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Cleaning Questar Optics

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#1 Gregory Gross

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 06:12 PM

For years, I've used Orion Optics Cleaning Fluid for Coated Lenses with great effect on various eyepieces, corrector plates, and objective lenses. This fluid goes on smoothly, creates somewhat of a haze when gently rubbed across whatever optics I'm cleaning, and eventually buffs out crystal clear. But a recent bad experience cleaning one particular lens using a 50/50 solution of distilled water and 99% isopropyl alcohol has left me a little hesitant to go at the optics on my 1962 Questar using the same fluids I've used on other optics. The last thing I want to do is mess up something that is hard if not impossible to replace.

The instruction booklet written in the early 1960s indicates that one should first brush off any gritty dirt with the softest brush one can use. Then one should use soft cotton or facial tissue dampened only with water and "float" it across the optical surface, rolling it up to catch and remove any grime or dirt.

Only water? Really? I'm also not sure about using facial tissue. I've been advised by eyeglasses retailers not to use anything that was one wood pulp (i.e., facial tissues). I think I'd stick with cotton or Pec*Pads.

Anyway, I'm curious to know what other cleaning fluids or home-brew solutions that others have used specifically on their older Questars. I know that some have used Eclipse Optic Cleaning Fluid. Any other suggestions?

#2 TerryWood

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 06:20 PM

Whenever I've had to clean mine I used Zeiss Cleaning Fluid with cotton balls or Q-tips. It seems to work well.

 

https://www.walmart....AyABEgLz1_D_BwE

 

V/R

 

Terry


Edited by TerryWood, 19 May 2019 - 06:21 PM.

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#3 RMay

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 06:22 PM

I have always gone with a mix of 50% water and 50% denatured alcohol (like from the local grocery) after lightly blowing any grit off the surface of the lens. Dry lightly with a lint-free cotton cloth. I've been doing this for 35 years...

 

Ron



#4 Gregory Gross

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 06:23 PM

Thanks for that suggestion, Terry.

To be more specific, I should have added that I'm primarily interested in cleaning the eyepieces, corrector lens, finder lens, and finder mirror. I know that the finder mirror would maybe require a different technique and/or difference fluids than the coated optical surfaces.

#5 Gregory Gross

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 06:29 PM

One more observation: the Questar instruction booklet that was written in the early 1960s says, "Never use solvents like acetone or alcohol on front lens, which would dissolve black model airplane dope paint over secondary mirror." That is what spurred me to start this thread.

#6 markb

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 07:48 PM

I have tried several 'highly recommended' cleaning solvents on work lenses, old film camera lenses before I knew better, and on 'sacificial test' lenses.

EVERY high % alcohol, pharmacy or paint store, left a residue!

Everclear (undenatured high purity drinking alcohol) is not available here, so I have not tried it, no opinion.

I also never tried the watchmakers evaporating rinse, mostly Stoddard solvent, that works so well on metals.

Pure, but not lab grade, acetone is so low viscosity it went into every tiny crevice, and appeared to leave some kind of residue or, at least, uneven coating streaks when it evaporated. Perhaps not all of the contaminents evaporate off with the acetone. Of course, it eats plastic instantaneously, not great.

I did find one safe solution for lenses (but not mirrors), a microfiber cloth used only after a gentle 'moist breath' leaving pure condensate on the lens.

The real discovery was that a not too tight, not too loose weave microfiber cloth can remove light oils without solvents, occasionally by patting the spot with the cloth. Not expected.

Coatings are left with even reflections amd no microsleeks.

I still worry when I have to use a new brand, but have been lucky.

And I only clean as the very last resort, so I almost never clean any lens. If I do, I test and then examine with high power loupe for microscratches.

I would try the Zeiss or Baader liquids, but given the above, I don't really think I would bother.

Mirrors or something too awful to clean with a microfiber and condensate would follow distilled water and a tiny bit of soap rules I have read for mirror cleaning. No wiping with anything.

One last comment, I agree with nothing that was ever wood pulp should ever be wiped over a coating or lens.

I also use a dissecting scope for watchmaking. I examined a coated high grade, but not astro, lens before and after wiping with a 'designed for high grade optics' scientific name brand lens wipe.

Oops, microscratches readily visible in the coatings! Never use any kind of paper based wipe. Ever, no matter what the package or supplier claims. Not even if the package has Zeiss or Leica on it.

Cotton is the old school safe standard, I just worried about oils used in manufacturing though.

Thanks for the Pec-pad tip! I will get a pack through Amazon to see if they work as well as microfibers for me

I would like to have a fresh one every time. I retire my microfibers after a short time, they do not seem to wash back to new.

Edited by markb, 19 May 2019 - 08:06 PM.


#7 Matt Looby

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 09:14 PM

I would not touch the meniscus.



#8 Optics Patent

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 10:03 PM

Solvent and cloth material are almost irrelevant compared to technique. Key is not to wipe grit around.

I use pec pads and everclear. Eclipse (methanol) as final
clean. Any film residue is oil not yet removed.

Microfiber is dangerous as hell. Fine the first wipe (like any clean rag) but holds dirt and turns into sandpaper.

Any mention of “buffing” scares me.

My best tip is to tolerate 98% success. Let that one smudge seen under bright illumination remain and don’t risk damage chasing perfect cleanliness.

And if it isn’t genuinely dirty enough to affect performance don’t touch it with anything more than a puff of air. (Not from your lips lest you leave spittle drops).
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#9 Erik Bakker

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 02:06 AM

[….]

My best tip is to tolerate 98% success. Let that one smudge seen under bright illumination remain and don’t risk damage chasing perfect cleanliness.

And if it isn’t genuinely dirty enough to affect performance don’t touch it with anything more than a puff of air. (Not from your lips lest you leave spittle drops).

 

[….]

+1 waytogo.gif



#10 Erik Bakker

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 02:08 AM

Zeiss cleaning fluid seems to work well for me too. Better than 96% pure alcohol.


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#11 Loren Gibson

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 07:38 AM

Here are my experiences, for what they're worth:

 

The Q's finder mirror is a first-surface mirror with (presumably) an aluminum coating, perhaps overcoated (or not, I don't know). I just air-blow it clean (I use a Giottos Air Rocket, not compressed air from a can). I once gently used a soft brush intended for optical surfaces on it, but even that I don't recommend doing, and haven't done it since then. I don't want to scratch the coatings, so I just tolerate the remaining dust on it after air-blowing.

 

When cleaning lenses of any kind, I first use the Air Rocket to blow away as much loose dust as possible, and this is very successful as a first step. I personally don't brush lens surfaces with an optical brush. If I'm still concerned about dust scratches after the initial blow-cleaning (that's usually not the case), the first use of a moistened lens cleaning wipe will be to "dab" in an attempt to loosen any remaining dust without dragging dust across the lens surface with a wiping motion.

 

For both lens coated with magnesium flouride (e.g., my Q's corrector plate and Brandon eyepieces) and multicoated lens, my favorite lens cleaner is ROR. I use a spray bottle with Kimwipes delicate task wipes (spraying onto the wipe rather than the lens) for lens larger than those on eyepieces, and a drop bottle with clean Q-tips (dripping onto the Q-tip) for eyepieces. I now use ROR exclusively. I've cleaned the eye lens of all of my eyepieces many times over the years. They all look pristine and brand new, with absolutely no haze, scratches, sleeks or coating irregularities of any kind. I've used ROR to clean my refractor objectives and corrector plates, including the Questar's, on a less frequent basis (they don't seem to get as dirty as the eye lens of my eyepieces), with the same excellent results.

 

I've also used Purosol, Ziess lens cleaning fluid, and Orion's Formula MC. They're good products, but on a couple of occasions I went back to ROR after using one of these to remove some sort of residue on an eyepiece (maybe some oil from eyelashes or something) that one of these didn't quite remove in its entirety. You can smell some ammonia in ROR, and I suspect this attacks some substances better than other ingredients in lens cleaning solutions.

 

I have some pure acetone on hand, but have never tried it for lens cleaning. Given the sensitivity of things like plastics and paints to acetone, even if I think the acetone won't be near such materials, I'm not going to try using it on lens coatings unless I become desperate for some reason.

 

A long time ago, I did brew my own cleaning fluid using distilled water, pure isopropyl alcohol, and a very small quantity of dish detergent. I don't recall the exact proportions of each. I think I mixed a gallon of it, and the recipe said two drops of detergent per gallon. (I didn't come anywhere near using all of it!) That was Celestron's recommended cleaner for its corrector plates, at the time. It worked well, as far as I can recall.

 

Very infrequently, I might detect a minor residue after using ROR (or another product). While I never resort to any "buffing," on a very infrequent basis I will, as a last step, do the "warm breath" trick of fogging the lens and taking a new task wipe to wipe off the condensed moisture. IIRC, Tele Vue endorses this trick, and it does indeed do the trick. It's usually an eyepiece which gets this treatment, but I've also done this with my refractor objectives once or twice. I don't recall doing this on the Q's corrector plate.

 

Loren


Edited by Loren Gibson, 20 May 2019 - 07:40 AM.

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#12 markb

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 06:15 PM

The squeeze bulbs are great, I have used a Bergeon watchmakers bulb. It rarely removes sll the dust but does effectively remove quite a bit. The one Loren recommemded is larger and likely more effective for optics.

Zeiss fluid is actually 94% water, the 4-6% isopropyl.

How to tell? A 'secret' I've used for years, look up the MSDS safety sheet. Sometimes they are incomplete for industrial secrets reasons, but they often give all the % ingredients, so spills and poisonings can be treated, and proper protective wear can be provided to users. This one was also hosted on Company Seven's site. A google search for the product name and MSDS usually pulls up muliple sites hosting the forms.

Do also remember that manufacturers can ise purity levels of chemicals not available at the local drugstore. You don't get reagent grade chemicals there.

Everclear (NOT methanol which is deadly) is food grade ethanol, drinking alcohol. It may be a choice since food grade should exclude many contaminents.

97% pure sounds good, but that last 3% may not just be water, and may be what causes those streaks and fogs, which may also be caused by the oil based contaminents on the lens that fail to fully evaporate away with the solvent.

The ammonia is likely there in some formulas to remove oils and fats, chemically converting them. This is a major component of watchmakers cleaning treatments, which must remove old oils. Also the reason it is in window washing chemicals.

One reason the microfibers work for me is they appear to rapidly absorb the oils without chemicals, letting the breath condensate do the rest. I had noticed microfiber clothing seemed to disperse oils over a large area of the fabric.

Of course they have to be clean! Any wipe or cloth can be contaminated, one reason I store them separately, and don't use larger ones to dry a washed car, too high a chance of accidental contamination ans scratching. Going to try those pec pads.
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#13 Gregory Gross

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 12:34 PM

I have some Eclipse Optic Cleaning Fluid on order and will try to use that to clean my eyepieces and potentially other optical surfaces.

 

Incidentally, I discovered recently that the top of the early "Made in Japan" eyepieces unscrew. In the "Adjustments" section in the early 1960s pink instruction booklet, Questar wrote, "To tighten an eyepiece, unscrew the bakelite cap with the engraved 40-80x or 80-160x on it. Use a rubber glove, or piece of rubber to increase finger friction if it is hard to unscrew counterclockwise. Cap comes off to reveal 3 cone-pointed setscrews."

 

Close examination of those eyepieces reveal that that top cap is indeed a separate part. I had no idea that it could come off. Knowing that it does, I plan to unscrew it to gain less obstructed access to the eye lens for cleaning.


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#14 Gregory Gross

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 01:02 PM

Any comments on best practices for cleaning solar filters? My Questar came equipped with an off-axis solar filter that is full of pinholes and is showing a number of fingerprints on both sides. I don't trust that filter for actual use (I have other specialized gear that performs far better for solar observing), and so I'm less concerned about its optical performance. But I would like to get it cleaned up as best as possible more for the sake of just getting it cleaned up without damaging it. I see that the filter is affixed with three screws -- I'm tempted to unscrew it and see how the filter glass is held in place in its cell. If I can get that glass by itself, I can put it under running water and clean it like I would a Newtonian's primary mirror.



#15 Optics Patent

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Posted 25 May 2019 - 07:00 PM

The instructions are NEVER to clean the fragile front plated surface. But if I have one as recently that has a foggy film it gets cleaned. Once.

The rear surface is fine to clean with normal care.

I should note that I came across a badly pinholed one with several larger holes that created light leaks and flare. Some clumsy dots with a Sharpie on the safe rear surface corrected the flare. It’s a vast improvement over the off axis filter whose worst problem is such a high F number with my constructed pupil that all I see are floaters in my eye.


Edited by Optics Patent, 26 May 2019 - 06:48 AM.

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#16 BillHarris

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 10:11 AM

Solvent and cloth material are almost irrelevant compared to technique. Key is not to wipe grit around.

I use pec pads and everclear. Eclipse (methanol) as final
clean. Any film residue is oil not yet removed.

Microfiber is dangerous as hell. Fine the first wipe (like any clean rag) but holds dirt and turns into sandpaper.

Any mention of “buffing” scares me.

My best tip is to tolerate 98% success. Let that one smudge seen under bright illumination remain and don’t risk damage chasing perfect cleanliness.

And if it isn’t genuinely dirty enough to affect performance don’t touch it with anything more than a puff of air. (Not from your lips lest you leave spittle drops).

Agreed.   Any rubbing or buffing is a no-no.  I tended to use Everclear, distilled water, Kodak lens cleaner  and Kodak lens tissue.   And for rinsing or bulk cleaning of primary mirrors, distilled water with a couple of drops of Kodak Photo-Flo.



#17 munirocks

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 11:22 AM

<snip>  I tended to use Everclear, …<snip>

Is that like cooking with wine? Sometimes I even get some on the food.



#18 Gregory Gross

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 07:52 PM

A quick update: I did end up cleaning my off-axis solar filter. The operation was very simple: I unscrewed the three little machine screws that hold in place the glass solar filter in its cell. There was no adhesive to overcome. I then proceeded to clean the glass filter itself just like I would a Newtonian reflector's primary mirror: I thoroughly rinsed the filter under running water, bathed the filter in distilled water with a few touches of dish soap, *very* gently ran my bare finger over the filter while it was immersed in soapy water (one's finger is far more sensitive to dirt getting caught and dragged over the filter's surface than if I used, say, a cotton swab), rinsed the filter under running water again, rinsed the filter in a bath of clean distilled water, blew off water from the filter using a handheld blower bulb, and stood the filter on end to allow to dry.

 

The filter is now free of any fingerprints, and the forward-facing part of the filter (the side that had the metallic coatings) doesn't appear to have any damage as a result of me cleaning it.

 

I know Questar advises that the solar filter should never need cleaning and that doing so is fraught with risk. But there were a number of compelling reasons to clean it: (1) there was a profuse amount of fingerprints that a prior owner carelessly put on both sides of the filter, and I reasoned that the oils and acids in the fingerprints would probably do more damage over the long term than me cleaning it. And (2) I don't actually feel comfortable using the filter to observe the sun given the large number of pinholes in it. Being a rather paranoid solar astronomer who uses other more specialized gear, I'd probably advocate for getting a new solar filter from Questar if that scope were to function as a safe solar observing instrument. So I didn't feel too anxious about cleaning the one that came with my 1962 Questar given the fact that I would never use it to begin with.


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#19 Matt Looby

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 10:46 PM

A quick update: I did end up cleaning my off-axis solar filter. The operation was very simple: I unscrewed the three little machine screws that hold in place the glass solar filter in its cell. There was no adhesive to overcome. I then proceeded to clean the glass filter itself just like I would a Newtonian reflector's primary mirror: I thoroughly rinsed the filter under running water, bathed the filter in distilled water with a few touches of dish soap, *very* gently ran my bare finger over the filter while it was immersed in soapy water (one's finger is far more sensitive to dirt getting caught and dragged over the filter's surface than if I used, say, a cotton swab), rinsed the filter under running water again, rinsed the filter in a bath of clean distilled water, blew off water from the filter using a handheld blower bulb, and stood the filter on end to allow to dry.

 

The filter is now free of any fingerprints, and the forward-facing part of the filter (the side that had the metallic coatings) doesn't appear to have any damage as a result of me cleaning it.

 

I know Questar advises that the solar filter should never need cleaning and that doing so is fraught with risk. But there were a number of compelling reasons to clean it: (1) there was a profuse amount of fingerprints that a prior owner carelessly put on both sides of the filter, and I reasoned that the oils and acids in the fingerprints would probably do more damage over the long term than me cleaning it. And (2) I don't actually feel comfortable using the filter to observe the sun given the large number of pinholes in it. Being a rather paranoid solar astronomer who uses other more specialized gear, I'd probably advocate for getting a new solar filter from Questar if that scope were to function as a safe solar observing instrument. So I didn't feel too anxious about cleaning the one that came with my 1962 Questar given the fact that I would never use it to begin with.

Hi Gregory,

 

I was thinking the past year or so and I am not sure, but I wonder if solar observing through a Q is a good idea.-  I am afraid the interior would heat up causing some damage to my 1967 Q.



#20 Gregory Gross

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 11:04 PM

Matt, I think that, when used with an appropriate solar filter, the inside of your Questar shouldn’t heat up. I have a 4” Mak that I’ve used countless times with a white-light glass solar filter that fits snugly to the front of the scope, and internal heating of the OTA was never a problem.


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#21 Optics Patent

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 07:00 AM

It shouldn’t heat up any more than from viewing the full moon. Exaggerating due to infra red component but it’s no different than any object shaded behind a .9999 filter: the ambient temp will determine the temperature of the optics.

Terrestrial viewing with the sun falling on the side of the scope will have orders of magnitude greater heating by my estimation. With a filter, and aimed at the sun is safer even than with an lens cap that absorbs more than reflects.


Edited by Optics Patent, 30 May 2019 - 09:28 PM.


#22 Matt Looby

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 09:29 AM

It shouldn’t heat up any more than from viewing the full moon. Exaggerating due to infra red component but it’s no different than any object shaded behind a .9999 filter: the ambient team will determine the temperature of the optics.

Terrestrial viewing with the sun falling on the side of the scope will have orders of magnitude greater heating by my estimation. With a filter and aimed at the sun is safer even then with an lens cap that absorbs more than reflects.

Thanks!



#23 markb

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 11:23 PM

An update on my personal experiences:

 

1) Pec-Pads

 

I picked up the large size Pec-Pads (99.9999% pure. . .what ? What are they made of?? No one seems to know).

 

Very nice, essentially lint free.

 

But, no absorbency in use, so great for cleaning and dust removal, but not for helping wick oils or oil/solvent solutions off a surface, a strength of clean microfiber cloths.

 

And really great as a place to rest a bare lens while working on it, cover my favored lens/scope work support (miter box, love it for stability), support a lens while sliding it into a cell, etc.

 

Buy the large size, it really extends utility, at least for me. Worth every cent. I still use fresh microfiber cloths too for their oil lifting qualities.

 

 

2) Everclear as a cleaning solvent (food grade, cheaper than the fancy stuff with essentially the same makeup per MSDS sheets too, near zero contaminants, EtOH is a great solvent as well)

 

Everclear is not available in New York, weird.

 

Weirder, the other 4 states I go to currently all allow sale of proof liquor in supermarkets, an odd experience for me.

 

Currently in Arizona, I am working on a used C11 with disappointing performance, so the corrector was coming off.  Huffing on glass in 10% humidity AZ is not effective at all, also, the corrector has enough contaminants to make cleaning tough.

 

Wow, not only is Everclear available, they even sell it at Walmart.

 

Not having my usual stuuf, still in NY, I simply splattered some on, and microfiber toweled it across the 2 surfaces as it evaporated.  Do NOT do this on a corrector still in situ.

 

First, sloppy, try; resulted in a spotless corrector with zero smears on the coatings. All contaminants gone. Awesome.

 

If only it was legal to bring it on the plane! But I'll be relocating soon thank goodness.


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#24 BillHarris

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 10:03 AM

On a related note, I notice a little haze on the viewing right angle prism and the Barlow lens. I can only clean the "eyepiece side" without disassembly, but I wonder what to use. Q-tip and lens cleaner? Microfiber cloth wrapped around a q-tip? A small Lens Pen? The real solution will to send it in for service, but this will eliminate some of the fog I see around the Moon.

#25 markb

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 12:55 PM

Lens pen is probably not safe for wiping, too big a contamination risk, but the brush end is okay for dust on lenses. Ignore  dust on mirrors though, too soft.

 

I never had luck with a wrap-around. Using a soft rubber cement to make a microfiber tipped wand might work, but I never tried it.

 

On cuetips the underlying stick can be a danger. And not all are really pure cotton.

 

I believe Pec-Pads can be bought in a wand format, that could do it, but they are nonabsorbant.

 

Perhaps look for camera sensor cleaning wand? They are notoriously fragile and that might be a best bet. The best sensor cleaning solutions are supposed to be zero residue, as well.

 

I take things apart, but it is not for the faint of heart.




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