DSLR Cooling

This is where this blog started… DSLR Cooling or how to improve image quality by reducing and controlling thermal noise. Back then I was using a modified Canon 500D as a camera for Astro Imaging. I quickly realized that being able to control the sensor temperature was extremely helpful in controlling noise, resulting in better calibration and… better images.

CP80X: My first cooler was a “box” type. While relatively bulky the cooler was relatively light weight thanks to using Acrylic sheets as box. I used thermal insulation material inside to keep the sheets of the acrylic as thin as possible. I designed a special T-ring that allows the camera to be attached to the cooler box. The thermoelectric device I used had both sides attached to heat sinks and fans. Having a fan on the inside helped moving the air around the camera which helps with its cooling.

CP50X: This second project was pretty innovating in the world of DSLR coolers for Astro Imaging. Instead of using a box to cool the whole body, the thermoelectric module featured a center hole which allowed for mounting of the thermal head directly to the bottom of the camera (using the 1/4″ tripod screw hole). By making direct contact (via a thermal pad) between the thermoelectric device and the camera body, the cooler relies only on internal thermal conduction to keep the sensor cooled. This allowed me to use a lower wattage thermoelectric device. In other to avoid internal condensation problems, the cooler was temperature controlled to make sure the components inside the camera would not condensate.

CP30T: My third and last DSLR project satisfied me entirely and it’s what I then used until I moved to a CCD camera. I used a thin copper sheet in direct contact with the back of the sensor PCB. The other side of the copper sheet was in contact with the thermoelectric device. No need to rely on internal conduction (which is still incredibly poor compared to the conductivity of the copper sheet) anymore, but temperature control is now even more critical. I used a PWM type temperature controller with PID that allows for quick corrections and more accurate temperature readings. This cooler gave by far the best performance and the lowest wattage requirements for the thermoelectric. I used a 30W TEC but effectively drew only around 15W.

The following link points at all article related to the DSLR Coolers I designed and experimented with: http://www.zytratech.com/category/dslr-cooling/

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