Wise Tips for Clean Scanners

November 15, 2011 by CHAUVET DJ

by Allan Reiss, CHAUVET Club/DJ Product Manager

Cleaning your scanners periodically can give them a longer life and you less to worry about in the end. The buildup of dust and dirt can overheat units or clog fans, which translates into fixture failure sooner than you expected. Follow these tips to save money and avoid frustration.

Lamp, halogen and discharge scanners versus LED scanners
Lamp, halogen and discharge scanners require a little more maintenance. Compared to an LED scanner, a lamp-based one might have more fans, thus more for you to clean. Typically, you will have to clean it more often because it gets much hotter. When cleaning the scanner avoid touching the lamp, because the grease, oils and salts from your fingers can damage it. Also, if you have to replace the lamp use an alcohol-based wipe to handle it.
LED scanners are much cooler than the lamp-based ones. An internal heat sink draws the heat away from the LED and keeps the fixture cool, but you will still find fans that you will have to clean.
Aside from these differences,  follow the same steps when cleaning both lamp and LED scanners. Read on:

1. Breaking down the scanner.
Stay organized during disassembly. Keep track of all the screws and parts you took out. Scanners can be pretty complex inside, and it should take you a little while to clean. Knowing how to put it back together will save time.
Remove all covers. I don’t recommend using a screw gun for this. If the covers have been on for a while, heat and dust can make the screws stick and a screw gun will strip the heads of the screws. This will keep you from having access to the inside of the fixture.
Check the inside. With all of the covers off, take a good look inside the light. If you see big balls of dust behind any of the fans, you may want to replace the fans.

2. Cleaning the mirror, lens, prism, color wheels and gobo wheels.
Treat lenses and dichroics very carefully. I like to wear cotton gloves while cleaning these. Oils from your fingers can burn into the glass or cause overheating, which leads to cracking. Make sure to use a lint-free cloth in order to keep all surfaces as clean as possible. To remove the grease from atmospheric residue, use an alcohol-free cleanser.
Using an air compressor. Use an air compressor or vacuum to blow out the dust, but don’t spin the fans. While it makes a cool noise, the speed the fans are moving will destroy them. Put something like a pen or screwdriver between the fan blades to prevent it from moving.

More quick tips!
1. See if the gobos and the color wheels turn smoothly. If they’re slipping or stuck, you may need to clean or replace them.
2. Check the belts for any signs of wear on the edges, as this could be an indication of a bent pulley.
3. Look at all the magnets on the gobo wheels, color wheels, and pan and tilt pulleys. Make sure they are clean and don’t have metal shavings attached to them. This can impair your sensors and is a sign something is not moving properly.

How often should I clean?
This depends on how often you use the fixture. If you have your scanners working hard every day, clean them twice a month. The mobile DJ who uses them for about 10 hours a week should clean once every two months.

Now that you know how to tend to your scanners, click here for useful tips on how to clean moving heads and here to learn how to clean effect lights!

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