Extending the life of a camcorder through refrigeration?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Doc, Dec 21, 2004.

  1. Doc

    Doc Guest

    Since I just had one 8mm camcorder go bad, ostensibly due to electrolytic
    caps going out, I wonder if there's anything that can be done to extend the
    life of the components. Would storing a camcorder in a thermal bag in the
    refrigerator during periods of non-use have any obvious good or bad effect?

    Doc, Dec 21, 2004
    1. Advertisements

  2. Doc

    fcassia Guest

    I would not advice anyone to put ANY electronics inside a refrigerator.
    Would you store your camcorder under water?

    The only solution to bad capacitors is to replace them. I suggest you
    visit this url:

    fcassia, Dec 21, 2004
    1. Advertisements

  3. Doc

    nappy-iou Guest

    nappy-iou, Dec 21, 2004
  4. Doc

    Tim Wescott Guest

    I think it would cause you far more problems with condensation than it
    would save you from bad electrolytics.
    Tim Wescott, Dec 21, 2004
  5. If you store it in a hermetic container, add some rice/si gell to mop up water
    if you live in the south, it most likely won't do any harm. But I am not sure
    it will do any good. From what I remember on electrolytic failure modes most
    of the wear out is with the power on. If they just sit there they are in
    danger of drying out over the decades, so high humidity may help.

    I doubt if you will see an difference in reliability - it would take analysis
    of failure rates and causes for 100 camcorders with refrigeration Vs 100
    kept in the hall closet to prove any effect.

    I would settle your mind:

    1) Electrolytics don't wear out in storage.

    2) There were batches of bad electrolytics in the early 90's when China
    first started to make them. Recently there have been no problems.
    I don't know that any of the bad ones were surface mount, all/most
    were cans rated at much higher voltage for the size than any
    Japanese or US caps.

    3) It may not be an electrolytic that failed: if the repairman was able to
    isolate the failed cap then he would/could have replaced it for $0.50.
    Experience says you probably got the run-around from the repair man, seeing
    as how things like miniature camcorders tend to be unrepairable anyway.

    Conclusion: Keep the 'corder in the closet.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Dec 21, 2004
  6. Doc

    James Sweet Guest

    Store it in a cool, dry place. I don't recommend the refrigerator as
    condensation will be an issue when you take it out to use it. The cold won't
    hurt it, I store plenty of equipment in my garage where it gets down near
    freezing regularly in the winter, but I don't tend to power anything up
    until it's warmed. Excessive heat will dry up the capacitors quicker but you
    don't have to keep them cold, just don't leave it in the trunk of your car
    in the hot sun or a hot upstairs closet in the summer. Human-comfortable
    temperatures are generally comfortable for your equipment as well.
    James Sweet, Dec 21, 2004
  7. Doc

    ato_zee Guest

    I have had items written off due to cracking of brass
    interference fit parts at sub-zero temperatures. I assume it
    was hard brass and that there was stress from the interference
    fit to start with. Possibly one part was heated then force
    fitted, whereupon the additional cooling knackered it.
    Repair worked out quite expensive.
    ato_zee, Dec 21, 2004
  8. Doc

    James Sweet Guest

    Sub-zero is one thing, but we're talking about refrigerator temperatures
    here. Your main enemy with anything getting very cold is the stresses of
    cooling down and warming up, particularly very large temp swings.
    James Sweet, Dec 21, 2004
  9. Most electrolytic caps are endurance/shelf tested at 85C. Room
    temperatures aren't going to affect them very much, I think.

    Robert Monsen

    "Your Highness, I have no need of this hypothesis."
    - Pierre Laplace (1749-1827), to Napoleon,
    on why his works on celestial mechanics make no mention of God.
    Robert Monsen, Dec 21, 2004
  10. Doc

    Andy Cuffe Guest

    They seem to have solved the problem that cuaed the caps to leak. I
    haven't seen wide spread SMD electrolytic failure in anything made
    Andy Cuffe
    Andy Cuffe, Dec 21, 2004
  11. Doc

    James Sweet Guest

    Has it been long enough to know yet? When I've ordered replacement caps I
    was somewhat shocked at the lifetime ratings, many of them are only rated
    2-3k hours, only a couple times longer than the average life of a common
    incandescent lightbulb.
    James Sweet, Dec 21, 2004
  12. Doc

    Harvey Guest

    Me neither - even camcorders I've recapped years ago are still going strong
    (which is either good or bad depending on how you look at it).
    One thing that does help is to actually USE the camcorder rather then just
    let it sit about gathering dust, being pressed into service at Christmas and
    the odd birthday party. That type of use gives the caps all the time they
    need to for the electrolyte to break down - and once its then powered up
    again the liquid almost boils and consequently leaks.

    But its not as much of a problem these days - just the odd bad batches of
    leaky caps that ruin motherboards...

    Harvey, Dec 21, 2004
  13. Doc

    David Chien Guest

    The cycling of electronic components and boards will probably do just as
    much damage as keeping it out of the fridge.

    I'd store the camcorder in a sealed vapor proof bag along with a
    dessicant to keep the humidity away in a temperature and humidity
    controlled environment (or just a cool place).

    I would not worry too much -- camcorders were designed to go thousands
    of hours, and you can expect most to last years under good care and use.

    Also, with new DV camcorders going for as low as $150, why worry too
    much? (www.fatwallet.com/forums/ -> old VL-Z3U thread)
    David Chien, Dec 21, 2004
  14. Doc

    Guy Macon Guest

    We know not because of testing, but because we know what the problem
    was. A Chinese capacitor manufacturer stole an electrolyte formula
    from another Chinese capacitor manufacturer and got the wrong formula.
    Now everyone is back to formulas that have been is service for many
    years, so that particular problem is gone.
    First of all those ratings are for how long it will take for the
    capacitance to drop below the rated capacitance, not how long
    before it fails. Your circuit may work fine at 50% capacitance.

    Second, the life time is the time the capacitor will perform
    within the stated specification (usually ±20% of the initial
    capacitance) at the maximum rated voltage ripple current and
    temperature. When operating at temperatures below the maximum
    rated temperature, the life expectancy of the component will
    roughly double for every ten degrees C lower than the rated temperature.

    For example:

    2,000 hours at 105 degrees C
    4,000 hours at 95 degrees C
    8,000 hours at 85 degrees C
    16,000 hours at 75 degrees C
    32,000 hours at 65 degrees C
    64,000 hours at 55 degrees C
    128,000 hours at 45 degrees C (14 years+)
    256,000 hours at 35 degrees C (28 years+)

    Also, the life increases if the applied voltage is less than the
    rated voltage, down to 60-79% of the rated voltage. A typical
    figure is eight times the life at 60% voltage.

    Having a low ripple current and not having voltage spikes helps,
    as does avoiding long (years) periods at zero volts.
    Guy Macon, Dec 21, 2004
  15. Don't do it. If nothing else, thermal cycling can cause things to loosen.
    L David Matheny, Dec 22, 2004
  16. Doc

    Jeff Rigby Guest

    leaks the electrolyte. Military and most automotive electronics use caps
    that are sealed in plastic (longer life and higher useable temp range).
    Jeff Rigby, Dec 22, 2004
  17. Doc

    Mike Guest

    Condensation will wreak havoc on internal workings of a camcorder when you
    remove it from the freezer.
    Mike, Dec 22, 2004
  18. Doc

    Big Bill Guest

    It's the other way around - they leak because they go bad.
    The problem isn't with the cases, it's with the electrolyte itself;
    the bad ones are made using an incomplete formula that was stolen by a
    stupid thief.
    Big Bill, Dec 22, 2004
  19. Doc

    Owamanga Guest

    Wow. I lean new stuff every day. The question is, does my brain need
    to be filled up with stuff like this?
    Owamanga, Dec 22, 2004
  20. Doc

    Tim Wescott Guest

    No, do not fill your brain with capacitor electrolyte, either the good
    stuff or the stuff missing the secret ingredient.
    Tim Wescott, Dec 22, 2004
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.