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Keeping LOR boxes dry, an alternative...


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Hey guys, I was worrying to myself about water damage to controllers while fliping through catalogs. Then it hit me. Silica gel packs! These packs are often found in shoe boxes and they suck the moisture out of the air. The can be VERY powerful. Even so they should not be put even close to wood as it will dry it out and it will start cracking.

Here is the ad from a nearby store:

silicagel0bl.jpg

I am thinking about putting these in all of my LOR baxes. Package B is for up to 3 cubic feet, I think it would work well. My concearns are the facts that they might dry componants with lets say acid in them. Are there any componants that may be effected by an EXTREMELY dry environment?

Also these are reuseable, just bake them in the oven!

To me the 7$ is nothing. What do you guys think?

If it is a good idea, I will buy a case and sell them for cheaper prices at my Mini PLUS.

What do you guys think?

Any other problems you can see?

Zac

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Sounds like a neat idea and it would work for all of those pesky strobes I keep hearing about! I did a goodle search on it and found this info

"Little packets of silica gel are found in all sorts of products because silica gel is a desiccant -- it adsorbs and holds water vapor. In leather products and foods like pepperoni, the lack of moisture can limit the growth of mold and reduce spoilage. In electronics it prevents condensation, which might damage the electronics. If a bottle of vitamins contained any moisture vapor and were cooled rapidly, the condensing moisture would ruin the pills. You will find little silica gel packets in anything that would be affected by excess moisture or condensation.
Silica gel is nearly harmless, which is why you find it in food products. Silica, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), is the same material found in quartz. The gel form contains millions of tiny pores that can adsorb and hold moisture. Silica gel is essentially porous sand.
Silica gel can adsorb about 40 percent of its weight in moisture and can take the relative humidity in a closed container down to about 40 percent. Once saturated, you can drive the moisture off and reuse silica gel by heating it above 300 degrees F (150 C)."
(from howstuffworks.com)

These below may be useful to get the stuff cheply.

http://www.jakesmp.net/CSD_Silica_Gel/CSD_Silica_005_M.html

http://www.jakesmp.net/CSD_Silica_Gel/CSD_Silica_004_M.html

Edit: Even more info!

"
[align=left]When you first use silica gel in the area to be protected, it may become saturated rather quickly as it "drinks up" residual moisture. Once the residual dampness is removed, you can maintain a dry condition with less frequent need to reactivate the silica gel.[/align] [align=left]Reactivation times below are minimums. Sometimes, when the silica gel becomes overly saturated, it's good practice to extend the reactivation period. However, do not vary from the recommended temperatures.[/align] [align=left]Silica Gel in Tyvek Packets: These small packets which range in size from 1/2 gram to 10 grams in size are generally thrown out after use as their replacement cost is so inexpensive compared to the time and effort to reactivate them. [/align] [align=left]If you do choose to reactivate them we suggest the following: Leave the Silica Gel crystals in the Tyvek Bag. Place the entire bag on a cooking sheet and place the sheet into a vented 240 degree F° oven for at least 3 hours. After drying out the bags place them into a sealed container with a Humidity Indicator Card that has one or more pink circles. When all circles return to the blue color, which may be several hours, you know that your Silica Gel is ready to go to work again protecting your valuables.[/align] [align=left]Aluminum Canister - 40 Gram Unit: When the blue silica gel beneath the inspection window turns pink, reactivate as follows: Place the unit in a vented 300 degree F oven for at least 3 hours. (Or until the silica gel turns blue again.)[/align] [align=left]1 Lb. Foil Pack- Remove the Silica Gel granules and the Humidity Indicator Card from the foil pack. Spread the Silica Gel granules on a cooking sheet and put the sheet into a vented 240 degree F oven for at least 3 hours. When the granules have cooled down return them and the Humidity Indicator Card back to the Foil Pack. Within several hours the circles on the Humidity Indicator Card will turn blue which means that your Silica Gel is ready to be used again. If you are not going to use the Silica Gel immediately be sure to store the pack in a good air tight container.[/align] [align=left]Corrugated Carton - 200, 450 and 900 Gram Units: Place the unit with the indicator card down, occasionally examining the card. When the center circle turns pink reactivate the unit as follows: Remove the bag of silica gel granules from the unit and place the bag in a vented 240 degree F oven for at least 3 hours. Replace the bag in the unit (it may take several hours for indicating circles to turn blue again.) Replacement Humidity Indicator Cards are also available.[/align] [align=left]Steel Canister - 750 Gram Unit: When the blue silica gel beneath the inspection window turns pink, reactivate as follows: Place the entire unit (do not disassemble) in a vented 325 degree F oven for at least 3 hours. (Silica gel will gradually turn blue again.) Instructions can be found on the base of the canister. [/align] [align=left]Our Silica Gel units can be reactivated indefinitely ... provides a lifetime of protection." from the website above
[/align]

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Zac,

Do you have a problem with moisture in your boxes? I mean I live in an area where we get rain and I mean heavy rain a lot while the lights are up but have never had an issue. I know a lot of people worry about it but has anyone actually had an issue? It's a good idea but at $7.00 times 20 controllers you said you have? That's almost an additional card.

Jeff

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Yeah but I think it will be worth it, last year my controller was ruined by condensation. These controllers may be used for business purposes aswell so I have to keep them working at all costs.

Zac

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I'm not sure they would be effective unless your enclosures are sealed. Otherwise I think they would saturate pretty quickly.

Another idea might be to install a small heater in each enclosure to keep them dry. You could wire a power resistor (or even something like a c-7 lamp) to be always on.

-jim-

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jstjohnz wrote:

I'm not sure they would be effective unless your enclosures are sealed. Otherwise I think they would saturate pretty quickly.

Another idea might be to install a small heater in each enclosure to keep them dry. You could wire a power resistor (or even something like a c-7 lamp) to be always on.

-jim-


That might work except for one thing. The boards generate enough heat already. A heater might melt the board or enclousure, or the board might not work.
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The problem isn't when the unit is operating, it's when it's not operating and not generating any heat. A few watts of heat from a bulb or resistor wouldn't be significant compared to the heat from the triacs when it's running with a load.

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I have seen a few cards that were damaged by water. From what I could see the water was not condensation but rather a real leak on the boards. :D

Of the two suggestions, (gel packs / 5 watt heater) I lean toward putting a couple of C7/C9 bulbs in the enclosure. I believe that the vast majority of people have had no issues with condensation but that the little heaters will do nothing but improve the situation and with long life bulbs they should be lower maintenance than the gel packs.

Keeping your cards CLEAN is also important... Why? well because pure water does not conduct electricity. Add a few contaminates and it does. The cards that I have seen that were damaged by water were also very dirty. I think it takes a combination of the two to really wack the card. (although water alone is not a good thing)

People have reported cards that were actually submerged in water, dried off and they went on their merry way.

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I guess fools (and drunks) have all the luck because last season I had no issues at all with water (we had rain, snow, rain, snow). I used (horror) white kitchen garbage bags over the controllers and left the bottom of the bags open (the controllers were either mounted on a wall or to wooden supports which kept them off the ground). Any rain or melting snow just slid right off but by leaving the bags open, there was plenty of air flow. I realize its a very unsophisticated method but it looked fine (white bags--snow) and the controllers stayed perfectly clean and dry with no condensation.

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Carrie,

That of course is the KISS method! Keep It Simple, Stupid! It worked and it camoflaged the boxes in addition!

Jeff

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I used Walmart bags over my DLS boxes when I used them. My boxes are mostly in righttime boxes but a few are just in $2 plastic boxes. I do not even mount them off the ground. I lean them at an angle against the house.

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I accidently left a LOR 16channel board, mounted in a meci plastic enclosure, out in a thunderstorm last year. The enclosure was completely open, so it filled completely up with water, and covered the board for about 8 hours, until I got home from work. I took it inside, and dried it out. The next night, I was able to use it, with no problems.

With that being said, I prefer my "ugly boxes" over my plastic enclosures, for various reasons. One of which is that the "ugly boxes" are made out of wood, and their is no condensation. Also, they are completely open at the bottom for circulation. I have never had any of them get wet inside.

I have had condensation in my plastic boxes, which didn't seem to hurt anything. This year, I bought some spray on conformal coating for the boards. I haven't contacted Dan yet for his opinion, but I'm thinking about using it just for added safety. It should keep the boards clean, plus protect them from moisture.

Just some food for thought. :D

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Bill Hoffman wrote:

[snip] This year, I bought some spray on conformal coating for the boards. I haven't contacted Dan yet for his opinion, but I'm thinking about using it just for added safety. It should keep the boards clean, plus protect them from moisture.
I think that the conformal coating is a good idea! have something in the comm connectors when you spray so you do not coat them.
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DAN,

Is there any particular brand name or solvent base that you use with your conformal coating? Acrlyic..silicone etc?

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>>>>I think that the conformal coating is a good idea! have something in the comm connectors when you spray so you do not coat them.<<<<<

Thanks, Dan

I never thought of that. I guess that is why you make the "big" bucks. :D

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If you go to the Lights Lights forum look for stobes we coverd it throughly. There were many suggestions that worked but one that stands out. Krylon actually makes a clear spray for circuit boards. Even shows the application on their web site.

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Thanks, Robin. I went to that thread, not sure how I missed it before, and it is well worth reading. Except for the wax possibility, sounds like Krylon or regular conformal coatings are the way to go.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Zac_Cutt wrote:

I am thinking about putting these in all of my LOR baxes. Package B is for up to 3 cubic feet, I think it would work well. My concearns are the facts that they might dry componants with lets say acid in them. Are there any componants that may be effected by an EXTREMELY dry environment?

What do you guys think?

Any other problems you can see?

Very very very VERY BAD idea!!!!!!! If you look at the little packs of these that are in shoes and other things you will notice that they say "DO NOT EAT". The reason is that it is VERY POISONIOUS and potentially FATAL. If a child or someone's pet happens to ingest any of the silica gel they would get very sick and possibly die. Silica gel causes serious liver problems! You would be liable!

I say this from experience. My cat once ate a packet of silica gel. She got extremely sick. For a week I took her to the vet every day. (I would take her in the morning and pick her up in the evening so that she did not have to spend the night.) She had to have fluids intraveniously since she could not eat or drink. I did not know if she would survive. After a week she finally started drinking a little water. She did recover. It took a long time for her to gain back the weight she had lost.

Please do not use any silica gel outside. Use Dan's suggestion of using a C7/C9 bulb or 2 in your enclosure. When you buy shoes or other products that have the little packets in them be careful about how you dispose of them. Put them inside a jar with the lid on (good use for those empty vitamin bottles) or wrap them with a few layers of duct tape so that they can't be easily ingested.

TED
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smarts53 wrote:

Silica gel is nearly harmless, which is why you find it in food products.

This is very VERY WRONG information. Silica gel is highly poisionous! When ingested it interferes with liver functions. IT CAN BE FATAL even in small amounts. It is in little packets labeled "DO NOT EAT" for a reason.

TED
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TED wrote:

smarts53 wrote:
Silica gel is nearly harmless, which is why you find it in food products.

This is very VERY WRONG information. Silica gel is highly poisionous! When ingested it interferes with liver functions. IT CAN BE FATAL even in small amounts. It is in little packets labeled "DO NOT EAT" for a reason.

TED

Ted,

I read up on this a bit. Every poison center's web page that I check said that silica-gel is non-toxic. One center even has it as the number one myth: CLICK HERE

I don't know what is true and what is not but it sure sounds like you should not eat it regardless.
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[align=center]LightORama wrote: [/align]

I don't know what is true and what is not but it sure sounds like you should not eat it regardless.


[align=left]
Maybe this will help:

Is silica gel dangerous ?

Non-indicating (white) silica gel is non-toxic and non-flammable, it is very inert with a very high melting point. It is very much like sand and thus can safely be sent by any means of transport.

Self-indicating (blue) silica gel has been reclassified by the European Union and as of 01/07/2000 is classified as toxic.
[/align]


[align=center]More Here:[/align]


[align=center] http://www.geejaychemicals.co.uk/cobaltchloride.htm#SELF-INDICATING (BLUE) SILICA GEL.[/align]

[align=center] [/align]


[align=center]New safe self-indicating silica gels are now available.[/align]



[align=left]The Blue silica gel contains Cobalt chloride which IS toxic. This is probably what TED's cat ate. Here's the stats on it:[/align]



[align=left]Synonyms: Cobaltous chloride, hexahydrate; cobalt (2+) chloride hexahydrate, cobalt dichloride[/align]



[align=left]Emergency Overview
--------------------------
WARNING! HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED OR INHALED. CAUSES IRRITATION TO SKIN, EYES AND RESPIRATORY TRACT. MAY CAUSE ALLERGIC SKIN OR RESPIRATORY REACTION. CHRONIC EXPOSURE MAY AFFECT THYROID, LUNGS, HEART, AND KIDNEYS.
[/align]



[align=left]Potential Health Effects
----------------------------------

Inhalation:
Causes irritation to the respiratory tract, symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath, and nausea. Respiratory hypersensitivity, asthma may appear. Inhalation of cobalt dust and fumes is associated with an increased incidence of lung disease.
Ingestion:
Toxic. Causes abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, flushing of the face and ears, mild hypotension, rash, and ringing in the ears. May have cumulative toxic action where elimination cannot keep pace with absorption. Large amounts depress erythrocyte production.
Skin Contact:
Causes irritation to skin. Symptoms include redness, itching, and pain. May cause dermatitis.
Eye Contact:
Causes irritation, redness, and pain.
Chronic Exposure:
Repeated oral administration may produce goiter and reduced thyroid activity. Prolonged or repeated skin exposure may cause dermatitis. Chronic exposure associated with kidney, liver, heart and lung damage.
Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions:
Persons with pre-existing skin disorders or eye problems, or impaired liver, kidney or respiratory function may be more susceptible to the effects of the substance. Persons with allergies or sensitivity to cobalt may also be more susceptible to the effects of the substance. [/align]



[align=left]Here's the link for this: http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/C4928.htm[/align]
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ErnieHorning wrote:

Is silica gel dangerous ?

Non-indicating (white) silica gel is non-toxic and non-flammable, it is very inert with a very high melting point. It is very much like sand and thus can safely be sent by any means of transport.

Self-indicating (blue) silica gel has been reclassified by the European Union and as of 01/07/2000 is classified as toxic.


[align=left][/align]
[align=left]The Blue silica gel contains Cobalt chloride which IS toxic. This is probably what TED's cat ate. Here's the stats on it:[/align]

It was not blue. It was also not white. It was little "beads" that were sort of off white or beige in color. The beads were not uniform in size but on average I would say that they were about 1/16th of an inch in diameter. (Much bigger than sand.) They came from one of those white packets labeled "Do not eat". This was about 5 or 6 years ago and I don't remember exactly what else it said on the packet. I don't know exactly what the packet came out of. I've never heard of any other substance besides silica gel being used in this type of packet so I feel certain that's what it was. It caused severe liver problems. Of the 2 values used to measure a cat's liver function, one was 3x normal and one was 5x normal. Liver malfunction to this degree causes blood sugar to go mostly unregulated. (They first thought she had developed diabetes before I discovered what was left of the packet.) I surmize that a dessicant material accumulating in the liver could easily cause these problems. Perhaps the making of silica gel has changed and it is more like sand now. Could that make it less harmful? I don't know. I do know that eating silica gel was nearly fatal for my cat. I would still never use it outside due to the potential risk. In addition to the potential risk, there are better methods of protecting the circuit boards. The C9 bulb method would be very simple as would spraying the circuit board with a protective coating.

TED
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  • 2 years later...

Hmm little white beads. Well all silica gel that I have ever seen looks like sand crystals. So I am going to presume that the little white beads are something else. And I have seen the little packets with electronics and they do state "Do Not Eat" on them.

Best bet is to keep little items that can be eaten, away from those who do not posess the intelligents to not eat them, away from those who would. Thats called being responcible to others and protecting them.

Personally, I am going to use the poor mans CC and buy some clear krylon. Mask off the comm connectors, and any connectors that I do not want to have to scrub off the paint later to make connections.

Max

BTW, a poor mans silica gel is un-cooked rice in a bottle with some holes. Once the rice has soaked up enough moisture, you can have a rice dinner. Remember! Recycle.:) But truthfully, rice will soak up the moisture..

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