Our new high performance Aluma CCD 694 camera offers capabilities and features not available in any other scientific-grade imaging camera. This lightweight (1kg) and compact (114mm x 114mm x 102mm with handles) camera includes two-stage cooling, USB 2.0 interface, ultra-reliable even-illumination shutter, and fast low-noise readout.
The Aluma CCD 694 supports a wide range of accessories, including the 8-position FW8S-Aluma filter wheel with micron-level filter positioning, StarChaser SC-2 off-axis guide camera, and AO-8A Adaptive Optics accessory.
The Aluma CCD 694 has a high-sensitivity, low-noise 6 megapixel CCD sensor with 4.54 micron pixels. It is ideal for taking high spatial resolution, long duration exposures with minimal amp glow, dark current, and noise. It also includes the ability to perform high ratio analog binning, which is important for applications such as spectroscopy.
Aluma CCD is a new generation of research cameras tuned for even better performance. Over two years of collaboration with university researchers helped us bring you an enhanced new Aluma CCD series that represent the best value in a high-performance mid-sized 16-bit CCD detector. We have carefully refined the camera electronics for improved performance, minimum amp glow, and low noise. Using SONY’s best-in-class CCDs, you’ll get the precision and ultra-clean images of a CCD with the sensitivity of CMOS technology.
Aluma CCD 694 – Incredible Sensitivity
The ICX-694 CCD is one of the best optical sensors ever produced, with peak quantum efficiency over 75%, very broad spectral sensitivity, and extraordinary blue sensitivity. It also has very low read noise, large dynamic range, and extremely low dark current. This combination of high sensitivity and very low noise means you get cleaner, deeper images – faster.
Aluma CCD Features include:
- High-performance CCD imaging sensors currently manufactured by SONY and Teledyne E2V
- Lightweight, compact design
- Centered optical axis for optimum instrument balance
- Ultra-reliable even-illumination (photometric) mechanical shutter
- USB 2.0 interface
- Full frame image buffering eliminates readout artifacts
- 2-Stage TE cooling with typical -50C from ambient
- Twin variable speed fans with SmartCoolingTM technology
- High accuracy temperature regulation
- Built-in RBI Pre-flash (full frame front-illuminated sensors only)
- External TTL trigger inputs and output
- Included 110V / 220V power supply and optional 12VDC operation
- User-rechargeable desiccant plug
- Built-in 1/4-20 tripod mount
- Support for high precision 8-position filter wheels
- Works with StarChaser SC-2 off-axis guide camera and AO-8A adaptive optics
- Bulletproof firmware update capability – virtually impossible to “brick”
Advanced Software Included
All Aluma CCD models ship with MaxIm LT for Windows – a special version of MaxIm DL specific to our cameras. Aluma CCD also supports third-party applications through ASCOM and native drivers.
Compact and Lightweight Design
Aluma CCD cameras measure just 114mm x 114mm x 102mm with handles (89mm without handles) and weigh just 1 kg(2.2 lbs).
The SBIG Aluma CCD 814 has electronic shuttering, allowing a minimum exposure of just 0.001s. In addition, it has a high-reliability mechanical shutter, which facilitates accurate dark/bias calibration frames.
High-Performance ICX-694 Image Sensor
The Aluma CCD 694 uses the popular 6-megapixel SONY ICX-694ALG sensor. This sensor has 2750 x 2200 pixels at 4.54 microns square, for a 14.6 mm x 12.8 mm chip size.
This is a high-sensitivity interline CCD sensor with an extremely low dark current and very low read noise. Combining this high-performance sensor with Aluma CCD’s high cooling performance and low readout noise results in exceptionally clean images.
This sensor includes microlens technology that concentrates light on the sensitive area of each pixel. The CCD’s sensitivity peaks in the center of the visible spectrum at 550 nm, and maintains high sensitivity throughout the visible spectrum. The ICX-694 is particularly good in the blue compared to other sensors on the market.
All Aluma CCD cameras include our powerful new SmartCooling technology. The two-stage cooler, powerful fans, and advanced heat sink designed using thermal flow simulation combine to produce a typical cooling delta from an ambient of -50C. This is quite a feat considering the Aluma CCD’s very compact and lightweight package.
SmartCooling automatically adjusts the fan speed to optimize cooler performance and power consumption. The camera’s firmware is constantly monitoring the sensor and heat sink temperatures and controlling the cooler power. When full cooling power is needed – when ramping down or running near full power – the fans ramp up to their maximum speed, resulting in the strongest possible cooling. When less cooling power is needed the fans automatically slow to reduce noise levels and power consumption. SmartCooling also prevents any possibility of overheating by backing off power if the heat sink gets too hot – so you don’t need to worry if your camera is baking in a hot observatory during the day.
Advanced Software Included
All SBIG cameras come with our MaxIm LT software – a US$200 value! MaxIm LT is a special version of our venerable MaxIm DL software that provides complete control of your camera, filter wheel, and autoguider, plus advanced image processing capabilities. If you wish you can upgrade to MaxIm DL Pro to get complete observatory integration and even more processing and analysis capabilities.
Each Aluma CCD camera package includes:
- MaxIm LT software – please use this form to request your license
- Deluxe carrying case
- Universal power supply (110V / 220V, 50-60 Hz)
- 2″ Nosepiece adapter
- USB flash drive containing software, drivers, and documentation
- 15 foot (4.5 m) USB cable
The optional FW8S-Aluma 8-position filter wheel includes a positive centering mechanism that precisely centers each filter in the exact same position every time. This single-pixel accuracy completely eliminates ghost images of dust spots and other artifacts after flat fielding.
Positive detent mechanism provides single-pixel filter position accuracy
Precision flat-fielding with utlra-accurate indexing
The above left image shows a dust spot on the filters. A flat-field calibration frame was taken, then the filter wheel was rotated several times before taking a second picture, which was flat-field calibrated, above right. No evidence of the dust spot is visible. This high precision results in the highest quality images and excellent photometric accuracy.
The Aluma wheel holds standard 36 mm filters, and inserts are available for 1-1/4″ filters, which are suitable for smaller format CCD sensors.
The Aluma filter wheel replaces the camera’s front plate, resulting in the minimum possible back-focus, ensuring that the camera / filter wheel combination will reach focus on the widest possible variety of optical systems.
For astronomical imaging the Aluma CCD series works the StarChaser SC-2 Off-Axis Guide Camera. This provides reliable guiding with no impact from optical train flexure. It also supports the operation of the optional AO-8A Adaptive Optics accessory.
All Aluma CCD models can operate with the AO-8A Adaptive Optics accessory. The AO-8A uses a tip-tilt window to quickly and precisely adjust the image position in response to autoguider feedback. With Adaptive Optics there is no backlash, stiction, or lag, and the movements are extremely precise and accurate. This allows the AO-8A to not only remove the effects of periodic error, drift, and wind gusts, but also reduce the effects of atmospheric seeing