Re: Back from my first ever desert vacation
Posted: Sun May 03, 2009 6:54 am
I still think it's not such a good idea to take a laptop or your Epson storave viewer into the desert with you. Even if you have them in ruggedized carry cases, the heat can still fry them rather quickly.Desert Cruiser wrote:Willcad: That post about the laptop was directed to Reptilist but I agree with you on the use of them in the desert. However I built a case out of an Aluminum case with foam padding (with nipples) for the inside and it has a good seal. We have used it in the desert and on trips but now have a 40gig Epson storage and viewer unit that runs on rechargeable Lithium Ion battery and AC for storing photos on a trip. Plus nowdays memory cards are so cheap you can have 6 - 1 gig. cards of for next to nothing. Back to the cameras -- the most important thing is a good lens. And for the Canons I really like the 17 - 40 L f4 and the 300 f4 IS lens the most. I have a 70 - 200 f4 L and 50 f1.4 and hardly every use them. The 17 - 40 is a great walk around lens, and nice for landscapes.
As for the 4x5 camera, I don't know what comes with that. Call their 800 number and ask? But that would be a brick to haul around. Getting prints done wouldn't be cheap either. There are no negatives with digital!
Ambient heat in the desert varies with time of year and time of day, but even if you keep the devices under wraps during the day and only use them in the cooler night temps, you still have a problem - the heat that they generate themselves.
Internal heat requires ventilation. And ventilation requires the devices to be removed from their protective cases. And once out of the protective cases, they will have to draw fresh air in and blow hot air out. And when they draw fresh air in, they'll also draw in dust, which will then cake the PCBs inside, eventually building up a blanket that will hold in the internal heat and fry them (side note - this happens in indoor, climate-controlled environments, too, just not as fast, which is why it's necessary to open the case of all electronics periodically and blow accumulated dust out with canned air).
Aside from the internal heat problem, if you store a device in a sealed, insulated (*any kind of padding will also act as insulation) container, the heat of the day will build up inside the device, even if the device is off. During the hottest part of the year, when temps in the desert exceed 100-degrees, the temps inside your padded containers can get even hotter if the containers are in direct sunlight (same as a car parked in the sun will get hotter than the ambient temp around it). This heat is the most dangerous; it can get hot enough inside electronics to soften solder and loosen connections, or deform plastic or silicon components (ever see a plastic car dash deformed by excessive heat?)
To be honest, I had serious trepidation about even taking my digital camera into the desert, since it's black and would get pretty hot under the sun. But since thousands of people take DSLRs into the desert every year, and failures don't appear to be epidemic (though they do happen), I figured I'd be okay for a week-long trip during the cooler spring period that I went. My camera did get hot to the touch while I was hiking in direct sunlight, but no more than it does when I spend a day at Walt Disney World in Orlando, so I guess that DSLRs are tough enough to take a little heat.
Computers, however, are a horse of a different color, and I'd never take my laptop on a desert excursion. I don't own one of those Epson photo viewers, so I don't know how well they'd hold up to the rigors. I wonder if there has ever been sustantial testing of those devices in hostile environments?