Santa Barbara Instrument Group ccd camera Specifications

Operating Manual
STXL Advanced Series
CCD Cameras
Santa Barbara Instrument Group
150 Castilian Drive, Suite 101
Santa Barbara, CA 93117
(805) 571-7244 • www.sbig.com • sbig@sbig.com
DECLARATION OF CONFORMITY
We, Santa Barbara Instrument Group, a division of Aplegen, Inc., 150 Castilian Drive, Santa Barbara,
CA 93117 USA, (805) 308-6985, declare under our sole responsibility that the Model STXL CCD
camera complies with Part 15 of the FCC Rules. Operation is subject to the following two conditions: (1)
this device may not cause harmful interference, and (2) this device must accept any interference received,
including interference that may cause undesired operation.
____________________________________________________________
Note: This equipment has been tested and found to comply with the limits for a Class B digital device
pursuant to Part 15 of the FCC Rules. These limits are designed to provide reasonable protection against
harmful interference in a residential installation. This equipment generates, uses, and can radiate radio
frequency energy and if not installed and used in accordance with the instructions, may cause harmful
interference to radio communications. However, there is no guarantee that interference will not occur in
a particular installation. If this equipment does cause harmful interference to radio or television
reception, which can be determined by turning the equipment off and on, the user is encouraged to try to
correct the interference by one or more of the following measures:
•
•
•
•
Reorient or relocate the receiving antenna.
Increase the separation between the receiver and the equipment.
Connect the equipment into an outlet on a circuit different from that to which the receiver is
connected.
Consult the dealer or an experienced radio/TV technician for help.
A ferrite clip on the USB cable and Guider HDMI cable must be used when operating this equipment.
You are also warned that any changes to this certified device will void your legal right to operate it.
____________________________________________________________________________
Operating Manual for STXL Series Cameras
Revision 1.3
December, 2012
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.0. CAMERA HARDWARE .......................................................................................................5
1.1. Introduction and Overview ...................................................................................5
1.2. Unpacking the Camera..........................................................................................5
Standard Items: ................................................................................................6
Optional Items: ................................................................................................7
1.3. Parts and Assembly...............................................................................................8
1.4. Connectors ............................................................................................................9
Remote Guide Head Port .................................................................................9
Power ...............................................................................................................9
Ethernet ..........................................................................................................10
I2C-AUX Port ................................................................................................10
USB Port ........................................................................................................10
SCOPE Port ...................................................................................................10
Water In / Out ................................................................................................10
1.5. Attaching the camera to a telescope. ..................................................................11
1.6. Connecting the Relay Cable ...............................................................................11
1.7. Attaching the Remote Head ................................................................................11
1.8. Connecting water hoses ......................................................................................12
1.9. Extending the USB cable ....................................................................................12
1.10. Opening the Front Cover - Regenerating the Desiccant Plug...........................13
1.12. Indicator Lights .................................................................................................13
1.13. Opening the Back Cover - Changing the Fuse..................................................14
1.14. Using a Relay Adapter Box with the STXL .....................................................14
1.15. Camera Resolution............................................................................................16
1.16. Camera Field of View.......................................................................................17
1.17. Focal Length, Resolution and Field of View....................................................18
2.0. CAMERA SOFTWARE ......................................................................................................19
2.1 Installing Software ...............................................................................................19
Installing CCDOps.........................................................................................19
Installing the SBIG Drivers ...........................................................................19
Linking the Drivers ........................................................................................20
2.2. Using the Camera................................................................................................21
Establishing a Link with CCDOps ................................................................21
Camera Setup .................................................................................................21
Taking Sample Dark Frames .........................................................................21
Further Investigations ....................................................................................22
2.3. Specific Activities...............................................................................................22
Ethernet Configuration ..................................................................................22
Web Browser .................................................................................................22
Making the Autoguiding Connection ............................................................23
2.4. Third Party Software ..........................................................................................23
CCDSoft ........................................................................................................23
MaximDl ........................................................................................................23
Support and Developer Resources ..............................................................................23
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Appendix A – Adjustments and Maintenance ...........................................................................24
Firmware Updates .......................................................................................................24
Internal Tracker Focus ................................................................................................24
Desiccant Regeneration ..............................................................................................24
Cleaning the CCD and the Window ...........................................................................25
Appendix B - Capturing a Good Flat Field................................................................................26
B-1. Technique...........................................................................................................26
Appendix C – Camera Specifications .........................................................................................27
Appendix D – Connector and Cables .........................................................................................28
Power Jack ..................................................................................................................28
Scope Port ...................................................................................................................28
I2C/AUX Port .............................................................................................................28
Appendix E – Mechanical Drawings and Backfocus Distances ...............................................29
Adapter ring drawings and thread specifications .......................................................29
Backfocus: Camera without filter wheel. ...................................................................30
Backfocus: Camera with Standard Filter Wheel. .......................................................31
Backfocus: Camera with Self-Guiding Filter Wheel .................................................32
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1.0. CAMERA HARDWARE
Congratulations and thank you for buying one of Santa Barbara Instrument Group's STXL
Series CCD cameras. These large format cameras are SBIG's ninth generation CCD cameras and
represent the state of the art in CCD camera systems with their low noise and advanced
capabilities. The STXL Series cameras include several exciting new features: self-guiding in
front of the filters, enhanced cooling capabilities, both high speed USB 2.0 interface and Ethernet
interface, plus other innovative features found nowhere else.
1.1. Introduction and Overview
These cameras can control two CCDs: The imaging CCD inside the sealed chamber, and
an external tracking CCD located either in the self-guiding filter wheel or remote guide head.
The new cooling design is capable of exceptional performance even in warm climates. The relay
output plugs directly into most recent commercial telescope drives and is easily adaptable to
virtually any drive system. As a result, you can take hour long guided exposures with ease, using
either the built-in guiding CCD or the remote guiding head. Using the self-guiding filter wheel
eliminates differential deflection of a guide scope relative to the main telescope and requires no
radial guider setup. The remote guiding head allows for a convenient alternative if using camera
lenses or when less backfocus is required. This dual tracking mode capability, coupled with the
phenomenal sensitivity of the CCD, will allow the user to acquire observatory class images of
deep sky images with modest apertures!
1.2. Unpacking the Camera
It is always a good idea to check over your new camera to make sure that you have
received all necessary parts and standard accessories. Each STXLL Series camera is packed in a
deluxe custom carrying case. This case contains all the items necessary to operate your camera.
The case is sealed at the factory with a “plastic padlock” that cannot be removed without leaving
evidence that the case was opened. If you received your camera without one of these plastic
security locks sealing the case, please immediately take inventory of the contents and contact
your dealer or SBIG to report the condition of the camera and accessories.
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Standard Equipment for STXL Series Cameras:
STXL Camera
15’ USB Cable
Universal Power
Supply
Regional AC Cord
and Plug
Power Cable
Extension
Tracking Cable /
Adapter
Software and
Manuals
Custom Pelican Case
Standard Items:
Camera Body
The STXL Series Camera Body incorporates an imaging CCD, two-stage cooling, highspeed USB interface, Ethernet interface and opto-isolated relays for telescope control. An
accessory plate with 3” threaded aperture is fixed to the front of the camera body for
attaching to your telescope adapter. Due to the large size of some CCDs used in the
STXL series cameras, a 2” nosepiece is too small to use without vignetting the image.
Rack handles are also attached to the camera body at the factory. In addition to making
the camera easier to handle in the dark, these handles also protect the fan housing when
the camera is placed on a flat surface or when it is packed in its carrying case.
Universal Power Supply
The STXL's universal power supply enables operation of the camera from 100 to
240VAC, 50-60 Hz. Note that the power supply has a different pin configuration than the
camera power port. The supplied extension power cable must be used between the power
supply and the camera. This extension cable provides the correct pinout for the camera.
Use only the power supply provided with the STXL camera. The earlier model STL
cameras also have a 6 pin power port, however the power supplies provided with STL
cameras do not provide sufficient current to operate the STXL series cameras.
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Power Supply Extension Cable
This cable extends the distance the power supply may be placed away from the camera. It
is also much more flexible than the short lead provided with the power supply. Finally,
the extension cable adapts the four-pin output of the power supply to the six-pin DIN plug
at the camera.
Regional AC Cord and Plug
AC cords with either European or North American style plugs are provided.
15’ USB Cable
A standard 15’ USB cable is supplied
Relay Cable
The tracking cable is a 6 conductor flat cable with 6 pin modular telephone style plugs at
both ends
Software and Manuals
A complete package of camera control software, drivers for both 32 bit and 64 bit
Windows O/S and manuals are included.
Custom Pelican Case
The Pelican brand carrying cases provided for the STXL Series cameras are high quality,
waterproof, dustproof, crushproof cases that carry a lifetime guarantee from the
manufacturer.
Optional Items:
Filter Wheels
SBIG offers two filter wheels for the STXL series cameras. The FW8S-STXL is a
standard filter wheel with 8 positions for 50mm round un-mounted filters. The FW8GSTXL is identical except that it incorporates a self-guiding CCD in the filter wheel cover,
in front of the filters.
Custom Filters
50mm round filters are commonly available from several manufacturers. As of this
writing, SBIG offers filter sets from Baader Planetarium and Astrodon. Sets designated
as LRGBC contain both a Luminance and a Clear filter in addition to the RGB filters.
Some manufacturers provide a Clear only and some provide a Luminance only. A
Luminance filter is both UV and IR blocked. A clear filter is not blocked, but should be
AR coated.
Remote Guide Head
The optional STXL Remote Guide Head contains a KAI-340S CCD identical to the
guiding CCD that is built into the Self-Guiding Filter Wheel. This remote head allows
you to use a separate guide scope or off-axis guider to place the guiding CCD outside the
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filter wheel for convenience when imaging through narrow band filters or anytime you
wish to use an external guider.
Canon EOS Lens Adapter
This adapter allows the use of Canon EOS camera lenses on STXL cameras equipped
with the standard filter wheel.
12VDC Power Cord
A 12VDC power cord is available for field operation directly from a battery.
12V Water Pump
A submersible pump is available for water cooling. It is only necessary to provide a
constant flow of water through the heat exchanger to achieve maximum cooling. Cooling
the water supply is generally not necessary but may be used for additional cooling if
desired. If you do not have a ready source of water this pump will work in the field from
12VDC.
1.3. Parts and Assembly
The front section of the camera body contains the CCD chamber, shutter, electronics, and
desiccant plug. The rear section contains the heat exchanger, fan, power supply for 12VDC
operation in the field, and fuse. The red front cover has a round black mounting plate with 3 inch
threads and dovetail shape. The front cover may be removed from the camera body without
exposing the CCD chamber to the air. The accessory plate is shimmed at the factory to provide a
flat mounting surface that is parallel to the CCD. Under normal use, it should not be removed. If
it is removed, please note the location of the shims around the screws holding the plate to the
front cover so that they may be replaced in the same configuration. The rear cover has rack
handles, fan and heat sink, plus ventilation slots for air circulation which should not be blocked
or covered. Two water circulation fittings are found on the side of the camera opposite the
power and other electrical connections.
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1.4. Connectors
Remote Guide Head Port
This miniature connector is for attaching an optional remote guiding head or the FW8GSTXL Self-Guiding filter wheel guiding CCD. Both the remote guiding head and the
FW8G-STXL contain a 16-bit, low-noise, KAI-340S guiding CCD identical to the
guiding CCD built-in the camera. They draw power from the main camera and are
controlled by the same software that controls the internal guider. This option allows the
use of either the RGH or FW8G-STXL for self-guiding during long exposures. Each of
these accessories have mechanical shutters and are therefore capable of automatically
taking dark frames for the guiding CCD.
Power
This port accepts 12-14VDC in to power the camera and any accessories that may be
connected to the I2C port. Use the supplied 100-240VAC Universal power supply or
connect directly to a 12VDC supply such as a car battery. If using the Universal power
supply, note that the supplied extension cord must also be used between the power
supply and the camera to provide the correct pin configuration at the camera. Note
also, that the STXL's power connector will accept a direct connection from an STL
camera power supply. If you inadvertently plug an STL power upply into an STXL
camera, it will not cause damage to the STXL camera, but the camera will not
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operate reliably under full cooling power as the STL supply does not provide the
required current for the STXL camera. If you wish to make a custom power cable, the
pin outs for the connector may be found in the appendix of this manual. We recommend
16 gauge conductor for 10’ to 15’ of cable or 18 gauge conductor for less than 10’ of
cable.
Ethernet
This port is for controlling the camera using Ethernet instead of USB. Connect CAT5
Ethernet cable between this port and your computer's Ethernet port. See the Software
Section 2.3 for instructions of using an Ethernet interface.
I2C-AUX Port
This port is for attachment of accessories: SBIG filter wheels, Adaptive Optics, etc.
Accessories designed to use this port do not require separate power supplies or control
cables running to the computer.
USB Port
Connect to your computer using a standard 15’ USB cable. If your computer must be
more than 15’ from the camera we recommend an active extension for short distances
(15’ additional) or a powered USB extended such as the Icron Ranger for longer
distances. The Icron Ranger allows USB devices to operate up to 100 meters from the
host computer. For long runs we recommend using the Ethernet interface with CAT5
cable.
SCOPE Port
This port supplies the relay outputs for controlling the guiding of your telescope.
Connect the supplied 6-conductor telephone style cable to this connector and the other
end of the cable to your telescope drive's autoguider input port. See Section 1.6 for more
information.
Water In / Out
The camera can be operated with or without
water circulation. Simply by attaching water
circulation you can maintain a lower
operating temperature in warm
environments. The water circulation helps
lower the temperature of the heat exchanger
located in the back of the camera and this, in
turn, makes it easier for the TE cooler to
reach lower temperatures. The water does
not need to be cooled, but it may be for
additional efficiency. An optional 12VDC
water pump is available from SBIG. The
water fittings of the STXL cameras accept tubing with 1/4 inch inside diameter.
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1.5. Attaching the camera to a telescope.
Due to the size of the largest CCD supported by the STXL
camera, typical t-threads and even a 2” nosepiece will cause
vignetting of the CCD. The accessory plate on the front
cover of the camera has a 3” threaded aperture (3.00-24 UN2B). The outside diameter of this threaded ring also allows
for dovetail attachment with the appropriate sized adapter.
Please check with your telescope manufacturer for an
attachment adapter. Mechanical drawings are provided in
the Appendix of this manual for making custom adapters.
1.6. Connecting the Relay Cable
The camera contains opto-isolated relays to control a telescope during self-guiding or when auto
guiding. Most modern telescope drive controllers have a 6-pin modular phone style jack on their
front panel or hand paddle for plugging in an autoguider.
The relay outputs from the camera are brought out via a
phone style connector labeled “SCOPE.” To connect the
telephone style Relay Cable to the camera, use the 6conductor cable provided.
Please note that the cable
must have the connectors
attached on each end in the
correct orientation for
autoguiding. See the diagram at right (Off-the-shelf cable for
telephone use may have these plugs reversed).
1.7. Attaching the Remote Head
The Remote Guiding Head is an optional accessory for all models of the STXL Series cameras.
When attached to the main camera body, the Remote Guiding Head can perform all of the
functions of the guiding CCD that is built into the camera. You control the Remote Guider using
the same menu commands as you would for the internal guider. You can select which guider to
use for a self-guided image. The Remote Guiding Head makes it possible to self-guide using a
separate guide scope, or through an off-axis guider assembly that is placed in front of the filters.
This can be useful when imaging through narrow band filters where stars are difficult to see. It is
important to remember that you should not connect or disconnect the Remote Head to the
camera while the power in on. It is a good idea, therefore, to plan your observing session in
advance and connect the Remote Head at the beginning of the evening if there is any chance that
you expect to use it that night. If you decide that you need the Remote Head in the middle of an
observing session, it may be inconvenient to shut down the main camera and power back up
again. The Remote Guiding Head contains a mechanical shutter and is therefore capable of
taking dark frames without manual intervention by the user.
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1.8. Connecting water hoses
STXL Series cameras are equipped with a heat exchanger
that allows water circulation if conditions require additional
cooling of the CCD. The cameras may be operated with or
without water circulation. No special steps are necessary to
use water circulation other than connection of a water
supply. The camera comes with two water hose fittings
(pictured in the inset at left) that accept a hose with an
inside diameter of 1/4th inch. Very little water pressure is
needed for additional cooling. Only enough pressure to
maintain a constant flow is required to get maximum
benefit from the water circulation. Also, it is usually
not necessary to cool the water below ambient
temperature with ice or refrigeration but it can be
done so long as you monitor the dew point. Water at
ambient temperature is an effective heat conductor
and a constant flow of water will carry away enough
heat from the heat exchanger that further cooling of
the water supply will result in little gain. Cooling the
water supply too much may cool the camera well
below the dew point so that moisture forms on the
inside surface of the case or the outside surface of the CCD chamber window. If you do not
have a way to supply water to the camera, the 12VDC water pump and tubing shown above right
is an optional accessory available from SBIG.
1.9. Extending the USB cable
The camera is supplied a standard 15’ (~4.6 meter) USB cable. If you wish to operate the
camera remotely, there are several ways to extend this distance between your computer and the
camera:
Active USB Extension Cable. These accessories are commonly available at computer
stores and Radio Shack. They are 15 foot extension cables that get their power from the
USB output port of your computer. These are good if your computer is located no more
then about 30 feet (~9 meters) from the camera.
Powered USB extenders. Powered extenders such as the Icron Ranger (www.icron.com)
are also commonly available in computer stores and by mail order over the Internet.
These extenders require power at one end of the cable (either end) and will let you
operate the camera (or any USB device) up to 100 meters from the computer.
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1.10. Opening the Front Cover - Regenerating the Desiccant Plug
The CCD is housed in a sealed chamber located
inside the front cover of the camera. The
chamber is separate from the large front and rear
cover plates, so that opening the front or rear
cover plates will not expose the CCD chamber to
the environment. The CCD chamber has a
desiccant plug located on one side to help
remove moisture from the air inside the
chamber. If it should become necessary to
recharge the desiccant due to excess moisture or
frosting in the chamber, it is a simple matter to
remove the desiccant plug, bake it in a
conventional oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees
C) for 4 hours and replace the plug in the camera. To gain access to the desiccant plug, remove
the front cover by loosening the eight socket head screws as shown in the picture above left.
Note the location of the desiccant plug (A) in the
next photo below right. Remove the plug by
unscrewing the two socket head screws (B) holding
it to the chamber. There is an o-ring between the
plug and the chamber. Be sure to remove this oring before baking the plug. Place a small piece of
electrical tape over the hole in the side of the CCD
chamber while you are baking the desiccant plug to
keep unwanted dust and moisture out of the
chamber. When you replace the desiccant plug
after baking it, remember to replace the o-ring.
1.12. Indicator Lights
There are two sets of LED indicator lights located on the side of the camera body that provide
information about the camera’s communication link, exposure status, relay activity, and input
voltage. The top row contains five LEDs:
The red status LED will flicker when the
camera is powered up. It will then either glow
continuously when the camera is idle or blink
when the camera is taking an exposure. The
four amber LEDs indicate when any of the
four relays are activated during during selfguiding. The bottom row contains four LEDs:
These indicate the input voltage to the camera
and are helpful when operating from battery
power. Normally the Green LED will glow
continuously to indicate that the power
supplied is 12 -14 volts. The first yellow LED labeled 11V will light if the input voltage at the
camera drops to 11.25V or less. The second yellow LED labeled 10V will light if the input
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voltage at the camera drops to 10.25V or less. At 10.25V or less, the camera will automatically
shut down the TE cooling but otherwise continue to operate normally. The final red LED labeled
9V will light if the input voltage at the camera drops to 9.25V or less. At this point the camera's
operation may be unreliable and you should shut it down until the voltage can be brought back up
to the normal operating range.
1.13. Opening the Back Cover - Changing the Fuse
STXL cameras have a built-in voltage regulation that lets you run the camera directly from any
unregulated 12VDC source such as car battery. The input to this supply is protected with a fuse
located inside the rear of the camera. To access the fuse, place the camera face down on a
smooth clean surface. To help avoid any static damage, touch something metal that is grounded
before opening the camera. Open the back cover plate of the camera by removing the eight
socket head screws located around the perimeter of the back plate. Carefully lift the rear cover
and turn it over. You will see a wiring harness for the fan that prevents the cover from being
completely detached, but the wires should be long enough that the cover can be placed out of the
way without unplugging the harness. The fuse is located on the digital board as shown in the
right hand photo above. .
1.14. Using a Relay Adapter Box with the STXL
STXL cameras use opto-isolated relays that isolate the
camera, electrically, from your mount’s drive
electronics. It is therefore unlikely that a Relay Adapter
box will be needed with any commercial mount.
However if you wish to use the Relay Box with
mechanical relays for other reasons, then jumpers must
be set inside the camera to provide 12V out on one pin
of the SCOPE port. This is needed to supply power to
the Relay Adapter Box before it can be used with the
camera. To set the jumpers, remove the back cover of
the camera as instructed in the previous section for changing the fuse. Unlike the fuse, however,
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the jumpers are not on the top board, so it may be easier for this procedure to unplug the fan
wiring harness from the digital board to get the wires out of the way. Then, remove the five long
Phillips screws from the digital board as indicated by the arrows in the photo above. Note also
the location of the rectangular box outline in the same photo. This outline indicates the location
of a connector on the bottom of the digital board that attaches to the board below (visible in the
next photo). To remove the digital board you must
carefully pry this connector loose and lift the digital
board away from the camera. Care should be taken
not to pull too strongly on the digital board far from
the connector as this could bend the board and cause
cracks in the delicate traces.
Once the digital board is removed locate the jumper
pins just next to the row of five LEDs that show
through holes in the side of the camera body. The
jumper pins are immediately adjacent to LED02 (see
photo below). There are four pairs of pins. Jumpers
must be placed on the two pairs of pins farthest away
from the LEDs (bottom photo below).
Factory configuration: No jumpers.
Jumpers set for Relay Box
Replace the digital board taking care to align all the pins in the connector before applying slight
pressure to seat the pins. Replace the five Phipllips-head screws and plug in the fan wiring
harness. Then replace the back plate.
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1.15. Camera Resolution
Resolution comes in two flavors these days. In the commercial world of digital devices, the word
resolution is often used synonymously with the number of pixels used in a device. You are used
to seeing ads for scanners with a "resolution" of 2,000 x 3,000 pixels, etc. Computer monitors
have various "resolution" settings which are basically the number of pixels displayed. We use
the word here in its literal sense, which is ability to resolve detail. This has nothing to do with
the number of pixels, rather
it is governed by the size of
each pixel and the focal
length of the optical system.
Typically, seeing limits the
resolution of a good system.
Seeing is often measured in
terms of the Full Width Half
Maximum (FWHM) of a star
image on a long exposure.
That is, the size of a star's
image in arcseconds when
measured at half the
maximum value for that star
in an exposure of many
seconds. As a general rule,
one wants to sample such a
star image with no less than
2 pixels. It is preferable to
sample the star image with 3
or more pixels depending on
the processing steps to be
performed and the final
display size desired. By way of example, if the atmosphere and optical system allow the smallest
star images of 2.6 arcseconds in diameter (FWHM) then one needs a telescope focal length and
pixel size that will let each pixel see 1/3 of 2.6 arcseconds. In this example the pixel field of
view should be about 0.86 arcseconds per pixel for an optimum balance of extended object
sensitivity to resolution of fine detail. If you aim for a pixel FOV of about 1 arcsecond per pixel
through a given focal length, then you should be fine for the majority of typical sites and imaging
requirements. If your seeing is much better than typical, then you should aim for less than one
arcsecond per pixel. If your seeing is much worse than typical, then you can get away with 1.5 or
even 2 arcseconds per pixel. The table above shows the field of view per pixel for several pixel
sizes at various focal lengths. Select the focal length or range of focal lengths of your
telescope(s) and look across for a pixel size that yields a field of view close to 1 arcsecond per
pixel. Note also that the exception to this rule is planetary imaging where sensitivity is not an
issue and resolution is paramount. In this case, aim for 0.5 or 0.25 arcseconds per pixel. Also
16
note that cameras with smaller pixels may be binned 2x2 or 3x3 to create larger pixels and
expand the useful range of the camera. For example, an STXL-16000 with 7.4 micron pixels can
be binned 2x2 to give 14.8 micron pixels. The overall field of view of the CCD does not change
however, and a camera with larger pixels and a larger field of view might be preferable if it will
not be used on shorter focal length instruments.
1.16. Camera Field of View
The field of view that your camera will see through a given telescope is determined by the focal
length of the telescope and the physical size of the CCD chip. This also has nothing to do with
the number of pixels.
Through the same
telescope, a CCD that has
512 x 512 pixels at 20
microns square will have
exactly the same field of
view as a CCD with 1024
x 1024 pixels at 10
microns square even
though the latter has four
times as many pixels.
One can vary the focal
length to vary the field of
view. Using a focal
reducer to shorten the
focal length will increase
the field of view (and
make the image brighter in the process). Using a barlow or eyepiece projection to effectively
lengthen the focal length of the telescope will decrease the field of view (and make the image
dimmer in the process). In order to determine the field of view for a given CCD, note the CCD's
length and width dimensions in millimeters (from the
camera specifications) and use the following formula for
determining the field of view for that CCD through any
telescope:
(135.3 x D ) / L = Field of View in arcminutes
where D is the length or width dimension of the CCD in
millimeters, and L is the focal length of your telescope in
inches. So, for example, if you wanted to know the field of
view of the new STL-4020M camera when attached to a 5"
F/6 telescope you would first determine the focal length of
the telescope by multiplying its aperture, 5 inches, by its
focal ratio, 6, to get its focal length, 30 inches. The CCD
dimensions are 15.2 x 15.2 mm. To calculate the field of
view multiply 135.3 x 15.2 = 2,057 and then divide by 30 = 68.6 arcminutes. By way of
comparison, the field of view of the STXL-16803 through the same telescope would be 135.3 x
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36.8 = 4,979 divided by 30 = 166 arcminutes. The table above shows the calculated field of
view in arcminutes for each of the several large format CCDs at various focal lengths. Keep in
mind however that when you vary the CCD field of view you are also varying the field of view
for each pixel and are therefore also affecting the resolution of your system.
1.17. Focal Length, Resolution and Field of View
From the forgoing we see that neither resolution alone, nor field of view alone, are dependent
solely on the number of pixels of a sensor. So when are more pixels better? The key word in the
first sentence is “alone.” All else being equal, more pixels will yield a larger field of view
compared to another camera with fewer pixels of the same pixel size. The resolution will be the
same through any optical system, because the size of each pixel remains the same. But more
pixels mean a larger CCD and therefore a larger field of view at the same resolution. So the
question becomes: What is the field of view of a CCD at a given resolution based upon pixel size
and the focal length of your optical system?
The tables on the preceding pages can help you determine this answer. The table below uses the
KAF-16803 CCD as an example:
KAF-16803 with 4096 x 4096 pixels at 9 microns
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2.0. CAMERA SOFTWARE
This section gets you up and running right away with your STXL camera. First you’ll install the
Application Software and Drivers, then you’ll have Windows Link the Drivers to the Camera and
finally you’ll connect to the Camera and take a few sample images. Please follow these
instructions in order and do not attach your Camera to your Computer until instructed.
Note: The STXL Drivers require Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 (or
later). They will not work under older Windows versions like Windows 98.
2.1 Installing Software
Before you can use your camera you’ll have to install the CCDOps Application software and the
Windows Drivers for the camera. We’ll walk you through that in this section.
Installing CCDOps
SBIG’s Application Software for our cameras is called CCDOps. It gives you full
control of your camera’s features. To install CCDOps follow the instructions below:
• Insert the CD-ROM that came with your camera into your computer’s CD drive.
If the CD doesn’t auto-run Explore the CD and run the autorun.exe file in the
root directory.
• Click the Setup New ST Camera button.
• Click on the Install CCDOps button and follow the onscreen instructions.
Installing the SBIG Drivers
SBIG Cameras require Drivers to be installed in Windows before you can communicate
with them. Our Driver Checker program downloads the latest Drivers from our website
and Installs them on your computer. Follow the instructions below to install the SBIG
Drivers for your camera:
• Going back to the SBIG CD ROM program, click on the Install 64-Bit Driver
Checker. You must use the 64-Bit Driver Checker with the STXL and it works on
both 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows.
• Follow the onscreen instructions to install the Driver Checker. At the end of the
Install opt to Launch the SBIG Driver Checker.
• The Driver Checker will ask you about any older ST Series Camera you may
have with or without the Remote Guide Head capability. Read the options
carefully, select the appropriate setting then click OK. Click on the Update
button to Install the Drivers.. In the process of installing the drivers it will show
you a ReadMe file with notes about the current drivers and it will ask you to
verify that you want to apply the Update. After clicking Update Me it will install
the drivers on your system.
• Before you quit the Driver Checker you should see that all the Drivers are listed
as Current in the table as shown below. If not click on the Download button to
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Download the latest Drivers from our web site then click the Update button a 2nd
time. Your versions may be different than those shown.
Linking the Drivers
Once the Camera Drivers have been installed they need to be linked to the camera by
Windows. Follow the instructions below to link your Drivers to the Camera.
• First off, Windows can be finicky when it comes to linking the drivers. If you have
any questions or problems with this procedure go back to the CD-ROM and read
the Application Note which is available through a button where you Installed the
Driver Checker.
• Power up the camera. The LEDs on the side should blink momentarily and the
Fan should come on. This indicates the camera has completed its internal poweron boot-up sequence.
• Connect the Camera to your computer with the supplied USB cable. Windows
will detect the Camera and bring up the Add New Hardware Wizard.
• The Wizard will ask you if you want to check for updated drivers. Select No, not
this time then click Next.
• The Wizard will ask how you want to install the software (link the drivers).
Select Install the software automatically then click Next.
• Follow the onscreen instructions to complete linking the drivers to your camera.
At this point you could open the Device Manager and verify that you should see
an entry for the SBIG Camera.
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2.2. Using the Camera
This section gives you a quick introduction to using your Camera with CCDOps. Further
information can be found in the CCDOps Manual on the CD ROM.
Establishing a Link with CCDOps
In order to control your Camera, CCDOps you must first establish a communications link
with the camera as described below:
• In the Windows Start menu navigate to the SBIG folder then select the CCDOps
icon to launch CCDOps.
• Under CCDOps’ Misc menu select the Graphics/Comm Setup command.
• Check to make sure the Interface item is set for USB then click OK.
• Under the Camera menu select the Establish COM Link command.
• In a few seconds CCDOps will establish a link to the camera as indicated by the
Link status field in the lower right hand corner of the CCDOps window:
Camera Setup
The Setup command in the Camera menu is used to configure the Camera’s internal
operating modes. As an example let’s use it to turn on the cooling. Invoke the command
and then set the Temperature Regulation item to Active and the Setpoint item to 0.0
then click OK. You’ll see the Camera start to cool down as indicated in the Temp status
field.
Taking Sample Dark Frames
Dark Frames are used in Astronomical CCD Imaging to reduce the noise of images by
subtracting out fixed pattern noise inherent in the CCDs. Let’s take a Dark Frame with
the main or Imaging CCD to see what it looks like:
• Cover the camera so no light is getting into it through the Telescope Coupling.
Cover the camera with a book or turn the camera over and place it on its face.
•
Use the Grab command in the Camera menu. Set the Exposure to 1.0 and the
Dark frame to Only then click OK. After several seconds the image will appear
on the screen.
•
In the Contrast window make sure Auto is checked and the Mag is set to 1:1.
•
Scrolling around in the image and inspecting it visually you’ll notice how large it
is (4096 x 4096 pixels) relative to your computer screen. You’ll also see areas of
“salt and pepper” that represent the noise floor or Read Noise of the CCD and
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you’ll see numerous bright or Hot Pixels. You’ll probably see some Hot Pixels
with tails below them. These are in every CCD camera and repeat from image to
image. By subtracting Dark Frames from your images you’ll remove these
effects from the final image.
Let’s try taking a Dark Frame with the Tracking CCD to see how it’s different:
• In the Camera Setup command set the Active CCD to Tracking.
•
Use the Grab command to take another Dark Frame.
•
Visually inspect the image. First off you’ll notice it’s quite a bit smaller (640 x
480 pixels). In addition to the effects noted in the Imaging CCD you’ll probably
notice a general brightening from top to bottom. This is typical for interline
CCDs like the Tracking CCD and again will repeat and subtract out of your final
images.
Further Investigations
At this point we refer you to the CCDOps Manual on the CD ROM for further learning
about getting the most out of your STXL CCD Camera. We also suggest you join the
SBIG Group on Yahoo to learn from and interact with other users.
2.3. Specific Activities
This section describes some of the unique features of the STXL such as Ethernet control and
Autoguiding.
Ethernet Configuration
The STXL allows communications to the PC with either USB or Ethernet. While USB
offers faster image downloads Ethernet allows longer cable runs between the PC and the
Camera, not being limited by the 15 foot USB cable length.
The STXL comes configured by the factory to have a fixed IP address of 192.168.0.100
but can be configured by CCDOps for other addresses or to use DHCP. Use the
commands in the STXL sub-menu of the Misc Menu to configure the STXL.
To Establish a link over Ethernet with CCDOps use the Graphics/Comm Setup
command in the Misc menu and set the Interface to Ethernet and either fill in the
Camera’s IP address or click the Detect button to search for it.
Web Browser
The STXL has an embedded web server built into it and can be controlled by your
favorite Web Browser. This gives the STXL support on all systems with the minimum
requirement of a Web Browser. The factory default URL of the STXL home page is:
http://192.168.0.100
If you’ve changed the Camera’s IP address or are using DHCP the URL will be based on
the assigned IP address.
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Making the Autoguiding Connection
Like all SBIG cameras, the STXL has an Autoguider port that can be connected to your
Telescope. Use the supplied 6-pin phone-jack based Autoguider Cable to connect the
STXL to your Telescope.
2.4. Third Party Software
The STXL is compatible with many third party Astronomical Software packages. Several
packages offer control of the STXL and many others offer Image Processing of FITS Format
Images acquired with the STXL. This section describes several of those packages.
CCDSoft
Software Bisque in Colorado makes a popular suite of Astronomical Software including
a Planetarium program called TheSky and an Imaging program that supports the STXL
called CCDSoft. Information about these packages can be found at their web site. For
STXL control please make sure you have the latest version.
www.bisque.com
MaximDl
Diffraction Limited in Ontario Canada has a popular Imaging program named MaximDl
that works with the STXL. You’ll need to be using Version 5 or later and make sure you
have the latest SBIG Plug-In. Their web site is:
www.cyanogen.com
Support and Developer Resources
The SBIG web site contains a wealth of Software Updates, Manuals, Application Notes,
Drawings and Developer Resources for the STXL and other SBIG products. We probably
don’t have to tell you but our web site is:
www.sbig.com
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Appendix A – Adjustments and Maintenance
This section describes the various adjustments and maintenance issues with the STXL.
Firmware Updates
The STXL was designed to allow updating its Firmware (internal software) in the field. This is
accomplished through the STXL tab of the 64-Bit Driver Checker dialog. First you should
Download and Update any driver changes through the Drivers tab and then switch to the STXL
tab and apply upgrades there. The STXL uses the following types of Firmware:
Firmware Type
USB
Gate Array
ROP
Purpose
Firmware for the embedded USB processor.
Hardware definition and embedded firmware for the gate array and
CPU.
Readout Programs for the 2 embedded CCD Readout Engines.
These can be separate updates and are also embedded in the Gate
Array file.
Internal Tracker Focus
The Imaging CCD in the STXL is large (~37 mm on a side) and hence the Tracking CCD is
relatively far off axis. Many telescopes will show focus curvature off axis that can slightly
defocus the Tracking CCD relative to the Imaging CCD. With the STXL minor corrections to the
Tracking CCD focus position can be accomplished with a 3-32 inch hex-head screw adjustment
behind the covered TRACKER FOCUS port above the Remote Guide Head connector.
Desiccant Regeneration
The STXL has an internal Desiccant Plug that keeps the CCD from frosting over at cold
temperatures. The Desiccant Plug will typically go a year before requiring regeneration by
baking the Desiccant Plug (not the whole camera!) in the oven. Remove the eight screws that
hold the front cover onto the body of the STXL to get access to the Desiccant Plug (see page 12)
1. Remove the desiccant container from the side of the chamber according to the
instructions on page 12 of this manual. Remove the O-ring.
2. Plug the resulting hole in the chamber by placing a piece of black plastic tape
over the opening to keep dust out while you are baking the desiccant.
3. Heat the desiccant container in an oven at 350°F (175 deg C) for 4 hours.
The solder used to seal the can melts at 460 degrees F, so be sure to stay at
least 50 degrees below this number. Preheating the oven to avoid hot spots is
advised.
4. Replace the desiccant container onto the CCD chamber, being careful to
reinstall the O-ring and insure that it does not get pinched, and attach with the
socket head screws you removed in step 1.
Expect the camera to take an hour or two to reach the frost free state. If it does seem to frost and
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you need to capture images, reduce your cooling to the zero degree C range - the CCD dark
current will still be quite low.
Cleaning the CCD and the Window
The design of SBIG cameras allows for cleaning of the CCD. The optical heads are not
evacuated and are quite easy to open and clean. When opening the CCD chamber, one should be
very careful not to damage the structures contained inside. To open the CCD Chamber, remove
the six screws that hold the 5 inch front cover in place. Remove the six screws and lift the front
cover, exposing the structures inside. There is a rubber O-Ring that sets in the groove on the top
of the Chamber housing. The CCD array is protected by a thin cover glass that can be cleaned
with Q-Tips and Isopropyl Alcohol. Do not get alcohol on the shutter. Dust on the CCD should
be blown off. Use alcohol only if necessary. The optical window of the chamber housing can be
cleaned the same way. When reinstalling the chamber housing, be very careful to make sure the
O-ring is in the groove when seated.
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Appendix B - Capturing a Good Flat Field
This appendix describes how to take a simple flat field. A good flat field is essential for
displaying features little brighter than the sky background. The flat field corrects for
pixel non-uniformity, vignetting, dust spots (affectionately called dust doughnuts), and
stray light variations. If the flat field is not good it usually shows up as a variation in sky
brightness from on side of the frame to the other.
B-1. Technique
The first consideration in capturing a flat field is to use the telescope-CCD combination
in exactly the configuration used to collect the image. This means you probably have to
capture the flat field at the telescope. Do not rotate the head between image and flat field,
since the vignetting is usually slightly off center. Do not be tempted to build a little LED
into the telescope or camera for doing flat fields; it doesn't work at all. The dust debris
shadows would be different!
Arrange a light source such as a flashlight, two white cards, the telescope and
CCD as shown in Figure D-1.
Figure D-1: Flat Field Geometry
CCD
T elescope
Flat White
Surface
Flashlight
Flat White
Surface
The key aspects of this geometry are that the reflection off two diffuse surfaces is used,
and the large flat surface is square to the illumination from the small flat surface. When
we do this, the first flat surface is typically a white T-shirt worn by the operator! Take
care that no apparent shadows are cast onto the larger flat white surface. Use an exposure
at the camera that yields an average light level equal to about half of full scale.
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Appendix C – Camera Specifications
All STXL Cameras have the following specifications:
Power Requirements
Input Voltage
Current
Embedded Resources
Processors
10.5 – 14 Volts DC with Indicating LEDs
8.5 Amps Maximum
85 MHz, 32-Bit CPU with RTOS,
Dedicated USB microcontroller
64 MB shared Frame Buffer and Processor
RAM
64 Mb Firmware and Parameter storage
Frame Buffer
Flash Memory
External Ports
Host Communications
Remote Guide Head Port
Autoguider Port
USB 20/1.x and 10/100 Mbs Ethernet
Compatible with Remote Guider-340
4 Open Collector Outputs with Indicating
LEDs
Powered I2C for SBIG CFW, AO, etc.
Accessory Port
Individual STXL models have specifications that are unique to the imaging CCD. Please refer to
the camera model data sheet for specifications typical of your model.
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Appendix D – Connector and Cables
Power Jack
The Pow er Jack has the follow ing pinouts:
Pin
Shell
1,5,6
2,3,4
Function
Earth/ Chassis Ground
+12V, 8.5A
DC Return
Scope Port
The Scope Port is used for autoguiding your telescope and has the follow ing pinouts:
I2C/AUX Port
The I2C/ A UX Port is for connecting accessories to your STXL and has the follow ing pinouts:
Pin
1
2
3
4
5
Function
N o connect
Open Collector
Trigger Out
Serial Clock
Serial Data
Signal Ground
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Pin
6
7
8
9
Shell
Function
Trigger In
Open Collector
Genl. Purp. Out
+12V Raw
+3.3V
Chassis Ground
Appendix E – Mechanical Drawings and Backfocus Distances
Adapter ring drawings and thread specifications
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Backfocus: Camera without filter wheel.
30
Backfocus: Camera with Standard Filter Wheel.
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Backfocus: Camera with Self-Guiding Filter Wheel
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