Introduction: Camera Heater
This insulated camera case allows you to shoot for longer is cold/damp temperatures and prevents lens fogging and frosting. The whole project will take less than an hour to complete depending on your sewing skills.
Here are some timelapses shot using this case which allowed for greatly extended battery life.
For this instructable you will require:
- An old rain coat or other source of water resistant fabric
- Thermal Space Blanket
- Sewing needle and thread or machine
- Hot glue gun
- Soldering iron and a blunt tip (if working with PVC fabric)
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Step 1: Cutting the Sleeve to Length
Remove the sleeve from the jacket and cut it to be two inches longer than your longest lens (fully extended).
Also make sure that your widest lens fits inside of the sleeve, otherwise you will have to expand it.
Step 2: Expand the Sleeve
To be able to operate the camera controls inside of the case you may need to expand the sleeve with a triangular piece of raincoat ( I cut mine from the shoulder). I sewed the seam by hand, then "waterproofed" it with VERY hot hot glue (It must be hot enough to melt the PVC and allow the seam to fuse together).
Step 3: Cut the Tabs
Now that the sleeve fits your camera test it out for length with your longest and wisest lenses to make sure that it fits. Then with the longest lens on, cut out the tab for the door of the case (this is why the sleeve was left longer than needed).
Step 4: Back Door
Next cut out a piece of fabric and inch larger on all sides than the end of the sleeve. I chose the reinforced elbow on the sleeve so that I could add a piece of thermal insulation inside of the door.
After folding over and hot gluing the edges, I sewed and fused the back door onto the tab on the sleeve using the blunt tip of a soldering iron. ***NOTE: Make sure to do this outside or in a well ventilated area*** The fumes created when melting PVC smell terrible and are not good for you.
Be careful not to melt right trough the fabric (fusing two scrap pieces together for practice is highly recommended!
Step 5: Velcro
I used Velcro strips to seal the back door of the case. I used three Velcro tabs, one on each side and the bottom of the opening. I used a generous amount of very hot hot glue to hold the strips in place and then hand sewed down the corners for added strength.
NOTE: I did not cut the bottom corners of the case so that different camera bodies can be used and so that the case seals more thoroughly.
So far the Velcro is performing well, but the door is still the largest area of heat loss even after adding additional thermal insulation. Any suggestions of more heat efficient options are welcome in the comments. :-)
Step 6: Tripod Mount
First mark out the position of your camera's tripod mount when optimally placed in the case (with largest lens). Because Polyester reinforced PVC fabric is prone to tearing I made sure to reinforce the area surrounding the hole for the tripod screw with multiple layers of fabric. I then fused all of the layers together using the blunt soldering iron before melting a hole in the case for the tripod screw.
This case works very well with quick release shoes for tripods, as it is is sometimes difficult to align the tripod screw through the hole with the camera mount (especially when in the dark or with cold fingers).
Step 7: Finished Rain Tight Case
The case is now rain tight and ready for use, but has a very low insulation value. Continue on in the instructable to create an insulated layer for the case.
Step 8: Insulated Layer
First cut a folded strip of thermal space blanket (2 layers thick) to be four inches longer than your camera with the longest lens installed and two inches wider than the circumference of your widest lens. Next seal the edges of the thermal blanket (making sure to leave a little bit of air inside) with hot glue, then flatten the edges using a piece of scrap fabric. After the glue has cooled create a tube with a half inch overlap that is as long as the distance from the tip of your longest lens to your cameras tripod screw mount, then glue the tube together with hot glue then flatten the edges using a piece of scrap fabric.
Finally test fit the insulation layer on your camera to ensure that it fits.
Step 9: Final Assembly
With the thermal layer on the camera insert it into the rain proof case, then screw on the tripod mount. The mount will help to ensure that the thermal layers in place.
The addition of chemical hand warmers or carbon heat tape will allow the camera to be kept toasty warm for hours.
Step 10: Testing
Two layers of thermal space blanket should theoretically reflect 99.75 percent of heat (neglecting the additional insulation value of the PVC case and trapped air between the blankets).
Sadly the case is not this efficient in practice, and is only experimentally 60-75% effective (not accounting for wind or humidity, calculated from the theoretical exothermic reaction given by the "hot hands" manufacturer). I believe that most of this heat loss is through the glass of the lens (which is good, as it prevents frosting and condensation) and sides of the case. I originally believed that the back door of the case might be an issue, but based on the IR analysis (above) it is quite well insulated.
This case has allowed me to capture long timelapses in cold and wet conditions. So far I have tested this case to -29 degrees Celsius (-20.2 Fahrenheit) and the camera lasted for 9 hours, 34 minutes, and 24 seconds. NOTE: this was while taking 30 second exposures every 32 seconds. The case is performing phenomenally better than the toques (woolen hats), scarves, and balaclavas that I have used previously, but there is a large margin for improvement.
Any suggestions to help improve the efficiency of the case will be appreciated. Have a great day! :-)