A way to replace a satelite radio antenna.
When we bought it a couple of years ago, our car came with a few weeks of satelite radio. It was nice, but we decided not to keep the subscription. A few weeks ago, the brushes of a car wash destroyed the dried out rubber antenna cover. Since we aren't using it anyway, I decided to replace it.
No auto parts stores had a replacement rubber cover for the 6" satelite antenna. Finally, it hit me that any antenna would work, but the shortest I could find was 13"; no one would notice but me, but I would notice. I reasoned that if the antennas had standard threads, it shouldn't be too hard to find a bolt or machine screw with those same threads. I was lucky enough to find such a scew in my garage! The only thing left to do was to coat that bad boy in Sugru to blend in and protect.
Step 1: Sugru application
The purpose behind the Sugru-ed screw is that I'll be able to remove the bare copper coil (the remains of the satelite antenna), Sugru will allow it to blend in with the antenna base and keep the screw from corroding, and I'll be able to swich back to an actual antenna if I even choose to do so since I'm just screwing a replacement in.
To apply an even coating and shape, I got out the trusty 19.2 volt craftsman drill. Overkill for this application, but you never know.
The screw was fastened into the chuck snuggly, but not tightly enough to damage the threads. The washer is to constrain where the Sugru goes and keep a minimum number of threads clean. A few pieces of painter's tape kept the washer in place.
I applied about half a mini pack of Sugru to the bolt, pressing so that I got a good seal around the threads, but didn't cover the head.
Turning the drill at full speed on the low setting and with a little soapy water on the fingertips of the other hand, I was able to turn my drill into a make-shift potter's wheel. I really wish I had gotten a video of this in action because to my knowledge, this has never been done before with Sugru. It worked GREAT!!! The Sugru molded easier than I could have hoped for. Even when I accidentally covered the head, I was able to re-mold it to the exact shape I wanted in just a few seconds; important when you've got only a 30 minute work time and you're never sure when you'll have to scrap the whole idea and move to plan B. Anyway, check out how smooth and even that is! Once it cured, I had to cut the excess Sugru out of the phillip's head, but that was easily done with an exacto knife. I already had it out for step 6...
At this point, I have to wait for the Sugru to cure, but wait, I only used half a mini pack! This led to several things around the house getting a dab of Sugru. You can see from this photo that my drill got a new speed selector grip, my right angle drill got some grip added to the trigger, and my leatherman squirt got some dots of grip that are holding on suprisingly well. I even tried some of the suggested texturizing methods on the drills; retracted pen and brush bristles.
The painter's tape pulled away cleanly from the washer and Sugru leaving me with an incredibly smooth Sugru covered screw. What's left on this particular car is a slightly convex mount that this thing has to match up fairly well to. I put the screw back into the drill and held an exacto knife at an angle so that I cut a matching concave scoop out of the cured Sugru. Worked like a charm!
This should make sure that no dirt stays in the antenna mount leading to corrosion. If we ever decide to subscribe to satelite radio again, I can easily get a new antenna with no ill effects from this thing. The reason for leaving the head bare was that I am able to screw it in tighter than by hand. I was able to get it tighter by hand than I thought, but whenever I decide to remove it, it most likely will be more difficult making the exposed head come in handy.
The best benefit that I can now see is that when we install our car-top carrier for family trips, the antenna will not dictate where the carrier has to be placed. It can now be positioned farther to the rear, helping wind resistance and gas milage.
The most important thing about this project is the method of production. As I said, as far as I know, this is the first time Sugru has been "turned." I think this could lead to some pretty awesome things being made with the product (as if that's not already happening).