*EDITORIAL* Dusty Shack? Here’s a Solution!

Dust!  It’s a common household issue indeed but EXTRA damaging if you’re in the hobby world of radio comms!

The truth is that some ham shacks suffer more dust than others; more dirt; more foreign debris entering into their sacred hobby abode than radio mates, and these can potentially wreak havoc with our precious radio equipment, including monitors, keyboards and hard drives.

Nearby building sites, dirt roads, open windows, inside domesticated pets (e.g. cats and dogs) and more, all conspire to produce dust that can threaten the confines of a transceiver, an amplifier or power supply and therefore interfere with its functioning.

How Dust Impacts a Station

Dx Adventure Radio Club (DA-RC) members will confirm that high dust environments can have a detrimental effect on ham radio equipment.

In fact, dust and dirt build up is a major cause of problems that we might falsely attribute to faulty electronic parts.

Simply, dust and dirt build-up in electronics makes things hotter than they should be.

The risk then is that something will overheat and cause damage to circuit components and the repair man will be put to work.

Given the fragile nature of circuit boards and electronic components, however, removing dust is easier said than done.

Here are some dust solutions to help protect your expensive radio gear and shack electronics from harm…


Pictured above and below, commercial dust covers made from vinyl, wool or felt are available for almost every transceiver known to mankind to prevent dust from getting into your radio.

Covers are also made for microphones, power supplies and amplifiers.

Often stamped with a callsign or brand of transceiver, these offer very good protection against dust while allowing the equipment to breath and to not hold moisture.

Prices normally range from $26-$55 from any one of multiple suppliers.


A vacuum cleaner can do an amazing amount of good for electronic equipment and suck up much of the loose dirt from your shack equipment and computer gadgets.

A crevice cleaning tool on the vacuum cleaner will also enable you to get into those hard to-get-to spots.


Dampening a microfiber cloth with water or spraying it with an all-purpose cleaner before use, helps it grip and does remove dust better BUT with electronics the less moisture the better.

You will still pick up a good amount of dust with a dry microfiber cloth.


This is a preferred solution to dust removal by many DA-RC members.

Canned air or compressed air is a terrific product used for cleaning or dusting electronic equipment and other sensitive devices that cannot be cleaned using water.

It contains compressed gas in an aerosol-type can that can be sprayed into sensitive electronic devices such as transceivers, power supplies, amplifiers, etc. to clear out dust.

When a trigger is pressed, the nozzle at the top blasts a stream of compressed gas which then eliminates the unwanted debris.

Blowing dust out of or off of equipment since it will just land somewhere else. But if that’s what it takes to get stuff clean, go for it and vacuum extra well elsewhere!


Use an old, clean paint or make-up brush to knock loose dirt being held by static electricity, dried-up oil, or food bits.

As you go, follow up with a wipe from the dust rag to capture the holdouts.

A brush is also great for making sure that any ventilation holes or slots in speakers, the tops of transceivers, etc. are clear of dust.


The most crucial way to protect electronics from dust build-up is to enforce consistent humidity control.

By using a humidifier you can manage interior temps and humidity levels far more efficiently.

Low humidity and dry air, for example, can make your surfaces, as well as your air, extra dusty.

Air moisture, on the other hand, can significantly reduce dust.

When the air is damp, airborne dust particles will absorb the humidity and get too heavy to float and get into your equipment.

Humidity will also will also give the dust an adhesion effect that will keep it from stirring up into the ambient air.


The consensus among DA-RC members is that any gear that generates a lot of heat — such as tube equipment, amps, power supplies, etc. — should be cleaned thoroughly to prevent dust and dirt from baking onto the finish.

In a radio shack, there are endless flat surfaces and crevices to accumulate dust, pet hair, food crumbs, and so on.

All of this stuff can collect to the point where it starts to affect heat dissipation and jams or clogs mechanical workings.

That’s when things start to go pear-shaped.

The suggestions above all come from members of the DA-RC and all have been used with varying degrees of success.

Enjoy your dust-free radio shacks!

73 de DA-RC HQ OC