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Ahmed Yahya

how to DIY strobe floats from styrofoam ?

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Hi

i just bought 2 DS161 strobes with arms and i need to make floats. has anyone tried to use packing styrofoam as floats ? is it going to compress undereater at depths of 30 m ?

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Hi Ahmed

 

Yep, it'll compress for sure. And at 30m it'll be completely crunched unless it's very dense foam. Packing styrofoam is pretty much useless.

 

The best density stuff I have seen - and use - is the foam that is used for Stix buoyancy foam. That's pretty good and, although others have said it compresses at 30m, I haven't seen that.

 

I suggest a Google of Stix buoyancy foam (take a look at, e.g. http://www.backscatter.com/hostedstore/products/stix.html) andsee what it's made of and if you don't want to buy them, see if you can find a similar type of foam. As I say, it's very dense - and very effective.

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The closed cell foam that is used as core material in composite structures works well. I have used it down to 70m with no problems. Google easy composites.

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You can make floats using divinycell as suggested however as the material gets brittle you will need to finish it with epoxy glue all over to seal it. One of the other challenges is to make a shape that goes around the arms. Unless you have good cutting tools and a lathe it won't be possible so you will need cable tyre to fix it. It works fine until 40 meters with minimal buoyancy loss. I wrote a comprehensive comparison of commercially available float systems here

 

Increase the your rig’s buoyancy using floats or float arms | Interceptor121 Underwater Photo & Video Blog

http://interceptor121.com/2014/03/15/floats-and-float-arms/

 

Generally stix floats are my choice today however sometimes when I need more lift I use Inon mega floats

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You can make floats using divinycell as suggested however as the material gets brittle you will need to finish it with epoxy glue all over to seal it. One of the other challenges is to make a shape that goes around the arms. Unless you have good cutting tools and a lathe it won't be possible so you will need cable tyre to fix it. It works fine until 40 meters with minimal buoyancy loss. I wrote a comprehensive comparison of commercially available float systems here

 

Divinycell (high density PVC foam) is easy to shape with basic tools - no need for a lathe. You can also glue pieces together, so there is no need for cable ties. I agree that it has a soft surface that needs to be protected. Rather than using epoxy, I sprayed my floats with a heavy coating of "Rustoleum Leak Seal" which gave a tough flexible finish. After 60 dives, often below 40 meters, the surface looks the same. With floats that were formed by glueing together pieces of foam, I never noticed a loss of buoyancy at depth. I hope my floats on a string will work as well.

 

I would like to encourage DIY types to forge ahead.

 

John McCracken

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If you want to draw a hole in it so that they wrap around the ark segment you do need a tool. For cutting blocks you don't of course but not looks rough. Also it's not that easy to find at the end. You need the right grade to make sure it doesn't squeeze at depth

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Just use the information here:

 

http://www.scuba007.com/camera-floats/index.html

 

Order the foam from here (choose Type H100): http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/cmpages/divinycellfoam.php

 

I made my own float and spray paint them red, then use those strong vegetable (broccoli/asparagus) rubber band and tie it together :lol2:

 

984068_635033163243094_71970634942748844

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Just use the information here:

 

http://www.scuba007.com/camera-floats/index.html

 

Order the foam from here (choose Type H100): http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/cmpages/divinycellfoam.php

 

I made my own float and spray paint them red, then use those strong vegetable (broccoli/asparagus) rubber band and tie it together :lol2:

 

 

I'm interested in the paint you used. That first link suggested a paint called "Fusion". Is this the stuff:

http://www.krylon.ca/products/fusion-for-plastic/

 

Is it durable?

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Yes, that's the Fusion spray paint I used. It doesn't seal the foam so the foam would still get wet. If you rub the divincell form against each other, the powdery stuffs comes out just like sand paper. It doesn't affect the performance. To me the Fusion paint is more for aesthetic purpose, to cover all the sharpie pen mark. I'm wondering if I should try the "Rustoleum Leak Seal". I do like the color choices of Fusion, when I'm on the boat, I just tell the crew to hand me the camera with the two big RED blocks and they know is my camera. Even when under water, night dive or not, everybody's wet suite pretty much black and look the same, and people know it's me because of the red blocks :lol2:

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Yes, that's the Fusion spray paint I used. It doesn't seal the foam so the foam would still get wet. If you rub the divincell form against each other, the powdery stuffs comes out just like sand paper. It doesn't affect the performance. To me the Fusion paint is more for aesthetic purpose, to cover all the sharpie pen mark. I'm wondering if I should try the "Rustoleum Leak Seal". I do like the color choices of Fusion, when I'm on the boat, I just tell the crew to hand me the camera with the two big RED blocks and they know is my camera. Even when under water, night dive or not, everybody's wet suite pretty much black and look the same, and people know it's me because of the red blocks :lol2:

 

You really have to lay the Rustoleum on thick to seal up the foam's surface, but it is paintable. Maybe a coating of Fusion would make it look nicer. I'll get a can and see how it goes.

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I saw the spray on type Rustoleium and the paint bucket version. Do you recommend the spray type for more even application but require multiple application, or just the bucket one so it require less application and can paint a thicker coat?

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The paints you guys are discussing are not waterproof and not designed for marine application. Once they start solving in water they may create problems to the environment. You need to find something that is waterproof and not soluble like epoxy. Look in the boat or aircraft use not on the home use

Divinylcell used on boats is under a hull not exposed to water for this reason as it is too much work to harden on extensive surfaces

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I saw the spray on type Rustoleium and the paint bucket version. Do you recommend the spray type for more even application but require multiple application, or just the bucket one so it require less application and can paint a thicker coat?

 

I didn't know Rustoleum came in a paint bucket - that may be a better option. The version that is applied with a spray can dries very quickly, and can leave you with a lumpy finish if you are in too big a hurry. If it gets lumpy, it helps to press out the lumps between coats (while it is still soft but not tacky). In the first picture from the link below you can see that I did it better with the float on the right than with the ones on a string.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pointymccracken/albums/72157634002354975

 

Is it possible that you could get a sealing finish with Fusion by applying more coats?

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The paints you guys are discussing are not waterproof and not designed for marine application. Once they start solving in water they may create problems to the environment. You need to find something that is waterproof and not soluble like epoxy. Look in the boat or aircraft use not on the home use

 

"Rustoleum Leak Seal" is waterproof and the finish has remained intact during multiple dives. If you are worried about the environment, think about that vast Stix factory in southeast Asia: belching out clouds of toxins into the very air we breath; child labourers stooping over dangerous machinery - all of that just so you can float your camera in style. Compare that to a couple of guys shaping organic Divinycell using hand tools and traditional methods - making the world a better place in a small way.

 

Your blog article on manufactured floats is very thorough, but I don't get why you have such a problem with DIY solutions. DIYers like what they are doing. They would rather make it than buy it.

 

John

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I don't have any problems with DYI as long as it is done properly. I don't understand why you guys are going over stuff that takes 3 coats and doesn't harden enough whilst there is cheaper solution but that's your choice.

What are your sources about the stix factory? You may want to make sure you can reference what you say before writing it down on a forum

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I don't have any problems with DYI as long as it is done properly. I don't understand why you guys are going over stuff that takes 3 coats and doesn't harden enough whilst there is cheaper solution but that's your choice.

What are your sources about the stix factory? You may want to make sure you can reference what you say before writing it down on a forum

 

The owner of that Stix factory is Dr. Evil, and it is only the first of many that he plans to build around the world. His ultimate goal is to make us completely dependant on him to keep our cameras from dragging us into the deep. My source for that is the same as yours for saying that the paints we are using will dissolve in the water, creating problems for the environment; Or that only those with good cutting tools and a lathe could make a decent camera float.

 

Why would you care whether someone else's DYI is done properly? Are you Dr. Evil? I'm kidding!

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It's not the same thing I said you need tools if you want to build a float like stix that goes around the arm, which is true and that home products may dissolve in water which is also a pretty fair statement otherwise would be called marine grade paint

 

This statement doesn't harm anyone and doesn't compare with what you wrote that I read as: stix is polluting the environment. I think you need to be careful of what you write here. I have no association with stix but if I was their representative I would not be pleased with what you wrote I believe

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John,

 

The viscosity of the Fusion is very runny so it doesn't clog the poles on the form. It took me two coat to completely cover the yellow color of the foam. I don't know if Rustoleum Leak Seal is bad for the environment or not, but I'm keeping what I have right now because I don't have the need to make another float. May be you can try FlexSeal, it's often call liquid rubber and now have more color! https://www.getflexseal.com/

 

A lot people try to fix their boat with FlexSeal, so far I haven't heard if it work well or bad for environment etc.The review of of FlexSea is hit and miss:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2TOXeSF4FE

 

Also, if the material doesn't dissolve in water, how to do we know if it's safe for the environment or not? May be some chemist can explain? It's very much like the debate of storing food in plastic container is bad. If the plastic container is heat to the point of melting the plastic, yeah common sense would say it's bad. But under normal temperature, safe?

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There is a guy here in London that has made floats for years now and has tried quite a few materials. The stuff you guys are trying to use is not marine grade so when you lay a thick coat to fill the cells and then go into water I the long term there is a chance that the paint itself designed for ambient water pressure cracks. This is why I got his recommendation of using epoxy as it is the strongest material around though it takes time to harden is so viscous that you need a thin coat to completely seal and harden a block of divinylcell. You do need two separate steps one to paint the raw material if green or yellow bothers you and the next to lay the epoxy. The colouring can be done easily with anything even water based it will penetrate the fibres easily. For small adjustment blocks you can even use a permanent marker and a single pack of gorilla you get quite a few floats done for less than $5. Epoxy is used in marine application at it has extreme thermal and mechanical resistance

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Couldn't be bothered with painting / coating the floats just used this stuff: http://www.easycomposites.co.uk/products/core-materials/EasyCell75-Closed-Cell-PVC-Foam-Core.aspx

The layers glued together with evostick and then the whole lot held on with electrical tape.

 

i-Xh3RzZV-M.jpg

 

i-FvDZbgq-L.jpg

 

And a picture by Kieran of it in action on the Justicia

 

camera_justicia.jpg

Edited by simonK
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I used two part epoxy mix, with some black dye, that is used with fiber glass kits. Purchased from auto parts store.

Two coats has lasted about 8 years on divinycell floats.

Install some small temp wire hooks and put the stuff on with a small paint brush and hang up to dry.

A messy task. :laugh:

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I came up with something works really well and costs around £10 ($13) each (less if you make 4 or more). I used Floplast Solvent Weld waste pipe to create sealed tubes. The materials are available at B&Q (in the UK) or probably Home Depot in the US, with only minimal use of tools. They're also (to a degree) adjustable in their buoyancy characteristics.

I haven't calculated the lift they provide but they work better than I thought! Used to 30m with no problems. They're not pretty, but they work. I use them as supplemental lift (I also have 2x carbon fibre arms) on a rig that consists of a Nauticam Sony A7II housing (with 90mm macro lens and port), with 2xSea & Sea YS-D2 strobes with Nauticam clamps and strobe arms. They don't make the rig neutral but brings it close to neutral and sufficient to stop it being painful and awkward to manoeuvre underwater.
Hope it's useful for any DIY fans :)
As for environmental concerns, it is my understanding that the Floplast weld, once formed, is as neutral to the environment as the plastic itself (or any other reused plastic for that matter).
Edited by ChasingPhil

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