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JohnN

Adding vacuum port to an Ikelite housing

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I'm thinking of adding a vacuum port to my Ikelite compact camera housing.  I understand that the $$ cost of a flood (replacing the camera) is about the cost of the vacuum system, but I don't get to dive as frequently as I would like and almost always the opportunity cost is much greater than the replacement cost.  For example I'm going on a 'bucket list' trip to Komodo / Raja Ampat / Triton Bay this autumn and losing the camera would really suck.

Has anyone done a similar conversion.  Ikelite says to remove a control knob, could I just drill and tap the housing?

 

 

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What is the housing Part Number?

i just removed the mode dial on my Ikelite FL DSLR housing but on my Aquatech housing I drilled and tapped in an Ikelite 3/8 vacuum valve, works perfectly. 

The plastic on the Aquatech housing actually tapped quite well. The thread pitch was 3/8 UNF and it torqued down nicely. 

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Posted (edited)

I can’t speak to the Ikelite question but I will say that the vacuum system provides a very nice bit of comfort. I draw a vacuum in my Aquatica system before breakfast and If it’s still good an hour later I know it’s one less thing to worry about. The little green light is oddly comforting. 
 

I’ll add that on my last housing the vacuum told me that I had a minor leak someplace. It turned out that it was a fitting with a hairline crack. There was no water getting in so if not for the vacuum, I’d have been oblivious to the problem until it was perhaps too late..

If your comparing costs, don’t forget to factor in the lens. I’m shooting a D500 and depending on the lens, I could easily have $3500 CDN in that little box. The vacuum is obviously a fraction of that. 

Edited by Stoo

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It also preloads you o-rings which makes them less prone to leaking on the surface.  You probably could drill and tap somewhere that was thick enough - if it's an older polycabonate (clear) housing you would need to go slowly with a new sharp drill in a bench drill.  You also need a flat clean surface for the o-ring to seal the hole.   If you are drilling it yourself you can use whatever thread you need to match many different vacuum options.  Ikelite typically uses imperial threads on their housings, most others will have metric threads either M14 or M16.

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I am not expert in the area, but I have had quite a few projects where I needed Lexan and Plastic sheet machined. There are specific bits for drilling and shaping plastics, I believe they have a shallow attack angle, with the intent of keeping heat to a minimum. If you use bits designed as HSS Steel you should proceed very slowly and keep your bit clear of debris. If it binds it will 'plunge' and that is bad. I have had contractors rush the drilling process with the wrong bits and they said to me 'look, no problem'. They had to come back in 4 months to replace all the work as hairline cracks appeared radiating out from the holes that compromised the safety of the (Guard Rails). There were no signs of this when first fabricated but I was informed by the plastics manufacturers that heat stress failure can appear long after the holes are made.

I have drilled and tapped plastics often myself (up to tapping 3/4" NPT holes using milk as a coolant lol ) but I always go slow and keep light pressure and clean the flutes often. It is in interesting DIY, please let us know how it goes!

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Opinions will vary, but I wouldn't recommend using your drill on your Ikelite housing. There are easier ways to install an Ikelite vacuum system on your housing. There's a lot that can go wrong with a do-it-yourself drill & tap job. If you muck it up, you'll be looking at purchasing a new housing. Wouldn't it be fun to have any damage you might do appear while you're on your 'bucket list' trip?

One of the easiest ways to install an Ikelite vacuum system on an Ikelite housing is to simply remove the cold shoe from the top of the housing and install the vacuum valve in the pre-drilled & tapped hole. If you're using the cold shoe to mount a GoPro or focus light, you can relocate these types of devices on a strobe arm. There are ball mounts that permit putting the GoPro or focus light right on strobe arms.

One of the beginning underwater photographers I work with just replaced the cold shoe on his Ikelite housing with the Ikelite vacuum system. It was a very simple process. He wanted to keep all of his housing's camera controls intact.

Another option is to send your housing to the Ikelite Service Department and have them do the drilling and tapping work. This would allow you to keep all of the stock controls and cold shoe on the housing in place. The service department is excellent.

-Tinman

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I would just swap out a control. Do you really need all of them ?

I use the sentinel. https://www.vividhousings.com/

I installed it on the lens release control. I was a bit suspcidious at first, thinking I would need all the controls, but you can use a pen or an old stick from your ice popsicle to release the lens. I know the control probably also controls the focus depth preview, but I have never used that underwater as on the surface it is already so dark.

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I used the mode selector port on the top of my Ikelite housing to add the vacuum. I shoot manual so I knew I’d never need to change the mode underwater. It was easy to install and works perfectly.

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