HitecAstro mini dew controller
Dew affects all astronomers, whether beginner or advanced. The HitecAstro mini dew controller consists of a lightweight unit and cable. It has a dual port, meaning that you can power two heat straps simultaneously (potentially covering your main optics and eyepiece).
The controller does not come supplied with these, so we used an Astrozap dew strap (prices from £23).
Connection to power is via a 2-metre cable with 12V plug designed for portable use, so depending on your kit you may wish to consider a mains adapter.
Setup was minimal; we connected a heat strap to one of the ports, plugged into a battery and were ready to get cracking.
Moderating power to the heat strap is simple and intuitive. The amount is illustrated by a red light above the adjustment dial: the brighter the light, the more power going to the strap and therefore the more heat produced.
This simple approach makes the controller a perfect tool for both beginners and experienced astronomers. You can make very slight adjustments, as the dial rotates at tiny increments.
During nights of varying (at times excessive) dew we found the controller painless to manage.
As autumn turned into winter, humidity levels escalated and each time, it was easy to prevent damp affecting the optics.
Effectivity was further tested when we dabbled in astrophotography – the images produced were clean and unaffected by conditions.
A word of warning: at maximum output (~5A) the heat strap got hot to the touch.
If we are being pedantic, it was hard to identify exactly ‘how hot’ the heat strap was getting, so perhaps the controller would benefit from a temperature gauge to quantify this.
For most, a dew controller is an integral element of an astronomer’s kit bag, and HitecAstro’s product does the job very well.