We’re based in Austin, Texas. Texas is hot. Really hot. How hot? Today it got up to 106° F. Yesterday it got up to 108° F. So yeah, hot.
If you’re at all familiar with iPads, you know that heat is their kryptonite. Above a certain temperature they start to throttle the CPU cores and dim the backlight. Above another more dire temperature they shut down. Not good if you’re using an iPad as your avionics display.
If you’re familiar with our product line, you know we manufacture and sell the FlightDock mount, which comes with a cooling fan. The fan blows air across the back of the iPad. This is a form of “forced convection” which removes heat much faster than basic natural convection. This works very well – we’ve tested up to 105°F and the iPad keeps running. Under normal conditions that’s good enough.
Well, this ain’t a normal summer.
To combat the heat we’ve come up with a unique option to augment the FlightDock – the Falken TEC. TEC stands for Thermoelectric Cooler. Thermoelectric coolers (also known as Peltier junctions) use electricity to move heat from one side of the device to the other. The side from which the heat is removed gets cold while the side where the heat is dropped off gets hot – so hot you have to have a heatsink and cooling fan to dissipate it. The Falken TEC uses an aluminum plate mounted to the cold side of the Peltier to pull heat out of an iPad, keeping it happy in even the most extreme summer conditions.
The TEC is built to fit into the same 3 ⅛” instrument hole that we use for our 80mm cooling fan, making it quick and easy to install. The hot side of the TEC goes behind the panel and wires through a switch to a 5 amp breaker or fuse. An insulating collar fits through the hole in the panel and the cold plate bolts on using two screws. Bumper pads on the back side of the cold plate keep it pressed up against the iPad, ensuring maximum thermal transfer.
To use the TEC, mount the iPad in the FlightDock and power it up. It takes about 60 seconds for the Peltier to start to chill the cold plate. Properly installed, a TEC can keep an iPad within its operating range at virtually any ambient temperature. It can also quickly cool an overheated iPad down to the point where it can power up. This can be a big help if you leave your iPad in the airplane on a hot day.
We will be showing off the TEC at AirVenture 2023 so if you’re interested, please drop by and take a look.