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Old 10-22-2014, 11:58 PM   #1
growingupninja's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 1,424
DIY waterproof DC power connections

Nerding out and sharing my method using the cheap waterproof (IP68) Adafruit DC connectors... (http://www.adafruit.com/products/743). I don't pretend that this is proper electric for anything but a kayak or in my case, roll-up inflatable, but the basic technique has been working well and on my kaboat everything is always somewhere between wet and underwater... I use these type connectors to run all my electrical to a 12v battery in a dry box. Hacking these connectors is a bit labor intensive but I have discovered nothing sucks on a boat like failing electrical, and for kayaks and roll-ups there are added challenges since the stuff has be portable and is usually drenched.

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Materials are glue (Aquaseal is very good but expensive and messy/slow to work with, Stik-N-Seal is much easier but nowhere near as tough), heat shrink, the little Adafruit DC connectors, 18 gauge 2 strand weather resistant cable. 5200 I have used also but it takes forever and needs air to cure so heat shrinking before full cure is a bad idea. I've also used liquid epoxies for some parts but those have no flexibility whatsoever so I like that for sealing actual components...

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Cut the Adafruit connector off close to the connector and strip the wires. Strip the cable wires and remember to put the first layer of heat shrink on (if you forget you'll have to use electrical tape after you solder it).

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Twist the wires together, and then solder them. This is partly a mechanical connection so use plenty of solder and do a good job. I don't like to use butt connectors because they don't seem to hold as well as a good solder joint.

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Snip the protruding lump of solder/twisted wire with diagonal cutters to leave a streamlined solder joint.

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Heat shrink or tape the bare wires to keep them from shorting.

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Cover every conceivable leak point with your glue. I'm using Aquaseal with Cotol240 so that I don't have to wait 12 hours to finish this thing. Stik-N-Seal is my other go-to but this particular cable may see particularly hard use and I trust Aquaseal more.

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Slip heat shrink over the wet glue and position it. With these connectors I like to run the heat shrink up past the wire and onto the connector. Now you have to wait until your glue is at the very least tacky but not sticky. For Stik-N-Seal about 20 mins, Aquaseal may take several hours, and Aquaseal with Cotol240 about 40 mins.

I have also taped the Adafruit screw down connector to the tip so it doesn't slip into the glue and make a mess.

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Heat shrink the joint. Remember most of these glues contain flammable solvents, and if you rush and try to heat shrink before the glue is dry enough you will at the very least have hot bubbling noxious glue oozing out of the ends of the heatshrink (messy but more or less okay from a waterproofing standpoint), or even splitting your heat shrink and boiling out and catching fire, etc.

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