Chilling a Hot Camera

[Eric]’s camera has a problem. It overheats. While this wouldn’t be an issue if [Eric] was taking one picture at a time, this camera also has a video mode, which is supposed to take several pictures in a row, one right after the other. While a camera that overheats when it’s used is probably evidence of poor thermal engineering, the solution is extremely simple: strap a gigantic heat sink to the back. That’s exactly what [Eric] did, and the finished product looks great.

The heatsink chosen for this application is a gigantic cube of aluminum, most likely taken from an old Pentium 4 CPU cooler. Of course, there’s almost no way [Eric] would have found a sufficiently large heat sink that would precisely fit the back of his camera, which meant he had to mill down the sides of this gigantic heat sink. [Eric] actually did this in his drill press using a cross slide vice and an endmill. This is surely not the correct, sane, or safe way of doing things, but we’ll let the peanut gallery weigh in on that below.

The heatsink is held on by a technique we don’t see much around here — wire bending. [Eric] used 0.055″ (1.3 mm) piano wire, and carefully bent it to wrap around both the heatsink and the camera body. Does the heatsink cool the camera? Yes, and the little flip-up screen of the camera makes this camera a very convenient video recording device. You can check out the video of this build below.

25 thoughts on “Chilling a Hot Camera

  1. A drill chuck is mounted on a Jacobs Taper, which is short, and only adequate for axial thrust, i.e. vertical drilling forces.
    Exposed to lateral (milling) forces and vibration, with only intermittent upward (locating) force, it will at some juncture fly off.
    If there is flesh in the way of the flailing cutter edges, it offers minimal resistance, especially when lubricated by copious quantities of blood.

    Even on a mill-drill, the milling chuck is retained by a half-metre long M12 bolt down the centre of the spindle. And that’s whether the spindle taper is Morse or INT30. To rely on any inverted taper for chuck retention is to invite bleeding to death on the workshop floor, especially at high spindle speeds.

    The article does confirm that there is one peanut present.

      1. According to the article author, anyone with a concern for safety, but in my view, the opposite. (I see you didn’t wade through to paragraph two of the article. ;-)

        1. Hahaha, you caught me. I read most of it though…

          I have sooo many heatsinks, just waiting to be mated to high-output LEDs. I’ll keep in mind your comment!

          1. There is a way you can more safely make slots with a drill press – chain drilling. Centrepunch for a row of holes with diameters touching, drill them in succession, then file out the intervening “teeth”. (That last bit is less tiresome if you have a very thin file, and there is no bridge remaining between holes.) That way, the drill press is used as designed.
            Yes, the file will clog. A stiff wire brush, or file card is an essential aid to keeping the file seviceable.
            If milling extruded or sheet aluminium, which is quite pure (for ductility), a spray of coolant (denatured alcohol) helps avoid the grotty surface finish which results when the Al warms even a little, and becomes gummy under the cutting forces. (I alloy up to 3% Cu when making a casting – that is so much easier to machine, that it’s not funny. Another couple of % Zn makes it age hardening.) A high cutter speed, to flick away the swarf, helps too, as it’s no help to recut that on the surface.

    1. I learned my lesson about jacobs tapers (didn’t know they were called that until today, just that they’re tapered) and drill presses while doing a quick drill into an ABS enclosure on my harbor freight drill press. You can probably imagine the chain of events, but long story short:

      “This will be quick, it’s just abs and a 1/4″ drill bit will go through the thin stuff no problem!”

      Hold on to abs enclosure, left hand. Right hand, operate drill press. Drill goes through plastic, catches in the last fraction of an inch. Bit pulls abs + hand upwards suddenly to mid-height. Bit hits end of drill flutes. Drill press chuck now comes off taper. Spinning off-center lump of plastic and metal now ripped out of my hand, but not before it swings around at least once and catches my palm.

      I still have the scar.

      Your lessons that I learned that day, 10 years ago: Don’t apply lateral forces to the drill chuck. Clamp your work piece with something longer than the throat of the drill press. And before I use my drill press, I tap on the chuck to ensure it’s firmly in place. But hey, at least this was done with hands not close by :)

  2. I beg your pardon on this wonderful triggered-free day, but it has appeared that you’ve made a minor, not-a-big-deal, spelling error, You said “overheats”, when you probably meant to say Overhets, which is the correct term,

    Just a friendly tip that in no way you can imply it as some form of fucked-up snark.

  3. I suspect it would have been faster to do all he has done there with a simple the good old hand mill. A file. Aluminium is soft and cuts relatively easily. The slot doesn’t have to be a slot, it could have been a straight cut and it would have looked better too.

    1. Being soft is exactly the reason why it absolutely sucks if you have to file it with a file, it keeps gumming up and needs frequent cleaning with a steel brush…

  4. Wouldn’t a fan increasing the airflow have a batter chance of cooling it? I suspect the thermal resistance between sensor and heat-sink is high anyway, so a fan could increase the airflow on all sides. Who needs sound in video anyway?

  5. 1 if its overheating its broken/crap and needs to be send for a replacement/refund
    2 back side of the body isnt even flat, its concave(cleverly never shown in the video, because ‘industrial designer’ I guess), with big fat Reset button sticking out right where he put this heatsink

    1. No, overheating of the sensor is a common problem in big sensor DSLR and mirror less cameras when trying to use them for filming. The problems are increased by compactness which might move the processor close to the sensor as well. It is generally the very expensive ones that use more complicated readouts like only reading a fraction of the pixels that can do long recordings.

  6. This reminds me of my Phone holders which don’t neen Heatsinks but bent a about 6 to make phone and Tablet Holders of All kinds Made one in bed other night to hold my phone on top of laptop screen.

    Don’t sleep with needle nose pliers……

  7. Why not out the camera in a baggie, evacuate the baggie and hot seal it, than dip the camera in liquid nitrogen for a few minutes prior to use? Just be careful about dropping it.

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