Monday, January 07, 2008

Simple Deben Collar Improvements

The two collars above show two very simple improvements you can make to your Deben Mark I collars to give them a longer life.

The first tip is to coat the outside of the collar with a slathering of rock-hard and tough-as-nails PC-7 epoxy. This is a two-part epoxy that is as thick as tar, but it will protect the collar from bites. More importantly, it will fill in all the little holes and bubbles that are commonly found in the Deben plastic and which are a source of moisture entry.

Deben collars normally have two small transistor wires that are barely coated by the normal plastic coating of the collar. When that coating is worn away, water enters the collar and oxidizes the internal circuits, which makes the collar go on the fritz.

Collars die because of water entry, and nothing is more important to the life of the collar -- and the life of your dog in the hunt field -- than keeping water out of the collar.

A second tip is to slip a very tight O-ring between the battery cap and the hard plastic body of the Deben transmitter. Both collars, above, have a black O-ring in place. O-rings can be purchased at any hardware store and cost only a dime or two, but they provide a fairly good seal right at the cap where it is most needed.

Use of an O-ring does NOT mean you do not have to tape your collar! In fact, proper taping of a collar is one of the most important things you do to secure your dog's safety and longevity.

Tape Deben collars well before you get into the field -- taping a collar while everyone else is waiting, dogs are barking, your fingers are numb from the cold, and your mind is half adled from excitement and the confusion of loading up is a guarantee of a job poorly done. Some tips on taping can be found >> here.

Test batteries before you put them into a collar, and test the collar and box before you let the dog enter the earth.

Deben collars are much less likely to fail on a dig if diggers take the precautions outlined above. A lot of Deben collar failure can be traced back to the failure of diggers to do everything obvious and possible to keep water out of the collar.


Anonymous said...

The best improvement for the MkI is to replace it with an LRT. ;-)


PBurns said...

The Deben LRT is a very good collar, but underneath the housing, it's not much different than the old Mark I. The better housing makes it water proof without taping, which is great, but the increase in size makes it a loss as far as ferreters are concerned (not our concern, but a concern for others in other countries). The Mark III collar, made for the ferret folks, is crap; it's simply too weakly made to stand up to real field conditions, and for terrier work I would give it a month. Push it all around, and consider it all, and the Mark I collar has not been much improved on. In fact, some are asking for it to come back (not going to happen).

I would agree that if you just do terrier work, as you and I do, then the new Deben LRT is the way to go if you are getting a new kit. That said, for the relatively slight improvemet in quality, Deben jacked the price of the rig about double, which I suppose is par for the course if you can get away with it.

I have not figured out what it would cost to replace my two working boxes and four working collars, but it would be about $1,000, I think. So far, I can't justify it, and neither can a lot of others with a lot of working collars and boxes. My hope is that by the time I do switch, over to the latest and greatest, everything will be even cheaper, smaller and better. It seems to be working that way with a lot of other bits of electronics. The 5-piece stereo and LP record collection I had in college now hangs on my neck and is smaller than a cricker lighter, while every photo I have ever taken in my life could fit on a computer chip the size of my thumb nail. Bird tracking transmitters are down to the size and weight of pencil erasers, and they are even making short-term ones for dragon flies! I have very high hopes that printed circuits (available now) will enable one-off production of very small electronics like we want within the next few years.