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Waterproofing ESC

Old 09-13-2007, 03:37 PM
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captjckirk
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Default Waterproofing ESC

Water @ ESC. is there any way to waterproof a ESC? Also how about Li-Po batteries
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Old 09-13-2007, 03:44 PM
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Gnascher
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I waterproofed mine by sealing the ends with hot-melt glue. It's worked fine all summer after probably 20 or 30 flights. Others recommend using RTV silicone sealant. Either should be fine.

I haven't had any cause to seal the batteries, they should be fine without any additional protection.
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Old 09-13-2007, 03:59 PM
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Thanks. I have an LT-40 on floats which is glow powered and flys great, as a matter of fact my Grandson learned to solo with it. I have converted an ARF Sig Sr. to elec., and want to put floats on it. After hearing the horror stories about dunked ESCs it made me un-easy. I'll try you suggestion. Thanks again. Joe
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Old 09-13-2007, 04:01 PM
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Biplane Murphy
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Oh Boy.... Electric Sig Kadet Senior!!! Any Photos?
That will make a sweet float plane.
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Old 09-13-2007, 04:06 PM
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None yet, when completed I'll post them.
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Old 09-13-2007, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by captjckirk View Post
Thanks. I have an LT-40 on floats which is glow powered and flys great, as a matter of fact my Grandson learned to solo with it. I have converted an ARF Sig Sr. to elec., and want to put floats on it. After hearing the horror stories about dunked ESCs it made me un-easy. I'll try you suggestion. Thanks again. Joe
Yeah, I smoked an unprotected ESC and puffed the Lipo on my first floatplane crash.

After that, I relocated my RX to well above the waterline when the plane is in "crash position". I couldn't relocate the ESC, so I sealed that up. There have been no issues at all with the battery getting wet, as that's pretty well sealed up anyway.

Since taking these steps, I've had plenty of nose-overs, blow-overs and a couple of crashes with no further damage to any electrical components.

I've also not needed to take any steps in protecting the motor. Brushless motors are basically closed circuits, so there's no chance of a short unless there's physical damage to the motor. After rescuing the plane, I'll just run the motor for a little bit to clear out the water. A little oil on the bearings when I get home prevents any rust...
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Old 09-13-2007, 04:11 PM
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We use a red glow powered one (no floats) for our club trainer plane.
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Old 09-22-2007, 05:54 AM
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Castle Creations warns against using any type of silicone sealers on thier esc's. The silicone can attack the circuit boards.

By far the best product for waterproofing esc's, motors and recievers is something called CorrosionX. I have run motors and esc's and recievers while completely submerged.

Its available at most Marine or Avaition supply dealers and at many Ace Hardware stores.

If your not going to fly off water you don't need it. If you are - its essential to protect your rx and speed controller and motor and connectors. Infinitely better than baggies, balloons or rubbers or any other method I have tried.

Get the standard (NOT the heavy duty) Marine or Aviation CorrosionX. I prefer the pump spray bottle and not the aerosol spray can, but either will work. The pump spray is a lot easier and neater because you can take the lid off to poor it into a jar for use. The aerosol can is a lot of trouble to get some into a jar for dunking. You will waist a lot.

This stuff is like heavy oil - about 40-50 weight or so.

Poor some into a large mouth glass jar or small deep bowl. Make it enough to completely cover the parts. Dunk the rx, speed control and motor into the jar and swish it around so that the stuff penetrates all the nooks and crannies. Take the rx case off, if you can, so the gunk can get to the electronics easily. It needs to contact and coat the electronic circuit boards.

Make sure it gets inside the heat shrink on the speed controller too. Get all the air bubbles out. Also be sure all the connectors get a dose.

Once the part is all coated, remove it from the oil - I use long nose pliers - and let most of the stuff drip back into the jar. I then put the parts onto several layers of paper towels and let them drain over night. Turn the stuff a couple of times to try to get as much of the oil to drain out as possible. Wipe the outsides of everything off as best you can with more paper towels. Then wipe it again - then wipe it again - then wipe it again and again etc etc.

Be warned - this stuff stinks some (my wife hates it) and if you get any onto something else you will never get glue or tape or paint to stick to that place again. Its a good idea to wash your hands very very well after using it and before touching anything else. Its persistent stuff!

You may think you have drained the part very very well and then lay it down on your wife's pretty new kitchen table - your doomed because another drop will decide to drain out just then

If you want to use sticky back Velcro on the rx or speed controller, you will need to wipe the outside of the case or shrink tubing down with alcohol to get it as clean as possible or the sticky will never stick. Don't get the alcohol on the electronics as that will remove the waterproofing. It also may kill the circuit.

Sounds like a lot of trouble but it will save you blowing up a speed controller or rx if (when) it gets dunked under water. Believe me - if you fly off water it will end up upside down at some point!

I have deliberately run treated motors and controllers and rx's while they were completely under water. Amazing stuff. The TV commercial shows them treating a TV set then tossing it into a swimming pool and watching TV under water.

I put a lid on the used CorrosionX left in the jar and keep using it till its gone. Keep a lid on it as it stinks and may evaporate over time. If you can get the bottle instead of the can you can poor it back in.

I re-treat my stuff once a year and it is doing great. The only things that it didn't work well on were servos. 1 out of 3 or 4 went bad when treated.

On my Capricornflying boat and all my Hydrofoams, its not unusual for the plane to get blown over upside down in the water (its the wind - not dumb thumbs . More often than not, that same wind will catch it and blow it right side up again. So far, I have been able to wait a few moments and fly off the water again as if nothing had happened. I have had the plane upside down for as long as 15-20 minutes with the receiver, controller and motor completely submerged the entire time. When it flips back upright again - off I go with no issues.

I have found that sometimes the plane doesn't work after a dunking. If water is touching the pins on the receiver crystal it will de-tune the receiver and it wont work until the water drains off the crystal. If that happens, just remove the crystal and blow on the socket and your good to go again.

I do NOT treat servos as mentioned above. Too many of them die on me. I also do NOT treat my batteries. There is tape covering the electrical contacts on most all battery packs. The CorrosionX causes the tape to stop sticking and uncovers the contacts. Not a good thing.

After a dunking I do NOT use that battery pack again that day. I take it home and put the battery in front of a fan to dry it out as best I can. I leave it there for at least a day before re-charging. So far, after many many dunkings, I have had no battery problems.

Do NOT fly off salt water. It will kill the battery packs in just a few minutes and I don't know how well the CorrosionX would work on protecting the esc's and RX's in salt conditions. They use it for Marine electronics, but they don't normally expect a complete dunking in salt water.

CorrosionX is truly amazing stuff.

Larry

P.S. Do NOT be tempted to run your motor while its under water with a prop attached to try to 'motor boat' back to shore. The water has soooo much extra resistance compared to air that the motor will draw huge currents and over load. You will probably kill the controller or battery if you try it.
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Old 09-22-2007, 05:57 AM
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By the way - I bought a 16 ounce bottle 3 years ago and still have 3/4 of it left. A 16 ounce bottle costs about $15.00

Larry
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Old 09-22-2007, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Larry3215 View Post
By the way - I bought a 16 ounce bottle 3 years ago and still have 3/4 of it left. A 16 ounce bottle costs about $15.00

Larry

Well ... I've spent nothing but the cost of a little glue from a glue stick to seal my ESC. The RX is positioned toward the rear of the fuse and baggied for extra protection (I use an AR6000 so lots of lattitude for positioning) and well above the waterline when the plane gets dunked. The servos also tend to stay high and dry.

I'm not saying your method isn't effective ... I'm sure it is. But it also sounds like a wicked pain in the sensitive parts.
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Old 09-22-2007, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by captjckirk View Post
Water @ ESC. is there any way to waterproof a ESC? Also how about Li-Po batteries
Not sure why you would want to do this. The only way to completely waterproof an ESC is to close the ends with a silicon sealent, however you would not beable to pull as many watts from your controller without turning your ESC into an egg over-easy. If you have a seaplane, just put the ESC away from any water. Manufactures design seaplanes today so that the ESC placement won't get the speed controller fried. I normally wrap my electronics and battery lightly with surran wrap whenever I'm flying in snow or on water. Helps keep the splashes off.
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Old 09-22-2007, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Spencer J View Post
Not sure why you would want to do this. The only way to completely waterproof an ESC is to close the ends with a silicon sealent, however you would not beable to pull as many watts from your controller without turning your ESC into an egg over-easy. If you have a seaplane, just put the ESC away from any water. Manufactures design seaplanes today so that the ESC placement won't get the speed controller fried. I normally wrap my electronics and battery lightly with surran wrap whenever I'm flying in snow or on water. Helps keep the splashes off.
My plane was not "designed" as a seaplane. I built the floats myself and added them to the plane. It'd be difficult to position my ESC in a place that will stay dry in the event of a nose over. (I did manage to fry my first ESC that way) When I bought the new ESC, I bought more Amp capability than I need and sealed the open ends with hot-melt glue ... not silicone (which reportedly can attack the electronics). I've flown well over 100 cycles through this setup both on wheels and on floats and have suffered no ill effect on my ESC.
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Old 09-23-2007, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Gnascher View Post
Well ... I've spent nothing but the cost of a little glue from a glue stick to seal my ESC. The RX is positioned toward the rear of the fuse and baggied for extra protection (I use an AR6000 so lots of lattitude for positioning) and well above the waterline when the plane gets dunked. The servos also tend to stay high and dry.

I'm not saying your method isn't effective ... I'm sure it is. But it also sounds like a wicked pain in the sensitive parts.
Its not as bad as I make it sound really. Every option has its pluss and minus sides. I like to warn people about all the issues I found out about the hard way

The main advantage to the CorrosionX is that you can treat and protect the motor and rx as well as the esc and all your conectors with no worries about corrosion or shorting in the future.

Not all planes/hydros allow you to position gear where it can be protected in all possible "floating" positions

My Capricorn for example has all the gear completely exposed. When I flip it upside down in the water, everythning is completely submerged - motor, esc, rx and battery. There have been times when it stayed that way for 30 minutes or more before I could retreave it or the wind blew it back right side up. Its pretty nice being able to wait a few seconds for the water to drain off the crystal and then take off again

Here are some pics and a video of an early version - just for fun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i24jkeucQFo

Larry
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Last edited by Larry3215; 07-13-2008 at 12:31 AM.
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Old 09-24-2007, 09:49 PM
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Default Thanks for the tip

Larry,

Thanks for the tip on CorrosionX and the water-proofing method you described. I've destroyed two rx's and one esc with improper water-proofing. I'm going to go to the CorrosionX method you described.
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Old 09-26-2007, 03:19 AM
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I imagine if you bought a can of pcb conformal coating, and literally soaked the ESC with several spraying sessions to the point of dripping, then it would be pretty waterproof.
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Old 09-26-2007, 05:08 AM
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If applied properly conformal works just fine. I believe thats what Castle Creations uses when they waterproof an esc for you. IIRC its pretty cheep too - like $10 or less if you send one in.

Not much good for Rx's or motors but a definate option for esc's.

Larry
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Old 09-26-2007, 03:18 PM
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[quote=Larry3215;279128]If applied properly conformal works just fine. I believe thats what Castle Creations uses when they waterproof an esc for you. IIRC its pretty cheep too - like $10 or less if you send one in.

Not much good for Rx's or motors but a definate option for esc's.

Larry[/quote I called Castle Creations, they told me that they would not waterproof any esc but their own make. Thanks for all the options you provided.
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Old 09-28-2007, 08:22 AM
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Just go buy a can of the stuff at an electronics specialty shop.
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Old 09-30-2007, 06:59 AM
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[quote=captjckirk;279266]
Originally Posted by Larry3215 View Post
If applied properly conformal works just fine. I believe thats what Castle Creations uses when they waterproof an esc for you. IIRC its pretty cheep too - like $10 or less if you send one in.

Not much good for Rx's or motors but a definate option for esc's.

Larry[/quote I called Castle Creations, they told me that they would not waterproof any esc but their own make. Thanks for all the options you provided.
Sorry - didnt meant to mislead you! Yeah, they only do Castle ESC's

Larry
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Old 09-30-2007, 09:19 AM
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look for neutral cure silicone it is made for electronics. Also If you have a castle controller I think if you send it to castle they will spray it with the coating they use for I think 10 dollars
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Old 10-09-2007, 05:27 AM
  #21  
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Default Thank you Larry3215

Three weeks ago I fried an unprotected ESC when it got wet during a rough water landing. Then I read Larry's suggestion to use CorrosionX. It works!!!!!!!!!!!!! I submerged my outrunner and new ESC in the stuff overnight and patted off the excess. Today I flew my SlowStick Flying Boat (ala Jim Spencer's design). The motor and ESC were under water twice and came out working fine. The Rx is kept in a small water-proofed plastic box. Thanks Larry.
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Old 10-09-2007, 05:41 AM
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The stuff truely is amazing.

The coolest thing for me is when my Capricorn gets up-side down for the first time at a water fly-in. I like doing hi speed circles on the water with only one pontune touching. I call it a speed skater turn. They tend to end up inverted if there is much wind tho.

All the old timer glow flyers start snickering and are making jokes about "electrics and water" etc etc etc.

You should see the look on thier faces when the wind blows it back right side up and I just take off again

They cant believe it. Especially when they see that all my gear is completely exposed and was under water for several minutes at a time

Treat the rx too. You wont need to keep it in a box.

Larry
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Old 10-11-2007, 02:43 AM
  #23  
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Thanks Larry. Yes, CorrosionX is truly amazing. When I fish the SSFB out of the drink, dump the water out of the cockpit cavity where the ESC is stored (getting soaked), and blow water out of the outrunner motor rim, I just go flying again! I guess I was still not a believer that the stuff would work (even after reading your glowing commentary about CorrosionX), I was timid to expose BOTH the ESC and the Rx to water at the same time. Now I'm a true believer. Thanks again for being such a strong advocate for the stuff and posting such a convincing piece. I think you did a great service to a lot of ROW fliers. CorrosionX works!!!!!!

Paul
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Old 10-11-2007, 03:20 AM
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You can also get spray cans of silicone conformal coating to spray on the ESC to waterproof.
Product is from MG Chemicals and is a "Silicone Conformal Coating" catalog # 422A-34g
Web site is mgchemicals.com
Jim

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Old 10-11-2007, 03:34 AM
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I didnt believe the claims for CorrosionX so I decided to test it befor I risked a plane on the water.

Here is a pic of an early test I did when I was first building my first HydroFoam a couple of years ago.

All the gear in the tuperware container is under water. That servo has the bottom removed with water inside it and the rx has no case and the esc has water inside the heat shrink. I no longer treat servos though. About 1 in 3 die or get reeeeeeeal slooooooow when treated. I think its the internal pots that cant take it.

The stuff under water and the motor and the servo that is still outside the water container all worked fine. It all ran just as you see it while under water with no ill effects.

I dont like running the motors while they are under water because they draw very large currents. Water has a suprizing amount of drag.

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