Saturday, 21 August 2010

Tutorial: Scratch building a radio antenna

Very straightforward and easy technique here but it will add a level of detail on your model. Many Forge World kits come with a base for an antenna but you can also add one your self on a GW plastic tank kit if you want to superdetail your model.
You will need the following:
  • Hobby Pin Drill
  • Very thin drill bits, preferably 0,5 mm in diameter
  • Hobby Knife
  • Guitar String
  • Acrylic Black Paint
  • Super Glue 
You can find the guitar string in any musical instruments shop. Ask for a spare higher E string (the very thinnest). It should cost less than 1 euro. You can use jewellery wire instead (like I have in the picture above) but  I have found that the guitar strings work better for this because it keeps straight.
We start by marking the center of the antenna base with a thin pen. Make sure it's as close to the center as possible.

We make a small guiding hole with our hobby knife so that the drill stays in place for the next stage.

Using the drill, we make a small hole in the same way we would if we wanted to pin something on it. It doesn't have to be too deep so don't overdo it. Make sure you are very gentle because these thin drill bits break very easily (trust me on this, I already broke three or four).

We cut an appropriate length from the guitar string and make sure it fits nicely.

Now it time to paint the antenna. I use my airbrush because it covers nice an evenly but if you don't have one make sure that you thin down your paint a lot if you are going to use a brush. If not you will not have a smooth finish and the antenna will look lumpy.
In order to get that little ball at the top, just dip the string inside the paint pot a few times, waiting about a minute for the paint to dry each time.

At the end is should be looking like this:

When you have finished painting your vehicle, put a little super glue at the end bit of the string and place it inside the hole you made in the previous step.

Voila! It's very easy to do when you get the hang of it and it will give your vehicles this little extra something. Hope you find this useful!


  1. I made a couple of these using stretched sprue. I'm a bit worried they're going to break. I wondered about guitar string, but could never figure out what size to get. Thanks for the tip.

  2. No problem, glad this helped. Get the smallest size possibly I would say. Just make sure it's a steel string and not nylon.
    It might look flimsy but it's very strong, they get under a lot of tension when you tune them on the guitar and still don't break.

  3. Nice tutorial! Funnily enough, I used this exact technique yesterday - highly recommended!

  4. Ah, cool! How did it work for you? Did you get good results?

  5. I was happy with it - I used it to add an extra antenna to a voxcaster. I'll have some pics on my blog soon!

  6. Instead of a hobby knife to make a guide hole, I use a scrying tool (awl). I find it easier to see exactly where I am making the hole.
    Just me two bits.

  7. I had to look on the net so see what that tool looked like! Now that I've seen it I must say it looks mighty handy indeed. Too bad I've never tried it, if I stumble upon one I will give it a go :)

  8. cool trick!I paind cash money for mine.Bummer

  9. Are there ready one made to buy?