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Modify vacuum-cleaner for safe dust-cleaning your Pentax (anti-static ESD)
Posted By: photogem, 11-01-2021, 04:11 AM

Modify a standard vacuum-cleaner so it's well grounded to eliminate static charge

(WARNING:
This is only for those who know about earthing/grounding, who know that their mains-wiring in the house is proper and has a good ground an no voltage potential between neutral and ground! (You can test that with a cheap digital volt-meter)
In North America 50+ year old homes often lack a separate ground wire network!
Often they still use a hot-neutral pair. Then you avoid grounding via the ground-prong but:


If there is central heating: A radiator or its water-pipes can be used for ground!

If you don't know about grounding, stay away from it!

This is also not for the faint-hearted, worrier and of course not for those with shaking/insecure hands)

It is not recommended to use a normal vacuum cleaner to suck dust etc. away from the sensor, focusing-screen or AF-sensors!

The reason is the danger of static charge which can kill chips in your Pentax DSLR (or any other digital camera).

There is a reason why this method is not recommended for cleaning PC's, motherboards, processors etc. as well as for the fan on your processor.

Some say the danger with a PC/Laptop is due to the fan speeding up and thus producing higher voltage than it is driven with.
But this is not the case, any fan inside a computer is protected with a resistor, diode or 2 diodes preventing this. I have measured my fans in my PC's with 3Volts/DC, so this is not really the danger

The danger is static charge which can kills chips etc.!*

Antistatic wriststraps won't do much, even if the vacuum-cleaner would be grounded it wouldn't help (most aren't anyway!). The resistance of your body is too high that it would ground the hose/nozzle because it isn't made out of "static-conductive" material (special polypropylen as used in ESD Vac's). The argument "But I did it and it worked" is not very valid. Yes, maybe it's 50:50, maybe even less, but why risk the damage of your DSLR if you can solve this with a few bucks and some DIY?
But if you use an antistatic wriststrap AND the grounding of the hose/nozzle, then you are on the save side.

Many might have noticed how hair can take on static charge when dried with a normal hair-dryer! The same static charge does built up within a vacuum-cleaner.
If you'd suck in magnesium dust particles, they'd ignite just through the static charge (so don't)


THE DIY-ADAPTER:

Parts needed:
- fine stranded insulated wire about 2-3 m long
- cutter to take some insulation off
- mains-plug according to your country you live in (one has to be able to open that plug so you can insert the wire!)


1. Carefully take off ca. 5-6cm of the insulation on one end of the wire



2. Carefully take off ca. 0,5cm of the insulation on the other end (this will be connected to your mains-plug)


3. Connect this shorter end to the ground/earth connection of your mains plug (usually the middle one)

Make really sure you know exactly which one is ground! If you connect it to the wrong one you'd risk your life!


With some plugs it is also possible to remove "neutral" and "hot", so just neutral plugs in into the wall-socket.



If you have central heating and radiators, you can connect the wire also there! For this you need the wires also long enough, 0,5cm won't do.


a) US Nema-5 plug:

I don't have a Nema-plug so I marked the ground/earth pin which takes on the short end of the wire!

b) UK-mains-plug:

make sure you wrap some rupper or plastic around the wire were it is fixed to the exit of the plug so it really sits tight and can't be pulled out!

c) EU-mains-plug:

EU-plugs have the option for the old French main-sockets with the earth-pin sticking out in the socket as well as the German earth connection.


d) Suisse-mains-plug:

as you can see, here I didn't connect/solder the wire yet. This is how I started but now one of my sons is using the original.



This is the hose-adapter I got for my DIY ESD Vac:


It connects to the main hose if any vacuum-cleaner, mine was a Miele.

I prefer this thin nozzle which can take on other heads but I used it like this:





The adapter in use:

Of course you don't touch any part inside your Pentax! But I have successfully cleaned many Pentax bodies this way.

If you are worried that there would arise a static discharge between the camera and the copper strands (which I never experienced ever and I have
used this methods on many bodies as well as on PCs, labtops, motherboards, amplifiers etc:

Ground your Pentax as well (at the hooks for the belt or with care at the K-mount)


I use this method as well for cleaning the focusing screen (and the space behind it inside the camera).

Of course the best is to take the screen out of your Pentax.
I hold it with rubber-cloves on both sides (never touch the front-or backside) and into the airstream (without the thin-diameter hose)

Hold tight!

Then turn it and hold it into the airstream as well.

If really dirty I have cleaned focusing screens with very clean (destilled) water, sometimes even with some washing up liquid and then a rinse with water.
Then I dried them the same way with the air suction. It works very well.


*In the past I have worked a lot with electrostatic speakers and electrostatic headphones, their power supplies and particular with direct-coupled amplifiers driving those directly and I have designed active MOS-FET-amplifiers driving subwoofers with the PS for the ELS-Speaker inside that amplifier. We used special connectors but at the beginning had problems that the high-voltage (power was just milli-amperes) arced and damaged the power-MOS-FET's! Of course here we deal with higher voltage but as well with very robust transistors which produced some healthy 160Watts power-output for the subwoofers which were not ESL! The best idea would have been to have the PS separate but the manufacturer of the speakers wanted it otherwise. Hard lesson to learn then.

Last edited by photogem; 11-23-2021 at 09:37 PM.
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11-01-2021, 09:27 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
I was always under the idea that one should use a pressure washer to ensure they have a nice clean sensor...
I have the suspision that pressure is somewhere else.
Try to find it.
Hint: It is not air (as in this thread)
It is hot air.

11-01-2021, 09:28 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
People, even smart people, can make clumsy mistakes. Your responses are similar to saying "only an idiot would get into a car crash" yet that happens frequently to non-idiots. Jabbing a metal wire near your camera sensor is risky. One slip and you can scratch the cover glass. Rocket blowers and sensor swabs are made from softer materials.

"How on earth would one risk static discharge between the Pentax body and the wire? Were does that static charge all the sudden come from? And even if so, why would it discharge." In dry weather, you and the camera can easily accumulate a static charge from your clothing, carpeting, or other sources. When the ground wire comes close to the camera innards, the spark jumps.

Yes, you can work at an anti-static bench, ground yourself before touching the camera, etc. Or you can just avoid the vacuum, eliminate any need for your device, and use a proven $10 rocket blower that will be more effective for cleaning the sensor.
Amen brother! I couldn't say it better. ESD Vac done right would be made of ESD safe anti-static materials and include a proper wrist strap. e.g.:

https://metrovac.com/collections/electronics-it
11-01-2021, 09:30 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lev Quote
Ideal would be to develop some kind of a laser beam which will burn just dust particles

Space lasers come with their own vacuum.
11-01-2021, 11:19 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by photogem Quote
Modify a standard vacuum-cleaner so it's well grounded to eliminate static charge
It is not recommended to use a normal vacuum cleaner to suck dust etc. away from the sensor, focusing-screen or AF-sensors!
The reason is the danger of static charge which can kill chips in your Pentax DSLR (or any other digital camera).
This is not a bad idea for computer or appliance repairs, BUT I have never encountered a camera that needed a vacuum cleaner.

As others have noted, a rocket blower brush, adhesive tape, or the proper electronics cleaning solution with a lintless swab is all that should be necessary unless the camera had been dissected and the parts have been left out to collect dust, insects, and spores over time.

11-01-2021, 02:30 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by photogem Quote
Well, if one is very faint-hearted, then just refrain from doing it. <snipped for brevity> I think those who worry so terribly about reading something like what I recommended should become nuns and monks and retreat from this all-to-dangerous life into caves.
Maybe I wrote too much and was unclear. My main point is that a $10 rocket blower already gets stuck dust out of the camera very well. The reduced risks of camera damage and electrocution are side benefits.

I'll stop replying to this thread. I think I've adequately warned other PF members and they can make their own choices about your contraption, and I have no expectation of convincing you.
11-01-2021, 10:31 PM   #21
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A point not yet mentioned: I've wired and rewired houses in two countries over the years. You'd be surprised (or maybe not) at how often there are mistakes, potentially deadly mistakes, in house wiring in the first place.

Never mind that our potential camera dust cleaning heroes are not idiots and correctly attach a bare-ended wire to the ground lug of their plug (maybe having to replace the original plug to begin with) and dangle a bare-ended wire over their camera internals, but that doesn't guarantee that the house wiring itself is correct.

While I haven't tried this (and am not likely to), it seems the house wiring-tied ground wire is dissipating static within the plastic tube. Static from dust particles moving rapidly across camera internals would not be affected until entering the tube, would it? That is, a spark (or just invisible, silent discharge) from the components to the bare wire could still occur?
11-02-2021, 01:02 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by ProfessorBuzz Quote
Amen brother! I couldn't say it better. ESD Vac done right would be made of ESD safe anti-static materials and include a proper wrist strap. e.g.:

https://metrovac.com/collections/electronics-it
One should take a little time.... study/verify first:

The hoses and nozzles of such ESD-save vacuum-cleaners use made out of "constant static conductive polypropylen"

What the heck is "safe antistatic material"?
A wire connected to the ground of the house is safe as safe can be.
You can also connect it to the radiator of your central heating.

I have such a VAC and it ame without "a proper wrist strap nor any e.g."
And it works exaclty the same way as the modified vacuum-cleaner.

Anyway, I wrote in the text, that one can ground the camera itself. That is much more intelligent than using a wrist-strap.

AMEN!

11-02-2021, 01:50 AM - 1 Like   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by yucatanPentax Quote
A point not yet mentioned: I've wired and rewired houses in two countries over the years. You'd be surprised (or maybe not) at how often there are mistakes, potentially deadly mistakes, in house wiring in the first place.
I have done the same but only in France, Switzerland, UK and Germany.

I always thought the United States are that advanced that such terrible wirings in houses would be the past?
In the EU and Switzerland housewiring is only allowed to be done by a "certified electrical engineer".
Old houses which had no extra ground but just 2-phase mains-wiring had to be changed, otherwise no insurance would be possible. But the insurance is mandatory.
Also every house has to have a "residual current circuit breaker"

I remember very well the times of socalled "classical-grounding" = reverse-polarity-bootleg ground.
That is forbidden since ages (1973 in Germany), in England they have their own socalled 32A ring-circuit with earth-connection from both sides (high integrity earthing) and a fuse within each plug and if I remember rightly also within the wall-socket.

But I shall add an extra warning in the main text.

QuoteOriginally posted by yucatanPentax Quote
While I haven't tried this (and am not likely to), it seems the house wiring-tied ground wire is dissipating static within the plastic tube. Static from dust particles moving rapidly across camera internals would not be affected until entering the tube, would it? That is, a spark (or just invisible, silent discharge) from the components to the bare wire could still occur?
A DLSR has its own ground, usually the main stainless-steel body, K-mount and hooks for the belt.
Nevertheless: I wrote:
QuoteOriginally posted by photogem Quote
Ground your Pentax as well (at the hooks for the belt or with care at the K-mount)
Such there will be no static charge within the camera (otherwise many cameras would die just when used)

When I had DSLR cameras for repair, often there was dust behind the focusing screen. Very difficult to get out, in most cases impossible with a manual blower.
A tiny moment with the nozzle near that place where the focusing screen normally sits and all dust is gone.
Immediately visible when one just looks through the viewfinder! And a nice relief when it was that easy to get the dust out.
Then one cleans the focusing-screen itself which in 95% of all cases then is wonderful clean and one enjoys a clear view through the OVF.
11-23-2021, 07:07 AM - 1 Like   #24
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I've been following this thread. I can see where such a vacuum might be beneficial with a body where the dust was tightly bound in place. However, I also see the risks, so it isn't something I would routinely do without trying other methods first.

As for North American wiring (Canada, United States, Mexico)... home electrification started in the United States, and evolved over time. As a result, even when originally correctly installed, older homes with unmodified wiring won't meet newer codes. There are a LOT of 50+ year old homes without a separate ground wire network. These homes use a hot-neutral pair. And it is difficult to determine the polarization at the older two-prong outlets. Also, I have all too often found examples where home owners have replaced a two-prong outlet and unintentionally reversed the polarization.

Bottom line is before I would plug such a device into a North American outlet, I would make sure I was using a three-prong outlet, AND used a digital multi-meter to verify there was NO voltage potential between the ground and neutral points on the outlet.
11-23-2021, 09:41 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by JimJohnson Quote
..... Bottom line is before I would plug such a device into a North American outlet, I would make sure I was using a three-prong outlet, AND used a digital multi-meter to verify there was NO voltage potential between the ground and neutral points on the outlet.
I appreciate your concerns, your post is also not based on sheer panic.*


I had no idea that 2 prong outlets still exist, as in Switherland, the EU and UK that is not allowed since a long time (EU and Germany since 1973, you cannot sell a house or get any insurance if not according the new laws and you have to have insurance!)

For UK:
https://www.quora.com/Electrical-Outlets-Why-has-the-UK-always-had-3-prongs-...-and-no-ground

So I edited the main article having your warning right at the beginning!

And yet: If you know about grounding this method really works wonders.
Particular when there is dust between the focusing screen inside the prism!
I always got that out using that method (and now an ESD Vac)

* in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and UK gas-ovens and gas-hobs are pretty much standard. Actually many even without a savety shut-off which is standard in Switzerland and Germany since decades.

Because in Germany electric ovens are used in 90% of all homes (many even with 5-prong three-phase connection), many Germans get really terrified when they see a gas-hob or gas-oven! And yet they are the very best for cooking, not even modern induction hobs can keep up with them.

Last edited by photogem; 11-23-2021 at 09:53 PM.
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