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User Feedback

As the first production units have shipped and people start using the Outback I have included below the text of emails from Outback Users that have some helpful information and comments. I will use this information to update the User Manual in time and where possible make modifications to the production Outback Cooler. In the short term the information below should help with installation and use of the Outback Cooler.

I very much appreciate the time taken by these users to provide the quality feedback that will improve the performance and useabilty of the Outback Cooler for each of use:

Tom King   -   (Latest results at: http://www.wataugaskies.com/latest/latest.php )

I received my outback cooler yesterday. Thank You! I am very pleased with the quality and function! I did encounter some problems with the installation procedure. All problems were due to assembly issues with the DSI. These are faults with the factory assembly of the DSI only. The Outback is fine.

Problem 1: I removed the 4 case screws, but the back case did not separate as described in the instructions (which are very well done!). With my DSI, the back case cold finger was stuck to the back of the CCD integrated circuit. This due to use of an adhesive type heat-sink compound or "stiction" I suppose. To my surprise, the front came off instead of the back heat sink cover. I carefully set the front cover aside. I used a medium precision screw-driver and very gently inserted it under the four screws holes on the corners of the circuit board and began working around the corners in a circle. I tried not to pry hard enough to flex the board, but in spite of my efforts, it did flex a small amount. I did this for several minutes until it finally broke loose. I can not think of any better way to do this, but I was not happy with having to pry the board out. It did not come out easily! After the circuit board was finally removed, I carefully placed it back in the front cover to protect the board and the CCD. This is not due in any way to a fault with the Outback! It just happened to this DSI.

Problem 2: The gasket in my unit apparently was not properly seated in the channel when it was assembled. It had twists in it and was stretched long enough that it would not stay flat in the channel. I finally gave up on the idea of keeping it in the channel without help. I had not intended at this time to seal the camera, but I figured the silicone seal could be used to hold the gasket in the channel. So I went ahead with the silicone seal. I found a pop sickle stick (orange flavour lol) to be invaluable in applying the silicon to the groove, which then captured the gasket in the groove. So far so good. I sealed carefully around the USB connector as you described and then the four screw holes. I reassembled the front and back cases, inserted the screws and lightly tightened them. I used rubbing alcohol to clean any stray silicon seal off the side of the casing. This solved the gasket problem. Again, this was caused by improper assembly of the DSI, not the Outback. Finally the Outback is on and looks good! I took it outside to scope to have fun! It was dark (really ;o) ) and I found out the hard way that with a Meade f/3.3 focal reducer, the DSI and the cooler do not clear the fork base of the LX90. I will make a measurement tonight and set a limit in the Autostar to avoid any crashes or damage to DSI or scope. I believe it would be a good idea to put a big warning in the instructions or perhaps a note in the box to alert users to this before they find out the hard way. It is hard to think of everything when you are excited about trying out the Outback Cooler :o) This was on my LX90 and while talking with Matt Taylor, he stated the clearance was worse on the LX200. I do believe the DSI and cooler will clear the base of the LX90 when the focal reducer is not present. I will get back to you after I check this out. The cooler worked very well and cooled very quickly.

Problem 3: Then I found problem number 3.....The power connector does not lock or capture and falls out easily with the weight of the power cord pulling on it. I found that by routing the cable over the top front of the DSI, it did stay in place. I am considering drilling a 4-40 hole and tapping it in the heat sink, then screwing down a nylon cable retainer to support the weight of the cable. I can live with this, but perhaps you can think of a better solution for production. This is not a major issue for me, but I am certain others will also experience this. I went on to try a couple of quick images, but it was getting very late. Towards the end of the second image, the stars became very elongated vertically, 1 to 2cm or so. I am not sure what caused this. I did not think to check for fogging, so it could be something as simple as that. I will check out the DSI tonight and see if it is ok, and if not, see if I can determine what is going on. Hopefully it is something minor like fogging. I also have a few notes at home on the instructions and I will forward those later if I have not covered them all here.

Finally, the Outback Cooler looks very nice and functions very well. The operation is very intuitive and perfect for operation in the dark. The mechanical construction and design is simply superb (not my engineering strength lol) I have done embedded systems design since the middle '70's, and I am very impressed with the job you have done!

Update 1

After a few hours of trial and error, I found the cause of the noise and the fix - the DSI gasket was badly mangled in my DSI, and the gasket is critical in assuring a good mechanical interface of the cold finger to the CCD chip. I have posted info on this so anyone installing a cooler will be aware of the importance of the gasket. You may use any of this information if you like. Hopefully though, no one else will have a damaged gasket in the first place!

Posted text: If you are waiting to receive an Outback Cooler or are considering purchasing one, you will want to be aware of the importance of the integrity of the DSI rubber gasket. The rubber gasket is placed in a channel near the outside of the seams where the two halves of the case come together. During the assembly of my DSI color, the factory installed gasket was severely damaged. I tried to re-use the damaged gasket with the Outback Cooler, but found the noise was worse with the Cooler and the damaged gasket than the noise present in the stock factory DSI color. It took me a few hours of trial and error, but I finally isolated the cause of the noise to be due to the damaged gasket.I ended up using rubber cording from a hardware store to fabricate a new gasket, and all is well now. Hopefully, no one else will encounter this problem with a defective gasket. I have prepared a short pdf file with sample noise images and a brief narrative about isolating the problem and the fix I came up with here:


I will see if Meade will sell the original gasket as a replacement part, and will update the document when I have an answer. Feel free to use the document as you see fit. Hopefully you will not need it, but it is there just in case the need arises ;o) The Outbactk Cooler's design, quality and operation is simply superb. Now if I can just get rid of the clouds that came with the Outback Cooler, I will get that killer image I have been waiting for <BG>.

Update 2 (14 Sep 05)

I first attempted Messier 2 with the DSI Color on September 9, 2004. I was not pleased with the results and never posted the final image :0(  I returned to Messier 2 on September 10, 2005, one year later, this time with the same DSI Color camera, but with an Outback Cooler installed!! What a difference a year makes :o) The current and prior year's images of Messier 2 are posted here (below sunspot 798 image):

Setup details are located on the website. One particular detail of interest is that it was still 93F/34C when this image was captured!! I took darks at 68F/20C, courtesy of the Outback cooler. I don't know about everyone else, but I have found globular clusters to be the most vexing objects to capture and present with any semblance of quality. There is no doubt the Outback Cooler virtually "Terminated" the usual noise and amp glow gradients, and certainly a year of climbing the learning curve on post-processing has helped me do a better job as well.

Ok, so I have gotten this far and still see a lot of room for improvements in Messier

Tom King

Matt Taylor

My Outback arrived today. I've installed it & it has a red blinking 3rd led indicating a fan failure, great. Help! (Next Email) I gently bumped the camera on the table, just a little bump, and the fan is now working... go figure!! The temp regulation appears to me MUCH MUCH more on the money than with the prototype. There is no deviation from the 10C setting at all, 3 green LEDs without fail, this is awesome!!