (shorting the radio signal). Perhaps we can use a pill bottle cap or a similar one made of plastic.
Darwinfish (author)  Fik4 years ago
The assembly's glued to plastic, so I don't think it's doing much grounding (I haven't noticed any change in signal strength). Good thought though, I didn't even consider signal issues when I designed this.
Fik Darwinfish4 years ago
I was not thinking of a DC short but of a RF short caused by the stray capacitance between wire and metal (surely not noticeable in the low frequency AM band).
Still, you have not noticed any change in signal strength, so I was wrong in this regard. The only other consideration with the metallic cap is the possibility of rust.
seabee8904 years ago
i have used bits of spring steel to make fine cut tools for wood and clay (my wife makes silver clay jewelry) those on dowel rods are perfect
jpnagle594 years ago
You are a king ! Very good thought process here. I myself 'ain't that' clever. To all those people who commented on your finger nails- You need to add a section to the build to outline using spray paint. Make sure you stress that the builder should not wear latex gloves or what not, because the paint will melt the gloves. THEN everybody would have paint on the nail's, so to speak. Great job- now where did I put the spray paint...
Achan204 years ago
i dont have an antenna like that. but this makes me want one like it. very cool. i like it.
You have made a beautiful thing.
davIRE4 years ago
wow thats such a clever simple design, congrats
jakdedert4 years ago
I agree with the kudos. While I would probably obsess and try to find something a little more 'elegant' to put on my car, on reflection this is perfect. The build quality and instructions are superb, although I'd like to see a little more 'macro' in the photos to detail the bending/binding of the spring onto the mount.

That said, I also agree with the poster who suggested a simple 'top-hat' design would be simpler. Perhaps that could be combined with some sort of socket collar around the base in order to make a better seal...or an O-ring under the top-hat section itself for simplicity.
tkjtkj4 years ago
Very nice 'structable!! I like simple, elegant design, and this has it.
Now, as a lil present to those so unfortunate as not to have such a power antenna, why not glue (or Sugru) a bottlecap the the tip of your existing antenna!.. Watch others as they stand in disbelief that you have a power antenna in a place where its impossible to have one! and, of course, with no moving parts ..

(I think its more elegant than those dumbo lil plastic balls they fix to antenna tips, anyway)
ac-dc4 years ago
I know it's a crazy thought, but if you replaced the power antenna with a fixed antenna you'd not only fix it, you'd never have to worry about the motor or gearing breaking someday... just a thought...
Darwinfish (author)  ac-dc4 years ago
Yes, but where's the fun in that?
BluesHarp4 years ago
reading through all the comments, yes, there may be more elegant looking solutions ... but I personally like this one ... it just has a little steam-punk-ish flare to it that adds character. Good job!!
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