I have been imaging
for a few years with Canon DSLRs and have found that there is
a noticeable improvement in dark frame noise when imaging below
50 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2004 when I first modified a Canon 300D,
I prepared plans for cooling the camera's
imaging chip directly with a peltier device, but never built the
system for two reasons:
When I modified
a Canon 450D and began imaging with it, I found that the camera
is completely controllable with Canon provided software for astro
imaging via the USB connection to a computer. This means that
the camera can be completely enclosed in a whole camera cooling
system and still be used for remote astro imaging. The Canon 450D
(XSi) with its plastic body is relatively light and along with
its small size allows a light weight whole camera cooling system
to be possible. I built Version I and Version II of a whole camera cooler and learning
from those two projects, completed Version III of the camera
cooler for which detailed assembly instructions are provided beginning
on this page.
If you want to
learn about peltier devices and their cooling effect in general
Since the 450D (XSi) and the 1000D
(XS) have the same height and depth, this cooler fits the 1000D
(XS) as well.
Build a whole
camera peltier cooling system with these requirements:
instructions detail how I built a whole camera peltier cooler.
The cooler is working well for me. If you damage your camera in
the process of building or using the cooler, I am not responsible.
Although measures are taken to avoid condensation and frosting,
the results with your camera and cooler may differ based on your
local conditions. Care should be taken when using AC in the field.
The Vector AC/DC Converter has these warnings: "Risk of Electrical
Shock", "Dry Location Use Only" and "Do Not
Use Outdoors", among other warnings.
5 Liter / 9 can Thermo-Electric Travel Cooler - Model No. VEC 222RB
This cooler is
branded "RubberMaid", but the cooler is made by Vector,
branded under other names as well. I bought the cooler at Target
on sale for $25. Besides stores, these coolers are also sold at
truck stops and from online sources. Vector was acquired by Black
and Decker in 2006.
The cooler operates
on 12 volts DC and Vector also makes a 6-Amp AC/DC converter to
operate the cooler using 120 volts AC. The converter is Model
We will be using
the Peltier/heatsink, fan, on/off switch and DC cable from the
travel cooler. The size of the peltier device is 40mm X 60mm.
This information on the peltier is provided in the owner's manual:
"Amperage draw: 4 Amperes (approx. 48-Watts"). UPDATE: In 2011, I did testing
of three travel coolers in order to determine which might be best
to use for building a whole camera peltier cooler. The three cooler
comparison is HERE.
Styrofoam Cooler. I bought a light styrofoam cooler from Kmart
for $3. Pieces cut from it are used to insulate the aluminum cooling
chamber. The walls of the cooler I used are one-half inch thick.
Pieces are easily cut using a hack-saw blade.
3. Expanding Foam
Sealant. I used a low cost sealant sold by Walmart called MaxFill.
4. Aluminum Sheet.
Be careful when buying aluminum sheet. There are many types of
aluminum alloy sheets and they can vary greatly in heat conductance
properties. See the listing HERE. You want an aluminum
sheet with a High Thermal Conductivity rating. Aluminum 1199 is
the highest purity aluminum (99.99% Al min.) and has a high thermal
conductance. Using an aluminum sheet with high thermal conductivity
will provide the best and quickest cooling chamber that will be
connected to the peltier device. I bought a 24" by 24"
sheet of .025" thick Aluminum Sheet by Steelworks (#11238)
from my local Lowes Hardware. This aluminum sheet can be found
from many online sources as well, here
is a 12" X 18" piece that sells for $7.88.
A piece that measures
12" X 18" would be sufficient for making this cooler,
but only the larger 24" by 24" piece was available at
my local Lowes.
Plastic Radio Shack project box; size: 3" X 2" X 1".
Shack No. 270-1801.
For helping to circulate air inside the cooling chamber, a small
12 volt heat/sink fan is useful. I got this small blue heatsink/fan
from a local computer store for $15. The manufacturer, StarTech
has the specifications and sells it directly online HERE. The model number is:
FANCSORB and it can also be found on ebay. It has a sticky thermal
pad that makes it ideal for using inside the cooling chamber since
no screws or drilling is required.
7. 18-gauge speaker
wire from Radio Shack. Radio Shack Part
and 24-gauge speaker wire from Radio Shack. Radio Shack Part
8. Small tube
of thermal paste (optional). Radio Shack Part No. 276-1372.
knife, hacksaw, epoxy, soldering iron, solder, pop-rivet gun,
small pieces of wood, file, sand paper, 1 3/4" and 2 1/4"
hole saws, and hot glue gun.
1. Remove four screws as
shown from cooler and remove grey plastic housing from cooler:
2. The warm/off/cool switch
slides out of the grey plastic housing:
3. Remove four screws from
the fan assembly:
4. Remove three screws from
switch circuitboard and lift off switch cover. Unsolder DC electric
cable going to warm/off/cool switch circuit board. Mark cables
for polarity before removing (I used red tape as shown in photo
below).Remove black strain cable relief. Route DC electric cable
out of grey fan assembly part hole for later resoldering to circuit
5. The switch will be placed
four feet away from the cooler instead of mounting it on the cooler.
The reason for this is to keep the cooler light in weight. Four
conductors will need to be routed from the switch to the cooler.
I used 18
gauge speaker wire for
the cooler pair of wires and 24
gauge speaker wire
for the fan pair of wires. Unsolder peltier black and red wires
from circuit board. These are marked P+ for red and P- for black
on the circuit board. Solder four feet of 18 gauge speaker wire
in its place. Be sure to maintain correct polarity. Unsolder the
fan black and red wires from the circuit board. These are marked
M+ for red and M- for black on the circuit board. Solder four
feet of 24 gauge speaker wire in its place. Be sure to maintain
correct polarity. We will connect these two pairs of wires later
in Steps 24 and 35.
6. Drill a one-half inch
hole in end of plastic project box for cable strain relief. Pass
the black DC power cord through hole and install with cable strain
relief. Solder wires to circuit board. Cut a small slot on the
edge of the other side of the project box with a razor knife for
the peltier/fan cables. Mark center of project box face plate
and use grey switch cover removed in the above step (#5) as a
template to drill holes in the face plate for the switch and two
LEDs. Install circuit board in project box and fasten face plate
with four screws provided.
7. Remove the peltier device
from inside the cooler by removing four screws as shown on the
metal peltier mounting plate. Be careful of the peltier/heatsink
assembly so that it doesn't fall when the screws are removed:
8. Below is a photo of the
removed peltier/heatsink and metal peltier support plate with
4 screws and 4 small rubber washers that will be reused. If the
travel cooler is new and you haven't used it yet, you will be
able to reuse the white thermal paste on the peltier, or you can
buy a small tube of thermal paste at a computer store or at Radio
Shack (Part No. 276-1372).
of assembly instructions.