Friday, July 24, 2015

8 genius military uses for civilian products

7. Cleaning radio contacts: pencil eraser: This one is so effective, it’s become official Army doctrine. The contact points where microphones or antennas meet with a radio can become tarnished and dirty. Erasers can get these spotless quickly, something which has been incorporated into Army manuals such as Field Manual 44-48, “Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for the Sensor Platoon.”
Field Manual 44-48.


Sean said...

Learned that one as an RTO in VietNam, 1970.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever have an 8-track player? This was a common way to clean the head when it got dirty.

GaryM said...

My Dad taught me the contact cleaning trick back in the late 50's, so it's not new, just not well known. In fact the white ink eraser on the end of the old style stick ball point pens works best because it's more abrasive.

There are also fiberglass eraser sticks available that work better yet, but they can be hard to find except at art supply stores or Amazon.

Anonymous said...

on #7: Sure takes the military a long time to adopt something officially that has been used by them UNofficially for decades. Any good technician from the 50's (as far as I know, and likely many years before) has known about this. I used it as a kid when building my first electronics projects back then. Learned it from an old 'Elmer' (ham radio operator who mentors/advises young radio enthusiasts). I would imagine that he learned it right about the time WWII was in full swing, from radio operators cleaning dirt and corrosion off their battlefield radio microphone contacts, knowing the mild abrasiveness of pencil erasers back then. That was probably adopted from earlier radio operators' techniques. This low-tech servicing method has probably been around for over a hundred years.

Relay contacts were another matter. Since it's difficult to get an eraser in there, and many techs did not have a 'burnishing tool' we used thin cardboard or even bits of construction paper. That was when they were fairly large and had removable covers, not like these small, often potted (hermetically sealed) relays of today.

Seems at least one soldier adopted a common sense alternative to 'official policy' in Chattanooga last week. Maybe the DoD will catch up to common sense usage in a few decades.

Happy 63rd, Mike!

Anonymous said...

Guess I'll have to replace those trip-wires with pressure sensitives. LOL...Been using Q-Tips on AR bolt carriers forever,I keep tampons in a medic/go-bag and erasers can be used on a multitude of electrical components. I've been cleaning armatures on electric motors with them for ages and also the magneto on small engines like chain saws and lawn mowers before re-gaping them...And although I've never had to use them, I always thought condoms would be a good way to keep moisture out of a rifle barrel on a long, rainy hike.

Anonymous said...

The eraser technique is okay on battery terminals, but not on RF or data connectors. Erasers are abrasive and scrub gold plating off of contacts and edge connectors. Use non-abrasive cleaners (foam, cloth, q-tip if fibers don't matter) with tech-grade ethanol.

Go ahead and wreck your gear. PMEL needs the work, and you have unlimited black budget, right? ;-)

Old Grey Guy said...

We were using pencil erasers to clean PC board contacts in the middle 1960's.

Anonymous said...

Something we've known since we played with little slot cars 50 yrs ago.Pencil eracers kept the track from oxidizing and will clean elec.contacts very quickly.