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Main page  Products  CCD & CMOS cameras  Articles

G2-0402, G2-1600 and G2-3200 CCD Cameras
 Enhanced series of G2-CCD cameras supports high sensitive, low noise Kodak Full-Frame CCD detectors. High-speed USB2.0 interface minimizes download time and advanced analog electronics ensures very low read noise. Efficient two-stage Peltier cooling keeps detectors cold to minimize dark current. Compact and robust camera head integrates all electronics, shutter and optional 5 or 6-positions filter wheel.

Number of features of cooled, slow-scan G2CCD cameras with USB2.0 interface support demanding scientific applications:

  • Very high sensitivity with peak QE above 80%.

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

  • High dynamic range (16-bits digitization) and linear response.

  • Efficient and precisely regulated cooling.

  • Optional heat exchanger for liquid coolant.

  • Ability of unattended operation enabled by integrated shutter and filter wheel supporting UBVRI or narrow-band filters.

But G2CCD cameras are also designed with the needs of amateur astronomers on mind:

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

  • Integrated all-in-one design with USB and power connectors directly on the camera head.

  • Integrated shutter not to bother with covering the telescope when taking dark frames.

  • Integrated filter wheel for standard filters to take (L)RGB or narrow-band images.

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

  • Plug and play installation.

  • Robust construction to sustain every-day usage.

  • Rich software support.

No matter if your target is reliable scientific data or beautiful images of deep-sky objects, G2CCD cameras are able to provide both.

G2 CCD camera head

G2 CCD camera head

G2CCD series of CCD cameras include three models:

Model CCD Chip Resolution Pixel size Imaging area Download time
G2-0402 KAF-0402ME 768נ512 9נ9μm 6.9נ4.6mm ~ 0.6s
G2-1600 KAF-1603ME 1536נ1024 9נ9μm 13.8נ9.2mm ~ 2.1s
G2-3200 KAF-3200ME 2184נ1472 6.8נ6.8μm 14.9נ10mm ~ 4.8s

Remark:

Download times are valid for G2 cameras revision 3 and higher. G2 cameras revision 1 and 2 need approximately 2 longer time to download full resolution image.

G2CCD cameras are designed to work in cooperation with a host Personal Computer (PC). As opposite to digital still cameras, which are operated independently on the computer, the scientific slow-scan, cooled cameras usually require computer for operation control, image download, processing and storage etc. To operate G2 CCD camera, you need a computer which:

  1. Is compatible with a PC standard.

  2. Runs a modern 32-bit Windows operating system.

    Remark:

    G2 camera USB driver is designed for Windows2000 and better operating systems (e.g. WindowsXP). Older 16/32-bit systems, like Windows 95/98 and Windows Me, are not supported. G2 CCD cameras cannot properly operate with such operating systems.

  3. Provides at last one free USB port.

    Remark:

    The current series of G2CCD cameras are designed to operate with USB2.0 high-speed (480Mbps) hosts. Although they are fully backward compatible with USB1.1 full-speed (12Mbps) hosts, image download time can be somewhat longer if USB1.1 connection is used.

G2CCD Cameras Technical Specifications

CCD Chip

G2 cameras use high sensitive and low noise Kodak KAF Full Frame CCD detectors. Advanced manufacturing techniques like transparent electrodes and microlensing ensure up to 80 or 90% peak quantum efficiency. The inherent dark current of these detectors is very low compared to other scientific-grade CCDs, so the resulting image S/N ratio is very good.

Model G2-0402

G2-0402 model uses 0.4MPx Kodak KAF-0402ME Class 1 or 2 CCD chip.

Resolution 768 (H)נ512 (V) pixels
Pixel size 9μm (H)נ9μm (V)
Imaging area 6.9mm (H)נ4.6mm (V)
Full well capacity ~100,000 e-
Output node capacity ~220,000 e-
Dark current 1 e-/s/pixel at 0C
Dark signal doubling temperature 6.3C

KAF-0402ME CCD chip specifications

KAF-0402ME CCD chip and its Quantum Efficiency

Model G2-1600

G2-1600 model uses 1.6 MPx Kodak KAF-1603ME Class 1 or 2 CCD chip.

Resolution 1536 (H)נ1024 (V) pixels
Pixel size 9μm (H)נ9μm (V)
Imaging area 13.8mm (H)נ9.2mm (V)
Full well capacity ~100,000 e-
Output node capacity ~220,000 e-
Dark current 1 e-/s/pixel at 0C
Dark signal doubling temperature 6.3C

KAF-1603ME CCD chip specifications

KAF-1603ME CCD chip and its Quantum Efficiency

Model G2-3200

G2-3200 model uses 3.2 MPx Kodak KAF-3200ME Class 1 or 2 CCD chip.

Resolution 2184 (H)נ1472 (V) pixels
Pixel size 6.8μm (H)נ6.8μm (V)
Imaging area 14.9mm (H)נ10mm (V)
Full well capacity ~55,000 e-
Output node capacity ~110,000 e-
Dark current 0.8 e-/s/pixel at 0C
Dark signal doubling 6C

KAF-3200ME CCD chip specifications

KAF-3200ME 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 CCD chip read noise.

  • 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.

Model G2-0402

Gain 1.5 e-/ADU (1נ1 binning)
2.3 e-/ADU (other binnings)
System read noise 12 e- RMS (LN read)
16 e- RMS (standard read)
Full frame download 0.6 s(LN read)
0.5 s(standard read)

G2-0402 electronics specifications

Model G2-1600

Gain 1.5 e-/ADU (1נ1 binning)
2.3 e-/ADU (other binnings)
System read noise 12 e- RMS (LN read)
16 e- RMS (standard read)
Full frame download 2.5 s(LN read)
2.1 s(standard read)

G2-1600 electronics specifications

Model G2-3200

Gain 0.8 e-/ADU (1נ1 binning)
1.3 e-/ADU (other binnings)
System read noise 8 e- RMS (LN read)
10 e- RMS (standard read)
Full frame download 5.6 s(LN read)
4.8 s(standard read)

G2-3200 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 11.5 e- RMS, the system read noise is also 11.5 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.

  4. One 50mm fan is used in G2 cameras revision 3 and higher. Older revisions used two 40mm fans.

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 standard 1.25" threaded filter cells. Avariant of filter wheel with 6positions for 1" “glass-only” filters is also available.

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

5-positions filter wheel and blade shutter inside the G2 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 1.25" threaded filter cells
6 positions for 1" bolt-secured 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 camera 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

G2 CCD cameras with KAF detectors are primarily intended for research work. They are only occasionally used for “aesthetics astrophotography”. Following examples represent both science observations and astrophotography images.

Astronomy research

G2 cameras are appreciated by both professional researchers and amateur astronomers involved in scientific observations. Here are only a few examples, chosen from huge amount of observations, be it extragalactic novae discovery, minor planet photometry and astrometry, variable star discovery and regular observations, exoplanet transit observations etc.

Object WASP 12b exoplanet transit observation
Author Pavel Cagas
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 250mm f/5.4 reflector

Only 0.8mmag RMS difference from ideal light cure

Object Two new novae in M81 galaxy discovered within three days
Author Pavel and Petr Cagas, Vaclav Pribik
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 265mm f/8 reflector

This discovery is a record in the size of telescope, used to discover nova in M81. The second smallest has 750mm diameter.

Object New discovery of HADS (High Amplitude Delta Scuti) variable star
Author Vaclav Pribik
Camera G2-1600
Telescope 254mm f/4.7 reflector

Object 5 new variable stars discovered during HAT-P 20b exoplanet transit observations
Author Vaclav Pribik
Camera G2-1600
Telescope 254mm f/4.7 reflector

Object 9 novae in M31 galaxy
Author Kamil Hornoch
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 650mm f/3.6 reflector

Object Minor planet 2007/TU24 passing close to Earth
Author Peter Kusnirak
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 650mm f/3.6 reflector

Microscopy and material science

Object Solar cell samplevisible light
Author Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Communication, Brno University of Technology
Camera G2-3200

Object Solar cell samplenear IR, conductive direction
Author Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Communication, Brno University of Technology
Camera G2-3200

Object Solar cell samplenear IR, micro-plasmas in barrier direction
Author Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Communication, Brno University of Technology
Camera G2-3200

Near-IR radiation of semiconductor (solar cell) samples

Object Palladium layer on the tungsten sample covered by tungsten oxide
Author J. Heyrovsk Institute of Physical Chemistry
Camera G2-0402

Field emission microscope images, camera field of view is 800nm (1.5nm/pixel).

Astrophotography

Object M57 "Ring" nebula
Author Pavel Cagas
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 265mm f/8 Newtonian

Object M27 "Dumbbell" nebula
Author Pavel Cagas
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 265mm f/8 Newtonian

Object M101 galaxy
Author Martin Myslivec
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 185mm f/3.9 astrograph

Object M66 galaxy
Author Pavel Cagas
Camera G2-1600
Telescope 265mm f/8 Newtonian

Object Comet "Holmes"
Author Pavel Cagas
Camera G2-1600
Telescope 265mm f/8 Newtonian

Object Globular cluster M13
Author Pavel and Petr Cagas
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 265mm f/8 Newtonian

Object M81 "Boode galaxy"
Author Pavel and Petr Cagas, Vaclav Pribik
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 265mm f/8 Newtonian

Object M16 "Eagle nebula"
Author Pavel and Petr Cagas
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 265mm f/8 Newtonian

Object M51 "Whirlpool galaxy"
Author Pavel and Petr Cagas
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 265mm f/8 Newtonian

Object M1 "Crab nebula"
Author Pavel Cagas
Camera G2-3200
Telescope 265mm f/8 Newtonian

All images published with permission of their respective authors.

 
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