The cooling fan on my Atik460EX mono CCD started to make a disturbing sound one Spring night during an imaging session setup. Given it is some six years old I decided it was time for a much overdue service.
I contacted Atik support via email and enquired on the cost of a service. The reply was quick, the estimate for a fan replacement/service was around £80 exc vat and shipping. I sent it via Royal Mail insured/recorded delivery and I was updated when it was received at the office. I was updated again when it had returned back from the labs in Portugal ready for delivery to me. This allowed me to make arrangements to be at home in order to sign for the parcel.
Atik support informed me that the failing fan had been replaced, a faulty temperature sensor replaced, the desiccant recharged and the Sony CCD sensor cleaned.
Previously the 460 struggled to reach 15-20℃ below ambient when the product literature states that the device should be capable of reaching 25℃ below ambient. This was a real problem during the recent summer nights where the CCD barely reached 0℃ at full power.
Once I was told the temperature sensor was faulty then suddenly made my past cooling experience made sense. I performed some simple tests in a 14.7℃ ambient temperature room via a PegasusAstro Environmental Sensor. At 100% power (1A single stage Peltier cooler) I was able to get the CCD down to -18℃. Now the CCD can run happily at 100% power all night without detriment but I set the cooling temperature to -10℃ and the power usage dropped to 73%, which was a ~25℃ delta.
All in and all I’m happy that the camera so is now back to functioning normally as it should. It is now in a better shape ready for the up coming BASEG trip to Southern France in September. I guess now is the time to create a new darks library for the various temperatures I’m likely to use.
Alan, Paul and I (Dave) are back off to the beautiful island of La Palma in April assuming the current Coronavirus 19 pandemic has not shut down the TUI airline we are using. We are booked to stay at Tobias’s finca’s at the lovely location some 4,000 ft altitude on the North-West of the island in a vineyard off the beaten track. Turns out to be great fo self-isolation!
I will be taking my large 4″ binoculars, due to weight restrictions by TUI whilst Alan and Paul will be taking travel scopes for astrophotography. During the visit we have 2 finca’s and I hope to get some more objects ticked off my list from the Night Sky Observing Guide (NSOG) book I used last visit doing visual and recording some of my observations as drawings with my new set of pastel materials for my birthday.
So after much debate and research at the end of 2019, we finally settled on a group expedition to the south of France. The destination is Massaguel which is just South-East of Toulouse.
We have rented an entire Chateaux within the grounds of a private estate to sleep all 10 of us in separate rooms!
Below is the website address
We have arranged car sharing for the trip, some of us are going to travel down over 2 days and also back over 2 days also. Some are going via other destinations where they are lucky enough to be retired. I am personally taking my new Tesla Model 3 on the road trip and will be going via the Tesla Supercharger network with my friend Shane as a co-driver. We will stop overnight at a hotel with a supercharger on the way down and a different one on the way back. We are also going to travel via Eurotunnel.
The location affords us the ability to take as much kit as we can carry in our vehicles. This helps as we have more recently been affected with tighter and tighter restrictions on luggage capacity on planes.
My own setup required 4 x 25kg suitcases so going in the car is great. The only other way is to fly British Airways and pay for 4 x luggage or to fly business with them and get 2 x 32kg as standard and upgrade for the rest.
The chateaux looks beautiful and is owned and run by a local couple. It resides in a nature reserve and has acres of grounds with enough space for us all to spread out. In conversation with the owners we can run extension cables which we will need to bring with us, outside from internal sockets to run our equipment all night.
The internals of the chateaux affords us many rooms to gather in, meet, cook, hang out as well as sleep
We are all really looking forward to the trip and hope dearly that by the time September comes, the current Coronavirus 19 pandemic is over.