The mid-size Aluma Series cameras offer performance and features not available in any other scientific-grade imaging camera. This lightweight (2.2 lbs) and compact (4.5″ x 4.5″ x 4″ with handles) camera include two-stage cooling, and a USB 2.0 interface, ultra-reliable even-illumination shutter, and fast low-noise readout. Aluma can be operated from a tablet or smartphone, or from a Windows, Macintosh, or Linux PC.
The Aluma series supports a wide range of accessories, including the 8-position FW8S-Aluma filter wheel with micron-level filter positioning, FW8G-Aluma filter wheel with built-in autoguider, AO-8A Adaptive Optics accessory, and Remote Guide Head.
- Wide variety of imaging sensors
- Lightweight, compact design
- Centered optical axis for optimum instrument balance
- Ultra reliable even-illumination (photometric) mechanical shutter
- Support for iOS, Android, Windows, Macintosh, and Linux
- WiFi and USB 2.0 interface
- Full frame image buffering eliminates readout artifacts and provides 100% reliable wireless download
- 2-Stage TE cooling with typical -50C from ambient
- Twin variable speed fans with SmartCoolingTM technology
- High accuracy temperature regulation
- Built-in RBI Pre-flash (full frame front-illuminated sensors only)
- External TTL trigger inputs and output
- Included 110V / 220V power supply and optional 12VDC operation
- User-rechargeable desiccant plug
- Built-in 1/4-20 tripod mount
- Support for high precision 8-position filter wheels
- Support for external guide head, self-guiding filter wheels, and adaptive optics
- Bulletproof firmware update capability – virtually impossible to “brick”
Aluma is designed to operate via USB 2.0. Designed from the ground up to support operation on any modern computing platform, Aluma is compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. Fully-documented and supported drivers are available for all platforms, including ASCOM drivers. The Aluma camera interface specification is fully documented, supporting the development of fully custom interfaces.
All Aluma models ship with MaxIm LT for Windows – a special version of Maxim DL specific to these cameras. Aluma also supports third-party applications through ASCOM and native drivers.
Compact and Lightweight Design
Aluma cameras measure just 4.25″ x 4.25″ x 4.0″ with handles (3.5″ without handles) and weigh just 2.2 lbs (1 kg).
All Aluma cameras include a mechanical shutter, which is used for both dark/bias calibration frames and for shuttering exposures on full frame sensors. Rather than using a complex iris shutter, which is prone to failure, the Aluma uses a twin vane shutter and direct drive motor for high repeatability, reliability, and extremely long life. The shutter is designed to be “even illumination” for the best accuracy in photometric measurements.
The left image shows a flat field image taken with a camera using an iris type shutter. The right image is a flat field image taken under the same conditions using the even-illumination shutter.
High Performance KAF-8300 Image Sensor
The Aluma 8300 uses the popular 8 megapixels ON Semi (formerly Kodak) KAF-8300-AXC sensor. The sensor has 3448 x 2574 pixels at 5.4 microns square, for a 17.96 mm x 13.52 mm optical format.
This is a high sensitivity full frame CCD sensor with low dark current and low read noise. Combining this high-performance sensor with Aluma’s high cooling performance and low readout noise results in exceptionally clean images.
This sensor includes microlens technology that concentrates light on the sensitive area of each pixel. The CCD’s sensitivity peaks in the center of the visible spectrum at 550 nm, and maintains high sensitivity throughout the visible spectrum.
KAF-8300 Quantum Efficiency
All Aluma cameras include the powerful new SmartCooling technology. The two-stage cooler, powerful fans, and advanced heat sink designed using thermal flow simulation combine to produce typical cooling delta from ambient of -50C. This is quite a feat considering the Aluma’s very compact and lightweight package.
SmartCooling automatically adjusts the fan speed to optimize cooler performance and power consumption. The camera’s firmware is constantly monitoring the sensor and heat sink temperatures, as well as controlling the cooler power. When full cooling power is needed – when ramping down or running near full power – the fans ramp up to their maximum speed, resulting in the strongest possible cooling. When less cooling power is needed the fans automatically slow to reduce noise levels and power consumption. SmartCooling also prevents any possibility of overheating by backing off power if the heat sink gets too hot – so you don’t need to worry if your camera is baking in a hot observatory during the day.
Each Aluma camera package includes:
- Maxim LT software
- Deluxe carrying case
- Universal power supply (110V / 220V, 50-60 Hz)
- 2″ Nosepiece adapter
- USB flash drive containing software, drivers, and documentation
- 15 foot (4.5 m) USB cable
- Tracking interface cable