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How does a dry-cabinet work?

Angst Man , Jan 28, 1999; 03:47 p.m.


i am thinking of buying a "dry-cabinet" but the costs of all the better models are too high and i'd rather spend the cash on a new lens or some accessories.

then it struck me that i can probably make one myself because it looks simple enough.

can anyone tell me how such a dry-cabinet works and if anyone has any experience making one?



Hoyin Lee , Jan 28, 1999; 04:34 p.m.

Hi Angst, during my military posting to a jungle camp many years ago, I remember that the quartermaster stored all the optical equipment -- binoculars, scopes, etc. -- in a home-made 'dry-cabinet', which is an old timber cupboard with a 100W tungsten bulb fixed to the inside top panel. The heat produced from the bulb was supposed to be sufficient to keep the lenses sufficiently dry enough to deter fungus growth. A couple of holes were drilled near the top of the front and back panel to allow the heat generated from the bulb to escape. I had serious doubt of the effectiveness of the contraption when I first saw it, but at the end of my posting after a year, I was convinced of its workability when I saw no sign of fungus problem on the lenses despite the fact that the equipment had consistently been subjected to rain and water when they were used in the field. However, unless you're a trained electrician, I would recommend that you invest in a proper dry-cabinet rather than you make your own (fire risk!!).

Steve Singleton , Jan 28, 1999; 11:03 p.m.

Do you mean a cabinet to keep excess humidity from your equipment or to dry film? Silica gel might be the humidity answer and, yes, you could make your own for film. Over the years, I've seen various plans involving home hair dryers on low, some filter material to minimize dust and either a plastic clothes-hanging bag for weighted film or a section of PVC pipe for film on reels.

Jim Chow , Feb 02, 1999; 01:56 a.m.

I've tried the silica gel thing...it doesn't work well for super-humid climates. I used to use a 500gm bag of silica gel, but found I had to stick it on the broiler every two days (during the summertime...hot!) to 'recharge' it. If you have expensive optical equipment, invest in a dry cabinet. It's well worth the money. You won't get paranoid about your equipment. BTW, my Toyo Living cabinet stays at room temp inside and has a hygrometer to indicate humidity levels. It keeps in the range of 15-45% humidity. Anything less than 50% is safe against fungal growth. A couple of years ago, there was a posting on the MFD by someone in Malaysia who got good results w/ a Toyo Living cabinet. Prices vary, starting around 25,000 yen, so it's not as bad as it sounds.

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