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gnomus

Dewcontrol Dew Controller and Heater Tapes

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I visited the International Astronomy Show in Warwick the other week.  Just inside the door there was a young chap selling dew control products.  The gear was lightweight and relatively inexpensive, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I picked up one heater band (for my Esprit 120) and one 4 channel controller.  The controllers he had at the show all had a 2m power cable.  I said I would have preferred another metre.  Tim (the young chap) said it was not a problem.  He would make one with a 3m cable and send it out to me.  He obviously posted it first thing Monday morning because it arrived on the Tuesday.

What I liked about the unit was how lightweight it was.  It also had a belt-loop sort of thing attached to the back.   This allowed the elasticated part of the heater tape to pass through, so that the controller could be fixed to the scope itself.  Here is how I have done mine:

dewcontrol.jpg

The controller works off one button (the small red button just under the printed text 'Quad Channel Dew Controller' on the case).  When you power up, Output 1 is illuminated.  Press and release (less than 1 second) to cycle between 0, 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100 percent output.  There are 4 lights: 0% power =  no lights, then each light comes on singly for 20, 40, 60 and 80 percent.  All four lights are illuminated at 100% power.

To switch channels, hold the button down for a bit longer (more than a second) and release. 

It is remarkably simple to use.  With my other dew controller there seems to be a bit of 'uncertainty' as to whether or not the phono plug is properly seated.  With the Dewcontrol unit the seating is extremely positive.

One possible downside (or upside depending on your point of view) is that, when you power down, the unit does not 'remember' your settings.  You start from zero power in each channel at each power up.  This has caught me out once, unfortunately, but I will soon get used to the new way of doing things.

I am very pleased with the unit.  It is lightweight, inexpensive and works well.  It is good to have a range of alternatives and this one is from a UK manufacturer.  

The heater tape worked just fine too.  It was made by the lady who co-worked the stall with Tim (her name was Barbara).  It seemed to be high quality.  It is hand sewn.  It worked straight away (unlike a top-end brand I bought a couple of years back that I had to pick apart and fiddle with).  I am not sure if these are the same tapes that Tim sells on his website.  My wife recalls that the brand of heater tape was W&W Astro - and Barbara's website is here http://www.dewheater.com/.  

I have no connection with Tim whatsoever.  When looking up some info (his name for example) for this review, I found that his website was a little difficult to locate - if you are interested it is http://www.dewcontrol.com/.

I may get one of his two channel units for my more portable setup.

Steve M

    

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I have just bought a W&W dew heater band and am really looking forward to using it. They are available on Ebay.

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1 hour ago, faulksy said:

the dew controller looks brilliant, so does the heater tape.:icon_biggrin:

They certainly all worked well again last night.  I have also received an e-mail from Tim - the chap who makes the controllers.  He had seen my mini-review.  He said that it is possible to have the controller so that it does 'remember' your previous settings.  He is going to make one up and send it to me to look at.  I will submit a second review once I have had a chance to try this out.  It may be that this is a better solution for lazy folks like me.  

Edited by gnomus
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I got one of those heater tapes from the IAS show, it works very well.

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