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Photon Management
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Old October 15th, 2014, 11:09 AM   #1
Inner Circle
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,457
Copper Coat

We bought some inexpensive Fresnel lights a while ago, and they look great. The one problem that we've had is with the electrical connection from the lamp socket to the lamp. Turn the light on and it works great all day. Turn it off for a break, let it cool, and turn it back on and it might not fire. This really sucks when you have cast and crew ready to go!

The first time this happened, we replaced the bulb and it still didn't fire. We checked the connections and figured that the switch might have gone bad. We removed the bum light and shot a different scene.

Later that day I figured that it might be a bad connection from fixture to lamp. Fortunately, I had some copper coat, painted it on the bulb leads, inserted the bulb, and we were back in business.

Copper coat is used on automotive head gaskets. There is a spray and a liquid version. For this application, you want liquid. You have to stir it up well to get the copper into the liquid. After painting it on, it's a bit tacky, but it doesn't act as an adhesive and the copper slurry fills the gaps with conductive goodness.

Napa Auto Parts isn't a sponsor here, but it's probably okay if I provide this link:

If you want to add this to your kit, I'd recommend keeping it in a plastic bag as you don't want slop on the lip of the can polluting your grip bag. You might want to bring disposable gloves for the rare time you'd need to use it.

So copper coat is one solution. I think it's better than sanding connectors as that can expose the metal to air and cause corrosion.

Are there better (less sticky and messy) solutions out there for our lighting kits? (Note that when applied properly, it stays put and doesn't run or cause problems, but the process of applying it could get messy.)
Jon Fairhurst
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Old October 16th, 2014, 11:09 AM   #2
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,417
Re: Copper Coat

This is an interesting solution! I've always cleaned my contacts with very fine sandpaper, but eventually it begins pitting when it arcs. Thanks for sharing!
Warren Kawamoto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 16th, 2014, 12:24 PM   #3
Inner Circle
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,457
Re: Copper Coat

BTW, the can that I have has an applicator attached to the inside of the lid. It's a solid wire with a soft ball at the bottom. The ball is a bit big for this as head gaskets are much bigger than lamp pins! A cotton swab would likely be more appropriate, but you'd want another baggie to dispose the swab in after use.

That's the biggest problem with this solution - keeping the copper coat from acting like the pink mess in Cat in the Hat Comes Back!
Jon Fairhurst
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