CompactFlash card takes licking, keeps ticking

Bridge demolition destroys digital camera, but CompactFlash card hangs on to bridge's final moments.

Don Frazier is glad he wasn't any closer to his camera when it shot a photo of a local bridge demolition.


Earlier this month, 50-year-old Frazier was assigned by the Southeast Missourian newspaper to take photos of the dismantling of a section of a highway bridge along the Mississippi River. He set up three digital cameras, about 240 feet away from the bridge, on the Missouri side of the river in Cape Girardeau, Mo. That was too close, as two of the cameras were damaged and a third was totally destroyed--but not before capturing images of the bridge's final moments.

The 256MB SanDisk CompactFlash card used in the camera survived the blast and stored the images until Frazier could later download them to his PC. The cards are solid-state media, which means that the circuits are made of solid materials and have no moving parts.

"After looking at the camera, I was amazed that the card worked," Frazier said. "The card was literally blown out of the camera and was sitting a foot away from what was left of the camera."

City officials and some of the demolition crew wanted onlookers at least 800 feet away, but Frazier's remote controls for the cameras only had a range of 600 feet.

He worked it out, signing several waivers and agreeing to stand behind some construction equipment so that he could be close enough to activate his cameras. He felt the blast.

"The pressure from the explosion had to go somewhere, so it followed the path of least resistance, which was on level with where my cameras were set up," Frazier said.

The pressure created from 600 pounds of dynamite exploding caused about $15,000 worth of damage to Frazier's gear.

Frazier was so impressed by the durability of the card that he notified SanDisk, and the company announced the survival of the card Tuesday. Frazier received a few CompactFlash cards and a USB flash drive from the company.