User`s Manual Rev. 1.1

User`s Manual Rev. 1.1
Back-illuminated COLDMOS Astronomy Camera
User’s Manual Rev. 1.1
This document is an online document. You may save this PDF file or print it
out. QHYCCD reserves the right to change this user manual without prior notice.
Package Contents
please confirm that the package contains the following items:
USB3.0 cable(1.5m)
Self-locking power cable
6pin guide cable
Car power adapter
Drying tube
M42/1.25inch adaptor
Driver download card
Inspection report
Optional accessories
12V power adapter + power cable
C-adapter lens mount
Note that if the user wants to buy 12V power adapter by themselves, its output current is at
least 3.5A, and the polarity must be center positive.
Table of Contents
01 Software Installation
02 Use QHY183C in SharpCap
03 Color Balance for QHY183C
04 Use QHY183C with ASCOM
05 Use QHY183C in EZCAP_QT
06 Use QHY183C in FireCapture
07 Use BroadCast Video Streaming
08 Color Wheel Control Port
09 Guide Port
10 FAQ
11 Camera Maintenance
12 Inspections
13 Mechanical Size and Back Focus
14 Revision history
01 Software Installation
1. Download and install ASCOM platform
2. Download and install the Camera Driver
3. Download and install the ASCOM Driver
As you most probably want to use your QHY183C as an expose camera, please download the
Capture version. If you want to use it as a guide camera, please download the Guide version.
4. QHY183C camera uses SharpCap as the default capture software. Please download SharpCap.
QHY183C camera can run on SharpCap 2.9 or later versions
Note that QHY183C requires the latest qhyccd.dll for the new version of SharpCap, and QHYCCD
has already developed a software named SharpCap Patch for it. You should download and install it
prior to using SharpCap.
5. Connect QHY183C to your PC with USB3.0 cable. For the first time the system will find a new
device and search the driver. You can skip the online searching by clicking "Skip obtaining driver
software from Windows Update" and the computer will find the drivers. After installation is
complete successfully, you can find the device in the device manager as shown in the picture below.
6. QHYCCD has developed a software named UpdateCheck that can check if the drivers installed
on your computer are the latest versions as well as update the drivers if needed. If the status of
some driver is “Need Update”, you can directly download its update package in this software
freeing you from the inconvenience of looking for and downloading it from our website.
Take QHY367C for example, you can see the drivers we need are the latest versions and don’t
need to be updated as shown in the following picture.
Note that after you downloading and installing the new drivers by using this software, be sure to
pull the USB cable out and then plug it in to enable the new drivers.
02 Use QHY183C in SharpCap
1. Connect your QHY183C to 12V power supply. Connect your QHY183C to your computer with
USB3.0 cable.
2. Run SharpCap. If the aforementioned software and drivers all have been installed properly,
the video image will appear automatically and you will see the frame rate at the lower-left
corner of the software as shown below
3. If you have started the SharpCap before connecting camera to your PC. You can click
menu->cameras->rescan for cameras to search the camera and check on the camera name
(QHY183C in this case).
4. To make sure the camera can run properly, the software will start the camera at the lowest
speed, which makes the frame rate much lower than the highest frame rate declared on its
webpage. Now you can try to get the most out of it by changing several settings. First you
can try to set the exposure time to 1ms, then try to reduce the "USB traffic" value. For
modern computer with i7-4 core, it should get the max performance. But please note that
not all computers can get the best performance due to various reasons such as the CPU
loading, the saving-energy mode setting, the mainboard performance and USB3.0 port
performance. Sometimes the display size may also impede obtaining the best performance.
So you can try to use the "Zoom" function to reduce the display size to see if it helps.
Normally speaking the QHY183C can get more than 15FPS @ full 20mega resolution.
The debayer may take the CPU time and sometimes it will limit the frame rate. You can use
the RAW8 mode and select debayer OFF to get faster.
5. Adjust the offset. When you block the light thoroughly, you may find that the image is not
really "zero" (entirely black). Sometimes this will lower the quality of image contrast. You can
adjust the offset to make the histogram peak close to zero in order to get a better
background. You can open the histogram to confirm that.
QHY183C is a color camera, so it is very important to set the offset to a low value and make
the histogram peak close to zero. Because the color camera color balance is multiple a ratio
to the pixel value in the FPGA. The bias will be multiple too and it may affect the color
6. If you want to try 16bit image, you can switch the Colour Space to "RAW16".
7. By check the "LX" mode you can expand the exposure setting range and take long exposure
shot. QHY183C camera has the anti-amp light control circuit and it can reduce the amplifier
glow significantly. Note that it's impossible to reduce the glow in the corner thoroughly, and
it's normal to see a very small amount of glow in the corner when you do long exposure.
A typical long exposure image in +25℃, 5 sec exposure and 50% gain of QHY183C is shown
8. After you connect 12V power supply for QHY183C to power the TEC cooling circuit, you can
set the CMOS sensor cooling temperature in the "Thermal Controls" section in SharpCap as
shown in the following picture.
Basically, you can control the temperature of CMOS by either adjusting "Cooler Power" or
clicking "Auto" and adjusting "Target Temperature". You can also see the CMOS temperature
at lower-left corner of the software.
Before use this function, you should read the content about how to protect the cooler in the
FAQ section.
03 Color Balance for QHY183C
SharpCap will start at the default RGB balance for color camera. Here is the screenshot of the
QHY183C start up
For color camera, SharpCap will show the WB Red/Green/Blue progress bar.
Since the color balance is the ratio between Red to Green and Blue to Green. You can fix the
Green color to 128 and adjust the Red and Blue.
For example, in the image above the blue is 188 and red is 196, green is 128. It looks the image is
well white balanced. If you need more blue, since it has limit of 255. In this condition, you can
reduce the green a little and you will have more room for the ratio.
As we said before, if you are doing planetary imaging you should set the offset value as low as
possible. To make the background close to zero. Then you can easy to get correct color balance.
Otherwise it will not easy to get it. Sometimes the offset of an image is good but you cannot get
good balance.
The reason is that the Color balance is a ratio of the RGB sensitivity difference. So we use a ratio
to multiply the RGB value and get it done. But if there is a bias exist. The ratio will not be correct.
For example, the G sensitivity is the double of R sensitivity.
G=2R In order to get white balance. We multiply a ratio of 2 to R
R'=2R= G so we get R=G
When a bias exist. The bias is a constant added to each pixel. So the image you see is:
R''=R + bias
G' '= G + bias = 2R+bias
Now the ratio R'': G''= (R+bias) / (2R+bias) and it is not equal to 1:2. It shows the bias will affect
the true value of the R:G. And the ratio of R:G will vary when the image light changed. It is hard
to correct with a fixed ratio.
But for DSO capture, you should keep the offset above zero and avoid the background being cut
off. A background from 1000-5000 is a good value (16bit mode) for DSO imaging.
04 Use QHY183C with ASCOM
You can connect many software that support ASCOM. Currently QHY183C only supports normal
ASCOM connection and does not support the ASCOM VIDEO connection. Please note that
QHY183C always transfers maximum bit depth by ASCOM to make the best DSO imaging
performance. The image format is 16bit width and patch zero on low bit.
1. First you have to make sure that both ASCOM Platform and ASCOM driver have been installed.
If not, please install it first.
2. Start MAXIMDL
3. Follow the instructions shown below to finish the setup
Normally, you can set the gain=1 and offset=10 to start. The speed and overscan calibration
options are no use to QHY183C.
Click Connect before start shooting
The screenshot below shows QHY183C running on MAXIMDL.
05 Use QHY183C in EZCAP_QT
EZCAP_QT is a software made by QHYCCD. This software has the basic capture function for
QHYCCD deep sky cameras. You can use this QHY183C camera in this software. You can download
it here:
1. Install EZCAP_QT software.
Connect QHY183C USB cable and also the 12V power supply cable
3. Run EZCAP_QT. Select "Connect" in Menu->Camera. If the camera is successfully connected.
The title of EZCAP_QT will display the camera firmware version and the camera ID.
4. In Menu->Camera Setup, Click "Temp Control" and set the CMOS sensor temperature. You
can enable the "Auto Control" and set the target temperature. For example here we set the
temperature to -10C. The CMOS temperature will come to -10C very fast (in about 23minute). If you want to close the TEC, you can select "TEC OFF". If you just want to set the
TEC power but not the temperature. You can select "Manual" and then set the percent of the
TEC power.
5. You can use the preview tab to do preview. And use the focus tools to do focus. Then use the
capture tab to capture image. Here is a typical dark image at 60sec exposure, -10C. Stretch to
full range.
Stretch to background. Normally speaking since the noise of the ADC, after heavy stretch you
may see some random banding on the background. By stacking more image these banding will be
gone since it is the random. This noise will not increase when you increase the gain. So the
readout noise at higher gain is less than low gain. The QHY183C has about 2.7e at low gain and
about 1e at high gain.
In EZCAP_QT there is a planner for image tasking. You can capture a series images by using the
table below.
06 Use QHY183C in FireCapture
The latest FireCapture supports QHY183C already. Please go to FireCapture website to download
its v2.5 BETA (32-bit) version.
By default, it will be installed in the "Documents" folder. After it was installed successfully,
navigate to "Document folder", and you will find its installation folder as shown below.
Enter that folder and run "FireCapture.exe", then select QHYCCD camera. And after the loading,
you will see the image on FireCapture like shown below.
For detailed and helpful tutorial of this software, please go to its website to check the tutorial
section at
07 Use BroadCast Video Streaming
BroadCast video steaming is a special function that QHY183C supports. It can send the video image
to multiple target software via QHYCCD BroadCast video driver. For example, you can use the
SharpCap software to control the QHY183C camera and at the same time the video appearing on
the SharpCap will be sent to any of software that support the WDM camera, like the HandyAvi,
Adobe video encoder, online chat software etc. This function is very useful for the video live
broadcast applications.
1. Install the BroadCast Driver
2. Connect QHY183C to your PC and start SharpCap
3. Turn on "Enable Live Broadcast" at the bottom of Camera Control panel in SharpCap as shown
4. Select "QHYCCD camera (WDM)" as your webcam in the software you are using.
08 QHY183C Color Wheel Control Port
Pin number arrangement
Note: The TXD and RXD is standard RS232 level (+-10V). Not the TTL standard.
09 QHY183C Guide Port Cable RJ11 Pin sequence
This connector is fully compatible with the EQ5/EQ6/Celestron/ iOpton Guide Socket. The Pin
Sequence is (When face to the connector of the cable)
The Socket side (mount side) is
If you are using other mount, please check if it is the same pin sequence with the
10 FAQ
1. Does QHY183C support 10bit or 12bit?
QHY183C supports both 10bit and 12bit output(For 10bit, it is 0-255, and it only uses the high
8bit, for 12bit it is 0-4095 map to 0-65535).
2. How to get maximum FPS?
Since QHY183C has very high data bandwidth. Not all computer can get the maximum FPS.
Normally I7-4core should have no problem for that. The CPU loading will also affect the
maximum FPS. So please reduce the CPU load by close other applications when using camera. If
the CPU load is too high, the software may become very slow or hang.
3. How to avoid the camera hanging?
If you camera always hangs. It may be caused by many reasons. You can check the following
3.1 If your computer is via chipset, or some type of the mainboard. In SharpCap it cannot get
image at all. (But in ASCOM it works well). In this condition, you need enable the DDR buffer of
the camera. Current SharpCap does not support the enable DDR function. The next version
SharpCap will support it.
3.2 If there is power leak for your mounts and computers? The power leak may cause the leak
current transfer from computer to the camera via the GND. This may affect the USB transfer and
cause the data packet lost and cause it hang. You need to make sure the computer and the
mount is well grounded.
3.3 If the USB port's voltage not enough? Some computer's USB port +5V is not enough. It may
cause the camera always hangs. In this condition you can use a powered USB3.0 HUB to connect
camera and get the good +5V power for camera.
3.4 If your CPU load is too high? If CPU load is too high, it will cause many frame lost and cause
the camera hangs. You can increase the USB traffic value to reduce the FPS and get more stable
video transfer.
3.5 If the USB cable connection is good enough? Sometimes the contact issue in the USB cable to
camera or USB cable to computer will cause the signal loss and cause camera to hang. Especially
when you move the cables. In this condition. You can try to add a little silicon oil into the USB
socket/plug .This can increase the contact a lot better.
3.6 Avoid the statics. Sometimes the static electricity on human body will cause the camera to
hang. You can touch the computer metal case for first before touch the camera to let the static
electricity on your body release.
3.7 Some computer's front USB port is not so good for high speed transfer (The reason is it
connected to mainboard by a cable and which has no good signal integrity). If you found the
camera always hang on front USB port. You can try the USB port on backside of the computer
(which is connected to chipset directly on the mainboard).
4. What's the interface to telescope? How to use C/CS lens on QHY183C?
QHY183C supports C lens but currently doesn't support CS lens. You need order the optional C
adapter for QHY183C. With this adapter the back focal is 17.0mm and you can use the C-mount
lens with it. Since this sensor is one inch, you need to choose the lens which can cover the one
inch image circle.
5. How to clean the CMOS sensor and the optic windows of the camera?
If you found there is dust on the CMOS sensor. You can screw off the front part of the QHY183C.
The QHY183C's CMOS sensor has the AR coating so you need to be careful to clean it. You can use
the clean kit for DSLR sensor to do it.
The optic window is the IR cut coating or AR coating. So you need to be careful when cleaning it.
You can also use the DSLR clean tools or the lens paper. Don't use strong force to clean it. The
coating is not so hard and it is easy to get scratch when you use strong force on it.
6. How is the anti-amplifier function in QHY183C?
QHY183C camera has the anti-amp light control circuit and it can reduce the amplifier glow
significantly. Note that it's impossible to reduce the glow in the corner thoroughly, and it's normal
to see a very small amount of glow in the corner when you do long exposure.
This is a demo picture for the QHY183C glow in 60sec exposure and high gain. Dark frame
calibration can remove it completely.
7. What's on-camera DDR buffer and what is benefit for?
The QHY183C has the on-camera 128MB DDRII image buffer. It brings two advantages: It can
buffer whole image and avoid it lost during USB transfer. Because CMOS sensor outputs the
image continuous after exposure end and it does not allow the pause. But the computer may
have some pause due to the multi-task feature of the windows. If the pause is too long, the small
buffer in the USB transfer chip will full and the coming image data will lost. And it will cause one
frame is lost some data and this frame will be a bad frame. For short exposure it maybe not cause
big problem because the next frame will comes soon. But for long exposure it means you lost a
long exposure frame. The 128MB DDRII buffer can solve this problem by storing the whole frame
into it and transfer. Even the computer has big pause it will not lost data.
Another advantage is that it will make the video more smooth when in some slow computer or
some mainboard which is not friendly to USB3.0(like the VIA chipset) . In these computers they
cannot handle the high speed USB data well and the data is always lost. With this DDR it can
buffer the input image data and then send to computer. Even the high frequency pause happens,
it can keep the USB data lossless.
SharpCap version has options for enabling/disabling the DDR buffer. The current ASCOM driver is
always working under DDR enabled mode.
8. What's the QE of QHY183C?
Sony has not released the absolutely QE curve of the IMX183 sensor. Here is the relativity QE
curve. It is just the normalization QE. Normally speaking the BSI sensor has a very high QE. Please
refer this topic
9. What's the unity gain and other performance data?
The unity gain (1e/adu) is Gain=11
Here is the readout noise curve. The noise is about 2.6-2.7e at zero gain, 1.5e at unity gain and
minimum 0.5e at gain=50.
This is the fullwell curve. The fullwell is 15.5ke when zero gain. about 4ke@unity gain. Less than
100e at gain50.
10. How to protect the cooler in QHY183C?
The cooler in QHY183C can lower the CMOS temperature to a value that's almost 40 degrees
centigrade below the ambient temperature. So you need to be careful to avoid thermal shock,
which means that when the cooler's temperature rises or fall dramatically, the cooler is subjected
to strong internal stress due to contraction principle. Drastic thermal shock can shorten cooler's
service life or permanently break it.
So when you begin to adjust the CMOS temperature, you should avoid setting "Cooler Power" to
its maximum value, and you should gradually turn up the "Cooler Power" value. When you turn off
the power, if the "Cooler Power" value is very big, you should gradually turn it down before turn
off the power.
11. The FPS of cameras sometimes suddenly drops to zero under DDR mode on
SharpCap, what’s the solution for this problem?
Recently, we have been told by our users that the FPS of their cameras sometimes suddenly drops
to zero under DDR mode on SharpCap. It is caused by the fact that the receiving speed of computer
is relatively slower than the sending speed of camera. Once CMOS sensor starts working, it will
incessantly conduct exposure and output image data over and over again, and it cannot be
interrupted. If USB transmission was interrupted too often by the operating system, the data
overflow of DDR would ensue resulting in bad frame. Therefore, not a single frame is a complete
frame, and the FPS will drop to zero.
The first solution to this problem is to increase the value of USB traffic to decrease the FPS of the
cameras. Note that by using previous version of SharpCap Patch, the value of USB traffic cannot be
set to a value large enough, so you should go to our website to download the latest version of
SharpCap Patch.
The second solution to this problem is to turn off the DDR mode, but for computers whose
performance isn’t very good, this solution may not work very well.
11 Camera Maintenance
Drying the CCD Chamber
The CCD sensor is located in a CCD chamber. This chamber is air-proof and connect to the socket
of the silicone gel tube on one side of the QHY183C front case. If there is moisture and cause the
CCD sensor glass get dew. You can connect the silicone gel tube on the socket to dry it.
Please put the effective silicone gel into the silicone gel tube. Make sure this is a cotton inside to
prevent the silicone gel get into the CCD chamber.
Avoid CCD chamber optic window get dew
If the environment humidity very high, the optic window of the CCD chamber may get dew. The
QHY183C has the build-in heat board on this optic window to heat the optic window to avoid it.
In most conditions it can take effect.
If the optic window still get dew please try the following method.
1. Avoid the CCD Camera face down to ground. The cold air is heavy than warm air, if you put the
camera facing down to the ground, the cold air is easy to get the optic window and cause it very
cold and get dew
2. Increase the temperature of the CCD sensor. You can increase the CCD sensor temperature a
little to prevent the optic window get dew.
3. Check if the heat board working. If the heat board not working, the optic window is easy to get
dew. Normally the heat board can get about 65-70C in +25C environment. If it is not so warm, it
maybe the problem of the heat board damaged. Need to contact QHYCCD to replace one heat
12 Inspections
CMOS Sensor
SONY IMX183 (Back-illuminated Imager)
Effective Area
13.3mm*8.9mm Typical 1 inch
Active Pixel
5544*3694 20 mega pixel
Pixel Size
Frame rate
20 mega pixel 15FPS
12mega pixel 25FPS
10 bit and 12bit (output 8bit/16bit, MSB Alignment)
Readout Noise
low 1e@ high gain 2.7e @gain 0
2-stage TEC with -40C below ambient with temperature regular
Data interface
USB 3.0 high speed interface
Built-in DDR memory
128MB DDR memory
12v power port, 6pin RJ11 guide port, 4PIN Color Wheel Contro
l Port
appox 450g (with M42/0.75 adapter)
SharpCap, EZCAP_QT, ASCOM Driver, WDM Driver, Live Video Bro
adCast Driver. Support FireCapture.
13 QHY183C Mechanical Size and Back Focus
Drawing of QHY183C with a M42 lens mount
The back focal length of QHY183C with M42/2inch lens mount is 17.5mm to 18 mm.
Drawing of QHY183C with C mount
The back focal length of QHY183C with C-adapter lens mount is 17 mm.
Note that C mount is an optional accessory that you can order from us. Its part number is
drawing of QHY183C without mount.
There is four M42 screw holes on the R=19.5mm circle. You can use them to connect with other
14 Revision history
Date of change
November 29th,
December 20th,
January 13,
Content of change
First edition
Added solution to the problem that cameras halt
under DDR mode in the FAQ section
Added notes about 12V power adapter
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