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G2-8300 CCD Camera
 New model G2-8300 was added to the G2 series of cooled CCD cameras for low-light imaging applications. The KAF8300 CCD detector, used in the new camera, corresponds to the so-called “4/3 standard” and its imaging area 18.1נ13.7mm is the largest of all detectors used in the G2 series. High resolution (more than 8MPx) and relatively small pixels (5,4נ5,4μm) makes this camera ideal for use with short focal length telescopes (or with ordinary photographic lenses). This camera is also ideal for high-resolution imaging of microscopic samples.

All key features of G2 series of CCD cameras are preserved also in G2-8300 model:

  • Lowest possible system read noise, limited by CCD chip itself.

  • High dynamic range, 16-bits digitization.

  • Efficient and precisely regulated cooling up to 50C below ambient temperature.

  • Ability of unattended operation enabled by integrated mechanical shutter and filter wheel supporting LRGB, BVRI or narrow-band filters.

  • Compact camera head, small and lightweight enough to be attached even to small telescopes.

  • Single-voltage power supply enabling operation from 12Vbattery or “brick” adapter.

  • Plug and play installation and rich software support.

  • Robust construction to sustain every-day usage.

But there are some features unique for G2-8300 model:

  • Although the KAF8300 CCD detector has Full-Frame architecture, it is equipped with so-called anti-blooming gate (ABG), which protects electron leaks from saturated pixels to neighboring pixels when a bright star appears in the field of view. This makes G2-8300 camera suitable also for astro-imaging applications.

  • The CCD imaging area is somewhat larger that the clear aperture of standard filters in 1.25 inch filter cells. Such filter cells cause vignetting in the image corners. This is why the filter wheel with 6positions is not offered with G2-8300 and filters for 5positions filter wheel are not standard 1.25, but larger filters with 31mm diameter.

    31mm filters do not cause vignetting on vast majority of optical systems, but they are significantly cheaper and more compact compared to 2inch filters or filters in M48 threaded cells.

G2-8300 camera head

G2-8300 camera head

G2-8300 camera is manufactured with monochrome CCD detector as well as with color detector, which allows capturing of color images with single exposure:

Model CCD detector ABG Color mask Resolution Pixel size Imaging area Download time
G2-8300 KAF8300 yes no 3358נ2536 5.4נ5.4 μm 18.1נ13.7mm 12.2s
G2-8300C KAF8300 yes RGBG (Bayer) 3358נ2536 5.4נ5.4 μm 18.1נ13.7mm 12.2s

Although KAF8300 CCD detector is not square like in the case of G2-4000 camera (square detectors always optimally utilize optics capabilities and filter area, so they best suit to astronomy applications), KAF8300 aspect ratio is 4:3, which is closer to square than 3:2 aspect ratio of other detectors like KAF3200, KAI11000 etc.

G2-8300 camera with Canon EOS photographic lens

G2-8300 camera with Canon EOS photographic lens

G2CCD Cameras Technical Specifications

CCD Chip

G2-8300 camera uses high sensitive and low noise Kodak KAF8300 Full Frame CCD detectors with 4/3 format. Advanced manufacturing techniques like transparent electrodes and microlensing ensure up to 55% peak quantum efficiency. The inherent dark current of these detectors is very low, so the resulting image S/N ratio is very good.

Resolution 3358 (H)נ2536 (V) pixels
Pixel size 5.4μm (H)נ5.4μm (V)
Imaging area 18.1mm (H)נ13.7mm (V)
Full well capacity ~25,000 e--
Dark current 0.2 e-/s/pixel at 0C
Dark signal doubling temperature 5.8C

KAF-0402ME CCD chip specifications

KAF8300 CCD chip and its Quantum Efficiency

Camera Electronics

16-bit A/D converter with correlated double sampling ensures high dynamic range and CCD chip-limited readout noise. Fast USB interface ensures image download time within seconds.

Maximum length of single USB cable is 5m. This length can be extended for instance to 10m by using single USB hub or USB active extender cable. Up to 100m extension can be achieved with third-party extender.

ADC resolution 16 bits
Sampling method Correlated double sampling
Read modes Standard (STD)
Low-noise (LN)
Horizontal binning 1 to 4 pixels
Vertical binning 1 to 4 pixels
Sub-frame readout Arbitrary sub-frame
TDI readout Yes, 2ms resolution
Computer interface USB 2.0 High Speed
USB 1.1 Full Speed compatible

Camera electronics specifications

Image download time depends on the CCD chip used in particular camera model. Also the read noise depends on the chip as well as on the read mode.

  • Standard read mode provides system read noise approx. 1e- above low-noise read mode.

  • LN (Low-noise) read mode is somewhat slower (approx. 1.2), but ensures system read noise equal or smaller than the manufacturer-specified chip read noise.

Gain 0.4 e-/ADU (1נ1 binning)
0.8 e-/ADU (other binnings)
System read noise 8 e- RMS (LN read)
9 e- RMS (standard read)
Full frame download 14.4 s(LN read)
12.2 s(standard read)

G2-8300 electronics specifications

Notes:

  1. Binning can be combined independently on both axes

  2. ULN read noise depends on the CCD chip itself. If the read noise of the particular chip is 7 e- RMS, the system read noise is also 7 e- RMS.

  3. Download times are valid for USB2.0 host and may vary depending on host PC. Times stated here were measured on 1.5GHz PentiumM based laptop computer.

    Download times can be somewhat longer when connected to USB1.1 host.

Power and USB connectors on the bottom of the camera head

Power and USB connectors on the bottom of the camera head

Chip Cooling

Regulated two-stage thermo-electric chip cooling up to 50C below ambient temperature with forced air cooling and 0.1C temperature precision ensure very low dark current for long exposures.

CCD chip cooling Thermoelectric (Peltier modules)
TEC modules Two stages
Max. delta T 50C below ambient maximum
45C below ambient typical
Regulation precision 0.1C
Hot side cooling Air cooling (50mm fan)

Chip cooling specifications

Fans and air output vents on the back side of the camera

Fans and air output vents on the back side of the camera

Notes:

  1. It is not recommended to cool the chip to the maximum temperature difference, else the camera cannot guarantee temperature stability when the ambient air temperature rises. It is usually practical to set the temperature so the cooling utilization varies around 90%. This provides enough reserve in cooling power to keep the CCD temperature even if the ambient temperature rises several degrees Celsius.

  2. Water-assisted cooling is available for all G2CCD cameras. Contact the manufacturer for details.

  3. The cooling performance depends on the environmental conditions and also on the power supply. If the power supply voltage drops below 12V, the maximum temperature difference is lower.

Maximum temperature drop -50C provides little room for regulation

Maximum temperature drop -50C provides little room for regulation

Power supply

The 12VDC power supply adapter enables camera operation from arbitrary power source including batteries, wall adapters etc. Universal 100240VAC/5060Hz, 60W “brick” adapter is supplied with the camera. Although the camera power consumption does not exceed 30W, the 60W power supply ensures noise-free operation.

Camera head supply 12VDC
Camera power consumption 15W without cooling
40W with 100% cooling
Adapter input voltage 100-240VAC/50-60Hz
Adapter output voltage 12VDC/5A
Adapter maximum power 60W

Power supply specifications

Notes:

  1. Camera power consumption is measured on the AC outlet of the 12Vpower supply.

  2. The camera contains its own power supplies inside, so it can be powered by unregulated 12VDC power sourcethe input voltage can be anywhere between 10 and 14V. However, some parameters (like cooling efficiency) can degrade if the supply drops below 11V.

  3. G2 CCD camera measures its input voltage and provides it to the control software. Input voltage is displayed in the Cooling tab of the CCD Camera control tool in the SIPS. This feature is important especially if you power the camera from batteries.

12VDC/5A power supply adapter for G2CCD Camera

12VDC/5A power supply adapter for G2CCD Camera

Warning:

The power connector on the camera head uses center-plus pin. Although all modern power supplies use this configuration, always make sure the polarity is correct if you use own power source.

Mechanical Specifications

Compact and robust camera head measures only 114נ114נ77mm (approx. 4.5נ4.5נ3inches). The head is CNC-machined from high-quality aluminum and black anodized. The head itself contains USB-B (device) connector and 12VDC power plug, no other parts (CPU box, USB interface, etc.), except a “brick” power supply, are necessary. Integrated mechanical shutter allows streak-free image readout, as well as automatic dark frame exposures, which are necessary for unattended, robotic setups. Integrated filter wheel contains 5 positions for D31mm filters. It is also possible to screw the standard 1.25" filters in threaded cells into the filter wheel, but such filters can cause vignetting, especially when used with fast optics.

5-positions filter wheel and blade shutter inside the G2-8300 camera head

5-positions filter wheel and blade shutter inside the G2-8300 camera head

Internal mechanical shutter Yes, blade shutter
Shortest exposure time 100 ms
Longest exposure time Limited by chip saturation only
Internal filter wheel 5 positions for D31mm filters
Head dimensions 114mmנ114mmנ77mm
Back focal distance 29mm
Camera head weight 1.1kg

Mechanical specifications

Slightly slimmer variant of the camera head without internal filter wheel is available. The head dimensions are 114נ114נ65mm (approx. 4.5נ4.5נ2.5inches). This variant allows attaching of external filter wheel with 10 or 12 positions for D36mm or D31mm filters.

G2 CCD camera with external filter wheel attached

External filter wheels for 10 filters D36mm (left) and for 12 filters D31mm or with M28.5נ0.6 threaded cells (right)

Head dimensions 114mmנ114mmנ65mm
Back focal distance 29mm
Back focal distance 16.5mm
Back focal distance from external filter wheel 33.5mm
Weight of camera head 0.9kg
Weight of camera head + external filter wheel 1.7kg

Mechanical specifications

Notes:

  1. Shortest exposure time 100ms is available on G2 cameras revision 3 and higher. Shortest exposure time of older revisions was 175ms.

Software Support

Powerful SIPS (Scientific Image Processing System) software supplied with the camera allows complete camera control (exposures, cooling, filters) with automatic sequences and complete image calibration. SIPS also supports advanced tools like Image Add tool with automatic sub-pixel image alignment, (L)RGB Add tool, Image Blink tool, image filters and many more functions.

Simple Image Manipulation System

Drivers for third-party software are also available (e.g. MaxIm DL, AstroArt, etc.). Visit the “download” portion of the manufacturer web site for current list of available drivers, please.

Automatic guiding

SIPS software package allows automatic guiding of the astronomical telescope mounts using separate guiding camera. Proper and reliable automatic guiding utilizing the computational power of Personal Computer (e.g. calculation of star centroid allows guiding with sub-pixel precision) is not simple task. Guiding complexity corresponds to number of parameters, which must be entered (or automatically measured). And the number of necessary parameters lead to splitting of the “Guiding” tab in the SIPS into two separate tabs. The first one is called “Guiding setup” and it summarizes all parameters necessary for proper autoguiding setup.

Guider setup tab of the SIPS CCD Camera control tool

Guider setup tab of the SIPS CCD Camera control tool

The second tab called “Guiding” thereafter allows switching of autoguiding on and off, starting of the automatic calibration procedure and recalculation of autoguiding parameters when the telescope changes declination without the necessity of new calibration. Also swapping of the German Equatorial mount no longer requires new autoguider calibration.

This tab also graphically displays time history of guide star offsets from reference position in both axes. The length of graph history as well as the graph range can be freely defined, so the graph can be adjusted according to particular mount errors and periodic error period length.

SIPS automatic guiding

SIPS automatic guiding

Complete log of calibration procedure, detected offsets, correction pulses etc. is also shown in this tab. The log can by anytime saved to log file.

G2 cooled imaging camera with G0 high-performance guider

Shipping and Packaging

G2 CCD cameras are supplied in the foam-filled, hard carrying case containing:

  • Camera body with a user-chosen telescope adapter. The standard 2" barrel adapter is included by default. If ordered, the filter wheel is already mounted inside the camera head and filters are threaded into place (if ordered).

  • A100-240VAC input, 12VDC output “brick” adapter with 1.8m long power cable.

  • 5m long USB A-B cable for connecting camera to host PC.

  • ACD-ROM or USB Flash Drive with camera drivers, SIPS software package with electronic documentation and PDF version of User'sManual.

  • Aprinted copy of User'sManual.

G2 CCD cameras are shipped in the foam-filled carrying case (left), larger case is used if camera is ordered with external filter wheel (right)

Image Gallery

Example images captured with G2-8300 camera.

Object M42 “Great Orion Nebula”
Author Reinhold Wittich
Camera G2-8300
Filters LRGB, H-alpha, OIII and SII
Exposure more than 10 hours
Telescope 300mm Newtonian

Object “Elephant Trunk” nebula, part of nebulosity complex IC1396 in Cepheus
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-8300
Filters H-alpha, OIII and SII
Exposure 28 hours
Telescope 300mm f/4.5 astrograph

Object “Flame” and “Horse Head” nebulae in Orion
Author Jan Camek
Camera G2-8300
Filters Astrodon Ha, Baader LRGB
Exposure 7.2 hours
Telescope 300mm f/2.9 astrograph

Object IC1805 nebula complex
Author Jan Camek
Camera G2-8300
Filters Astrodon Ha+OIII (bi-color)
Exposure 14 hours
Telescope 300mm f/2.9 astrograph

Object M33 “Triangulum galaxy”
Author Jan Camek
Camera G2-8300
Filters Astrodon Ha+OIII, Baader LRGB, IDAS LPS2
Exposure 12 hours
Telescope 300mm f/2.9 astrograph

Object M78 nebula
Author Jan Camek
Camera G2-8300
Filters Baader LRGB
Exposure 6.2 hours
Telescope 300mm f/2.9 astrograph

Object NGC2244 “Rosette” nebula
Author Jan Camek
Camera G2-8300
Filters Astrodon Ha 5nm, OIII 3nm (bi-color)
Exposure 9 hours
Telescope 300mm f/2.9 astrograph

Object NGC5128 “Centaurus A” galaxy
Author Jan Camek
Camera G2-8300
Filters Baader LRGB
Exposure 6.6 hours
Telescope 300mm f/2.9 astrograph

Object NGC6914 nebula complex
Author Jan Camek
Camera G2-8300
Filters Baader LRGB
Exposure 6 hours
Telescope 300mm f/2.9 astrograph

Object WR134, nebulosity around a Wolf Rayet star in Cygnus
Author Patrick Hochleitner and Dieter Beer
Camera G2-8300 (LRGB + Hα + OIII filters)
Telescope 10inch f/4 Newton

Object NGC7000 “North America” a IC5070 “Pelican”
Author Ondrej Podlucky
Camera G2-8300 (+ narrow-band filters)
Exposure 43 hours (mosaic of two frames)
Telescope Borg 101ED + F4ED reducer

Object M8 “Lagoon”
Author David Kennedy
Camera G2-8300 (+ Ha, R, G, B filters)
Exposure 9.5 hours
Telescope Borg 60ED

Object IC1396 “Elephant'strunk”
Author Ondrej Podlucky
Camera G2-8300 (+ narrow-band filters)
Exposure 27 hours
Telescope Borg 101ED + F4ED reducer

Object Lambda Centauri region
Author David Kennedy
Camera G2-8300 (+ Ha, R, G, B filters)
Exposure 8.9 hours
Telescope 71fl miniBorg F/7.8

Object NGC6888 Crescent nebula
Author Jonas Fiedler
Camera G2-8300 (+ Ha, R, G, B filters)
Exposure 4.5 hours
Telescope Takahashi FSQ 106

Object NGC1499 California Nebula
Author Ondrej Podlucky
Camera G2-8300 (+ narrow-band filters)
Exposure 28 hours
Telescope Borg 101ED + F4ED reducer

Object NGC891
Author Stefano Campani
Camera G2-8300 with H-alpha and RGB filters
Exposure 6.4 hours
Telescope 24" (610mm) RNT Newton

Object NGC660
Author Stefano Campani
Camera G2-8300 with H-alpha and RGB filters
Exposure 10.6 hours
Telescope 24" (610mm) RNT Newton

Object IC348
Author Milo Hroch
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 200mm, f/2.9 astrograph (f/4 mirror + 0.73 ASA corrector)

Object NGC281 “Pacman nebula”
Author Milo Hroch
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 200mm, f/2.9 astrograph (f/4 mirror + 0.73 ASA corrector)

Object VdB14, VdB15
Author Milo Hroch
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 200mm, f/2.9 astrograph (f/4 mirror + 0.73 ASA corrector)

Object NGC7380 “Wizard nebula”
Author Milo Hroch
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 200mm, f/2.9 astrograph (f/4 mirror + 0.73 ASA corrector)

Object M31 “Andromeda galaxy”
Author Patrick Hochleitner and Dieter Beer
Camera G2-8300
Telescope Skywatcher BD 80ED + 0,85 flattener

Object NGC7023 “Iris Nebula”
Author Patrick Hochleitner a Dieter Beer
Camera G2-8300
Telescope Skywatcher BD 80ED + 0,85 flattener

Object IC5070 “Pelican Nebula”
Author Thomas Jger
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 12" (305mm) f/3.8 astrograph

Object M20 “Trifid”
Author David Kennedy
Camera G2-8300
Telescope Vixen VC200L with reducer

Object Comet C2009P1 Garradd and M71
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 185mm f/3.9 astrograph

Object IC1396 “Elephant Trunk”
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-8300 (+narrow-band filters)
Telescope 185mm f/3.9 astrograph

Object NGC5128 “Centaurus A”
Author David Kennedy
Camera G2-8300
Telescope Vixen VC200L with reducer

Object NGC6888 “Crescent Nebula”
Author Patrick Hochleitner and Dieter Beer
Camera G2-8300
Telescope Skywatcher BD 120ED + 0,85 flattener

Object M101
Author Christoph Gerhard
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 7-inch Maksutov

Object NGC6559
Author Resa Ghanawistschi
Camera G2-8300
Telescope Pentax 75SDHF

Object NGC7000 “North America”
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-8300 (+ narrow-band filters)
Telescope 185mm f/3.9 astrograph

Object M101
Author Manferd Fischer
Camera G2-8300
Telescope ASA N8

Object IC405, IC410
Author Ondrej Podlucky
Camera G2-8300 (+ narrow-band filters)
Telescope Borg 101ED + F4ED reducer

Object NGC2237 “Rosette”
Author Ondrej Podlucky
Camera G2-8300 (+ narrow-band filters)
Telescope Borg 101ED + F4ED reducer

Object IC434 “Horse Head”
Author Ondrej Podlucky
Camera G2-8300 (+ H-alpha)
Telescope Borg 101ED + F4ED reducer

Object NGC2237 “Rosette”
Author Tsutomu Chikazawa
Camera G2-8300
Telescope Orion CT10 Newtonian

Object M1 “Crab Nebula”
Author Tsutomu Chikazawa
Camera G2-8300
Telescope Orion CT10 Newtonian

Object M33
Author Tsutomu Chikazawa
Camera G2-8300
Telescope Orion CT10 Newtonian

Object M51 “Whirlpool Galaxy”
Author Tsutomu Chikazawa
Camera G2-8300
Telescope Orion CT10 Newtonian

Object M81 “Boode Galaxy”
Author Tsutomu Chikazawa
Camera G2-8300
Telescope Orion CT10 Newtonian

Object NGC4725
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 185mm f/3.9 astrograph

Object NGC891
Author Pavel Cagas
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 250mm f/5.4 Newton

Object M33
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 185mm f/3.9 astrograph

Object NGC7000 “North America”
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 185mm f/3.9 astrograph

Object “Cave Nebula”
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 185mm f/3.9 astrograph

Object NGC6888 “Crescent” (bi-color)
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 185mm f/3.9 astrograph

Object IC1396 “Elephant Trunk”
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 185mm f/3.9 astrograph

Object “Omega Centauri” cluster
Author Robert Knox
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 110mm Borg ED

Object M8 “Lagoon Nebula”
Author Robert Knox
Camera G2-8300 (+ H-alpha)
Telescope 110mm Borg ED

Object Eta Cariane nebula
Author Robert Knox
Camera G2-8300 (+ H-alpha)
Telescope 110mm Borg ED

Object M106
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-8300
Telescope 185mm f/3.9 astrograph

All images published with permission of their respective authors.

 
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