Using Arduino in Vacuum Chamber

I am using Arduino control power an electric propulsion thruster for my research project. Right now, the components sit outside the chamber while the thruster body works inside the chamber in the micro-pascal region. I would like to put the Arduino inside the vacuum chamber and control it wirelessly from outside the chamber. Would Arduino function at such a low pressure environment?

You might suffer some sublimation of some of the solder, or rupture of some of the voids - why not check the device specs?

The answer may depend somewhat on what packages are used on your Arduino, and how fast the pressure is going to be changed.

The answer depends not only on your Arduino, but on how you plan to communicate wirelessly. You need to check whether your wireless device will operate in such a low pressure environment.

I was just reading an article in the latest issue of QST magazine about a high school group in Texas that has sent more than one balloon to 120,000 ft or more. Each mission carried one or more Arduino and a Raspberry Pi. If your vacuum chamber going to be less pressure than that at 120,000 ft?

Also, how long do you intend to leave the little bugger in the chamber? If it’s going to be a long time and the vacuum is quite great, I am concerned the gasses and moisture in the components may damage them trying to escape the plastic component housing.

Another consideration is component cooling. There is ultimately on radiation cooling for your boards.

Paul

Hi,
If you are going to near perfect vacuum, then any fluids,gels will probably vapourize.
Electrolytic capacitors rings a bell.
Also any solder joint with air bubble in it, PCB material laminate fault,

Tom... :slight_smile:

How can anyone advise, unless you tell us which Arduino you are using ??

There are a number of issues putting components in a vacuum, careful selection of components is required.

One of my 'low cost projects' worked for 20 months in a complete vacuum, whilst being temperature cycled between -30C and +30C around 26 times a day, so it can be done.

rocketman2019:
I am using Arduino control power an electric propulsion thruster for my research project. Right now, the components sit outside the chamber while the thruster body works inside the chamber in the micro-pascal region. I would like to put the Arduino inside the vacuum chamber and control it wirelessly from outside the chamber. Would Arduino function at such a low pressure environment?

You can't, the Arduino has electrolytic capacitors on board.

Also most of the plastic components will outgas loads if not preconditioned, but Al electrolytics will
definitely evaporate, that's why they dry out with age.

For vacuum circuitry I think you'd really need special PCB, all ceramic packages, and a long outgassing
bake - its specialized stuff, although you can always experiment and maybe lucky, standard consumer
grade electronics components are designed with no consideration of hard-vacuum environment!!

I thought this was interesting with regard to resistor power ratings:

The amount of heat which air will absorb varies with the density,
and therefore with the altitude above sea level. At altitudes
above 100,000 feet, the air is so rare that the resistor loses
heat practically only by radiation.

MarkT:
You can't, the Arduino has electrolytic capacitors on board.

Not all Arduino's have electrolytics, Nano, Pro Micro, Pro Mini, WeMos D1 Mini, MKRZERO, MKR1000, Yun Mini for example.

Paul_KD7HB:
I was just reading an article in the latest issue of QST magazine about a high school group in Texas that has sent more than one balloon to 120,000 ft or more. Each mission carried one or more Arduino and a Raspberry Pi. If your vacuum chamber going to be less pressure than that at 120,000 ft?

Hard vacuum yes, the OP said micro-pascal regime, that’s 8 orders of magnitude harder vacuum… And
in a vacuum chamber outgassing is a big issue, in the upper atmosphere it is not.

Outgassing is a significant problem.

Anything plastic, connectors and insulated wires, needs to be replaced with non-gassing type; use PTFE wires for instance.

Same applies to most tapes and adhesives, you need the special hard vacuum ones.

Aluminum Electrolytics are a no-no, tantalums are OK.

FR4 PCBs are OK, but they need to be really clean.

And power ratings of components needs to be very conservative indeed, as has been mentioned there will be no convection cooling.