Author Topic: CCTV/ICCD/EMCCD cameras for tracking  (Read 10367 times)

January 17, 2017, 07:08:59 PM


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CCTV/ICCD/EMCCD cameras for tracking
« on: January 17, 2017, 07:08:59 PM »
Any ideas or suggestions for ICCD/EMCCD/CCTV camera for tasks like  visual tracking and star models? In a few SLR publications ICCD cameras are mentioned, like, but no details on specific models. The options are like starting from CCTV cameras used also  in astronomy like Watec and ending like Andora Zyla 4.2 PLUS sCMOS(?).
Requirements besides the obvious to see as much as possible:
1) Programming API, e.g. we should be able to define and display reference marks
2) Gating - we should able to shut down  camera/close shutter at certain moments
3) Pixel size, sensor size and mount are important but here we have some freedom, px count is not so important. C-mount and 1/2" CCTV like sensor size should do fine.
4) Expected lifetime - should handle regular use in tracking
Visual tracking, mount models, and optionally experiments like described in "Optical Characteristics of the Retroreflector in Space on the ADEOS Satellite in Orbit", where ICCD was used.   

January 31, 2017, 12:56:46 PMReply #1


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Re: CCTV/ICCD/EMCCD cameras for tracking
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2017, 12:56:46 PM »
Dear Kalvis,
we have been using the Andor Zyla sCMOS camera for about 3 years now and are quite happy with it. It comes as camera link or USB3 version, of which the latter was much more practical to use (we have 3 of these now, 2 USB and one older CL). To your questions:
1) Programming API is pretty good in my opinion, it's a C library that also exists in a precompiled form. I imported the DLL to python and went on from there.
2) There are a number of trigger options, which should enable you to do what you want. E.g. you can trigger via TTL input. The shutter is fully electronical, global or rolling. The camera is also pretty fast, up to some 50 Hz or so if you really push it hard.
3) Pixel size is 5,5 um, the sensor is 2560 x 2160 pixels, which gives us (at 3m focal length) a FoV of 0.3 deg and a scale of 0.5 arcsec per pixel. Pretty useful. And it's cmount.
4) No problems whatsoever so far in rather harsh outdoor conditions. The camera is also rather small and lightweight, which is also nice.
I can also mention that we tested two other cameras that were less useful in this context: First a FLI astro-CCD that had a gigantic chip and thus FoV, but a slow shutter and readout, so you could only take one picture every five seconds or so, and the timing was not accurate either (otherwise very good camera). And an Andor iXon emCCD which is very sensitive, but the camera is somewhat bulky and heavy and the chip is rather small. Unless you expect very low light levels I do not see much point in using any emCCD at the moment.
Ah, and maybe good to know: You'd pay something like eight to ten thousand Euro for it. Maybe a bit expensive for your needs, don't know.
If you need a rather cheap, reliable camera, I can recommend pretty much everything from PointGrey. Sturdy industrial cameras with a good interface, high frame rates, small size, cmount, ethernet or USB connection. Not very sensitive and not very large chip though. We use them for beam monitoring and occasionally on our transmitter telescope.
Hope that helps somewhat...

February 22, 2017, 03:23:26 PMReply #2

Matt Wilkinson

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Re: CCTV/ICCD/EMCCD cameras for tracking
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2017, 03:23:26 PM »
Hi Kalvis

I've been testing one of these cameras, which are rebranded uEye cameras from IDS (more to choose from at IDS site!).

It is very adaptable and affordable with an extensive API with example software. If you don't need a top of the range camera, these could be worth a look, depending on the job you have in mind.