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Mike

Beetle Compressor with Smart-Stop (DC-25N)

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Beetle Compressor with Smart-Stop (DC-25N)

Sparmax via Air-craft.net

 

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Sparmax are a well-known brand that have been making compressors, airbrushes and related equipment for many years now, with a wide range of products.  This diminutive compressor is aimed at the modeller with either a limited budget, small available area, low noise tolerances, or a combination of all three.  Arriving in a small black box with a photo on the front alongside the Orange Sparmax branding, you realise that this isn't a heavy piece of kit.  Inside is a heap of cardboard inserts that hold the compressor in place, a box with the power supply inside, and a bag containing the clear coiled hose.  On top is a piece of foam and a short instruction booklet to complete the package.

 

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On taking the compressor out of the box you see just how small it is, measuring 12cm x 11cm x 10cm, with the latter from the front to the back of the airbrush mount that is attached to the rear and acts as an on/off switch when you place your airbrush in the cradle.  There's also a plastic-coated wire bracing support at the rear to help keep it upright without adding much bulk, which also protects the power lead from damage.  On top is a simple rotating knob that adjusts pressure, a 1/8" BSP air outlet and on/off switch on the right hand side, and that's it.  It weighs in at around 0.6kg, and the power supply is a fairly small one that plugs directly into a 3-pin socket, with around 1.5m of cord between it and the plug.  It also has a slide-off shoe with the pins, to enable the manufacturers to personalise the adapter to their market, which means that you can plug it into any supply from 100v up to 240v, either by acquiring a new shoe with suitable pin-outs, or by using a travel adapter.  The included hose is made from clear polyurethane and has a metal connector for your airbrush at the business end and another at the compressor end that has thoughtfully been provided with a larger plastic end that will make screwing it in and out again much easier.  There is no moisture trap, but you can see any moisture build-up in the hose, so can keep track on it there, or alternatively you can pick up a small in-line moisture trap to simplify the task.

 

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To start the compressor you push the large on/off switch on the right side, which lights up red when turned on.  The airbrush hook will stop the compressor when you place weight upon it, although it doesn't seem to have a noticeable switching "clunk" (I think it's an optical sensor, as evidenced by an apparent LED in the area), and if your airbrush has a MAC valve under the body, it does slightly slow you down and require a more careful aim when putting it back, but having the facility to stop & start without messing around with switches is really useful.  In operation the compressor is quiet enough that it won't spoil your music, and could easily be used in the next room to someone sleeping as long as they're not a very light sleeper.  The vibrations from the motor are damped by the four rubbery feet, which are pointed and deform slightly when the weight of the compressor goes on them.  They might be sorbothane or similar, but I have no way of testing that.

 

Although you can't check the exact PSI at which you're spraying, the maximum output is 30psi (2.1bar), and it can shift 0.21cfm at around 10psi.  It's not going to win any records for throughput, but then in airbrushing it's seldom figures such as this that are overly important.  Its quietness and compactness are key points, and in each of those it excels.  The airbrush hook sometimes takes a fraction of a second to detect the reduction in light to the sensor, but that's hardly surprising when you consider the ambient light in your average room, and once you know this can happen occasionally, you don't pause for thought.  Its small size and weight can turn into an impediment if you are a little clumsy like I am, and without thinking (I wasn't spraying in my usual place), I pulled too hard on the coiled hose, causing the compressor to topple off my desk.  Totally my fault, but something worth bearing in mind.  The casing survived unscathed however, which was both good news and a surprise, as it fell onto a hard floor with quite a crack.

 

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I've used it to spray some fairly detailed parts of my model, getting primer and paint into complex areas, and all this time I didn't notice any pulsing, which is due to the length of hose that is included with the unit absorbing the pressure changes so that by the time it reaches the business end there's a pretty smooth flow coming out of your airbrush.

 

 

Conclusion

This is a compressor for a niche market.  It's not for someone with a full set up, and it couldn't blow up your car tyres, but that's not what it's intended for.  What it is good for is the beginner airbrush user who doesn't want to waste money on endless air cans, for the modeller with very limited space, and for those of us that need to airbrush in less noise tolerant environments.  The inclusion of the hose and that handy start/stop brush hanger makes it quite a tempting proposition for any of those folks, as all you have to provide is the airbrush, paint and of course the creative urge.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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