App. Note 27 - Model & Hobbies
What is Stabilant 22?
Stabilant 22 is an initially non-conductive non-toxic
liquid polymer which when used in a very thin film with electromechanical
connections has the property of switching over to a conductive state
the action of an electric field. Thus it can virtually impart the reliability
of a soldered connection without forming any sort of a mechanical bond.
It is thus termed a contact-enhancer.
What is its use in the model and hobby field?
In this age of electronics, many models are dependent upon complex
electronic controls for their proper function. These controls usually operate
at very low signal levels, and, to conserve battery power, at very low
power levels as well. This makes them very prone to malfunctions due to
failures in the connector systems or in the switches used. It takes only
a minuscule amount of contaminant to cause problems with such a circuit.
22 was developed as a contact enhancer. It was developed specifically
improve the reliability of electro-mechanical contacts, and as such, is
being used in many fields from biomedical electronic equipment (in hospitals),
to computer & peripheral equipment. It has a long-term reliability
factor presently unequaled by any simple contact cleaner. That's because
22 is a resident treatment. This means that you leave it in place
within the contact. There it will last for a very long time,- usually more
than the design life of the equipment. Increases in connector reliability
of from 10 to 100 times are not unusual.
What are the differences between Stabilant 22 and Stabilant 22A?
The Stabilants , as presently used by hobbyists,come
in two forms. The basic material or concentrate is called Stabilant
22, while the isopropanol diluted form is designated Stabilant 22A
is a 4:1 isopropanol-dilution (by volume) and is much easier to apply.
When used a normal room temperatures or higher, the isopropanol will evaporate
after the application, leaving a thin film of the concentrate in place.
In some applications such as socketed IC's it is not even necessary to
unplug the IC to treat the connection. The dilute form should be used for
treating existing crimp type joints between multiple stranded wire and
the contact as well as for card-edge and other connectors. As Stabilant
22, the concentrate, is an excellent lubricant, it can be used on all
rotating joints which have to pass electrical currents, such as model-railroad-car
bearings. For this reason, the dilute form, Stabilant 22A is preferably
used on model-train-layout rails, where it should be wiped on the rail
to insure a very thin residual film!
But won't Stabilants short-out multiple pins?
No, for the reason that Stabilants are semiconductive in
their action, switching at a desired field strength within a contact-pair,
but not switching-on between adjacent contacts. Thus the material can be
applied to a multiple-pin connector without worrying about getting it on
the insulation or causing leakage!
Is there any place I shouldn't use it?
The Stabilants are not recommended for use on circuits which,
due to inductive loads, spark upon breaking contact. The momentary high
temperatures of the spark would decompose the Stabilants causing
a moderate rate of carbon buildup. Thus, don't use it on motor commutators,
which tend to spark!
What about its use on connectors?
Obviously, connector reliability is very important for trouble-free
operation of models, more so when intermittent connectors could cause the
crash or loss of a remote-controlled model airplane. The Stabilants
had extensive use on, for example, biomedical electronics and avionics
where they are "TSO'ed". In both cases absolute reliability of the connectors
in the equipment is extremely important.
Stabilants are also used on cameras, especially on battery contacts.
In one critical battery application they are employed in hearing-aids.
Can it be used on switches?
The reliability of switches is generally greater than connectors if
only because their wiping action sometimes is able to keep the contacts
clean. Nevertheless, switches, like connectors, are the least reliable
components used in electronic equipment. Because Stabilants are
excellent lubricants, they can often increase the reliability of switches.
One caveat; where switches do not have back-emf "snubbers" and are used
to interrupt highly reactive loads, such load interruption, can cause sparking
of the switch. While Stabilants can lessen this effect, their decomposition
under the heat of the spark can lead to an accumulation of carbon. It is
best to use a reverse-diode across a switch handling DC potentials as a
first step thus eliminating the spark before using
Is it useful on transmitters for remote controls?
Stabilants are used extensively in the maintenance of transmitters
in professional applications, both for remote control and for communications.
It can be used on everything from EPROM's to crystal sockets.
Can it be used on microprocessor-based controllers?
Again, Stabilants have been used in computers for over ten years
and are standard-stores items for many OEM's and third-party service organizations.
received a "User Product-of-the Year" award from Byte magazine in 1985
and have been "highly recommended" by Dr. Jerry Pournelle on numerous occasions
since that award. In model railroading. this makes it esecially applicable
to DCC systems and rail junctions.
Can it be used on servos?
Because of the reliability-advantage of Stabilant-treated connections
at micro-power-levels, Stabilants can substantially increase the
reliability of servos. While the material can be used on the potentiometers
in servo controls, the isopropanol diluant of Stabilant 22A should
NOT be used on conductive-plastic potentiometers as it can extract the
plasticizer. Instead, use the concentrate, Stabilant 22, diluted
10:1 with hot water. Apply only the smallest amount to the plastic element
of the potentiometer and cycle through its maximum stroke to distribute
Can it be used on model railroads?
Stabilants can not only be used on switch-machine contacts,
controller-boards and pulse-code modulation equipment, but many model railroaders
are employing it on their tracks in order to reduce the stalling-voltage
of locomotives thus obtaining better slow-speed characteristics.
Obviously, it can be especially useful on complex control panels and
their wiring, including slide and rotary switches, mechanical and electrical
sensors, relay and switch machine contacts, wirewound rheostats, and phone
In DCC "Command-Control" systems, Stabilant 22A is almost essential
for trouble-free operation.
What is the most common size?
The most popular size is either the 5 mL or the 15 mL service kits
Stabilant 22A. The 15 mL size has about 700 to 900 drops per
bottle. Because it is necessary to use very little of the material, a drop
can go a very long way! The dilute material, Stabilant 22A, will
even wick into socketed IC's.
Needless to say, larger sizes are available.