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Proceedings Paper

Series of CCD cameras for low-light-level applications
Author(s): Michal L. Peri; Daniel W. Weaver; Tom P. Ambrose; Dan Hirpara; Susan Gallagher; Andrew M. Hall; Gregg Bone
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Paper Abstract

We describe a series of five CCD cameras designed by Gordian for low light-level applications. The first device is a low-cost non-imaging astronomical autoguiding tracker based on the Texas Instruments TC255 CCD chip and an MC6811 microcontroller. Mounting off-axis, it provides standardized tracking-motor signals for any telescope with a dual-axis drive corrector, automatically compensating for the mechanical peculiarities of the drive, set- up factors, and pointing errors. The tracker can guide to +/- 1 arcsec on an 8th magnitude star when used with an 8' aperture, f/10 telescope. The basic autoguider design has been extended to produce self-contained 8-bit and 16-bit imaging cameras with autoguiding functionality. Images are buffered in PSRAM, then relayed to a host PC via an RS-232 serial connection. The addition of regulated thermoelectric cooling reduces CCD thermal noise and alleviates dark current saturation. Gordian has also designed two high-resolution cameras based on the Kodak KAF-0400 and KAF-1600 CCDs. The cameras produce 16-bit images with 768 X 512 pixels or 1536 X 1024 pixels, respectively. Pixel size is 9 micrometers square. The camera head contains the CCD, thermoelectric cooling mechanism, analog electronics, and a custom-designed electromechanical shutter based on FlexinolTM actuator wire. A separate base unit houses a Motorola 68306 microprocessor and associated electronics for telescope control and on-board image processing. A stepper-motor based filter wheel can be attached directly to the camera head. The camera communicates with a personal computer via SCSI or serial connection. Software for the host PC provides additional control options, data storage, and image processing capability.

Paper Details

Date Published: 25 March 1996
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 2654, Solid State Sensor Arrays and CCD Cameras, (25 March 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.236099
Show Author Affiliations
Michal L. Peri, Gordian (United States)
Daniel W. Weaver, Gordian (United States)
Tom P. Ambrose, Gordian (United States)
Dan Hirpara, Gordian (United States)
Susan Gallagher, Gordian (United States)
Andrew M. Hall, Gordian (United States)
Gregg Bone, Gordian (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2654:
Solid State Sensor Arrays and CCD Cameras
Constantine N. Anagnostopoulos; Morley M. Blouke; Michael P. Lesser, Editor(s)

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