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More SATA adapter fires!

Following my post last year about the Molex-SATA adapter fire in my home-cinema PC, many people have contacted me telling me about their similar experiences.

Arto Nupponen has a particularly interesting case, and I’ve reproduced his photos here with his permission. Arto had a Molex-SATA adapter where only the 5V rails were being used. As with all the others, this eventually started to burn up and melt the plastic housing. Arto was using a better quality PSU than the average consumer units, and so it possibly cut-out more quickly which could explain why this one hasn’t burned quite so badly as the others.

SATA fire

 

These adapters generally split a Molex power connector into two SATA power connectors. Arto even experienced some SATA connectors burning up when they weren’t connected to a device! Interestingly, his company were able to put some of the adapters into an x-ray machine, and here is what they look like:

SATA fire

 

It seems the copper somehow “grows” through the plastic and eventually shorts the conductors together. The cause may be impurities in the plastic, but I’m not really sure exactly how the process occurs.

Anyone have any comments on what might be happening here?

2 Comments

  1. Arto says:

    I’ve learned a bit more about this now.
    The phenomenon is know as electromigration. The results from material analyzation was that there was a gold plating to prevent this but it was too thin to be effective.

  2. Steven Hale says:

    Thanks for the update Arto! I’ve always considered gold-plated connectors to be mostly unnecessary and something that is just done to make them look “pretty” and therefore more expensive.

    Good to know it’s supposed to help prevent problems like this. I’ll bear that in mind in future. If you find anything else out, do carry on keeping me updated!

    Thanks,

    Steve.

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