FrSky diversity receivers are awesome but the antennas are fragile and should be protected and, to be effective they need to be mounted at 90 degrees to each — usually the best way to accomplish both is with antenna tubes. They’re a cheap accessory but I still prefer to make my own and I wanted share how I do that.
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The tools I use include a 320W heat gun I found on Amazon and it’s great. It heats up fast, has a nice kickstand, it’s perfect for heat shrink tubing, it’s quieter than most blow dryers, and at only $15 it’s a bargain.
The base of the antenna tubes I made here are bent at a 45 degree angle and I want those bends to be smooth and consistent and that requires a form. In this case a 10mm radius is just about perfect and a 20mm plastic cap from a little pump sprayer fits the bill nicely and I’m going to use double-sided sticky tape to secure it to the cutting mat.
The tubes themselves are made from 5/32-in. (4mm dia.) polystyrene tubing available from Evergreen Scale Models. I purchased a package of four 14-inch tubes that sells for about $3. I chose polystyrene because it’s light, it’s not too brittle, it’s easily formed, and it’s easily painted.
The first step is measuring how long the finished tubes need to be then add an extra inch or two for some ‘wiggle room’ to work with during the forming process.
Apply the heat slowly. Once you feel the tube begin to ‘give’ you need to quickly place it around the form and then hold it there for several seconds until it cools. The thing to keep in mind while making the bends is the tubes require very little heat before they become soft.
CAUTION: Polystyrene is flammable and if it receives too much heat too quickly it can sag irreversibly or even catch fire.
The last step is a trail fit and final trim.
I think the finished tubes look great in natural white but if you decide to paint them be sure the paint is safe for polystyrene. I painted a couple of sets with two different types of fluorescent model paint from Tamiya — both of which are suitable for polystyrene.
The PS series paint is formulated for polycarbonate and dries very quickly leaving a nice matte finish, while the TS series paint leaves a glossy finish but can take several hours to dry. Out of the package the tubes are very smooth so before painting you’ll need to prep them with either a Scotch-Brite pad or 400 grit sandpaper and then finish by cleaning the tubes with alcohol.
A nice finishing touch is adding plastic/rubber caps to the antenna tips and the ones I used are 4mm (5/32-inch) vacuum caps that you can pickup on eBay or any auto supply store and come in a variety of colors.
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Evergreen Scale Models #6-225 polystyrene tubes http://www.evergreenscalemodels.com/Shapes.htm Scotch 137 ‘permanent’ double-sided tape http://www.amazon.com/Scotch-137-Double-Sided-Office-Dispenser/dp/B0013CQ5K8 Tamiya PS spray paints http://www.tamiyausa.com/items/paints-amp-finishes-60/spray-ps-(polycarbonate)-6170 Tamiya TS spray paints http://www.tamiyausa.com/items/paints-amp-finishes-60/spray-ts-(plastics)-61500 4mm (5/32″) Vacuum caps in assorted colors on eBay http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2047675.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.X4mm+vacuum+caps.TRS0&_nkw=4mm+vacuum+caps&_sacat=0