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Repeater & Station Cabinet Cleaning Advice

zsauve

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Joined
Jun 24, 2010
Messages
148
Location
Oak Creek, WI
#1
Sorry if this doesn't go here! I currently am the radio system administrator for the college that I work for. We currently have our main trunked radio site located in the penthouse of one of our residence halls. The lower part of the penthouse is used for storage and the repeater equipment and the upper section contains the elevator motors for the building. Currently, the residence hall has the old DC elevator motors still installed which is an issue as everything gets coated in carbon dust from the brushes in the motors. They are going to be replacing the DC motors in about a month, which will eliminate the carbon dust problem.

The question is, how do I go about cleaning the carbon dust off of the station cabinets and the repeaters themselves and what would I use to do it. This is my first time having to deal with something like this since I took over as radio administrator so any guidance would be appreciated.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2006
Messages
7,532
Location
So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
#3
I recently picked up one of the 3M 497 series vacuums used by copy machine repair people. Its designed to suck up real fine toner dust and it has lots of attachments for use around sensitive electronic equipment and a HEPA filter. That is now my go to cleaning machine for repeaters and other equipment. I paid $35 used then bought a new flexible hose and filter for a good price. You can find all this stuff used for reasonable prices on Epay.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2008
Messages
578
Location
pittsboro in / mesa az
#6
If PRCguy's idea doesn't work out see if your local PSAP can tell you who cleans their equipment. The APCO forum for telecommunicators talks about vendors who provide this service, from the descriptions of the work the vendors do it sounds like it would be applicable.
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
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#7
A word of caution: When vacuuming copier toner (which is now made primarily of polyester), a static charge can building up and deliver a pretty uncomfortable shock. (1st hand experience here) Older toner was made of carbon and iron oxide. Although I've never messed with it, I suspect it has the potential do deliver the same shock or damage adjacent electronic components.

Were I to handle this cleaning job, I'd get as much material removed by hand before using the vac. PRCGuy's choice of a purpose built vac would be my choice too.
 
Joined
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So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
#8
The 3M vacuum's are made for anti-static with conductive hoses and attachments. When I got a replacement hose I specifically went for another conductive version

A word of caution: When vacuuming copier toner (which is now made primarily of polyester), a static charge can building up and deliver a pretty uncomfortable shock. (1st hand experience here) Older toner was made of carbon and iron oxide. Although I've never messed with it, I suspect it has the potential do deliver the same shock or damage adjacent electronic components.

Were I to handle this cleaning job, I'd get as much material removed by hand before using the vac. PRCGuy's choice of a purpose built vac would be my choice too.
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,063
#9
The 3M vacuum's are made for anti-static with conductive hoses and attachments. When I got a replacement hose I specifically went for another conductive version
Though I've never used that type, I suspected it was built for dealing with the static electricity generated with toner. It happened to me once and I was surprised at how much of a shock it could deliver; Into the kilovolts I would imagine. I'd heard it could happen but didn't expect it to be as noticeable as it was. It felt like grabbing a spark plug wire. I'm happy to have the experience scratched off of my bucket list.
 

chief21

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Mar 2, 2004
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Summer - western NC; Winter - Tampa Bay FL
#10
The question is, how do I go about cleaning the carbon dust off of the station cabinets and the repeaters themselves and what would I use to do it. This is my first time having to deal with something like this since I took over as radio administrator so any guidance would be appreciated.
Keep in mind that many types of very fine dust, especially in quantity, can be EXPLOSIVE when disturbed and distributed in air! Especially given your environment (electrical motors, relays, etc.) you may need to take special steps to evacuate the dust properly for safety.
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,063
#11
Having re-read the OP post, it seems that not all of the OP's work may be as troublesome as it seems. There is some mention of cabinets. Some cleaning may be able to be done with a damp microfiber cloth or something similar prior to getting to the more mission critical parts of the job. And by damp, I mean way after the wringing out stage with no possibility of dripping liquids. Obviously you wouldn't want to risk exposure to live circuits (either electrical or RF). If you can power everything down well, that would be even better. Once that was done, you could move on to vacuuming if needed.
 

krokus

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Jun 9, 2006
Messages
3,684
Location
Southeastern Michigan
#12
Using the ESD safe vacuum is a good start. I used them often, in the military. Be sure that whomever is doing the work is following proper respiratory protection procedures, for any of that dust that gets stirred up.

Sent using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2008
Messages
2,705
Location
New York North Carolina and all points in between
#13
Turn all equipment off then vacuum the top layer of carbon. Then use a good electronics cleaner spray, and wipe up with paper towels. It's a messy job I have had quite a few stations located in elevator rooms, and some of which required a complete tear down to clean correctly.
After you are done try and isolate your equipment from the dust some how.
 
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