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Housing buttons that stick

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For those of us who have had issues with buttons sticking in the middle of dives. I came up with a DYI solution to get them unstuck during the middle of a dive. I have a Ikelite housing for a Canon 5d Mark II. I have tried everything to solve this issue. Rinsing after every dive, pushing the buttons in the rinse tank, putting a small amount of lube and working it into the buttons, and even the yearly service from Ikelite. While all of these help, and some do for quite a while, I always would still end up with some stuck buttons. Generally, this would happen past 40 feet, ruining most of the dive below that. Obviously, the location has something to do with it. Shore diving, or diving in less than ideal viz contributes to the problem.

 

I tried to come up with the easiest, cheapest, and less hassle while diving solution to remedy the situation. I determined, I needed a way to pull the button out gently. Here is what I came up with:

 

I purchased a Stainless Steel Toenail clipper, and then with a drill press, drilled a hole straight down into the cutting area of the clipper. I made the hole larger than the buttons. Then I purchased some rubber dip. I then did several coats of the dip on the tip off the clipper. This would make it so it could handle the salt water, and wouldn't damage the buttons on the housing. See pictures in post below:

 

All in all it was less than $20, and can easily fit in a pocket, and should stand up to salt water. While this is no replacement for regular care of your housing like rinsing, yearly service etc. It can save a dive for you.

 

The only thing I am worried about is the rubber long term use. I am not sure how this will hold up. Only time will tell.

 

As I searched Wetpixel, it didn't seem that anyone else has posted something like this. I am curious if others have done similar things. Do others have the same issues I have? Is it just with Ikelite? Or does it happen to other housings? Let me know your thoughts on this.

 

Dustin

Edited by deeznutz78

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Hi Dustin,

 

Up till very recently, I shot exclusively with a 30D in an Ikelite housing and also encountered the stuck or frozen button issue (I've also heard of others with the same experience, that's why I used the term issue). Anyway, I also consistently rinse and work all controls in freshwater after a dive and its been back to Ikelite for service - although not every year. I generally like shooting with the housing, however the button issue was making things very difficult.

 

I first noticed the issue at about 130-150' (I'm a trained tech diver), well inside the listed max functional depth rating. Then I noticed the depth for the button sticking was getting ever shallower until now the limit is about 60-70' or so. I guess the reason I never sent the housing back was that after the first service, the button sticking issue remained unresolved. Ultimately, I'm not sure if it's a simple maintenance issue, a spring issue or a "hull deformation" issue, according to a sub pilot buddy of mine, and to be fair, I never did specifically ask Ikelite about it. As a result I've moved to an Aquatica housing. I've only had it a few weeks, so I haven't taken it any deeper than about 80', but so far, so good.

 

Best wishes on your creative solution to the sticky buttons!

 

Lee

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Hi Dustin,

 

Up till very recently, I shot exclusively with a 30D in an Ikelite housing and also encountered the stuck or frozen button issue (I've also heard of others with the same experience, that's why I used the term issue). Anyway, I also consistently rinse and work all controls in freshwater after a dive and its been back to Ikelite for service - although not every year. I generally like shooting with the housing, however the button issue was making things very difficult.

 

I first noticed the issue at about 130-150' (I'm a trained tech diver), well inside the listed max functional depth rating. Then I noticed the depth for the button sticking was getting ever shallower until now the limit is about 60-70' or so. I guess the reason I never sent the housing back was that after the first service, the button sticking issue remained unresolved. Ultimately, I'm not sure if it's a simple maintenance issue, a spring issue or a "hull deformation" issue, according to a sub pilot buddy of mine, and to be fair, I never did specifically ask Ikelite about it. As a result I've moved to an Aquatica housing. I've only had it a few weeks, so I haven't taken it any deeper than about 80', but so far, so good.

 

Best wishes on your creative solution to the sticky buttons!

 

Lee

 

Lee,

 

I have had an Aquatica housing for four years and never had a button problem with it. As you do, I push all the buttons in the rinse tank. Aquatica is a great product and their customer service is top notch as well.

 

Harry

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My Ike housing does the same... I just usually use some o-ring lube on the button shaft and it's good to go.

Dunno if I'm working up to a flood or not though... :D

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Interesting, I've only owned one Ike housing and never had a sticking button... I've had ones that hurt your finger with the pressure required to push them though LOL.

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Interesting, I've only owned one Ike housing and never had a sticking button... I've had ones that hurt your finger with the pressure required to push them though LOL.

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Interesting, I've only owned one Ike housing and never had a sticking button... I've had ones that hurt your finger with the pressure required to push them though LOL.

 

Some buttons on my new Ikelite housing occasionally got stuck in the depressed position, although this didn't seem to be any worse at depth. Maybe the use of stronger springs is the answer. Is this problem unique to Ikelite? If so, what is Aquatica doing differently? Is there insufficient clearance around the buttons, allowing a slight deposite to jam them? Do the button holes need to be polished more? I would be willing to put up with a sore finger for the sake of reliability.

 

I'll be taking nail clippers along on my next trip.

 

John McCracken,

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I have aquatica and freinds with Sea and Sea and Subal and they also do not report a problem with buttons sticking. I believe it may be related to material or tolerances. do the buttons become free on ascent?

Edited by Alastair

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I have aquatica and freinds with Sea and Sea and Subal and they also do not report a problem with buttons sticking. I believe it may be related to material or tolerances. do the buttons become free on ascent?

 

They become stuck generally after 40 feet. Once I ascend, above that 40 feet, they generally free up. Keep in mind I have 2 housings that do the same thing.

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They become stuck generally after 40 feet. Once I ascend, above that 40 feet, they generally free up. Keep in mind I have 2 housings that do the same thing.

 

Ikelite housings have a lot going for them (affordable, durable, transparent), but it seems Ikelite may need to do something about these sticky buttons. I'll ask them about this and report back to this forum if they have anything interesting to say. On the other hand, maybe someone from the company will decide to do their own talking on this forum - that would be ideal.

 

According to Ikelite's website we should: "Soak the housing in a mild soap solution and operate the pushbuttons repeatedly while the housing is submerged. Dry the housing off and rub a small amount of Ikelite silicone lubricant on the outsides of the pushbuttons. Operate the pushbuttons several times to work the lubricant in. This should loosen the pushbuttons up. If the pushbuttons are still difficult to operate, we recommend returning the housing for general service."

 

John McCracken, (presently landlocked, but looking forward to an upcoming trip to the "deep south" of the Sudanese Red Sea)

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Hi Dustin,

 

Up till very recently, I shot exclusively with a 30D in an Ikelite housing and also encountered the stuck or frozen button issue (I've also heard of others with the same experience, that's why I used the term issue). Anyway, I also consistently rinse and work all controls in freshwater after a dive and its been back to Ikelite for service - although not every year. I generally like shooting with the housing, however the button issue was making things very difficult.

 

I first noticed the issue at about 130-150' (I'm a trained tech diver), well inside the listed max functional depth rating. Then I noticed the depth for the button sticking was getting ever shallower until now the limit is about 60-70' or so. I guess the reason I never sent the housing back was that after the first service, the button sticking issue remained unresolved. Ultimately, I'm not sure if it's a simple maintenance issue, a spring issue or a "hull deformation" issue, according to a sub pilot buddy of mine, and to be fair, I never did specifically ask Ikelite about it. As a result I've moved to an Aquatica housing. I've only had it a few weeks, so I haven't taken it any deeper than about 80', but so far, so good.

 

Best wishes on your creative solution to the sticky buttons!

 

Lee

I to switched from an ikelite to aquatica for the same reasons as you. I took my housing to 184' and after that the buttons would stick shallower and shallower. After switching to aquatica (I won't mention the other problems) I had problems with these buttons sticking to. I did the same dive minus six feet. Any button I pushed would stick and remain stuck. I tried to pry them out but they were jammed fast and they are hard to get a grip underwater with just your fingers. They all released at the 20' stop and seemed to operate as they should. I assume this was pressure related, but have my doubts. I specifically asked about the "deep" springs as most dives are between 150' and 250'. They said I should not get the deep springs for this depth as they will be to difficult to depress in these shallower depths. I cannot be sure exactly what the cause of the sticking buttons are, but I haven't found a housing that lives up to the depth rating yet.

I have ordered the "deep" springs and now have to install them myself (an inconvenience for sure as this is what I originally ordered/wanted). Once these are installed hopefully this will fix the problem. I cannot be sure, but have to remain hopeful. So many people have such great things to say about aquatica. I hate that I seem to be the only one that has problems with them.

If anyone else has any ideas on how to fix sticking buttons please let me know.

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I used to have a similar problem with my Oly housing. The shutter button would stick in the down position at depth. I started carrying a pair of small surgical clamps on dives to pull it back out. Eventually I found that if I periodically dripped a tiny drop of silicon spray from a toothpick and then worked the button, it would stay free for several months. I worried about the silicon damaging the O-ring, though. No problems with my Sea & Sea except that several of the buttons are held in place by pins on the inside of the housing and if they get depressed and twisted slightly while handling the camera to put it in the water, they can stick in the down position and stop the camera from functioning. I've learned to check, push in and twist buttons during a dive if the camera malfunctions.

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On another Wetpixel discussion someone suggested that. after working the buttons under fresh water following a dive, we should blow the water out of the button holes with a gentle jet of compressed air. That seems like a good practice to me.

 

I didn't realize that some housing brands offer "deep" (stiffer) springs. That could be a solution to a problem I don't have - so far, my buttons are as likely to stick on the surface as they are during a dive. Since simple cleaning and lubrication does the trick for me, could it be that I already have deep springs, like Baumann with the sore fingers?

 

John McCracken

 

 

I used to have a similar problem with my Oly housing. The shutter button would stick in the down position at depth. I started carrying a pair of small surgical clamps on dives to pull it back out. Eventually I found that if I periodically dripped a tiny drop of silicon spray from a toothpick and then worked the button, it would stay free for several months. I worried about the silicon damaging the O-ring, though. No problems with my Sea & Sea except that several of the buttons are held in place by pins on the inside of the housing and if they get depressed and twisted slightly while handling the camera to put it in the water, they can stick in the down position and stop the camera from functioning. I've learned to check, push in and twist buttons during a dive if the camera malfunctions.

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On another Wetpixel discussion someone suggested that. after working the buttons under fresh water following a dive, we should blow the water out of the button holes with a gentle jet of compressed air. That seems like a good practice to me.

 

I've seen people using compressed air on their housings but that is something I would never do myself. It seems to me that the pressure could push water in and through seals and o-rings just as easily as it could blow it out. Has anyone every experienced failures due to blowing with compressed air?

 

-Gina

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Hello Gina,

 

We manipulate those buttons while descending from the surface to near the limit of divable depths. Since the O rings are able to maintain a seal over such a wide range of pressure, it shouldn't be a problem to blow water out of the button holes with compressed air, not even while they are being depressed. It doesn't take a tremendous flow from the air nozzle to accomplish this anyway.

 

I used to soak my old Nikonos in fresh water after every dive, but eventually the shutter O ring developed a very heavy deposit of lime. These new housings seem to be even less forgiving of residue than the Nikonos, so it can't be a bad thing to get the water out of there before it dries.

 

If I'm wrong about that, I hope someone will correct me.

 

John McCracken

 

I've seen people using compressed air on their housings but that is something I would never do myself. It seems to me that the pressure could push water in and through seals and o-rings just as easily as it could blow it out. Has anyone every experienced failures due to blowing with compressed air?

 

-Gina

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I see two problems with the Ikelite buttons, even if mine never sticked.

1° The buttons tend to corrode may sticky because of that

2° The hole where the button is in has no drain channel, like my Patima housing for example.

This will heep water and humidity inside leading to corrosion of the chrome plated brass buttons

 

A friend of mine will machine me new buttons with 2 modifications:

1° made of AISI 316 stainless steel ( i am not 100% sure if that works as i belive that chrome plated buttons are smoother to

glide better trough the o-rings.

2° the upper part of the button who is gliding inside the hole (not the stem going inside the housing!) will have small channels to

permit the water trapped inside to been blowed out or simply dry much quicker.

 

I think that blowing out the buttons will help to avoid corrosion and salt/lime deposits on the buttons and especially the stem, going trough the housing. It is essential that blowing them out with a gentle stream and for safety after the camera is removed from the housing!

Chris

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I've been on two liveaboard dive trips with my Ikelite housing. During the first trip, my routine was to manipulate the buttons with the housing submerged in the rinse tank. Sometimes buttons got stuck anyway which required me to lubricate the buttons and shaft. That helped but didn't solve the problem.

 

During the second trip (just returned), I rinsed out the button holes in a similar fashion, but also blew water out the button holes with compressed air while depressing the buttons. I did that after every dive with the camera still inside the housing. Never once did I see a drop of water inside the housing, and none of the buttons ever got stuck. Every button worked smoothly throughout this 43 dive trip, on the surface and as deep as 48 meters. Was I just lucky?

 

I think that using compressed air in this way may be an important step in preventative maintenance. I don't understand why housing manufacturers don't tell people to do this. It takes very little time and could avoid a lot of frustration for their customers.

 

John McCracken, Ontario Canada

 

I think that blowing out the buttons will help to avoid corrosion and salt/lime deposits on the buttons and especially the stem, going trough the housing. It is essential that blowing them out with a gentle stream and for safety after the camera is removed from the housing!

Chris

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I had the same problems with my old p&s housings, now I have an Aquatica and no worries.

 

I press all buttons in the washtank, then I put a flowing garden hose to all buttons to flush out any remaining salt/calcium, after this I blow out the water with a GENTLE!! air-nozzle built from an old 1'st stage+LP hose (I can use a little of the remaining air from my tank to do it).

 

-Morten

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ps. with the old 1'st stage option, remember to turn down the intermediate pressure as far as possible, this will reduce the air-flow.

 

If you don't have an old 1'st stage lying around (or if its too heavy to bring on your travels) you can buy a small air-nozzle that simply hooks up to your low pressure inflator hose.

 

And the last option, if you're worried about blowing out an o-ring or pushing water into the housing- simply put your mouth right up to the button and exhale sharply, you'd be amazed how much water there's in there!

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In defence of Ikelite, owners of other brands of housing have also reported problems with sticky buttons. As someone mentioned previously, an Ikelite will keep your camera dry and allow you to take the same quality pictures as you could with a more expensive housing. Since blowing out the button holes post rinse has resolved my problem with sticky buttons, I am very satisfied with my Ikelite. I'm not convinced that anyone needs to change housings in order to avoid what seems to be an easily resolved maintenance issue.

 

I use one of those bullet shaped rubber nozzles, you suggest in your other post, that fit on the end of a BC inflater hose (cost about 15 dollars in the dive shop). I go at it with a fairly generous blast because I am in a hurry and I don't believe that O rings capable of keeping a camera dry during a dive would be displaced with compressed air. Anyway, I never worried about applying too much flow and I had no problems at all.

 

John McCracken in Ontario Canada

 

 

I had the same problems with my old p&s housings, now I have an Aquatica and no worries.

 

I press all buttons in the washtank, then I put a flowing garden hose to all buttons to flush out any remaining salt/calcium, after this I blow out the water with a GENTLE!! air-nozzle built from an old 1'st stage+LP hose (I can use a little of the remaining air from my tank to do it).

 

-Morten

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After remembering I posted this a while back, I thought I would give an update.

 

I wrote an email to Ikelite complaining about the buttons sticking, and the fact that it has done the same thing with 3 different housings I have owned, all Ikelite. I wrote this email after a trip to Lembeh, where just 3 weeks earlier, I sent the housing in for service to Ikelite. They replaced all buttons and springs Thinking that maybe I wasn't doing a good enough job rinsing and pushing the buttons. Well, during the lembeh trip, I was very aware to work the buttons in the rinse tank. Well.....They still stuck occasionally. Not as bad as before....But still very frustrating, considering I just had it in for service.

 

My email was responded to from Ikelite, as I suggested possibly a stiffer spring. Jean from Ikelite, said he didn't think that was the problem, as their springs were the right tension for shallow and deeper depths. We came up with an alternative solution to drill out a slightly wider hole for the buttons. Suggesting that the particles in the water/sand, were not able to get flushed back out. So the larger holes should help that. So I sent my housing back in for them to do this.

 

I got the housing back, and the buttons seem stiffer. I was under the impression they didn't change the springs, but comparing to my wifes housing, they are harder to push in. They also feel differently because of the hole size difference. I haven't taken it on a trip yet....I am leaving for Komodo in a week, so I should get a good test there. I will post, what happens.

 

I really hope this works. I like Ikelite, and this is really my only issue with them. They have great stobes, service dept and customer service. And for me, only going on 2 dive trips a year, it is hard to justify spending double the price, when the video/pictures, are the same as with the more expensive housings. But I also expect the system to work, especially if I maintain it.

 

Dustin

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i think it could be related to the depth rating of the equipment - the aqautica is a 90m design and the ikelite is 40m? the closer you go to any pressure equipments max rating you will start to have some issues. it can also depend on temperature and the material that the orings are made of.

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Well, to update this thread. I just got back from a 10 day trip to Komodo, and used the "modified" ikelite housing for the first time. I am happy to report that the larger buttons holes and stiffer springs worked great!. There was never even a hesitation from the buttons to become stuck. While the buttons are harder to press, it is still better than having to deal with them being stuck. If anything changes in the future I will make sure to update.

 

Dustin

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