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Is it Waterproof? Plus: How to Waterproof a Servo

You’ve probably heard that electronics and water don’t mix. This is evident in RC as most manufacturers will let you know that water damage is one top reasons for equipment failure. In an effort to increase reliability and customer satisfaction, companies started to install waterproof electronics. Traxxas might be the most notable proprietor of dunkable gizmos since its entire lineup features waterproof electronics, but plenty of companies are also going the waterproof route. Hitec, for example, is offering high performance waterproof servos.

To test the effectiveness of stock waterproof electronics, I performed some simple tests. In addition to testing a factory-waterproofed servo, I tested a standard servo that waterproofed myself. For the first test, I submerged each servo in water and continuously operated them for 30 seconds. The second test had each servo under for for two minutes and then tested to see if each still operated.

The factory-waterproofed servo tested was Traxxas 2075 unit that puts out 125 oz.-in. or torque. This servo is found in a number of Traxxas’ vehicles such as the Stampede 4X4.

To get right to the not-so-climatic finish, both servos passed both tests. I wasn’t surprised the Traxxas servo survived, but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised that my homespun waterproofing also worked flawlessly.

This article doesn’t end here. The day after the two servos were water dunked, the servos were tested to see if they still operated normally. The Traxxas servo still performed flawlessly. The non-factory waterproofed servo, however, now vibrated continuously when powered. The servo technically still worked, but was noticeably malfunctioning. Clearly, water was able to penetrate the homespun defenses.

The conclusion to draw here is that Traxxas’ 2075 is, indeed, waterproof–at least for RC use–and that DIY waterproofing works but has its limitations.

How to Waterproof a Servo:
Waterproofing a servo is a fairly simple process and, as my testing demonstrates, performs well if done properly. Keep in mind that waterproofing will mostly likely void your servo’s warranty and intentionally operating it under water will most likely also void any warranty.

The first step is to wrap the servo case with waterproof vinyl tape. A servo case is usually three pieces. Stretched tight and firmly pressed into place, the tape will seal the seams in the case.

Step two is two use waterproof silicone glue to seal the screws that hold the case together. Simply smear a small amount of silicone glue over each screw head.

You also need to carefully seal the servo’s wire loom. usually the servo’s wires enter the case through a small rubber boot. Apply silicone glue to both ends of the boot.

The last step is to use waterproof grease to prevent water from entering at the servo’s case via the output gear that exists the top of the case. A generous portion of grease under the servo horn will keep water from entering at this vulnerable spot.

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