Astrel Instruments AST16200 Cooled CCD Telescope Camera

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AST-16200-B-M-FW
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DESCRIPTION

Astrel Instruments AST16200 Cooled CCD Telescope Camera

he AST16200B is based on 16-megapxls Monochrome or Color KAF-16200 CCD Sensor (class 2) and is equipped with integrated 4 or 5 position Filter-Wheel.

The AST16200B product family features:

  • New concept low-vacuum CCD sensor chamber that guarantees no-frost with -40°C DeltaT at only 2.5A of power consumption

  • Total Noise of 9e- rms using low-noise acquisition mode

  • Powerful 1GHz microprocessor for stand alone wire-free operation (no PC is needed)

  • PC like use with Operating System, Graphic Desktop, Web access, applications that can be created, installed and removed

  • Optional 5" 800x480 touchscreen full color display (removable)

  • Optional mini wireless keyboard/touchpad

  • Integrated WiFi connection and Gbit Ethernet to PC / Tablet / Smartphone

  • 16 GB (expandible up to 64 GB) internal storage plus external USB pendrive or hard-disk 

  • Open-Source Camera Processor Code available to the user to experiment ideas and specific SW application

  • 2 HS USB, TX/RX serial port, I2C, SPI, +3.3V, +5V, +12V DC output power supplies

  • User configurable I/O lines to implement triggers, alarms, custom interfaces

Smartcamera Approach​

The Astrel Instruments cameras are powered by a 1000MHz Processor with 1Gb of memory and up to 64Gb of onboard storage.

Thanks to its "intelligence", the camera can do onboard all the operations that other cameras can only do by means of an external PC, because the camera is a PC itself!

Similar to a powerful astrophotography-oriented DSRL, the camera itself offers an integrated complete suite of easy to use graphical applications including:

  • Photo sequences programming with filters management

  • Temperature setting and monitor

  • Liveview with integrated focus mode

  • Autoguiding with dithering

  • Planetariums with mount control, including plate solving

  • Images review

The camera can autonomously autoguide with many commercial USB autoguider cameras and use planetarium applications to control the mount operations (alignment, goto, ...) on most commercial mounts. Many other commercial devices like motorized focusers, external filter wheels, ... can also be directly connected and managed autonomously by the camera.

The Wireless mode let the user communicate with the camera through a WiFi connection established between his Tablet / Smartphone (or of course a PC) and the camera. The connection uses remote desktop technology to send the camera display to the connected devices. No wires are needed between the camera and the devices: no risk of stumbling on a wire ruining the work of hours or even damaging your equipment.

The Stand-Alone mode is based on the availability of a 5" Touch Screen LCD and mini wireless keyboard/touchpad. The (removable) display is connected to the camera body with a set of adjustable junctions to position it for a comfortable view.

No other device (PC/Smartphone/Tablet) is needed to use the camera and all the connected equipment: don't run the risk of taking your valuable devices in an harsh environment they're not build for.

As the PC is not needed and the camera only needs a maximum of 2.5A at 12V, in these modes there's no need to carry big battery packs and power inverters: one small battery or even your car's one is enough for a whole night.

The camera can also be used in a conventional mode through a PC connected via Ethernet cable.

All the connected devices use the same integrated software suite: the camera's applications are accessible via remote desktop from any network connected device, including PC, Smartphones and Tablets.

Moreover, thanks to the Open Source license of all the software and the Linux OS, other applications can be easily added by the users, giving the camera more and more capabilities: our aim is to create a community of users and software developers which will add leading edge contents, ranging from innovative readout modes to web enabled applications.

On camera smart software suite

This suite of applications has been developed to make the Astrel Instruments cameras really easy and intuitive to use.

No complicated software: Use this apps connecting with your smartphone, tablet, PC or using the integrated 5" display + wireless keyboard, and a few minutes and clicks are enough to start taking pictures.

Liveview: The camera displays a bin 10 image, refreshing up to 1.5fps. With a few seconds exposure even very faint objects becomes visible, allowing precise framing.

Focus: Enter the focus mode selecting a star in the liveview, which is enlarged up to 8x. The app calculates and displays FWHM and profile with an up to 3fps refresh rate. 

Temperature Control: Select a setpoint and the minimum number of seconds/°C and start the PID algorithm that will keep the temperature constant within 0.1°C.

Take Photos: Start your photo sequence defining, for each filter, the number of frames, exposure time and binning of the sub-frames. It also sends dithering commands to the guider.

Monitor: Follow the current sub-frame number in the sequence and some info about the camera status. It can also preview the last frame or kill the sequence.

Guider: Connect your autoguider to the camera and use this app, derived from Lin_guider, for guiding your telescope. It features drift graph, statistics and dithering.

Integrated Swappable Filter Wheels

Precision filter positioning: the Astrel cameras feature a set of spring loaded balls with corresponding holes for a very precise and repeatable filters positioning: when the correct alignment is reached, the ball enters the hole, elastically recovering any small positioning error

The AST16200B features an integrated filter wheel with 5 or 4 positions for 42mm or 2" unmounted filters, The whole wheel can be easily swapped with another one if more than 4 or 5 filters are required: for example the first wheel could be used for LRGB while a second one could be used for narrow band imaging. The following integrated wheels are available:

  • 4 positions: 2" or 50mm round unmounted filters, 1 to 3mm thickness
  • 5 positions: custom 42mm unmounted filters available at the moment only from Astronomik

Cooling and Vacuum Chamber

The AST16200B series cameras feature a power consumption of only 2.5A @ 12V in fully operative state with 100% peltier on. In spite of this very low power consumption, an efficient 2 stages peltier cooling system can lower the regulated CCD temperature by up to 40°C below ambient.

The sensor and the cooling chain are contained in a vacuum proof chamber: using the included vacuum pump connected to the valve on the rear of the camera body, in less than a minute the air can be pumped-out. This has 2 fundamental effects: it eliminates the possibility of frost forming inside the chamber and minimizes the convention up and down heat transfer inside the chamber, optimizing the heat removal via the cold finger and avoiding cooling of the optical window that could lead to fogging.

Every camera is tested to maintain a proper vacuum level for at least 3 days (most cameras can hold the vacuum for several weeks). For customers running remote observatories, it is possible to fill the chamber with inert gas like Argon or Kripton, which will stay in the camera for months. The vacuum level can be controlled through the manometer incorporated in the vacuum pump.

No desiccant is needed.

  • Suitcase filled with protective foam for camera and accessories

  • AST16200B camera body with WiFi antenna

  • Vacuum pump with incorporated pressure gauge, tube and joint

  • Ethernet cable

  • Battery power cable: power cable extension with car lighter plug

SPECIFICATIONS

ADC16 bit
Bayer MatrixMonochrome
CooledCooled
Delta T40°C Below Ambient
Dynamic Range12.2 Stops
Full Well41ke
Max Frame Rate1.23fps
Mega Pixels16.2 mp
Peak QE540%
Pixel Array4500 x 3600
Pixel Size6 microns
Power Consumption12V 2.5A
Read Noise9e
Sensor Diagonal34.6mm
Sensor TypeCCD
Sensor16200
Weight2.2 lbs

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