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At last November's COMDEX show, there was one exhibit that really caught my eye. It was a gentleman playing with Microsoft's Fight Simulator, and the computer he was using was underwater! Having grabbed my attention, the booth's personnel were quick to point out that the substance the computer was submerged in was not water, but STABILANT 22, a liquid that has some very unusual properties.

STABILANT 22 is a liquid polymer that, when not under direct mechanical pressure, is nonconductive. When it is placed under pressure, however, it becomes conductive, but only in the area where direct pressure is being applied. This property makes STABILANT 22 perfect for the application D.W. Electrochemicals promotes it for contact enhancement.

One of the most prevalent causes of intermittent operation in any piece of electronic equipment, whether it is a computer or audio system, is a deteriorating contact. This can be between an IC and its socket, an expansion card and its socket, or between a plug and jack. This can occur even in computers that use gold plated contacts. In fact, one of the first things most experienced troubleshooters do when confronted with an intermittent problem is reseat all the ICs that are socketed and burnish the edge contacts of peripheral boards with a pencil eraser. Often, this will clear up the problem, at least for a while.

STABILANT 22 can be applied to the edge connectors of a board with a swab or squirted into the IC socket with a syringe, where it flows down between the IC's pins and the socket, then becomes conductive where the pins do not make good contact.

I tried STABILANT 22 on a PC that had experienced intermittent problems with the hard disk; sometimes the PC recognized the disk was there, sometimes it didn't. I treated all of the socketed ICs in the disk controller, the edge connector of the card, and the two ribbon cables on both the controller and disk ends. This was several weeks ago, and so far the disk has been behaving itself. Of course, this isn't proof positive that STABILANT 22 works since the very act of taking the board out and putting it back could very well have cleared up a contact problem, as could the act of removing and replacing the cables.

But at $36 (plus shipping) for a 15 -ml container of dilute STABILANT 22A, I'd certainly recommend that you have a bit of this stuff on hand. While 15 ml is a small container, a little goes a long way. And as one who has done his share of pencil- eraser burnishing of contacts, STABILANT 22 makes good sense to me. In fact, I intend to "STABILANTize" each of my computers as I have occasion to open them up.

STABILANT isn't readily found in audio or computer stores yet, but the company is into setting up various distribution methods. If you drop them a card or call, they'll let you know where you can purchase the product. Or you can or- der directly from them. Though they generally prefer to deal in large quantities, they have assured me they will be glad to accommodate Modern Electronics readers.


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