Wednesday, August 2, 2006

High Voltage Power Lines and Digital Cameras

Hey . . . you take a lot of pics and get home to find out your images are all gone?

Well, that happened to me. Was up at Scenic Hot Springs with a friend and left me camera in my car . . . parked under the BPA power lines. Get back home to download some good photos I'd taken only to find that the camera wants to format the memory card. Panic.

Yank the card from the camera and try to explore it in the card reader of the laptop. Same thing. Card is unformatted, would I like to format it now. Even trying to mount it as a raw Linux device would let me explore bit-by-bit. The card was totally corrupted. What happened?

Got to thinking about it afterward . . . after getting over losing some 60 odd images. The day was a freaky thuderstorm/showers day. I'm quite familiar with the electromagnetic emmisions from the power lines (having had my compass gone haywire and the GPS totally confused while beneath those high-voltage lines). But I never thought about the memory card in my camera. Perhaps I expected the metal shell of the car to shield it (a faraday cage, if you wish). Nonetheless, the images were gone and a format required. The only reasonable explanation is for a power surge (lightening?) to have sent just enough magnetic moment through the metal shell of the car 65 ft below to corrupt the card.

So, I'm going to think twice about being anywhere near a power line when thunderstorms are about. And my camera ain't staying in the car like that.


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