Keeping my equipment warm

Recently i went to take pictures in the middle of the night at Subfreezing temperatures and the front of my lens formed ice. so i need to keep the lens warm, there are many solutions but the one i thought would be fun to use is the use of a heating element. I found resistance heating wire, i would like to make an object that could fit around my lens and keep it warm. to prevent overheating i will use a microcontroller with temperature sensors to cut of the supply of electricity at a certain temperature. i just want to keep the lens at more than 5 degrees centigrade. I think my 12v lead acid battery will be enough for this kind of project. My question is how to do it, how much heating wire should i use? how much heat will it make? what wire should i use? Will it work? Any other ideas are welcome.

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kndnnyj5 years ago
Get an aluminum case from Harbor Freight and while you are there get one of their 12 volt powered window defrosters. I have one of their cases that I use for my camera gear and it make a nice professional looking carrying Case for My Nikon camera body, four lenses, flash unit, film and batteries. The case cost less than $30.00 and has moveable dividers. Be careful with the window defroster. I have not purchased one and am not aware how much heat it will put out.
Also you fail to mention as to the type of camera. Film, digital? There is a small circuit board that is available as a kit for heater control. The PC-1 uses a solid state sensor that I have used for other applications. It is very simple and has a low component count. I don't know what your battery is rated at but there are lots of motorcycle batteries that could power the system for quite a while.
markosloizou (author)  kndnnyj5 years ago
i have two digital cameras. My battery is 12V 7,2ah, i want it to go for about 4 hours
http://www.harborfreight.com/12-volt-rubberized-heater-with-fan-96144.html
You might need a bigger battery. I would not make a heater if this one will work for you. If you found some Ni chrome wire you can make a heater but that could be problem in the making. It will have to get hot enough to warm your air But at the same time it would melt many plastics and generate a fire hazard. Check out the link I posted above. If you modify it using the PC-1 controller kit you can keep your power consumption down. The pc-1 kit is available on line from various vendors. It has been years since I purchased any. If you need more help in finding them or how to use it post a message to me and I'll do what I can.
Kiteman5 years ago
I'd be more inclined to use a padded camera bag, and drop a reusable handwarmer in the bottom just before leaving somewhere warm (the house, heated car etc).

markosloizou (author)  Kiteman5 years ago
Ive used them before, i want something "more"(i just like to build things).
You could sew your own camera bag, with a pouch for the warmers?
caitlinsdad5 years ago
I would be afraid of a direct contact heating element on any fine optics. Would you be better off with some kind of camera hood that is heated by a hair-dryer setup? The hot air may introduce some atmospheric aberration captured by photo but thermal shock to the lens and rest of the camera would not be good. Is the camera acclimated to the outside or you just took the camera out of the house and it formed frost on the lens?
markosloizou (author)  caitlinsdad5 years ago
There are two types of moisture that could ruin your photo. The first is when the temperature of the camera and lens is very different from the air and moisture forms on the lens, to prevent this you first cool the camera down while it is in a bag and then you start taking pictures. The second one which is my problem is when the camera cools down at the temperature of the air which was below 0 degrees celsius(32 Fahrenheit) the moisture on the air freezes on the surface of the lens and on the camera. to prevent this you should keep your camera warmer than the air on the surroundings. There aren't any industrial solutions(at least in my country) for this problem. I need something to keep the lens warm enough. I thought that if i use heating wire(ill test how much i should use) with a few temperature sensor that would give the microcontroller that the temperature is above a given one(i.e. 15C) and then i would stop electricity flowing through the heating wire(use of relays). I stil have my doubts because i have never used heating wire. THe wire wont be in direct contact with the lens. Maybe some fabric or something. Ill think about it. I'll try it several times before i use it because im afraid as well.