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Gold Fingers and Oxidation

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by EastCoasthandle, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. EastCoasthandle

    EastCoasthandle New Member

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    Do we really need to clean the gold fingers of our video, sound card, ram, etc if you find any unusual marks or oxidation? This is something I like to know more about because its not something that I've considered in sometime now.

    From what I know those gold fingers are suppose to be oxidation proof. I was having sound card problems and couldn't solve it. So as a last resort I took out the sound card to inspect it. I noticed something on the gold fingers that dulled the shine. It was some sort of residue or film. I couldn't tell you what it was. However, I found that cleaning the gold fingers of my sound card has fixed the problem I had with it by wiping them clean.


    I wouldn't recommend doing this unless the equiptment in your PC case is at least 1 year old. Anything new shouldn't require this IMO and you are experiencing a problem in which this would be a last resort. Does anyone have any information about this?
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2009
  2. sneekypeet

    sneekypeet Unpaid Babysitter Staff Member

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    IDK if it even matters but I give mine a wipe with alcohol when I clean the fan (maintanence).

    The dullness gets caused from the rubbing on the slot itself I think, but gunk can build up, especially in a smokers house.
     
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  3. Binge

    Binge Overclocking Surrealism

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    EastCoasthandle says thanks.
  4. IggSter

    IggSter

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    Well i can hopefully explain a little:

    Yes Gold is a very stable metal and thus does not oxidise, however the gold used on mainstream connectors is by no means 100% pure thus is subject to some oxidation. To compound this the connectors are gold plated (vary vary sparingly) so after you have plugged them in and out a couple of times the contact points will invariably be down to the base metal (steel/alum??)

    For further complications if the socket base metal is diff from the plug base metal you can get what is known as a sacrificial pairing and corrosion will be seen. (this method is used in ships with steel hulls...blocks of zinc are bolted to the hull to prevent the steel from rusting...the zinc sacrifices itself to protect the steel)
     
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  5. department76

    department76 New Member

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    iggstyer is speaking of "cathodic protection," while accurate, i'm not sure how useful the actual chemistry really is in this situation :laugh: for such corrosion to take place, a cation and anion must be present. copper & aluminum are cations, gold is itself to be considered differently since it is so molecularly stable and doesn't fall much either way of being too positive or too negativley charged.

    anyhow lol--
    i'd consider it to be either grime from dust & oil, or dust from a connector being used multiple times, causing the surface of some contacts to wear down (as someone else mentioned). i don't think it's a big deal, just wipe 'em off and you'r good to go.

    i'm also sure that this has beena known problem for decades, i still have the cartridge cleaning kit for my NES, which consisted of a plastic wand with cotton on the end that you simply poured rubbing alcohol on :biggrin:
     
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  6. IggSter

    IggSter

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    Thanks for the clarification department76.

    My point was that it is not useful when speaking in terms of connectors.

    When you have two metals with different properties in contact, add an electric current, add some humidity/oils etc and one metal will corrode.

    My understanding is that in order to gain any benefit from gold plated connectors:

    1. both socket and plug need to be plated
    2. plating has to be thick enough to withstand insertion wear
    3. plating has to be of a certain % of gold/silver
    4. the equipment should be of high enough quality to benefit from the "cleaner signal"
     
  7. Walkauai New Member

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    About 15 years ago I bought a 50ml bottle of Stabilant 22A and the stuff really did work as advertised. It's solved many problems over the years. I've still got enough left in that bottle to last several more years.

    About a year ago someone suggested I try a product called DeoxIT. I found some at Radio Shack. It's also easy to find on the internet but I didn't want to wait. Two small aerosol cans for $15, one expressly for gold contacts and one for everything else. It's supposed to clean the contacts and leave a film that makes for a better contact, one with less resistance. I have a 10X loupe I inspect my contacts with and I can see the stuff does work. You'd be amazed at what you can see through a 10X magnifier. If you take your work seriously you should have one.

    It could be that just a regular contact cleaner would work just as well but when you figure the cost per application and the research the company put into their product, I'm willing to spend a little more to not only solve hard to find electrical problems, but prevent them from happening in the first place.

    I don't know what's in them but the Stabilant 22A smells of isopropol alcohol. That's probably the carrier plus the proprietary cleaner/protectant.

    Both products sell smaller and cheaper containers. I can tell you that 50ml of Stabilant 22A goes a long way. Google both products and decide for yourself what you think is best. I'll continue using both until I find out which one is best.
     
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  8. EastCoasthandle

    EastCoasthandle New Member

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    I have DeoxIT via small bottle with a brush attached to the cap. I also have the spray can but it's for different use. The stuff is pretty expensive but does work. But this is something you would rarely need for your PC components IMO.

    In any case thanks for the info guys...
     
  9. Zubasa

    Zubasa

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    Most of the internal contacts/conductors in electronic is Electrum which is an alloy of mainly Gold and Silver.

    Electrum is only used in the most important contacts such as the pins of a CPU, because gold and silver are expensive.
    Pure Gold is also too soft for anything useful.

    As most people should know, silver do oxidize.
     
  10. EastCoasthandle

    EastCoasthandle New Member

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    BF2; No more CTD

    I decided to clean out the gold fingers on my ram as there were a very thin layer of film using DeoxIT and got an unexpected surprise. I am no longer seeing CTD when playing BF2. I play 2 1/2 rounds and no kicks so far. I recall that BF2 is a memory intensive game and, recall some fixing their CTD problems by switching ram sticks or getting different ram. There maybe some truth to that. However, I will play more BF2 a few more rounds later on to see what develops.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2009
  11. hat

    hat Enthusiast

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    Some informative stuff in this thread. Great first post!
     
    Crunching for Team TPU
  12. [Ion]

    [Ion] WCG Team Assistant

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    I wipe the gold fingers down with isopropyl alcohol maybe every 6 months or one year, so far I haven't had any problems that this has fixed, but it's more of a regular maintenance thing ;)
     
    Crunching for Team TPU
  13. beyond_amusia

    beyond_amusia New Member

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    I have not really heard anyone suggesting that the fingers need to be cleaned on RAM or add-in cards for several years (~2003) and I personally don't bother with it because I am not one of those people that just HAS to rebuild their computer every few days. =P
     
  14. [I.R.A]_FBi

    [I.R.A]_FBi New Member

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    I used an eraser and voila ...
     
  15. EastCoasthandle

    EastCoasthandle New Member

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    Even if you do not own any special cleaners the goal is to remove that film off the gold fingers. Albeit a cotton cloth should also work.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2009
  16. [I.R.A]_FBi

    [I.R.A]_FBi New Member

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    Im afraid of static hence wh i use teh erazers
     
  17. Walkauai New Member

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    A 10X loupe is a very handy little item to have in your tool kit. It will reveal problems not visible to the naked eye. I recently found a tiny finger of corrosion extending from one contact to its neighbor on a graphics card. Once I removed it (broke that contact) I eliminated the problem that had plagued this computer.

    Connectors are commonly made of base metals; brass, phosphor bronze, and beryllium copper. Choice is made on the basis of best combination of mechanical and electrical properties.

    A major consideration in choosing the composition of the contacts is usage. Is it a "fit and forget" or say a Compact Flash card that will go in and out of a camera many times? Something like an Ethernet card or a graphics card lies somewhere in between.

    Pure gold is too soft for industrial use, so it is alloyed with other elements to increase durability and resistance to wear. Using electroplating, connector manufacturers typically offer products with a wide range of gold thicknesses. Gold flash, low gold (10-15 microinches), and high gold (30-50 microinches). Given that a human hair is 1,500 microinches thick, these are extremely thin layers of protection. Over time, with thermal cycling, the base metals can migrate and contaminate the gold plating. A disreputable manufacturer may save a nickel per card by not plating a nickel barrier between the base metal and gold to prevent this migration. It does make a difference from whom you get your parts.

    Also, a part made to "fit and forget" specs (like memory modules) can develop problems if removed and reinserted too many times. That is where a 10X loupe comes in handy. You can easily see if the gold plating has worn through and become a site for corrosion formation.

    That little loupe will pay for itself the first time you solve a problem that was not visible to the naked eye.
     
  18. [I.R.A]_FBi

    [I.R.A]_FBi New Member

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    loupe?
     
  19. Walkauai New Member

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  20. Walkauai New Member

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    Available all over the web.
     
  21. EastCoasthandle

    EastCoasthandle New Member

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    Hmm, never heard of loupe for the use of gold fingers. Do you have a guide for those using it for the 1st time?
     

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