Cold Weather Concerns for AV Technicians

(Video transcript) Hi. Paul Donovan here. Thank you for watching one of my videos. This is the channel where you can tips and trick on how to be an AV Technician.

You are probably wondering why am I standing outside here in the cold? Trying to make a video? Well I'd like to talk today a little bit about how AV Technicians have to deal with the cold. And how it affects our electronics.

When you are working in the cold electronic equipment tends to work a little bit differently. You have to make more planning and more thinking about what you're going to do as you are working with all the electronics.

So here today I'm here in Vancouver. January 2017. Vancouver normally does not have snow. If you look behind me you can see whole bunch of snow behind me. We're having a great opportunty to have snow. So why not talk about cold weather electronics in the world of AV.

Technology does not work well in the cold. Electronics, the various parts that are inside. electronic devices they don't like to get cold. If you remember you basic science when things get cold they expand. And when things get hot they contract, ... is that how it works? Yes. As things get cold they to expand. And as a result a variety of the parts in things like cameras and electronics. Everything from circuit boards with tend to have a lot of plastic and copper and wire and solder. All sorts of things. You want to pay attention that you keep your equipment warm. Some equipment runs, just by the fact that it runs, generates heat. That might a lot in some equipment the heat itself will just keep it warm when it's operating. But when it's not operating, when its turned off, equipment can freeze up just like the operators can.

I'll tell you a story about an event I did a few years ago. I had to set a set of speakers and a PA system on the top of a hill. For a grand opening announcement. There was two feet of snow. This was quite a challenge. Just getting to the place requirement for me to get up there. I had to be bundled up in my big coat and my leggings and everything. Be prepared for a day in the cold. I also had to think about the equipment. There was no place for the equipment to stay warm once it got up there. I had to keep the time from when I took it from the warm transportation out into the cold I had to find a way to be that that also was kept warm. So it would operate best.

I needed to run speakers, I had to run four speakers. You have two kinds of speakers. Passive speakers, which have no power, and powered speakers that have power. I did not like the idea of running power cords around to the speakers, running through the snow so we instead chose to use passive speakers. The cable that runs the sound from the amplifier is a very low wattage, a very low voltage, and generally speaking cannot be too badly affected if there's moisture or wetness to get into the cable. Shorting out things is not as bad when you are using a passive speaker.

Every time I had a coupler I made sure I wrapped the coupler with cloth tape (gaff tape) or even PVC tape. In fact PVC might be better cuz it's more waterproof. Gaff tape is a cloth tape and might actually absorb some water. But it was very important and because I had snow, as opposed to puddles and water, I made sure I laid all the cables on top of the snow. A very important thing to do.

Then back where the tech setup. They had nicely put up a canopy over top of me so that I didn't have snow. Believe it or not it was slightly snowing. I didn't have snow landing on the equipment. The table you use also is very important. That day I had a plastic table with folding legs. So the plastic table would not have a current conduction and it would also not be metal so it would not pass additional cold that would be passed through to the equipment.

AC Power is always a problem when you are outside with equipment. AC and water do not work together very well. In this case we were running off a generator so we made sure we used very well grounded cabling that we ran from the generator to the tech table. All the connections were very well grounded. Make sure the 3rd prong is in place. I didn't want to get shocked and I didn't want the equipment to get shorted out. It was a long ways back to the shop to get replacement equipment. Also bear in mind that you have to deal with the AC power. You want to keep the AC power, again have the connections are well taped and covered. so that they are not exposed, so no water can get into the connection and possibly create a shock/short. When working in snow, where possible, lay cables on top of the snow. Then you to have less risk of snow and water getting into your cables and connections.

As you can see working in the winter the cold is also something you want to pay very close attention to. Yes the equipment runs warm and can probably self-heat itself to a certain extent. But not all equipment actually generates heat to allow it operate.

Safety. So always be sure that your equipment is always working as smoothly as possible. By the way, another thing to bear in mind is cables. You have this cable here that is attached to the microphone. It's wrapped in a rubbery-like material. Inside aluminum or copper wire. Each of those things also are affected differently by the amount of expansion. When this cable gets cold you'll find it's very easy for it get brittle. When it gets brittle things can break. You don't want that to happen to your cables. Just like the speaker wires, just like the AC wires, if you've got a cable, any kind of cable, try to keep it out of the wet as best as you can. Keep it from getting too cold. Or if you have no choice then run it through and try not to do a lot of moving and bending. You never know if it will get so cold that it will become brittle and break.

This is Paul Donovan from Please check out our website at Subscribe to this channel to keep up with what's happening in the world of AV technicians. Thank you for watching.

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