The cat-chewed antenna

The antenna of a GPS that was chewed by a cat.
March 30, 2007. Approximately 6:30 pm I'm estimating would be the time. I placed my geocaching bag on my computer desk while I snagged the coords of the geocache I was to tackle that evening. It was not out of my sight for more than about 20 seconds while obtaining something from the kitchen. I left the apartment shortly thereafter, with the thought of a new find in mind. About halfway to the cache, I went to grab my GPS from off the side of the bag, and the antenna rubbed against my hand. It felt... rough. Not like the usual smoothness associated with the rubberized tip. And then I looked down. Do YOU see anything wrong with this picture? A GPS on a wooden table, with a chunk of the rubber chewed off of the antenna.
No, your eyes do not decieve you. That yellow there? That's officially the colour of the top of the actual antenna held within it's rubbery casing. The cat had decided, in the 20 seconds in which I happened to not be looking in that direction, that it would make a tasty treat. And then stop, before I came back and noticed it chewing. The close-up shows that a chunk of rubber was torn free entirely, and the top was half-severed entirely. However, there IS one blessing. The cat didn't decide to go deeper and mangle the actual antenna itself. There was the slight scratch of one tooth-mark, but it didn't tear anything, nor did it look to have caused any serious damage. A closeup showing the hole in the antenna and the yellow plastic beneath
So... as you can imagine, there was many, MANY obcenities thrown about the car upon discovering the damage. In either case... I had quickly come up with a plan. Step 1... since the rubberized coating doesn't appear to be physically attached to the actual antenna, I'd put a layer of saran-wrap under the ripped part, to avoid gluing the rubberized cover to the antenna itself. You can see the saran-wrap in this close-up. Peeling the torn rubber back to show the saran wrap over the yellow plastic.
So now that the actual, physical antenna is protected from the glue, I set to work preparing to complete the rest. And... as has been seen with my geocaches, I am a large fan of Goop brand glue. It's brutal-insanely strong, remains flexible under all conditions I've subjected it to (some of which include below -40 degrees celcius on the second geocache), dries clear, and is readily available. You can't go wrong. Then again, I wasn't about to use a lot of it. The GPS beside some saran wrap, the piece of rubber that was chewed off, and a tube of strong household glue.
As well... to be careful not to over-apply the glue, I quickly designed my own glue-application tool. Aka: a wooden skewer, followed by shaving down one side so that it's in the form of an almost miniature spatula. That ended up being the side that I used for application 1. The pointy side will likely be used to get into the unglued crevaces during application 2... touch-up phase. Showing a stick that has been whittled to a sharp point at the tip
To say the least... it was a tense 5 or so minutes. It could have been less, it could have been more... all I know is that I needed to keep my hands steady to avoid smearing psycho-glue all over everything. I have no clue if working with such an expensive item made my hands more or less steady... but they did the job regardless. The completely separated piece took a little bit of turning around to get it placed how it's actually supposed to sit... but in the end, everything was held in place. The outside still looks a little rough, and there's some cat-tooth marks on the very top, but all in all, it's starting to look normal again. Showing the antenna neatly glued closed, with small seams showing.
Thus came the next step... holding everything tightly together so that when it dries, it'll actually dry in the correct position. The last thing I need is to have to try to mangle it apart again so that I can start over. With how strong this glue is, I can guarantee the rubber would tear long before the glue would. I'd almost have to file down any sticking-out parts of rubber in order to correct any mistakes. Hence, I used a really low-stick tape (ie: crappy dollar-store masking tape) to wrap overtop of everything, and SHOULD be keeping it all in place. If it turns out to be mangled inside afterwards, and touch-up phase can't fix it, then I'll fix it as needed. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. The antenna wrapped in painters tape
But now we're left with another problem. Really weak tape? That doesn't sound like something that will hold together in any kind of dampness, or any other conditions that I might cross while geocaching while it's drying. It's 24 hours to fully dry... two applications... two days of non-geocaching? Possible, but unlikely. It was the weekend, and I had planned that at the BARE minimum, I was planning on taking on some geocaches on Sunday. Hence... electrical tape overtop of the masking tape. It would at least turn it black again (since the white top looked strangely conspicuous... and I'm wanting to keep my conspicuity to a minimum), and as well is quite stretchy, so it should hold the glued portion together better. The combination of the two tapes should keep lots of tape residue from sticking to the antenna, as well as keep it held tightly together. And now... we wait. For drying. The painter's tape wrapped tightly in electrical tape.
And here we see... the end result (or very close there-to). It was a complete success! The pieces dried together in perfect formation, and everything looks almost as good as new. With a little bit of rubbing, the slight bits of whitish glue that is currently visible can be easily removed, thus making it look nigh-new again. Albeit this is before the second gluing... there will be neglegeable difference between now and afterwards. The second gluing is mainly just filling one not-quite-fully-glued-down seam, and the slight 'flap' from where a tooth dug in will be glued down. Otherwise, it will remain identical. Surpisingly less needed for phase 2 than anticipated. I guess the taping in the above pictures helped squish the glue out and spread through the cracks. In either case... I'm quite pleased, and hopefully the glue will keep the cat away. Not that I plan to leave it anywhere the cat can get to again anyway :P. The antenna looking almost perfect again.
ADDED BONUS: The cat several months later decided to have a second go at the antenna. The second time around, she wasn't NEARLY as neat. Must have figured I fixed it too easily the last time, and decided to make it more of a challange. Well... a lot of glue, tape, rubber bands, and generally everything you can think of later, and I had fixed it yet again. Unfortunately, the letters 'GPS' ended up being somewhat mangled, and there's a LOT more lacerations in general. It's still working fine however... she was smart enough to leave the inner-antenna alone. I just pray this was her last round at it. I don't know if the antenna could survive a third attack. The tip of the antenna mangled again.
ANOTHER BONUS: Nikita has decided to take yet ANOTHER swing at my GPS antenna. Only THIS time, she decided to make it a bit more difficult for me to fix. Evidently, she thought I was fixing it too neatly while I still had all of the antenna to work with, so she decided to outright remove some of the plastic/rubber this time around. I found one tiny chunk (seen in the background), but a decent portion of the corner is gone. On the plus side (or the downside, depending on how you look at it), it was chewed enough for me to entirely peel back the antenna cover and give it a saran wrap layer to keep the glue from sticking to the now moreso-scratched inner antenna. So... let's see what we can do with this thing... Showing the opening, bigger than before, with a chunk of rubber in the background.
On the plus side, the glue acted as I suspected it would... and better than I expected (sorta). Here's a really zoomed-in look of the end result (or almost end... I did one minor second application after this one to smooth out a few dents in the glue, purely for aesthetics). Given a healthy amount of rubber/plastic is missing, we now have a translucent window to the actual antenna itself beneath. Thankfully, it's still protected from direct glue contact by the aformentioned saran wrap over it. I could have in all actuality used black plastic from a garbage bag... but after all that this poor thing's gone through, I wanted to be able to visually see the battle scars... I don't know why. But it looks decent, and relatively smooth, considering. The GPS (and geocaching bag in general) now resides in a room the cats aren't allowed in, and not just behind the clear door of a display case-type thing in the livingroom. Hopefully, this will be the last repair job needed. Showing the rubber more or less replaced with that clear household glue.

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