Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Rollin with the Chicko's. The DS oven review.

Admin and fellow good bloke of the Paj forum, Dave, put us onto a tip about a cheap car oven from Dick Smith (catalogue# M4515), IIRC it was listed at $45 when I looked. Funny enough, they call it a stove. Its not what I would define a stove to be, but the Chinese on the other hand where its made..well who knows. A day later and another member mentioned it was on special, pick up only for $17.66 being the tight wad I am, I couldn't resist and purchased two. One for me, another for a mate. Subsequently after I purchased these online, the listing showed no more stock, and a day later, the listing has been removed. Which is a shame as it had a couple of really good reviews from customers written up about it.  If the link comes back up, I'll edit this post.

EDIT: the link is back. see here:

The DS Oven

An hour later I got a txt saying the order was ready for pick up. The trouble and strife was home with the sick tin lid, so she went and drove the 20Km's one way to pick them up for me whilst I went to work. God bless her! (this blog needs a smilie facility)

At work, I came up with the idea that I need to do a bench test for others to see. So whilst in the city, I picked up a box of chicko rolls. I could see myself with a chicko roll out in the remote scrub somewhere. Be warned, I have a couple of trips coming up soon and I think you'll see a chicko roll by a Gnamma Hole picture or two now :)

Now I am rather partial to a good chicko roll. No doubt influenced for the last 40 odd years by the marketing hype:

And who wouldn't want a bike like that. I'm only human after all.

Anyway data talks, bullshit walks, so onto the bench test.

Getting home late I opened the box and pulled the plastic container out. Shaped a bit like a small toolbox, but much taller. What struck me instantly was the thin gauge wire of the lead. This is supposed to draw 10A and I would have thought it may have been a bit beefier. Also the cig lighter plug on the end looked cheap and not up to the task of a 10A continuous pull. It did however have an inline blade fuse, so that was a good feature. Having to pull apart cig plugs to replace 3ag fuses can be a pain.Especially out on the road.

The outside looked ok, just a cheap plastic box in all reality and nothing stood out to my mind on its cheapness. I opened the catch to separate the two halves. This is where the omens started. It wouldn't open. So I tried a bit harder. Eventually it came open when the bottom tray and seal had dislodged from the box. Not a good start. I pried the upper and lower seals apart then spent the next 5 minutes trying to reseat the lower tray and seal. However one advantage is it gave me an insight into its interior. A small resistive heater element is attached to the bottom of the tray, again connected in what I consider to be thin gauge wiring. Under that, the box is lined with what I believe to be a fiberglass insulating mat. Knowing its from China, I hope its fiberglass and not asbestos based. Once refitted, the seals didn't seem to stick and the lid opened freely. I put it down to newness.

The following morning I gathered my equipment. A 10A power supply, a GT power meter, an infra red non contact thermometer and my fridge thermometer for measuring ambient. I then pulled a chicko roll and some party pies out the freezer. They measured -10. I suspect they were probably a bit colder, but I don't know the accuracy of the infra red thermometer on ice crusted pastry. I wrapped them in foil and put them back into the freezer until I was ready.

I then hooked up all the equipment and took some temp readings.

Ambient: 15degrees
case and trays 16 Degrees.

And I plugged it in. The GT meter raced into life. Amperage slowly building till it hit 10.3A (which would be the limit of my supply anyhow, but I suspect it wouldn't draw much more than that from an unlimited source). What shocked me the most, was about a minute had passed from switch on and I opened the lid. I could feel the heat immediately. The IR thermo indicated top tray 20 and lower tray 70 degrees. All in about a minute or less. Impressive.

The plan was to be a good little Jamie oliver and preheat the oven. But after 15 minutes, I opened the lid and took some measurements. Top tray 52 degrees and lower 120 degrees. Amperage has also now dropped to 5A. This was unexpected as I assumed it would stay at the 10A for the duration. So in essence, a 15minute preheat and I was ready to roll.

I put the pies/chicko in the oven and measured data at set intervals. I'll let the table below explain the results.

Half expecting the amperage to peak again when I added -10 degree product, it did not. It stayed at a near constant 5 amps for the duration. Now if the oven can perform its task well, then this is a good thing. I would have no issue leaving this run off the Aux battery with the car off if I expected to be doing some driving after lunch.

At the hour point, I turned the product over. At an hour 45 minutes, I turned it again, This time I was met with rising steam when I opened the lid and the product was sizzling. I broke the foil bag on the pies and decided to remove it all together. The pies were a bit on the mushy side of things.

At the two hour point, I opened the lid again and decided they were done. I put them on a plate and had a very enjoyable lunch. 15 minutes on the bare tray, the pies had crisped up nicely. In fact had I left them there any longer, I reckon they would have over cooked. So I think a good plan is to do them in foil and finish them off out of the foil over about 15 minutes.

In the 2 hours this had been running it had consumed 12 A/hours.

All in all, it looks like a great bit of kit for the princely sum of $17.66.

And the data:

Wrapping up Commentary:

Both on the website review and on the forum where I got the lead for this item, it was said a roast had been cooked inside one. Whilst I don't doubt the veracity of the claim, my measurements of the lower tray at only 120 degrees to me says the meat will be a bit under done. It is spec'd to get to 150 degrees, so with more time than I tested it under, then maybe so?

One other thing commented on, which could very well be extremely important. If you shut this thing down with the lid closed, as the air contracts, the rubber seals wont allow any outside air to get in, and the tray will bend. Someone mentioned cutting a small slit in the rubber to allow this airflow to happen.

When you get this hot enough and open the lid, a voluminous amount of steam will be released. So exercise caution when doing so. I think once you get to this steam point, your frozen product just needs a quick removal from the foil to crisp the skin.

And that I think is about it. I'm off to enjoy some chicko rolls in the scrub.

Here is what some of the reviews on the DS site had to say


-No light to indicate that the unit is operating

-Opens from halfway up revealing two aluminium 'trays' which means when the unit is closed half the height is wasted when cooking because liquids will spill out particularly when it is sitting in a moving vehicle but also when it's stationary because it doesn't have a steam vent on the top of the unit steam will escape from halfway up and condense and run down onto the floor of the vehicle.Can be put in a tray or bucket on the floor of vehicle to prevent spillages#

-Unit can be irreparably damaged if the power goes out when it is hot and contains liquid because of rubber seal which creates a vacuum and will deform the 'trays' inward. Cutting a small vent in the rubber seal will prevent vacuum damage

-'trays' aluminium base and top cannot be removed

-round shape causes it to roll around the floor of the vehicle when moving if not properly secured Can be secured from rolling by packing other items around it or attaching with Velcro to a flat sheet on the floor or even by suspending from the handle

-120 Watt 10 Amp takes about 30 minutes to heat to cooking temperature. Care must be taken to ensure vehicle electrics are not damaged if used in conjunction with other devices exceeding the vehicles power socket capacity and its a good idea to have spare fuses for the cigarette lighter circuit if you plan to use with other devices
Even given the limitations above its wonderful and liberating to cook on the go and not have to rely on the vagaries of shops along the way and you get to choose what hot food you eat.


I bought one of these for my truck and it is perfect. Just bung in a chilled meal (in a foil takeaway container is best) about an hour before stopping and it's ready to eat with no hassles. It is best if you can can keep the base of the meal off the bottom of the cooker though. Overall, very happy with it and it's now a permanent feature :-)



  1. Real men don't eat party pies!
    Nice find though.

    1. True Dat Rod. However, I was a bit short of cheese and bacon sausage rolls and I wanted to get the test completed. So party pies it was. Just don't tell every one I did that :) Particularly the tin lid.

  2. I have a similar one (I cut the cig lighter off and put a Merit on as soon as i got it). A couple of Qs for you though
    - have you cured the "securing it" problem?
    - have you done anything regarding some sort of trivet to keep the cooking food off the actual hot bottom tray; *my* party pies ended up like they'd been in a servo pie-warmer for a week and a half

    1. Hi Jon. After its first use, I did the same. Cut the crappy cig plug off and replaced it with a more "quality" jaycar one. Its not a merit, but much better in build quality. No issues found in usage as yet. As for the trivet, I found a light steel mesh type baking tray at Coles (2 for $10) and I just cut that up and used it as a trivet. I dont know how it will go long term, after the Marble Bar trip, there was some definite rubbing of this against the aluminium tray of the oven. Probably needs a piece of cardboard or similar under it when not in use???