Passive camera cooling - Swamp cooler

Zachary Kertesz

Currently on a Doc series with two camera interviews running 60-120 minutes. We're in relatively hot climates, varying humidity and our (Venice + F55) R7 recorders are taking a beating. Cold packs on the rear are not cooling enough, every 20 minutes or so we have to cut and boost the fans. 

I've been unsuccessfully searching for low tech solutions on a few forums as undoubtedly we're not the first crew with this problem.

In theory, a passive cooling system based around swamp cooler design, ideally utilizing dry ice, with the option of hotel room ice (location & resource restrictions) pulling airflow through a soft cooler bag instead of ambient temperature air and piping it into the intake port of the R7 would lower the temperature enough within operating specs.

We would be fighting temperature differentials - the potential for condensation that would pose, especially using evaporative cooling, however being that we are cooling the recorder and not the sensor, the tolerances should be higher. 

Anyone have experience with something similar? any fast and dirty home depot schematics. 

Zachary Kertesz
ICG 600 Camera Assistant 


Nathan Armstrong

My first recommendation is to shoot ARRI. Not helpful I know but cooling is one thing ARRI paid attention to and it really paid off in making the whole line of Alexa cameras more reliable and the noise level consistent. Not only do they cool the sensor, but they heat it up when it's too cold.

Dry Ice is a known plan, it's been done before and it works. Cooling from "the top" or focusing on air intake should work. Just keep in mind that direct contact with cold temps might make the plastic parts become brittle, you'd only need a thin barrier to protect the camera though.  Also mind the gas in enclosed spaces, don't want push all the oxygen out of the set. I would not trust the cameras internal fans either when it comes to having sufficient velocity. If you are going to add ducting put you own 12v fan on there to direct the air where it needs to go, and with some research you can find some pretty quiet fans on the market. 

One interesting idea would be to use a 12V thermoelectric (peltier) cooler placed strategically on the camera body or with ducting. This is an enclosed electric system (no water mess!) This is basically the same tech that ARRI uses to cool their sensors, and I suppose you could mod this on the outside on a camera too. If you do please post online, I'd love to see such a beast. In Minneapolis we don't worry much about overheating, rather we have much experience with subzero temps. 

Nathan Armstrong
Minneapolis, USA

Marque DeWinter

I would just be cautious with the humidity factor with something like a swamp cooler. Depending on how you rig it with the camera you could potentially be introducing a lot of humidity into the camera body which cause damage. Also if ice packs aren’t cutting it, I don’t think a swamp cooler would be enough (although if stuck with dry ice humidity isn’t as much an issue). Have you considered a closed loop liquid heat sink system? You could probably find one that’s 12v or 24v that could hook up to a AB or Vlock plate.

Marque DeWinter