OpticStar DS-336C XL CCD Camera
Not all 6 mega-pixel T.E.C. cooled astronomy cameras are created equal. The DS-336C XL by Opticstar is in a class of its own with 50% higher sensitivity in real-world applications (100% maximum) than other cameras using the same Sony CCD due to its hardware gain and outstanding hardware noise suppression, both features implemented in the camera hardware which is the only way to deliver the additional performance. Optic Star has also implemented black level in hardware and is user set, it helps to effectively reduce dark noise levels prior to the data being sent to the computer.
The new Opticstar XL DS-336C XL CCD cameras use precision machined heavy duty alloy cases that provide unparalleled solidity and support sensor orthogonality. The camera uses long-life, high quality seals and offer 99%+ camera window transparency. A substantial heat-sink (over five to ten times the mass of the typical heat-sink in comparable cameras) rapidly draws the heat away from the sensor via a powerful Peltier thermocouple for superior performance. This heat is then rapidly dissipated into the atmosphere with the assistance of a fan thus bringing noise levels down to an absolute minimum.
The huge Sony 1.8" format CCD sensor that Opticstar has equipped offers an unusually wide field of view (~13 times the sensor area of a 1/2" sensor typically found in top of the range astronomy video cameras) allowing exceptionally large targets like the Andromeda Galaxy to approximately fit on the DS-336C XL sensor at 1000mm focal length i.e. 8" f5 telescope.
Opticstar has ensured that the DS-336C Xl CCD focus and preview modes run at a maximum 3 frames per second which is several times faster than other single shot astronomy cameras, this makes accurate focusing markedly easier to achieve.
The proprietary StarView mode enables semi real time viewing of deep sky objects in colour with an 1600% sensitivity boost with exposure times at up to 10 seconds, a very useful feature not available to other manufacturers' single shot cameras! As with all colour Opticstar CCD cameras, binning modes are supported at 2x2 and 4x4 in full colour.
The DS-336C XL offers the functionality of single shot, long exposure large sensor cooled camera with features found in long exposure video cameras while delivering superior performance. Coupled with the real-time viewing ability the Opticstar DS-366C XL presents the ultimate astronomy cooled colour camera.
Bundled with the Opticstar camera, is a mains power supply unit to power the thermo-electric cooling sub-system, hard carry case and adapters to attach the camera to the telescope. The camera also includes the Opticstar View camera control software, Nebulosity v2 camera control and image processing software as well as drivers for MaxImDL and Astroart.
The camera is ready to use out of the box, all you need is a telescope.
Nebulosity v2 Software
Nebulosity is designed to be a powerful, but simple to use capture and processing application for a wide range of astronomy CCD cameras. Many cameras are supported for capture and images from just about anything can be processed (support for many FITS formats, PNG, TIFF, JPEG, CR2/CRW, etc). Its goal is to suit people ranging from the novice imager who wants to create his or her first images to the advanced imager who wants a convenient, flexible capture application for use in the field.
In it, you get a host of purpose-built, powerful tools to make the most out of your images (e.g., Digital Development Processing, traditional alignment/stacking (equatorial and alt-az), Drizzle alignment/stacking, Bad Pixel Mapping, LRGB tools, real-time tricolour histograms for colour balancing, star tightening via edge detection, adaptive scaling of stacks, 32/96-bit accuracy, etc.)
Opticstar DS-336C XL CCD astrophotography camera has easy to use but powerful interface. In this camera, the main screen features all the basic controls so the user doesn't have to plow through menus to find what they need. The CCD software is also auto-scaled, meaning data is brought to the appropriate size on the display automatically. If the user wishes to resize this, there is a pixel zoom buttom that lets them do just that. If the user wants to find out the angular distance between three points, they can do so with the measure distance tool in CCD pixels, arc-seconds, and/or arc minutes. Other minor features of the DS-336C Opticstar software include the ability to act as a fits viewer as well as running scripts to automate captures.
For the user to have a clear understanding of whats happening, the main screen of the Opticstar software features all the capture parameters and can either be specified in seconds or milliseconds. The fine focus mode loops a quick image around a star to adjust focus and the frame and focus loops a quick binded image to assist in rapid initial focusing.
The Opticstar is compatible with a wide range of file types and file systems. Among the file types you can save include FITS, BMP, JPG (24-bit color), and PNG (compressed). Users can also load Canon CR2 format RAW, and Canon CRW format. All data is stored internally on the disk in 32-bit format (color equates to 96-bits) to ensure no saturation occurs.
The Opticstar DS-336C XL CCD software image processing application includes dark and bias frames for pre-processing of B&W, RAW, and RGB color sets of images. These dark frames can be auto-scaled to eliminate the effect of exposure time differences. The user can also create bad pixel maps which can elimate hot pixels to make darks more efficient. DDP (Digital Developing Processing) use a hyperbolic scaling of data that allows efficient background darkening. If you wish to stack a series of images (along with drizzling) with translation (equatorial mounted) or translation and rotation (ALT-AZ mounted), the software has built in capabilites to allow this accurately.
Opticstar View - Camera Control Software
It includes Opticstar View software for image capture and camera control with a point and click interface. It can capture single frames or a series of single frames in BMP format.
A brief outline of View’s image processing functions is listed below:
- Basic operations including Crop, Mirror, Flip, Invert, Rotate, Bright, etc.
- Copy and paste user defined regions.
- Distances can be measured between user defined points, circles, etc.
- Angles can be calculated by defining three points on the image.
- Operations can be performed on any user defined region.
- Colour operations can be performed on individual R, G, B channels.
- Data combine of two images.
- Data calibration.
- Image-zoom as a per cent of the original image.
- Linear filters to soften, sharpen, emboss, blur and Gaussian.
- Non-linear filters for median, erode, dilate, contour, edge and jitter.
- Transform filters for pinch, punch, twirl and cylinder.
- Fluorescence filters for gamma, colorize, mix and combine.
Cooled and non-cooled cameras for deep-sky, planetary, lunar and solar photography. Single-shot and video models.
All computer-controlled cameras offer high-speed USB 2.0 connectivity and resolutions of up to 6 mega pixels.
Also available, are complete auto-guiding solution that enables the user to control a large range of telescopes with a computer.
|ADC (analog to digital converter)||12-bit RGB raw, (16-bit application data)|
|Computer Interface||USB 2.0 480Mb/s Nebulosity v2, Opticstar View, plug-in for AstroArt, plug-in for MaxIm DL|
|Cooling||Thermo-Electric Cooling with fan assist to 30ºC below ambient temperature|
|Dimensions||115mm x 110mm x 95mm|
|Exposure||Automatic or Manual|
|Filter(s)||Colour Bayer RGB Mosaic|
|Gain e-/ADU||in hardware, up to 100% sensitivity boost|
|Mounting connections||C-mount (T-thread included)|
|Power Requirements||USB 2.0 Bus Power plus 3.3V for TEC cooling|
|Sensor Type||Sony ICX412AQ CCD|