So I dropped my recorder in a wheelbarrow full of water…

17

(I should get a gold medal just for the title alone!)

So anyway, I'm out recording the deluge of rain we're getting in Los Angeles last night and I tripped over something and half-submerged my Tascam DR-680 in a wheelbarrow full of muddy water. Not just regular water -- MUDDY water. All 6 mic inputs started frizzing out and then the whole unit shut down. Yesss…

Did I panic?

Of course.

To make a long story shorter, I disassembled the whole thing, drained it, let it air dry overnight, then placed it over a space heater for about 1 hour. And guess what? IT WORKS!

I'm impressed, Tascam. Keep up the sturdy engineering.

Jay Jennings

Posted 2010-12-21T20:11:17.807

Reputation: 15 432

+1 for the "Best title of the year Gold Badge"! +100 for getting your unit to work again! Must be karma Jay! – Colin Hunter – 2010-12-21T20:16:24.863

I just picked up the DR-680, Its good to know it's repairable in even the of worst of situations! – zenandtheart – 2010-12-21T20:31:41.747

1Wow. Unbelievable -- glad it's still alive! Sounds like a story Tascam should feature on the DR-680 product page. – Tyler – 2010-12-21T21:11:21.650

@Tyler, it would make a great story but they might not like the fact that I disassembled it myself…they'd rather I'd taken it in for service. – Jay Jennings – 2010-12-21T21:20:30.920

@Jay nice! usually some alcohol at least is needed, but that's great that it came alive on its own. btw, does it ever stop raining in LA? i have not seen the sun in a week. – VCProd – 2010-12-21T22:05:24.660

did you get some cool electrical destruction recordings? – Rene – 2010-12-21T22:12:39.997

@Rene, unfortunately the recorder wasn't rolling at the time. But if it's any consolation, it just sounded like static. – Jay Jennings – 2010-12-21T22:20:40.220

Awesome! I've also been out the last few days recording the rain. Yesterday, I had my Sound Devices 744, Sennheiser MKH40, and Sennheiser MKH800 out in the pouring rain. Yes, I'm nuts. Kept thinking the whole time what I'd do if the gear took on too much water. Sounds like you did the right thing, and exactly the path I would have tried. Glad to hear it all worked out. – Chuck Russom – 2010-12-21T22:35:28.273

@Jay, It hasn't rained this much in LA since my car was flooded in Los Feliz about 5 years back. Glad you got your unit working again. – Utopia – 2010-12-21T23:51:12.307

2@VCProd wrote, "usually some alcohol at least is needed." But not as much as @Jay would need if his recorder hadn't recovered. :-) – NoiseJockey – 2010-12-22T00:27:22.417

Answers

10

Water or other liquids that find their way into electrical items can cause damage when the item is powered up. If this happens, removal of all power sources as soon as possible is your best bet of saving your appliance.

It should also be noted that the sugars in some liquids (coke, beer, etc) will eat into and damage PCB's quickly, so it is imperative to clean these sorts of spills as soon as possible.

From personal experience with various mishaps spilling something onto an electrical item, these are my tips...

  1. Remove all power to the item as soon as possible.
  2. Open, inspect and wash with clean water until you are sure the items are clean
  3. if water alone isn't working, try isopropyl alcohol and a cotton tip (especially for the sugars)
  4. Allow to dry naturally or dry with compressed air completely
  5. Reassemble and you should be sweet to go.

I have used this procedure on many electrical/audio items and it has never let me down. It even worked to clean the pots on an original Roland TR-909 drum machine.

I would love to hear any other solutions people may have.

Dan Gallard

Posted 2010-12-21T20:11:17.807

Reputation: 171

@Dan, great insights for all future waterlogged recordists! – Jay Jennings – 2010-12-22T03:07:36.907

I think distilled water is good to use for cleaning electrical products as conductive impurities have been removed. So I would soak it in that first.

Of course depending how much dust and crap you have on the motherboard it may take a few soaks.

Also remember to use an antistatic strap while cleaning the board and any electronic components. – ofa – 2010-12-23T13:30:20.997

2

Ok Jay,

You've inspired me :) I posted some of the rain that I recorded yesterday up on my blog:

http://www.chuckrussom.com/2010/12/its-raining-in-la/

Chuck Russom

Posted 2010-12-21T20:11:17.807

Reputation: 4 359

Yesss! My clever ploy has succeeded… – Jay Jennings – 2010-12-21T23:49:17.370

@Chuck, great recordings! – Jay Jennings – 2010-12-21T23:50:40.553

Thanks Jay! Looks like there will be more recordings soon, these storms are persistant. – Chuck Russom – 2010-12-22T00:33:34.357

@Chuck - I'm curious, what types of rain recordings would you focus on if you only had dynamic mics available? – Jay Jennings – 2010-12-22T03:31:54.070

Good question. I've never tried dynamics for rain, but I suspect my approach would be similar to what I've done with condensers. I try to find place with the rain interacting with something that makes a cool sound: on cars, puddles, mud, coming out of a drain, a wheelbarrow full of water :), etc. I usually try to get my mics real close to the source. – Chuck Russom – 2010-12-22T04:00:59.737

@Chuck, my approach exactly. Was asking because I figure condensers will capture a more detailed sound from quieter sources, while dynamics require louder SPL, no? Your recording of rain on puddles, for example, may be more difficult to recreate with dynamics since it's such a gentle sound. Hard rain on cement or metal, on the other hand, may be a good candidate for dynamics. Your thoughts? – Jay Jennings – 2010-12-22T04:22:03.937

Everything you mentioned seems spot on. Even with the condensers, I try to record the loudest stuff I can find, so much damn noise in the city to compete with. I think a couple of the puddles I did were pretty quiet, and I got lucky. – Chuck Russom – 2010-12-22T08:49:23.927

@Jay - the AKG C5 mic I have is a condenser/dynamic and it has an enormous amount of rejection and I've used it on things I want isolated - for example, it annihilated the ambient sound of computer whine in a room I wanted to get a vent rattle from. I'm sure they would work great on rain - check them out, only about 250$ – Utopia – 2010-12-22T17:53:45.200

1

OK @chuck,

You've inspired ME! Posted a snippet of that intense rain we had in the valley today:

http://soundcloud.com/awfulnicesound/torrential-rain-interior-awfulnice

Not sure the recording really does it justice…there was so much power and violence in that storm. Scary rain!

Jay Jennings

Posted 2010-12-21T20:11:17.807

Reputation: 15 432

Nice stuff! I was out during some of that crazy rain yesterday. Have to go through the recordings still. – Chuck Russom – 2010-12-24T04:16:21.483

0

During a foley session which involved a bucket of water, I accidentally bumped the mic stand which was housing a studio prospect mic and timber!!!!! it went directly into the full bucket of water!

I turned completely cold as it was not my mic and could only think of the damage I had just caused and the bill I would receive. After some quick thinking/internet surfing, I found that putting it outside under the sun to dry might work ...and....voila! It worked!

Good gear tends to be very durable.

oinkaudio

Posted 2010-12-21T20:11:17.807

Reputation: 2 113