GraLab Model 545 Pushbutton Problems

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Paul Wainwright, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. Paul Wainwright

    Paul Wainwright Member

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    I have a mid-90s-vintage GraLab Model 545 timer that I use for my cold light enlarger. I've been very happy with it, except that, over time, some of the buttons have begun to act like there's dust or something that is preventing a good contact from being made. I frequently have to press some of the buttons numerous times to get them to act. Of course, the problem is worst with the buttons I use most, such as the "Start" button. I opened the unit up (despite the warnings not to), and noted that the buttons appear to be self-contained units souldered onto the PC board, and there does not appear to be any way for dirt to get into them, or to remove it once it is there.

    I have 2 questions:

    1. Has anyone out there had similar problems with the 545?
    2. If so, how did you fix it, or did you?

    Actually, here's a 3rd question: Does anyone know whether more recent models of the 545 have been engineered to eliminate this problem?

    Thanks muchly, and enjoy these cold winter months in the darkroom!

    -- Paul.
     
  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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  3. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I bought mine on ebay, and when it arrived it looked as though it had been used in an industrial evironment. It was quite dirty on the outside, many of the buttons were "sticky" in their operation. As I recall, I cleaned the surfaces, then sprayed the buttons with some contact cleaner/lubricant to get the buttons to operate smoothly. Since doing that, mine has operated well, but I don't know if I had the same problem as you.

    You might also check Gralab's web site, they have a flat rate recondition service, on the electronic timers, it's 85 USD.

    Or, EP Levine in Boston has a used one for sale, at least they did a couple of weeks ago. It looks almost new.
     
  4. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser

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    As ic noted, if you are handy with a soldering iron you can probably replace the switches. An alternative is a spritz with some contact cleaner - buy the cheap stuff at Radio Shack, they are pretty much all the same and the expensive cleaners are the liquid equivalent of $100/foot speaker wire.

    This is why some timers use switches like these - Cherry MX, 50,000 cycles.
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Gee, I wonder what switches Darkroom Automation use for their timers? :wink:

    Matt
     
  6. Paul Wainwright

    Paul Wainwright Member

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    Problem Solved

    My thanks to the suggestions to spray contact cleaner into the pushbutton assemblies -- it worked like a charm. Thanks!

    My procedure was to disassemble the timer (there's 4 screws under the feet on the bottom), and spray the cleaner into anyplace on the buttons that looked like it would get inside of the button assemblies (using the long straw that came with the can of cleaner) while working the button with my other hand. I dried the excess cleaner with canned air. I then left the unit overnoght to be sure all of the cleaner was gone (it's flamible). All the buttons now work like new.

    A note to others who might need to do this: be a little careful when re-assembling the unit so you do not pinch any of the wires.

    An interesting side note: GraLab replied to my question with a "sorry we don't make that anymore" response, and were disappointingly unhelpful.