Last updated: 6 December 2004
Sent: Monday, December 6, 2004 16:43:58 From: Schlatter (email@example.com) Last winter and again now that the weather is turning cold here in Central Appalachia I had problems with my Autostar 497 -- it does not like cold weather. I would put the scope outside to cool down and go outside to use the scope after an hour or so. If the temperature was around 25 deg - 30 deg F, the scope would power up, beep, and act normal, except, the display on the Autostar was blank. I tried heating the Autostar with a hair dryer and, sure enough, the display slowly came to life. I figured I needed a more permanent solution. I recently purchased a Kendrick Standard Controller and control pad heater for the Autostar. I have been using this combination for the past two weeks and it's perfect -- the Autostar stays toasty warm and I have had no problems with it, even with temps down around 20 deg F. Given that the Autostar stays quite warm, I believe it will withstand much lower temperatures. For those who are not familiar with the Kendrick system, it consists of a controller and several heater attachments. The controller connects to a source of 12 volts DC (I use my 12 VDC power pack that powers the scope). The controller has six outlets into which you can plug any number of several heater strips. For example, there is a heater strip that wraps around 1.25-inch eyepieces and secures with a Velcro strip -- when connected to the controller, the strip keeps the eyepiece warm, thereby chasing away dew, frost, and other moisture on the eyepiece. You can set the controller all the way from very low heat up to high heat. Here is a link to the Kendrick website: http://www.kendrick-ai.com/astro/dewremover.html The system is not inexpensive -- the standard controller is $85.00 and the Autostar heater is $42.00 The Autostar heater is a small pad the same size as the Autostar. A cord plugs into the controller and there are two big rubber bands -- put the heating pad on the BACKSIDE of the Autostar and slip the rubber bands around the heating pad and the Autostar at the top and bottom of the Autostar. Plug the heater into the controller and set the controller a little below medium heat -- in no time it warms up the Autostar. I set my scope outside an hour or so before observing. I plug in the heater when I put the scope outside and it keeps the Autostar plenty warm. The LED display is bright and -- better yet -- the Autostar heater doubles as a hand-warmer!! Photos here: http://www.schlatter.org/Dad/Astronomy/autostar%20heat.htm ----- Joe Bristol TN
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