Starlight Xpress Oculus All Sky Camera with 150 Degree Fish Eye Lens
The Oculus is a 150 degree coverage all-sky camera module, based on a 'SuperStar' camera core. It offers a high quality, low noise image, for sky conditions monitoring and meteor watches etc. The Oculus is provided with a replaceable, scratch-resistant, polycarbonate viewing dome and a satin anodized aluminum body. The camera is USB powered, but an additional 12v anti-dew heater input is also provided. The Starlight Xpress Oculus uses a SuperHAD CCD from Sony which has all of the wonderful benefits of an interline Sony CCD, such as incredibly low thermal noise and very fast electronic shutter (no need for mechanical shutters). With exceedingly low noise electronics and a fast f/1.2 150 degree fisheye lens, capturing the night sky is an absolute dream.
The SX Oculus is USB powered and driven but does require a 12dc input to drive the built in anti-dew heaters. The software supplied allows you to capture a series of exposures and add them together to create a dramatic avi movie of the night sky. This is the perfect camera for imaging meteor showers, viewing the weather conditions at a remote observatory and imaging the night sky in a spectacular way.
- Extremely low noise (thermal and readout)
- Compact and lightweight
- Remarkably Low Power consumption
- Outstanding build quality.
The lens used in the Starlight Xpress Oculus is a high quality, multicoated fisheye lens with a 150 field of view. With a very low F/1.2 focal ratio, the light gathering capacity of this small lens is incredibly good and imaging the night sky is very simple.
Weatherproofing: Permanently mounting electronic equipment outside in all weather is always a concern. With the Oculus, great care has been taken during the design process to incredibly reduce weather affects on the camera. Four drain holes have been machined into the outer flange at the base of the dome allowing water to simply run off the dome and down the outside of the housing. The housing has a beautiful bead blasted, clear anodized finish which is hardwearing and looks stunning.
The dome of the Oculus is a quality, highly polished polycarbonate 3 dome with the lens positioned at the optimum point in the dome to ensure there is no distortion in the star field.
Mounting & Rear Panel
The Oculus comes with a right angled aluminum tripod bracket to secure it to the side of your dome or building. This has the standard 14 tripod thread on the base but can also be easily drilled and adapted for other mounting options.
The USB cable comes fitted to the Oculus and can be extended using powered USB2.0 hubs. The Oculus also has a 2.1mm power socked in the rear to allow the supplied power supply to connect and power the heaters in the Oculus to ensure the dome does not dew up during the night.
- CCD type: ICX205AL Sony SuperHAD interline CCD with low dark current and vertical anti-blooming.
- CCD Full resolution pixel data: Pixel size: 4.65uM x 4.65uM, Image format: 1392 x 1040 pixels
- CCD quality: Grade 1
- Spectral Response: QE max at 520nM (~50%), 30% at 420nM and 670nM.
- Readout Noise: RMS - typically only 7 electrons.
- Full-well capacity: Greater than 15,000 e- (unbinned)
Anti-blooming: Overload margin greater than
- Dark current: Less than 0.1 electrons/second @ + 10C ambient.
- Data format: 16 bits.
Lens details: F/1.2 150 degree Fish
- Computer Interface: Built-in USB 2.0
Image download time: Typically 0.6 seconds at
full resolution using USB 2.0.
- Power requirements: Camera is USB powered, dew heater requires 12v at 1 amp max
- Input connection: Mini B USB socket for USB2.0 and a 2.1mm jack for +12v heater supply.
- Cooling system: Ambient air cooling
- Overall size: 150mm tall x 95mm diameter, including the polycarbonate weather dome.
|Camera Series||Starlight Xpress Oculus|
|Dimensions||150mm x 95mm|
|Pixel Array||1392 x 1040|
|Pixel Size||4.65 microns|
|Warranty||1 Year Warranty|
Good camera but software is inadequate
The camera could be a real winner and would get 5 stars if only Starlight Xpress supported the software. The camera has some good features but you will find all the software was only half heartedly implemented. It has a very good USB implementation - not RS-232. It always finds the camera. You can create a movie from the FIT images it creates. Sounds cool! However, after taking a night's sequence of images, the AVI can easily be over 1 GB and closer to 2 GB - not very convenient. There is no option to create an mp4 video which would reduce the size to a factor of a hundred. And there is no way to automatically have it create a movie say after a full night and then remove the FIT files. Think of generating several gigabytes of files every day! Running this camera require all manual input. Most people who get the camera want to upload the movie and images to their web site using FTP. You would be disappointed if you expected this. Hence this the Oculus software is very impractical and frustrating. Now you can set the exposure duration and delay between exposures. There is a continuous checkbox that has it take exposures continuously. There is also a "Stop at dawn" feature" but it is extremely unreliable. You can even have it subtract a dark frame. But alas, you must set the folder location of your dark frame every time as it will not remember this setting. In fact, and strange as this may sound, it will remember only a few of your settings - so each session you must remember to re-set a bunch of settings. There is no automatic exposure compensation. Hence twilight or when the moon rises the exposures will be over exposed. The image displayed cannot be scaled although the application can change size but without scaling the image. This camera would be a winner but the software is a loser.