ASTRONOMY / PHYSICS CATALOG 2007 M31 by Adam Block and Tim Puckett, using Alta U9000 and Televue 127is telescope. 1020 Sundown Way, Ste 150 Roseville CA 95661 USA tel 916-218-7450 fax 916-218-7451 http://www.ccd.com ©2007 Apogee Instruments Inc. intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection customer profiles customers intro featured products alta & ascent THE EVOLUTION OF ALTA AND ASCENT Since 1993, Apogee Instruments has been supplying cooled CCD cameras to astronomers around the world. Our cameras are now used in more than 50 countries, from world-class professional observatories to backyard domes where “amateurs” add discovery after discovery every day. Over the years, we have kept track of every suggested improvement that we could add to the cameras to bring our technology to the next level. We have packed Alta and Ascent with as much of your wish lists as possible. With Alta, we aimed at the highest performance; with Ascent, we aimed at higher speeds and more accessible pricing. DIVERSITY ADDS STRENGTH Alta cameras integrate the best of the best in imaging components: from back-illuminated CCDs to front-illuminated CCDs to interline transfer CCDs. We know their strengths and weaknesses from first-hand experience. We can guide you to the best trade-offs between price and performance--or we can show you the best of the best if you’re done with compromise... Image courtesy Dr. David Rapaport, UCSD. Ascent Apogee Instruments Inc. S pecification sheets and mechanical drawings for all Apogee cameras can be found at our website, www.ccd.com, or on our Integration Starter Kit CD. Please contact us to receive your free copy. ALTA U16M ASCENT A16000 The U16M is partly new product and partly dramatic change in Kodak’s pricing of an old standby for huge field-of-view. Kodak has added anti-blooming and microlenses, maintaining most of the quantum efficiency of the old U16. Kodak KAI-16000 4872 x 3248 7.4 micron pixels 36 X 24 mm 867 mm2 Full Well: 40K U16M Kodak KAF-16803 4096 x 4096 9 micron pixels 36.9 x 36.9 mm 1359 mm2 Full Well: 85K VdB14 by Tim Puckett / Adam Block, using Alta U9 camera and Takahashi 180 scope. WE HONOR OUR ROOTS Astronomy is the foundation of our business. You’ll see us in Sky&Telescope, in Physics Today, and at American Astronomical Society meetings. And you’ll see new astronomy products added all the time: see page 2. Our cameras have been used for high-end astronomical applications like capturing the first images of optical counterparts of gamma ray bursts, plus thousands of discoveries of comets, near-Earth asteroids, and extra-solar planets. But they have also been used for the detection of fingerprints; x-ray inspection of car parts; fluorescent imaging of cell tissues; munitions testing, laser beam profiling, Raman spectroscopy; poacher surveillance, mammography; optics testing, and searching for a lower-cost means to detect anthrax. By expanding into other markets with other demands, Apogee has had to confront many technological hurdles that were not previously considered to be “astronomical” problems. For example, life science markets want SPEED....but as it turns out, our astronomical customers were quite frustrated with long readout times. Improvements created for life science turned out to be best sellers in astronomy. Less time waiting for readout means more images per precious cloudless night. ©2007 Apogee Instruments Inc. Alta is a registered trademark of Apogee Instruments Inc. www.ccd.com customers FEATURED PRODUCTS COOLED CCD CAMERAS There are many technological jumps designed into the Altas. But other aspects of the technology represent refinement upon refinement over more than a decade. Our cooling technology, for example, is far ahead of the competition, not just because of what it is, but because of what it isn’t. We’ve made mistakes--and survived to apply the lessons learned to improving the product and the company as a whole. We continue to refine not just our electronics and our mechanical designs, but also our procedures, our documentation, our customer recordkeeping. It’s quite an accomplishment to manufacture and sell thousands and thousands of cameras, but unless they are robust, the result is a customer service tsunami. In our effort to improve our process, we’ve achieved the following benchmarks: · FCC compliance · CE compliance · ROHS compliance · ISO-9000 compliance (in process) customer profiles 1020 Sundown Way, Ste 150 Roseville CA 95661 USA tel 916-218-7450 fax 916-218-7451 http://www.ccd.com HIGH PERFORMANCE A DECADE OF IMPROVEMENTS ccd selection HIGHEST QUANTUM EFFICIENCY BACKILLUMINATED CCDs ALTA U42 2048 x 2048 U42 E2V CCD42-40 2048 x 2048 13.5 micron pixels 27.6 x 27.6 mm 764 mm2 Full Well: 100K ALTA U47 U9000 Kodak KAF-09000 3056 x 3056 12 micron pixels 36.7 x 36.7 mm 1346 mm2 Full Well: 110K Kodak’s newest large format interline transfer CCD shares the 35mm film format with the KAI-11002. Smaller pixels are an ideal match for large fields of view on shorter focal length telescopes. ALTA U9000 For those with medium focal lengths, the new 12 micron format is a great fit for large field of view. The U9000 also sports twice the full well capacity of the interline 11000, higher quantum efficiency, and much lower dark current. The 300X anti-blooming is ideal for astrophotography. 1024 x 1024 E2V CCD47-10 1024 x 1024 13 micron pixels 13.3 x 13.3 mm 177 mm2 Full Well: 100K Back-illuminated CCDs have long been the ideal research instruments of the astronomy community. Their exceptional sensitivity and low readout noise make them ideal for minimizing exposure time and maximizing signal-to-noise in low light applications like astronomy. Specifications subject to change without notice. www.ccd.com Ascent A16000 Camera ASCENT A4000 Kodak KAI-4021 2048 X 2048 7.4 micron pixels 15.2 X 15.2 mm 230 mm2 Full Well: 40K Blue boxes are actual size of imaging CCD imaging area. For comparison, this is the size of a Kodak KAF-0402ME: This Kodak CCD has long been a popular CCD for life science applications. High volume there has driven down its costs, and made it an exceptional value for its resolution. Like its larger cousin the KAI-16000, the smaller pixels are an ideal match for shorter focal lengths. intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection customer profiles customers featured products intro alta & ascent ccd selection customer profiles customers ALTA versus ASCENT SERIES CAMERAS Ascent Apogee Instruments Inc. There are many factors to consider when choosing a CCD camera: cost, resolution, speed, noise, cooling, sensitivity, housing size. Other features may contribute to a system’s overall suitability, but most of these features are shared by the Alta and Ascent. In general, consider the following key requirements to determine the optimal platform: Alta: Low readout noise Maximum cooling Back-illuminated CCDs Very large format CCDs Optional ethernet interface Ascent: Low cost High speed readout Compact housing ADVANCED COOLING To maximize heat dissipation, Alta’s large inner chamber, back plate, and heatsinks are machined from a single block of aluminum. The four fans have four programmable speeds. BACK-ILLUMINATED CCDs Back-illuminated CCDs are much more expensive than front illuminated CCDs, so they are chosen when absolutely necessary for maximum signal-to-noise under low light conditions. Their higher dark current per square millimeter requires the higher cooling of larger Alta housing. (Some very small spectroscopic format back-illuminated CCDs are available in the Ascent platform; for details see our Spectroscopy catalog.) VERY LARGE FORMAT CCDS The Alta platform is available in several housing sizes, accomodating CCDs up to 50mm on a side. OPTIONAL ETHERNET An optional ethernet 100baseT interface is available for the Alta platform. Left: M16 by Tim Puckett, using Alta U9 camera and 60 cm. telescope. Feature Alta Ascent LOWER COSTS Digitization Fast 12 and slower 16 bit 16 bit, programmable speed Maximum throughput Up to 7 Mpixels/sec (Note 1) Up to 20 Mpixels/sec (Note 1) Many applications can achieve excellent results without the ultimate in cooling or low readout noise. The Ascent is an ideal solution for many applications where several thousand dollars may be more important than a few electrons. Dual channel interline readout N/A Standard Maximum cooling 55C below ambient (Note 2) 40C below ambient (Note 2) Programmable gain N/A Standard USB2 interface Standard Standard Ethernet 100baseT interface Optional N/A Electromechanical shutter Standard, internal (Note 3) Optional, external (Note 4) Vane shutter N/A Standard, internal (Note 5) LOW READOUT NOISE Alta’s readout electronics were designed to minimize readout noise. The higher speed software-selectable 12-bit mode is intended for focussing, and not optimized for low noise. The primary differences between the Alta and Ascent Series cameras: Alta is larger, with better cooling, and lower noise electronics. Ascent is very compact with much lower costs, much faster digitization, and programmable gain. See the chart below for an overview of the differences. See camera data sheets to get details of a specific model. HIGHER THROUGHPUT Ascent was designed to operate at speeds up to the maximum allowed by USB2. Digitization speed is programmable so you can choose your ideal trade-off between speed and noise. All speeds digitize at a full 16 bits. COMPACT HOUSING The Ascent’s smaller, more lightweight housing fits in many places that the larger Alta cannot. For smaller scopes where weight at the end of the tube may be an issue, the Ascent may be a more suitable platform. Programmable fan speed Standard N/A Field upgradeable firmware Standard Standard Chamber window Fused silica BK7 (optional fused silica) Peripheral communications Two serial COM outputs N/A General purpose I/O port Standard Standard Programmable LEDs Standard Standard Power input 12V 6V Internal memory 32 Mbytes 32 Mbytes Wide variety of CCDs Yes Yes External triggering Standard Standard Image sequences Standard Standard Hardware binning Up to 8 x height of CCD Up to 4 x height of CCD Subarray readout Standard Standard TDI readout (Note 6) Standard Standard Kinetics mode Standard Standard C-mount interface (Note 7) Standard for D1 housing Optional, external (Note 7) Software universality Standard Standard Housing size 6” x 6” x 2.5” (Note 8) 5.7” x 3.8” x 1.3” Warranty 2 years 2 years Warranty against condensation Lifetime Lifetime Note 1 Note 2 Note 3 Note 4 Note 5 Note 6 Note 7 Note 8 Maximum speed varies from model to model. Maximum cooling varies from model to model. Electromechanical shutters are standard for full frame CCDs, and optional for interline CCDs. Electromechanical shutters are optional for all models. Vane shutters are standard for smaller full frame CCDs, optional for interline CCDs. Interline CCDs cannot do TDI readout. CCDs >1” video format are too large for C-mount optics (larger than a KAF-3200ME). Some housings are larger. intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection customer profiles customers intro featured products CUSTOMER PROFILES alta & ascent ccd selection customer profiles customers GALLERY EXTRA SOLAR PLANETS ASTRODON Tom Kaye is one of very few amateur astronomers who have detected an extrasolar planet. His instruments: a spectrograph and an Apogee AP7 camera with a backilluminated CCD. (He is now using an Alta U47 camera.) His method: detection of faint shifts in the spectra coming from Tau Boo using the camera’s extremely high quantum efficiency, very low readout noise, and superior cooling. Detail: Radial velocity measurements are also commonly known as redshift and blueshift measurements. When a light source approaches or recedes, its frequency changes, in the same way that train horns change pitch as they approach and move away. If our eyes were sensitive enough to detect such extremely small changes, we would see the train coming at us slightly bluer, and going away slightly redder. A star’s gravity is strong enough to keep a planet in orbit, but the planet is also pulling on the star.This tug causes the star to move back and forth as the planet orbits the star. We cannot image the companion planet directly, but we can detect its presence via the periodic movement of the star. Don Goldman analyzed lunar rocks as a doctorate student in the “Lunatic Asylum” at Caltech, but only recently became interested in astronomy. After leaving Caltech with a Ph.D., he held research and management positions in industry and government labs. He earned an M.B.A. from the U. of Washington and started his own company, Optical Solutions, designing, building and marketing fiber optic spectroscopic analyzers to Fortune 500 companies requiring real-time chemical information in their manufacturing facilities. He has 11 patents, over 30 peerreviewed technical papers and dozens of talks at technical symposia. His interests in astronomy started in 2001 with a “trash” scope from a pawn shop. He noticed differences in color of the same object posted by respected imagers, and began to research the RGB filters used for imaging. He helped to bring an understanding to the imaging community regarding the mixture of broadband and narrowband sources and how they impact color, especially from doubly ionized oxygen (OIII). This lead him to develop Astrodon Tru-Balance filters for better color balance and equal RGB exposures. He founded his second company, Astrodon Imaging, for this purpose. He later added OIII, SII and H-a narrowband filters, off-axis guiders and camera rotators, all focused on CCD imaging. He helped to form the Advanced Imaging Conference (AIC) in 2004 with Steve Mandel, and served on its board of directors for the first two years. He has given numerous invited talks on color, filters, off-axis guiding and how to get into astrophotography at AIC, Imaging the Sky, RTMC, AstroImage and his local astronomy group in Sacramento. He has published two papers in Sky and Telescope and many images in astronomy magazines. He had had several images chosen to be Astronomical Pictures of the Day (APOD). He participated in remote observatories at New Mexico Skies and PROMPT at Cerro Tololo in Chile. He will soon have a remote facility at Sierra Remote Observatory at 4500’, east of Fresno, California, with fellow imager, Paul Mortfield. At home he owns a Paramount ME, RCOS 12.5” RC, Takahashi FSQ106N and E-180, Apogee and SBIG CCD cameras and, of course, any set of filters he wants. “In our work on spectroscopy of extrasolar planets, the light from a single star is spread out over thousands of pixels. This normally requires a large telescope with a correspondingly large price tag. With the additional quantum efficiency of the Apogee camera, it was less expensive to increase our “aperture” with the back illuminated chip than invest in a new scope. At the time it was deemed impossible for a 16” (40 cm) scope to precisely measure extrasolar planet velocities but our recent publication in the JBAA outlines how it was done relying on the Apogee camera.” --Tom Kaye Periodicity of Tau Boo as measured by an Apogee AP7 camera and Tom Kaye’s spectrograph. Apogee AP7 as mounted on Tom Kaye’s spectrograph. ©2007 Apogee Instruments Inc. Alta is a registered trademark of Apogee Instruments Inc. Top left & bottom right: IC2177 “Seagull Nebula” and NGC 2244 “Rosette Nebula”, by Don Goldman using U16M camera & Takahashi FSQ106N scope. Others, clockwise from top right: N44 “Superbubble”, NGC 3132 “Southern Ring Nebula”, and NGC 2442, by SSRO-S / PROMPT, using Alta U47 camera, RC Optical 16” f/11.3 truss. (Taken at Cerro Tololo, Chile). intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection customer profiles customers intro featured products ALTA & ASCENT: SHARED FEATURES INTERNAL MEMORY 32 Mbytes of SDRAM image memory is included in the Alta U Series and Ascent camera heads. 24 Mbytes of image memory is included in the Alta E Series camera head. Local memory serves some important functions: First, with any network connection and even USB2.0 connection, consistency in download rates cannot be guaranteed. Some manufacturers go to great lengths to attempt to lock Windows® up during downloads to ensure that no pattern noise results from breaks in the digitization process, but such a lockup is not possible with network interfaces. The Alta and Ascent systems buffer the image transfer to protect from noise-producing interruptions. Second, on heavily loaded USB2 ports, slower USB1.1 applications, loaded networks, or slower TCP/IP transfers, the maximum digitization rate could be limited without a local buffer. Local image memory allows very fast digitization of image sequences up to the limit of the internal camera. The maximum digitization-tomemory rates for 100baseT systems is 1.4 megapixels per second, while the maximum digitization-to-memory rates for USB systems is 11 megapixels per second for the Alta and 20 megapixels/sec for the Ascent. There is a fundamental difference in the way the Alta USB2 and network image buffers function. The USB2 image buffer is capable of transferring data to the host while digitization of the CCD is active. As long as the USB2 transfer speed is greater than the digitization rate, the memory buffer will never fill. The network memory buffer requires the image digitization to complete prior to transfer across the network. HARDWARE BINNING Every Alta and Ascent camera supports hardware binning. Horizontal binning is up to 8 in the Alta and up to 4 in the Ascent. Vertical binning is up to the height of the CCD for both systems. Binning can be used to increase frame rate, dynamic range, or apparent sensitivity by collecting more light into a superpixel. See additional detail under CCD University on our website. Specifications subject to change without notice. www.ccd.com PROGRAMMABLE LEDs Two LEDs on the side of the cameras can be programmed to show status of a variety of the camera functions, such as the camera has reached the set temperature, the shutter is open, or the camera is waiting for an external trigger. Alternatively, the LEDs can be turned off if you are concerned about stray light. The E Series cameras also have two green LEDs that indicate status of the network connection. customers DRIFT SCANNING KINETICS MODE IMAGE SEQUENCES The Alta and Ascent camera systems accept external hardware trigger signals through their camera I/O ports for a number of purposes. Software and hardware triggers can be used together. For example, a software or hardware trigger may be used to initiate a single exposure or a sequence of exposures of a specific duration and specific delay between exposures. Alternatively, a software trigger may be used to start a sequence, and the external trigger can be used to trigger each subsequent image in the sequence. In addition, the external trigger can be used to trigger row shifts for time-delayed integration, or can be used to trigger block shifts for kinetic imaging. More formally known in astronomy as time-delay integration (TDI), this technique is a powerful tool for applications such as photometry, as well as searching for asteroids, comets, novae and supernovae. The primary method is to keep the telescope stationary and to let the sky drift down the chip. The CCD is precisely aligned with the sky, so that as the sky drifts, the image on the CCD is precisely clocked to continue building the image. When the image reaches the last row, it is read to the host computer and added to a continuous strip of sky. The movement of the stars equals the cosine of the declination x 15°/hour. The wider the field, and the further north that the user scans from the celestial equator, the more the star-trails curve in the field. The TDI capability utilizes a 25 MHz time base (Ascents use a 48 MHz time base) and local memory to achieve consistent high resolution performance. TDI mode allows the user to adjust the row shift rate. Timing may be adjusted in 5.12 microsecond increments to a maximum of 336 milliseconds per row shift. The minimum TDI shift time is the digitization time for one row. TDI cannot be done with cameras using interline CCDs, such as the U2000 and U4000. Kinetics Mode assumes that the user has optically masked off all but the top most section of the CCD. This exposed section is illuminated, shifted by x rows, then exposed again until the user has exposed the entire surface of the CCD with y image slices. Image sequences of up to 65535 images can be acquired and transferred to camera / computer memory automatically. A delay may be programmed between images from 327 microseconds to 21.43 seconds. (This does not mean you can acquire images every 327 microseconds; it means you can program a delay of 327 microseconds between the end of a readout and the start of the next exposure.) MaxIm DL/CCD software is standard with every Alta, as well as an ActiveX driver that is universal to all Apogee Alta and Ascent cameras, as well as legacy AP and KX cameras. If you write custom code for an Apogee camera, you won’t have to change it later if you change models. Our cameras are also supported by other programs like CCDSoft. Linux and Mac OS X drivers are also available. The sensors for Alta and Ascent cameras are sealed into an inner chamber filled with argon. The chamber has a lifetime guarantee against condensation. PROGRESSIVE SCAN (CONTINUOUS IMAGING) Interline transfer CCDs first shift charge from the photodiode in each pixel to the masked storage diode, and then march the charge through the storage diodes to the serial register. Acquisition of a new image in the photodiodes during readout of the previous image is called “progressive scan.” Alta and Ascent cameras both support progressive scan with interline CCDs. SUBARRAY READOUT POWER DRIFT SCANNING A variation of the drift scanning method described above uses timed shifts in combination with synchronized movement of the telescope mount. Rather than wait for the Earth to rotate, the scope moves in the direction of the rotation and the row shift times are accelerated. Adjusting the drive rate faster allows for more sky coverage but at a loss of limiting magnitude. Alta and Ascent cameras support readout of an arbitrary sub-section of the array in order to speed up frame rate. (Please note that reading half the array, for example, does not increase the frame rate by two because of overhead required in discarding unwanted pixels. The Alta and Ascent platforms allow for three types of image sequencing: The image in the exposed area is shifted to the masked area per software command, preset shift frequency, or external trigger. The number of rows per section is predetermined and constant. When the number of desired exposures has been reached, or the CCD has been filled (whichever comes first), the entire array is read out and digitized. If you want to use the entire CCD including the exposed area, then the light source needs to be shuttered after the final exposure (externally, electronically, or electromechanically). or using an electromechanical shutter). Application-Driven Sequencing: This is the most common form of image sequencing. The application merely takes a specified number of successive images. This type of sequencing is suitable when the time between image acquisitions is not short and where slight differences in timing from image to image are not important. Precision back to back sequencing Altas and Ascents incorporate a firmware controlled back to back image sequencing mode suitable for image-image intervals from 327uS to a maximum of 21.43 seconds in 327uS intervals. This provides for precision spacing of images in a sequence where windows applications cannot respond. Fast back to back sequencing (Ratio Imaging - Interlines only) This is a special form of precision back to back sequencing designed for a fixed <1 microsecond spacing between a pair of interline CCD exposures. The caveat with this mode is that the exposure times for each image must be greater than the readout time for the image. For example, if using the Ascent A2000 camera, the readout time for a full frame is less than 0.2 seconds so your exposure would need to be at lest 0.2 seconds. Specifications subject to change without notice. Below: TDI “stare”: Apogee cameras support Precision TDI and Kinetics Readout Modes. TWO-YEAR WARRANTY All Apogee cameras have a standard two-year warranty and a lifetime guarantee against condensation in the camera. customer profiles EXTERNAL TRIGGERING SOFTWARE The Alta and Ascent systems load all camera operating code on camera start. These configuration files can be updated via the web as we add features and make improvements. Each camera head has coded information identifying the type of system, its configuration, and type of CCD used, as well as the firmware revision in use. This allows automatic configuration of the camera in the field and better customer support from our offices. ccd selection ALTA & ASCENT: SPECIAL MODES OF OPERATION SEALED INNER CHAMBERS UPGRADEABLE FIRMWARE alta & ascent VdB142 by Adam Block / SARA Observatory, using Apogee AP7 camera and 0.9m scope on Kitt Peak. www.ccd.com intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection customer profiles customers intro featured products alta & ascent GALLERY ccd selection customer profiles customers CUSTOMER PROFILES A COMET, 6 NEAR EARTH OBJECTS, & THOUSANDS OF ASTEROIDS Bill Yeung was born in Hong Kong, and spent decades living in Canada and the US before recently returning to Hong Kong. He still does remote observing with two setups in New Mexico, one of which continues to use an Apogee Alta U16. More recently his interests have moved from asteroid hunting to exoplanet transits and photometry. When he was a young boy, his father bought him a low cost Japanese refractor. When he saw Saturn’s rings for the first time, he was hooked. A primary school nature class talked about 1,600 discovered asteroids in the solar system. He decided it would be nice to discover one. Then around 1996, Dennis Di Cicco wrote an article in CCD Astronomy about how to discover new asteroids with an 8” telescope in one’s backyard. That article was the final push to get him started. Before 2000, he had discovered his first asteroid. Bill has since discovered one comet, P/2002 BV (Yeung), now catalogued as 172P/ Yeung, six near-Earth objects, and about 2000 asteroids, more than 1000 of which have been numbered. One object which has been much discussed is J002E3, the first object observed to be captured by Earth’s gravity. Above: Cederblad 214 & NGC 7822 Taken by Tim Puckett & Adam Block Camera: Alta U9000 (Televue 127) and Alta U9 (Takahashi 180) Total Integration Time: 45 hours NGC 1365 by SSRO-S/PROMPT, using Alta U47 and RC Optical 16” f/11.3 truss. (Taken at Cerro Tololo, Chile) Left: M45 Taken by Tim Puckett & Adam Block Telescope: Televue 127is Camera: Alta U9000 “I find it extremely romantic to be the first one on Earth to see a new asteroid. Sometimes when I am driving on a US highway and see a mile post saying I am two miles away from an exit, I find it amazing that an asteroid 2 miles in diameter could be discovered by me, using an 18” scope from 200 million kilometers away. Of course all these discoveries would be impossible without the help of CCD cameras. Apogee’s large format / high QE cameras have lent a big helping hand.” --Bill Yeung SUPERNOVAE HAT NETWORK “In the race to detect faint supernovae, early detection of objects as faint as 19th magnitude with relatively short exposures, low noise and fast downloads is essential. The Apogee Alta E-47 has made this possible for our supernova search project. The high quantum efficiency of the thinned, back-illuminated chip gives us the sensitivity that we need to make faint detections. Low noise is achieved in our hot high-desert environment with the Alta’s efficient thermoelectric cooling with which we regularly achieve a 55 deg. Celcius delta from ambient temperature. The lightning fast downloads of our Ethernet capable Alta allows us to image over 500 galaxies per night from a single telescope. No other camera has given us this level of performance, stability and reliability. The Apogee Alta is the only camera that I would consider for serious science..” --Ajai Sehgal HAT (Hungarian Automated Telescope) is originally a compact observatory that operated without human intervention. Development of HAT was initiated by Bohdan Paczynski in 2001, with the original goal of monitoring the sky for bright variables. The search for planetary transits was begun in 2003. Since then the project has expanded to a network of telescopes called HATNet. The network consists of telescopes installed at two sites: the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO) in Arizona and the Submillimeter Array of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii. This expansion was very much promoted by the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), the host institution of the principal investigator, Gaspar Bakos. The HAT Network usees Apogee cameras for their search projects. www.ccd.com intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection customer profiles customers intro featured products ALTA SERIES CAMERAS: 0VERVIEW alta & ascent ccd selection DUAL DIGITIZATION OPTIONAL ETHERNET SHUTTERS COMPACT DESIGN The Apogee cooling system has long been one of the most advanced in the industry. The Alta control system has been expanded to 12 bits, allowing a temperature control range of 213K to 313K (-60 to +40 C) with 0.024 degree resolution. Sensors have been added to monitor the heat sink temperature. A power indicator has been added to give the user an idea of how much drive is being given to the CCD cooler. The automatic back-off function is now handled by the firmware and driver. If the system cannot reach the desired temperature, the system automatically backs off to a point where regulation can be maintained, 2 degrees above the maximum temperature reached. The new set point is given to the user. Cooling deltas of 40-60C (depending on sensor area) are typical with simple air cooling. Apogee now offers liquid recirculation backs for Alta cameras. For customers desiring greater temperature performance where the camera housing will not go below the dew point, specifying liquid recirculation will assure a lower dark count than is possible with forced air cooling. With our fast USB2 systems, we offer dual digitization: high precision, low noise 16 bit performance as well as high speed 12 bit for focussing and other high frame rate needs. Digitization depth is selectable image by image in software The Alta E Series cameras first read the entire image into the camera head memory, and then transfer the image to the host computer at a maximum of 200 kpixels/second. An Alta U47 camera with 1 megapixel reads the entire image to the computer in about 1.5 seconds. An E47 reads the image to the camera memory in 1.5 seconds, but then requires an additional 5 seconds to transfer the image to the host computer. Apogee Instruments uses the finest shutters available for our cameras from Vincent and Melles Griot. These shutters have been carefully integrated into our camera heads with minimum impact on back focal distance and camera size. These shutters have a huge advantage of simple rotating blade shutters in terms of light blockage and minimum exposure time. The Alta systems are designed to be very compact. At 6”x6” and only 2.2” thick with no external electronics, the Alta system packs a lot of power into a small package. The Alta systems are more than a kilogram lighter than than their predecessor. Alta cameras with small format CCDs have a 0.69” (17.5 mm) C-mount back focal distance for direct interface to microscopes and Cmount lenses. Medium format sensors use the D2 housing with 2” thread. Large format sensors use the D7 housing with a 2.5” thread. Back focal distance for the D2 and D7 housing is approximately 1.04” (26.4 mm). All cameras have a bolt circle with metric threads for adaptation to a wide variety of flanges. PROGRAMMABLE FANS Some customers require a complete absence of vibration during an exposure. The Alta systems have been designed for complete control of the cooling fans. The fans may be turned off, or run at a much slower speed to maintain adequate cooling with no vibration. For applications where vibration is not an issue, the fan speed may be maximized for greatest cooling. The fans used in the Alta system were selected for minimum vibration. www.ccd.com UNIQUE MAC ADDRESS Professional grade details like magnesiumflouride coated fused silica windows. Apogee also offers custom windows, including wedge windows and customer supplied optics. SINGLE 12V POWER SUPPLY Alta camera systems include a 12V international power supply (100V-240V input), but can be operated from a clean 12V source. CABLE LENGTH Ethernet cabling can go to 100m. USB2 cables are limited to 5m between hubs, with up to 5 hubs, for a total of 30m. However, there are USB1 and USB2 extenders available for operation up to 10 km. The USB1 extenders slow the transfer to a maximum of 500 kpixels per seoond, but this rate is still a far higher throughput than the E Series systems. USB2 extenders are available using Cat5 cable or fiber optic cable. Specifications subject to change without notice. customers ALTA SERIES CAMERAS: 0VERVIEW ADVANCED COOLING MGF2 COATED FUSED SILICA OPTICS customer profiles The Alta E Series cameras each have a unique MAC address so they can be plugged directly into the internet for remote operation. We provide MaxIm software for remote control of the camera. They cannot be controlled through your browser. Because the camera has slave serial, I2C, and auxiliary filter wheel and guider support, an entire observatory can be controlled from behind a single camera interface. For WAN or WWW connections, a full TCP/IP protocol gives safe data transfers at slower speeds. Note that the observatory to control room cable can be replaced with an available wireless system, completely eliminating the need for cables. A special bi-directional digital interface with 6 I/O lines can also be used to interface to other system components. High level shutter signals, as well as digital strobes and triggers, are available. OPTIONAL LIQUID CIRCULATION Apogee offers optional Alta liquid recirculation backplates as well as temperature-regulated liquid recirculators for customers wanting to remove heat dissipation from the area of the telescope; wanting to house the camera inside an enclosure; or wanting supplemental cooling. The limitation: the temperature of the recirculating liquid must not go below the dew point. OPTIONAL LOW PROFILE HOUSINGS Lower profile housings are available for all Alta models to achieve <0.5” (<12.7mm) back focal distances without internal shutters. TWO SERIAL COM PORTS & GENERAL I/O PORT Alta cameras use three shutter types, depending on the aperture. Apogee shutters use lower voltage coils then those listed as standard by the shutter manufacturers, roughly 1/2 of the standard voltage requirement. The lower voltages extend the lifetimes of the shutters. D1 housing, small format sensors: Vincent Uniblitz 25mm Shutter D2 housing, medium format sensors: Melles Griot 43mm Shutter D7 housing, large format sensors: Melles Griot 63.5mm Shutter Our general purpose I/O port can tell you when the shutter is open, or can be used for a wide variety of external trigger inputs, including line-by-line control of TDI shifts. Our two serial COM ports can control peripherals like filter wheels through the camera’s control cable (USB2 or ethernet). Full frame CCDs typically require an electromechanical shutter unless the light source is gated in some other way. Otherwise light falling on the sensor during the readout process corrupts the image. Interline CCDs shift the charge from the photodiode section of each pixel to the masked storage diode. For low light applications, the mask is sufficiently opaque to prevent smearing. However, in high light applications, interline CCDs require electromechanical shutters to prevent smearing during readout. . Specifications subject to change without notice. www.ccd.com intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection customer profiles customers intro featured products alta & ascent CUSTOMER PROFILES RAPTOR The wide field cameras are each set at angles pointing outward from the central axis. This allows each to cover a selected field with a minimal overlap between each one. The fovea camera is aligned with the axis. Each of the wide field cameras has a field of view of 19.5 x 19.5 degrees with a single pixel resolution of 34 arcseconds. The overlap between each camera is 2 degrees. Total coverage is 1500 square degrees. The fovea camera field of view is 4 x 4 degrees with a spatial resolution near 5 times that of the wide field. RAPTOR A fovea will include a Johnson I filter and RAPTOR B, a Johnson R filter. Tom Vestrand is the LANL Principal Investigator for the RAPTOR project. RAPTOR A and RAPTOR B comprise a multiple camera mount and a cluster of control computers. Each of these has an array of four wide field cameras surrounding a narrow field, fovea camera in the center. RAPTOR A and B are separated by 20 miles allowing for binocular vision. This set up allows for removing of false positives through comparison and parallax. RAPTOR detects celestial optical transients automatically and autonomously follows up on them before they fade away. The Raptor system consists of a platform of four rapidly slewing robotic telescopes. Three of these systems are sited at Fenton Hill: RAPTOR A, RAPTOR S, and RAPTOR P. The fourth system, RAPTOR B, is sited at LANCE at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (TA-53) The outer cameras are Apogee AP10 CCDs mounted on 85mm Canon f/2.8 lenses. The fovea camera is also an AP10 mounted on a Canon 400mm f/2.8 lens. All lenses are manual focus with calipers connected to the focusing ring in order to have finer control of the focus. www.ccd.com A montage of images taken with a U47 camera that revealed exciting new physics about the prompt optical emission from gamma ray bursts. The SARA 0.9m telescope on Kitt Peak. ccd selection customer profiles customers GALLERY SARA (SOUTHEASTERN ASSOCIATION FOR RESEARCH IN ASTRONOMY) SARA was formed in 1989 with members Florida Institute of Technology, East Tennessee State University, University of Georgia, and Valdosta State University. The objective was to create a mutually beneficial association of institutions of higher education in the southeastern United States which have relatively small departments of astronomy and physics, and whose faculty members are all actively engaged in astronomical research. The consortium now also includes Florida International University, Clemson University, Ball State University, Agnes Scott College, the University of Alabama, and Valparaiso University. The SARA consortium was formed in response to the pending decommission of a 36-inch telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory. SARA was awarded use of the scope after submitting the winning proposal to the National Science Foundation. The telescope was originally constructed by the Boller and Chivens Corporation, a Cassegrain design with an effective focal ratio of f/7.5. The mount and dome are computer-controlled, allowing for completely robotic observing without the presence of human telescope operators. At an altitude of 6800 feet, this Arizona location offers very stable seeing conditions and a fairly low horizon in all directions save for the northeast. SARA uses an Apogee AP7p camera as well as an Alta U42. On-going research projects include: · White dwarf stars (Oswalt, FIT) · Cool variable stars (Henson, ETSU). · Cataclysmic variables, white dwarf and delta Scuti variables (Wood, FIT) · Binary star light curves (Van Hamme and Samac, FIU; Shaw, UGA) · Structure of Galaxies (Smith, ETSU) · Asteroids studies (Leake, VSU). · Search for and monitoring of gamma ray bursts (Hartmann, CU) · Microvariability observations of Blazars (Webb, FIU) · Photometric observations of Seyfert galaxies (Rumstay, VSU) Since the Summer of 1995, SARA has also run an internship program, Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), funded by the National Science Foundation. Left: IC1805 by Adam Block and Tim Puckett, using Alta U9000 and Televue 127is telescope. Below: NGC 2992 by SSRO-S / PROMPT, using Alta U47 camera and RC Optical 16” f/11.3 truss. (Taken at Cerro Tololo, Chile). Above: NGC 2024 “Flame Nebula” by Peter Armstrong, using Alta E42 2048 x2048 backilluminated CCD camera and 24” f/5.5 telescope. Right: Big Bear Solar Observatory, using Apogee KX4 camera. intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection customer profiles customers intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection Unlike previous generations of Apogee cameras with fixed digitization rates for each bit depth, the Ascent cameras feature programmable readout rates using 16-bit digitization. You can choose the best tradeoff between noise and readout speed imageby-image. Some CCDs, like the interline transfers, can read two channels at up to 10 MHz each, for a total throughput of over 20 megapixels per second. Other CCDs, like the full frame Kodaks, typically have a maximum useful throughput rate of about 7 to 10 MHz. See individual data sheets for specifics regarding each camera system. PROGRAMMABLE GAIN AND OFFSET All Ascent models feature programmable gain and bias offset programmable in the analog-to-digital converter. GUIDER INTERFACE Ascent cameras include a guider interface to popular telescope mounts. The interface plugs into the 8 pin mini-DIN on the camera and provides a standard RJ11 plug to the telescope. A relay interface is used where each mount channel (RA and DEC) is mechanically switched to an isolated common signal. EMCCD SUPPORT EMCCDs are unique among CCDs. It has a special charge multiplication circuit that intensifies charge on-ccd before readout. Gains of 1 to 2000 are possible on-CCD using this technology, resulting in detection of extremely low light levels. With a gain of 1, the CCD behaves much like a normal CCD with a maximum well depth of 28Ke- and a typical noise of 20e-. With higher gains, CCD output noise approaches 1e- with a severe reduction in usable well depth. The A247 uses an interline frame transfer CCD, eliminating the need for a mechanical shutter and reducing smear. OPTIONAL LIQUID CIRCULATION Apogee offers optional Ascent liquid recirculation back as well as temperatureregulated liquid recirculators for customers wanting to remove heat dissipation from the area of the telescope; wanting to house the camera inside an enclosure; or wanting supplemental cooling. The limitation: the temperature of the recirculating liquid must not go below the dew point. ASCENT FILTER WHEEL The Ascent systems are extremely lightweight (0.6 kg) and compact. At 5.7” x 3.2” (14.5 x 8.1 cm) and only 1.2” (3 cm) thick with no external electronics, the Ascent is a marvel of compact electronics. The standard back focal distance for all models is about 0.32” (0.8 cm). ALTA FILTER WHEEL Apogee offers an optional filter wheel for nine 2” round filters or seven 2” square filters. The filter wheel can be controlled directly from one of the Alta’s COM ports. The filter wheel is pictured here on the optional D9 housing (see below) LIQUID CIRCULATION / CHILLER UNIT Alta with optional liquid circulation adapter and optional liquid circulation / chiller unit OPTEC FILTER WHEELS AND FILTERS The Optec Intelligent Filter Wheel system allows use of multiple wheels, each with a custom identifier. FACE PLATE ADAPTERS OPTEC TCF-S FOCUSERS Flange adapters allow you to attach anything from an SLR camera lens to a large instrument pack to your Apogee camera. We have sizes to fit all Alta and Ascent cameras. These units are machined precisely for accurate concentricity. Optec focusers compensate for focal shift due to temperature. They supports instruments up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg). Easy to use hand control. OVERSIZE HOUSING WITH ADDED COOLING Ascent with optional liquid circulation adapter and optional external filter wheel. An optional, deeper version of the D7 housing, called the D9, is available with liquid circulation cooling only, and provides cooling to 60°C below ambient for our U16, U16M, and U9000 cameras. The standard chamber window for the Ascent system is low cost BK7. An optional fused silica window is also available for applications requiring higher throughput in the ultraviolet. ASTRODON® FILTERS LENS & SLIP-FIT ADAPTERS USB2 EXTENDERS VANE SHUTTERS www.ccd.com Our on-site experts can help you choose a camera and all support accessories. COMPACT DESIGN ANTI-REFLECTIVE COATED BK7 OPTICS Ascent cameras with full frame CCDs have internal shutters intended to prevent smearing during readout for low light applications. The same professional-grade electromechanical shutters available as standard and internal in the Alta cameras are also available as housed external options with the Ascent cameras. customers ACCESSORIES ASCENT SERIES CAMERAS: 0VERVIEW PROGRAMMABLE DIGITIZATION customer profiles SINGLE 6V POWER SUPPLY Ascent camera systems include a 6V international power supply (100V-240V input), but can be operated from a clean 6V source. Specifications subject to change without notice. Ascent with optional liquid circulation, filter wheel, and slip fit adapter The new Icron USB 2.0 Ranger® extenders support USB cameras at distances from 50 meters (Cat 5 cable) to 10 km (fiber cable). Astrodon® Tru-Balance filters are the first filters designed to match the sensitivity of modern CCD cameras, simplifying all aspects of tri-color imaging of deep-sky objects. We carry adapters for: Takahashi, Televue, RC Optical systems, ASA, OGS, DFM, Cannon, Nikon, AstroOptik, Meade, Celestron and Orion Specifications subject to change without notice. www.ccd.com intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection customer profiles customers intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection GALLERY customer profiles customers CUSTOMER PROFILES SUPERNOVAE Tim Puckett has a degree in photography and began in astronomy with photographing comets 30 years ago. He has been a pioneer in the field of amateur digital astro-imaging, owning and operating numerous CCD cameras since 1988. Tim has also become an accomplished machinist and mount maker, and has built many robotic telescopes. He is currently operating a supernova search patrol. To date, Tim’s team has discovered 161 supernovae. Puckett uses custom software to keep track of all the telescopes in the network to avoid overlap and to optimize output. To date Puckett has taken more than one million images in the search. Observing from dusk until dawn on every clear night, Puckett images approximately 1200 to 4000 galaxies per night. In addition, Puckett uses computers to control the robotic telescopes and sends the images to other volunteers via the Internet. Each image is manually compared (“blinked”) to archive images. Puckett spends approximately 40-50 hours each week running the search. All the team members have contributed thousands of hours each. Professional astronomers further study these supernovae (exploding stars) to better understand the life cycle of stars and the acceleration of the universe. Tim is currently manager of Astronomy Sales at Apogee Instruments Inc. NEAR EARTH OBJECTS Tim with Brian Marsden at the Puckett Observatory. Tim’s photos of comets and deep-sky objects have been published in books and magazines in 25 countries. His work has also been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, BBC, The Discovery and Learning Channels and Good Morning America. Tim with Gene Shoemaker at Tim’s workshop in Georgia. Top: N7000, Tim Puckett and Adam Block using an Alta U9 and Takahashi 180 scope. Below: Tim’s first 160 supernovae discoveries. Not many “amateurs” take on this level of “home made” telescope. David routinely images to magnitude 21 with his Apogee cameras and 0.4 meter telescope. JORNADA OBSERVATORY David Dixon pushes his telescope right to the limits imaging NEO’s. In early 2000 an increased awareness of the role of impact events on the history of the earth, and the need for observations of NEOs at magnitudes greater than 20V led to a change in focus to NEO observation. Jornada observatory is beginning an astrometry program focused on recovery and follow up of NEOs. Priority is the recovery of multiple and single opposition NEOs which will exceed magnitude 21.0 but don’t exceed magnitude 19.0 during the opposition, and follow-up of newly discovered NEOs that are in the 19V to 21V brightness range and getting dimmer. The NEOs that are expected to become brighter than magnitude 19.0 during the opposition will be considered second priority targets since there is a reasonable expectancy of recovery by the professional surveys during their normal search work. The high QE and the low noise of the Apogee backlit cameras help David get an edge. Jornada Observatory is supported with instrumentation provided by The Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO Grant Program of 2000. featured products alta & ascent ccd selection case histories customers featured products intro alta & ascent ccd selection case histories CCD SELECTION BACK ILLUMINATED For nearly 30 years, back-illuminated CCDs have represented the ultimate in high performance astronomical imaging. The highest sensitivity available means shorter exposures and better signal-to-noise. (Monochrome only) C U9000 KAF-09000 3058 3058 9351364 12 36.7 36.7 1346.6 51.9 M A8300 KAF-8300CE 3448 2574 8875152 5.4 18.6 13.9 259 23.2 M,C U9, A9 KAF-6303E 3072 2048 6291456 9 27.6 18.4 509.6 33.2 M U10 TH7899* 2048 2048 4194304 14 28.7 28.7 822.1 40.6 M U32, A32 KAF-3200 2184 1472 3214848 6.8 14.9 10.0 148.7 17.9 M KAF-1603ME 1536 1024 1572864 9 13.8 9.2 127.4 16.6 M U13 KAF-1301E 1280 1024 1310720 16 20.5 16.4 335.5 26.2 M U6 KAF-1001E 1024 1024 1048576 24 24.6 24.6 604.0 34.8 M KAF-0402ME 768 512 393216 9 6.9 4.6 31.9 8.3 M KAF-0261E 512 512 262144 20 10.2 10.2 104.9 14.5 M 10 U10 E10 0 U9 E9 A9 A105 90 10 6.6 5.0 32.6 8.24 M,C EMCCDs EM CCDs EM247 TI TC247 658 CAMERA DATA SHEETS 496 326368 A complete set of camera data sheets as well as mechanical drawings are on our Integration Starter Kit CD, or at www.ccd.com EMCCD EM247 U2000 E2000 A2000 10 0 A340 www.ccd.com 1000 M,C 20 960 5.99 30 920 17.2 40 880 3.6 U4000 E4000 A4000 50 840 4.8 A16000 A11000 60 800 7.4 INTERLINES 70 720 313632 U1 E1 A1 680 484 U260 E260 A260 640 648 Total Pixel Size Array size (mm) Imaging Area Diagonal Mono=M Pixels (microns) X Y (mm2) (mm) Color=C 15824256 7.4 36 24 866.5 43.3 M,C 10709376 9 36 24 867.5 43.3 M,C 4194304 7.4 15.2 15.2 229.7 21.4 M,C 1920000 7.4 11.8 8.9 105.1 14.8 M,C U2 E2 A2 U32 E32 A32 600 KAI-0340 Broadband 100 A8300 560 A340 Array Size 4872 3248 4008 2672 2048 2048 1600 1200 Wavelength UV Enhanced OE 80 INTERLINE TRANSFER CCDs Kodak CCD KAI-16000 KAI-11002 KAI-4021 KAI-2021 Midband BI FRONT-ILLUMINATED CCDs *The U10 uses an E2V (formerly Atmel, formerly Thomson) TH7899 CCD. Camera Model* A16000 A11000 U4000, A4000 U2000, A2000 20 520 U260, A260 30 U13 E13 Wavelength (nm) Back-illuminated Kodak Blue Plus Microlensed KAI-11002 10 00 32 96 0 475 92 0 17.8 88 0 26.6 84 0 6.8 80 0 10275584 76 0 2624 40 72 0 3916 50 68 0 KAF-10500CE 60 64 0 A105 U6 E6 60 0 Array Size 4096 4096 4096 4096 70 U16 U16M U9000 56 0 Kodak CCD* KAF-16801E KAF-16803 80 52 0 Camera Model U16 U16M Total Pixel Size Array size (mm) Imaging Area Diagonal Mono=M Pixels (microns) X Y (mm2) (mm) Color=C 16777216 9 36.9 36.9 1359.0 52.1 M 16777216 9 36.9 36.9 1359.0 52.1 M U1, A1 90 FRONT ILLUMINATED FRONT-ILLUMINATED CCDs U2, A2 100 Apogee also offers a variety of spectroscopic format back-illuminateed CCDs. 48 0 27.4 E2V UV-sensitive CCDs E2V: BACK-ILLUMINATED & OPEN ELECTRODE CCDs 44 0 177 U77 E77 40 0 6.7 39.1 18.8 17.4 36 0 26.6 764 177 151 U47 E47 32 0 26 Diagonal (mm) 480 262144 Imaging Area (mm2) 440 256 Y 27.6 13.3 12.3 400 1024 X 27.6 13.3 12.3 Absolute QE CCD30-11 Array size (mm) 20 0 Array Size 2048 2048 1024 1024 512 512 Pixel Size (microns) 13.5 13 24 Absolute QE (%) U30 E2V CCD CCD42-40 CCD47-10 CCD77-00 Total Pixels 4194304 1048576 262144 U30 / E30 U42 E42 The QE curves below give general representations of the relative differences between the various types of CCDs. For additional detail, please see the data sheets for each camera model at www.ccd.com. QE of back-illuminated CCDs depends on the coating (midband, broadband, UV-enhanced). There are also variations in front-illuminated CCDs: all polysilicon gates; Blue Plus (polysilicon and indium tin oxide gates); microlenses; antiblooming. See individual camera data sheets for details regarding each sensor. 28 0 BACK-ILLUMINATED CCDs QUANTUM EFFICIENCY CCD SIZES 24 0 Alta Series cameras with a USB2 interface use a U prefix, for example, U42. Alta Series cameras with an ethernet interface use an E prefix, for example, E42. All Alta models are available with either interface except the U16, U16M, and U9000 (USB2 only). Ascent models use an A prefix, except the EM247. In addition to the following CCDs, the Ascent supports a variety of spectroscopic format back-illuminated CCDs not listed in this chart. Camera Model U42 U47 U77 customers CCD SELECTION 760 intro intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection case histories customers intro featured products alta & ascent ccd selection case histories customers CCD SELECTION C CDs come in many shapes and sizes, as well as several different architectures. Some architectures were developed specifically to address the needs of extremely low light applications like astronomy (backilluminated CCDs). Other technologies can be adapted to astronomy with excellent results, but a bit more patience and diligence may be necessary (interline transfer CCDs). Here are some ideas to keep in mind: QUANTUM EFFICIENCY Higher sensitivity = higher quantum efficiency = shorter exposures to get the same results. Shorter exposures = more time for other exposures and less frustration with guiding and tracking. The peak value of a quantum effiiciency curve does not tell the full story of a CCD’s sensitivity. The area under the curve gives the true comparison of a CCD’s relative sensitivity. Twice the area under the curve = half the time making the exposure. Or, use the same exposure time, but get twice the signal. Apogee supports back-illuminated, front-illuminated, and interline transfer devices. Back-illuminated CCDs have the highest overall sensitivity. However, they are subject to etaloning (see below) in the near-infrared. Frontilluminated CCDs are much less expensive than back-illuminated CCDs. Make your own choices regarding the Biggest Bang for the Buck. UV & NIR WAVELENGTHS Between 200-300 nm: E2V Back-illuminated UV enhanced CCDs Between 300-400 nm: most Kodak CCDs have zero QE at 300 nm, increasing linearly to >40% at 400 nm. Near Infrared: Back-illuminated CCDs have the highest QE, but they are also subject to etaloning (also known as “fringing”) with monochromatic NIR. Simply put, the light bounces around inside the CCD itself. Some companies have developed proprietary versions of CCDs that minimize, though not eliminate, the effect by changing the thickness of the CCD itself. www.ccd.com PIXEL SIZE COLOR CCDS INTERLINE TRANSFER CCDs CCD GRADES KODAK BLUE PLUS CCDs Normally larger pixels have higher full well capacities than smaller ones. Higher full well capacities increase the potential maximum signal. If readout noise is kept low, higher signal means a higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), which is what allows us to see faint detail and what makes great photographs great. High SNR pulls those faint, wispy arms out of a spiral galaxy without making the center into a burned white blob. High SNR can also detect very small changes on top of a deep background, i.e. the stuff that makes discoveries. Get the largest pixel that matches your optics. Color CCDs are convenient for one-shot color, but they compromise in several ways. First, the typical red-green-blue (RGB) Bayer pattern over the pixels of the CCD (see below) cannot be changed--you cannot do monochromatic imaging one day, RGB the next, and cyan-magenta-yellow (CMY) on the third. Second, color CCDs cannot deliver the full resolution of the imager. They can, however, deliver all three color channels at exactly the same instant in time. Interline transfer CCDs, up to the scale of 35mm film, have inherent anti-blooming, but less dynamic range and lower quantum efficiency than Kodak’s other frontilluminated offerings. Interlines also have high dark current in the storage diodes, as well as some leakage through the storage diode masks. Mass markets for interline CCDs mean much lower prices per pixel, and a great entry point into professional level imaging. Because interline CCDs shutter the exposure by shifting the charge from the photodiode section of the pixel to the storage diode of the pixel, exposure times can be as short as a few microseconds. Time between exposures is determined by the time required to read out the entire CCD, which varies from camera to camera. Interline transfer CCDs cannot do timedelayed integration (also known as “drift scan” mode) because charge is not transferred from photodiode to photodiode, but rather into the masked storage diode. Each manufacturer’s specification sheet for an imager defines the cosmetic grades for that specific imager. Different manufacturers use different procedures; a grade 1 of Imager A may allow column defects, but a grade 2 (lower grade) of Imager B may not. Kodak usually grades their CCDs at about 25°C, and most of their defects disappear in cooled cameras when the images are flat-fielded. In most cases, you cannot see the difference between the grades. Other companies, such as E2V, grade their CCDs at low temperatures, so their defects are less likely to disappear when the CCD is cooled. Defects on CCDs do not grow over time, nor do lower grade CCDs wear out faster. Most lower grade Kodak CCDs no longer allow column defects. These lower priced CCDs are excellent bargains. You may get an unwanted surprise if you do not check the data sheets for each CCD carefully before purchasing a system. Some large format CCDs allow several column defects in the “standard grade” CCD, CCDs create charge due to the photoelectric effect. In order to create an image rather than random electricity, the charge must be held where it was created. “Traditional” CCDs using from one to four polysilicon gates carry a voltage that traps the charge until transferred. Polysilicon has limited transmissivity. Indium tin oxide (ITO) gates have higher transmissivity, but lower charge transfer efficiency. Kodak’s combination of one polysilicon gate and one ITO gate is marketed as Blue Plus (because of the increase in blue sensitivity). The overall sensitivity of Blue Plus CCDs is much higher than multi-phase front-illuminated CCDs using only polysilicon gates. However, when researching point sources of light, it is good to keep in mind that there is a marked increase in quantum effiiency on the ITO side of each pixel. (See MICROLENSES below). MATCHING PIXEL SIZE TO FOCAL LENGTH The focal length of a telescope is the product of the aperture and the f/ ratio. A 12” f/10 has a focal length of 120”. Divide that focal length by 8 to find the approximate size of 1 arcsecond of sky on the CCD, in microns For example, if your focal length is 120”, then one arcsecond of sky covers 120/8 = 15 microns on the CCD. You need to oversample the sky by at least a factor of 2. If your skies have urban/suburban seeing (3-4 arcseconds), then you need to sample at 1.5 to 2 arcseconds. Again using the 120” focal length as an example, the “ideal” pixel size for a 4 arcsecond sky would be 2 arcseconds, or 30 microns on the CCD. Smaller pixels would not add resolution to your murky sky, but they would give up dynamic range and lower the signal-to-noise ratio. In a clear 2 arcsecond sky, the same scope calls for a 15 micron pixel. Small pixel CCDs can be binned 2x2 or 3x3 to match changing sky conditions, but binned small pixels normally do not match the full well capacity of a comparable large pixel. Typical RGB Bayer filter pattern designed to mimic the responsivity of the human eye. DARK CURRENT Quantum efficiency of the Kodak KAI-16000 CCD: black line is monomchrome version; RGB lines are the color version. DYNAMIC RANGE Interline transfer CCDs have, at most, a full well capacity of about 50K electrons. If the electronics limits the read noise to 8-10 electrons, this is a dynamic range of 50K/10 = 5000:1, or about 12.3 bits. Most argue for oversampling by an extra bit, or some argue even two. However, a 16-bit analog-todigital (AtoD) converter does not upgrade a 12 bit imager into a 16 bit imager. A Kodak KAF-1001E (Alta U6 camera), using the low noise (also called “high gain”) output amplifier, can be operated at 6 electrons noise with a full well of 200K electrons, or a dynamic range of more than 30K:1, about 15 bits. Specifications subject to change without notice. Thermally generated signal, or dark current, is not noise. The shot noise component of the dark current is one element of noise, which is the square root of the dark current. You can correct for the dark current itself if you can measure it, which requires the camera’s cooling to be programmable and stable. The deeper the cooling, the less correction you’re going to have to do. E2V CCDs: AIMO & NIMO E2V’s AIMO (Advanced I Metal Oxide, aka MPP) CCDs have hundreds of times less dark current than non-IMO (NIMO) CCDs. Some variations of their CCDs, such as deep depletion devices with high QE in the near IR, are only available as NIMO devices. ANTI-BLOOMING Anti-blooming (AB) bleeds off excess charge from individual pixels so that it does not spill over into its neighbors and cause a white stripe down the column. For applications like astrophotography, AB preserves the aesthetics of the image. For photometric applications, AB can be used if exposure times are carefully controlled to avoid excess charge. The disadvantages of AB: normally it lowers full well capacity and quantum efficiency. MICROLENSED CCDs Many CCDs now use microlenses over each pixel. In the case of interline transfer CCDs, the microlenses focus the light onto the photodiode. In the case of Blue Plus CCDs (see above), the microlenses focus the light onto the ITO gate side of the pixel. Microlenses greatly improve overall quantum efficiency, but introduce some angular dependency. Fill factor is normally less than 100%. See data sheets for individual CCDs for details. SPECSMANSHIP CCD manufacturers as well as camera manufacturers both describe their products in terms of typical performance, and in some cases, specify worst acceptable performance. A CCD data sheet may, for example, say “typical 15 electrons noise” and “maximum 20 electrons noise” (under very specific and perhaps irrelevant conditions). As a result, camera manufacturers using such a CCD must also use “typical performance”, or sort CCDs at a potentially large increase in cost. The difference between typical and guaranteed is sometimes large, such as a factor of two in dark current. Specifications subject to change without notice. www.ccd.com THANKS (A PARTIAL LIST OF APOGEE INSTRUMENTS CUSTOMERS) Apogee Instruments would like to express our gratitude to the thousands of customers from around the world that have brought so much to our lives since 1994. 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