[Reminder] Avoid exposing your electronics to extreme cold weather


JJLoke

New Member
Aug 2, 2009
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#1
Was attending my tutorial today when my lecturer raise a question on the phenomenon of tin degradation in electronics.

Basically all electronic components are soldered. Solder contains tin and lead. Both of these are mixed together to give it a low melting point suitable for soldering.

Lead free solder contains copper or silver based on RoHS compliance.

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Pure tin under cold temperature < -20 degrees C, will undergo allotropic transformation from beta form to alpha form.

You can check out the video on 'tin pest'

It is relatively safe in modern solders as other elements are added to tin to greatly inhibit the transformation at low temperature, although it still takes place.

If you are planning to go overseas to a very cold country, try to keep electronic devices from the extreme cold for too long.
 

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Rashkae

Senior Member
Nov 28, 2005
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#2
Rather than posting something that will just start a whole new wave of "how to I mollycuddle my DSLR like Tofu" threads, why don't you just read the existing Sticky on taking DSLR cameras to cold weather countries?

FYI, I've taken my camera to colder places - much colder. There's never been any issue with tin soldering, although users of a Certain brand have had their shutters freeze.

In cold weather, battery performance is your main concern with a DSLR camera. Believe me, the DSLR camera will generally last a lot longer than the user in cold weather.
 

JJLoke

New Member
Aug 2, 2009
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#3
Yes they are designed for cold weather, what Im saying is to take better care for these type of inevitable degradation.

Devices that do not fail under such circumstances does not mean that degradation does not happen.

-It may take years for fungus to grow on lens
-It may take years for solder to degrade

-Putting the lens into the dry box after use delay the fungus growth significantly
-Putting the electronics away safely after use from extreme temperatures delay the degradation significantly
 

chris0804

New Member
Jun 1, 2009
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Jakarta
#4
Everything will degrade over the years. I believe that the process of solders degrading will not be as fast as your current camera/equipments being obsolete. It is more likely that one change /upgrade to another model even before the camera has the chance to degrade, regardless of whether it is brought into the cold or not.

Cheers
 

kei1309

Senior Member
Apr 12, 2010
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#5
Rather than posting something that will just start a whole new wave of "how to I mollycuddle my DSLR like Tofu" threads, why don't you just read the existing Sticky on taking DSLR cameras to cold weather countries?

FYI, I've taken my camera to colder places - much colder. There's never been any issue with tin soldering, although users of a Certain brand have had their shutters freeze.

In cold weather, battery performance is your main concern with a DSLR camera. Believe me, the DSLR camera will generally last a lot longer than the user in cold weather.
i think... you've mentioned this before...

"then how do people living in cold countries take photographs?"
 

Rashkae

Senior Member
Nov 28, 2005
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#6
i think... you've mentioned this before...

"then how do people living in cold countries take photographs?"
Yup exactly. Plus let's not forget where they are designed...
 

CamInit

New Member
Nov 3, 2009
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#7
I think it depends on how low is the cold temperature and the environmental variations. Short period (as in days) shouldn't be a problem to most folks. There's an eskimo posting on FM/POTN forums. Temp go as low as something like -60? He can't rely on digital so uses film and invents his own processes.
 

Octarine

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 3, 2008
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Pasir Ris
#8
From Wikipedia: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Tin
Commercial grades of tin (99.8%) resist transformation because of the inhibiting effect of the small amounts of bismuth, antimony, lead, and silver present as impurities.
Wondering what the guys in Siberia do. Watching the Tin Pest crawling along their equipment in Winter?
 

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JJLoke

New Member
Aug 2, 2009
177
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#9
Large changes in different temperature, eg from -30c to +25c within a short period of time can degrade solder joints in about 2 years.

Small changes, eg from -30c to -10c has a way much slower effect.
 

Etna-sama

New Member
Aug 18, 2010
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#10
Large changes in different temperature, eg from -30c to +25c within a short period of time can degrade solder joints in about 2 years.

Small changes, eg from -30c to -10c has a way much slower effect.
I'm very certain DSLR OEMs and designers are smart enough to take that into account during the camera's design process. And let's not forget the electrical engineers and technicians who know everything about the weather's effect on electricity and soldering coils like the back of their hand

End of the day, your camera is not tofu. Maybe a cheap compact PnS or low-end superzoom might experience degradation, but they can definitely last long enough to meet or outlive an expended 3-yr warranty even under that kind of abrupt temperature change.
 

Octarine

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 3, 2008
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#11
Large changes in different temperature, eg from -30c to +25c within a short period of time can degrade solder joints in about 2 years.
Small changes, eg from -30c to -10c has a way much slower effect.
How many people will spend 2 years in such conditions with daily (or hourly?) changes in temperatures? Even in Siberia they have Summer time.
So there is no need to be concerned for all moderate clime zones. Average Joe's Winter holidays ususally last 2 weeks at maximum, maybe every third year.
Conclusion: nice to know, but finally irrelevant for the majority of people here or even in colder climates.
 

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