How to Protect Your Video Shopping Equipment

You’ve done four or five video shops and have made the decision that video shopping is something you want to add to your mystery shopping repertoire. So you’ve invested the $600-$800 in a new PV-500 rig. How do you protect that investment?

Electronics have three main enemies, heat, moisture, and shock [impact]. In protecting your equipment, those are the three main things to bear in mind. The box that you received your purchase in can be a good temporary storage unit, but a long term storage solution is what is really needed.

I had a 30-year old American Tourister hardshell briefcase which I wasn’t using anymore. I felt it would make a good beginning for a permanent home for my PV-500, and there would be plenty of room for a second PV-500 in the near future.

The first thing I did, as shown in this photo, was to dry-fit everything in the briefcase. The two large pill bottles I offered to purchase from a local pharmacy; the pharmacist gave them to me. They serve as storage for my SD cards. Note that the cards are kept in their own cases, even though they are stored in the pill bottles. The bottles are labeled, one for blank cards, the other for cards that have recordings on them. The PV-500 stores in its own case that fits on your belt along with the 7-hour battery. The two reusable containers held lunch meat. I washed them thoroughly. One now holds the spare button camera, along with the strip of button covers. The second one holds the charger[s] for the PV-500, as well as the charger for my cell phone when I’m on the road. The only thing missing from this picture that will be in the final product is the power strip.

This case will satisfy these three requirements. The hardshell case will afford some impact resistance. Additional resistance will be offered by the foam rubber insert which will have cut outs for the containers and the PV-500 and the extra batteries.

Resistance from heat is provided by keeping this in the passenger compartment of your car. As long as you’re comfortable, you can be fairly certain that your electronics are also comfortable. After each shop, remove the PV-500 you’re your pocket. In addition to giving you the opportunity to visually verify that you’ve stopped recording, you can place the unit back in its pocket and just latch one latch on the case. That will secure it enough to hold things securely, yet will also allow for some air circulation.

Protection from humidity is provided simply by keeping the case inside. Most homes have enough climate control to keep the humidity low enough to not cause any problems. I do have a packet of silica gel that I keep in the container that has the button cameras, just to buy some insurance. You could achieve the same thing by punching three or four holes in the top of each container.

Before installing the foam, take a rag with some rubbing alcohol and wash out the inside of the case. A hardshell case like this was most likely injection molded and, by wiping it down with the alcohol, you can remove the traces of the mold release agent.

The next picture shows the foam cut to fit the briefcase. I again dry fit everything to make sure I have enough room for everything, including the power strip. I know some of you are thinking, “Why a power strip?” When you’re on the road and having to spend the night in a hotel, sometimes you’ll discover a lack of power outlets. This way you can unplug a light, if need be, plug in the power strip, and you’re in business being able to recharge your batteries, or even possibly giving you the extra few feet to be able to plug in your laptop from the desk. I cut the foam slightly oversized so it’s held in place simply by the pressure. The piece that goes in the lid is also held in place by pressure. I left the strap across the lid to assist in keeping the foam in place. I glued the power strip in place with a panel adhesive. I coil the strip’s cord around the perimeter of the top and friction holds it in place.

I roughly marked the locations of everything with a Sharpie and used an Xacto knife to cut the foam. The cutouts that hold the standard batteries for the PV-500 are simply just a cut in the foam—friction holds the batteries in place. As long as I was in a cutting mood, I went ahead and made the second cutout for the backup PV-500.

This picture shows the case with everything in it. I added a cutout for my digital voice recorder since I had the available space. By having everything in one package, I don’t have to worry about forgetting something

When I started researching this article, it was still fairly warm, and I forgot one other hazard—static electricity. If you’re touching doorknobs and getting shocked, a bottle of hand moisturizer would be a good accessory. Use it—sparingly—before handling your SD cards for an extra bit of insurance in protecting your recordings.

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