Moravian instruments, Inc., source: https://www.gxccd.com/art?id=571&lang=409, printed: 23.9.2019 20:22:43

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New firmware for C1 CMOS cameras doubles FPS
 Very fast download speed is definitely one of the highlight features of CMOS sensors. Despite the 1.5MPx camera C1-1500 offered up to 60FPS upon its introduction, the sensor itself offers even faster digitization. Newly released firmware for all C1 cameras effectively doubles the digitization frequency of the used sensors and the C1-1500 camera now provides images at 120FPS. Firmware update is fully automatic, literally single-click action thank to newly introduced “CxFirmware” update tool.

Doubling of the digitization frequency (and thus doubling of the maximum FPS) is achieved by firmware modification only. No hardware changes are necessary, so every C1 camera sold can be updated to faster speed.

Of course, only USB3 offers enough bandwidth to allow CMOS based cameras to fully unleash their potential, once considered super-fast 480Mbps of the USB2 connection is not sufficient to achieve even the original 60FPS of the C1-1500 camera.

Remark:

USB3 offers not only 10-time the bandwidth of the USB2, but also provides much higher power to attached devices. Especially the C1-12000 camera with large sensor may not work properly when connected to a computer with USB2 cable providing “only” 0.5A from the 5V power line (0.5A current limit is defined by the USB norm, but as numerous USB devices need higher current to function properly, modern motherboards do not hesitate to offer much higher current even from USB2 ports).

Nothing is free and very high FPS of CMOS sensors brings a disadvantage in the form of high amount of generated heat. In fact, every CMOS sensor is a fast running digital circuit and anybody familiar with large heat sinks and fans, intended to cool down modern processors and graphics cards, understands that such circuits generate heat. So, when cooled with the same cooling power like a CCD sensor, CMOS sensors operate at significantly higher temperature with all the disadvantages of higher dark current etc.

This is why the new Cx camera firmware offers the user to choose the fast and slow read mode (both 8-bit and 12-bit read modes are offered in slow and fast variants). Cx camera CMOS sensor generate less heat when operated in slow mode. So, when the download speed is not that important, for instance after minutes long exposure, slow mode is recommended (who cares whether full 12MPx image is downloaded in 0.12s or 0.06s). On the other side, when recording video of a planet, fast mode can be useful.

Cx camera read modes offered by SIPS camera tool

Cx camera read modes offered by SIPS camera tool

Hint:

Please note the sensor maintains the mode of the recently downloaded image. To slow-down the sensor, just choose some slow read mode (it is not important if 8-bit or 12-bit) and download at last one image. Until image is downloaded, the sensor runs at the speed defined by the read mode used to download last image.

Cx camera firmware update utility

The firmware update in all Cx cameras is handled by the “CxFirmware.exe” utility. While this utility installation package is included in the “\Tools\CxFirmware\” folder on the USB Flash Drives shipped recently with all Cx and Gx cameras, it is always recommended to visit our Download page to get the latest version of the utility installation package.

Warning:

It is important to close all other software packages working with the respective camera prior to running the CxFirmware update utility. Accessing the camera from some other software during the firmware update process may result into camera malfunction and a necessity to send it to manufacturer for fix.

The CxFirmware tool checks whether some Cx camera is connected to the host PC and if yes, it connects to it. The “Connected Camera” box shows the camera name and the “Connect” button remains disabled (camera is already connected). If the camera is attached to the PC only after the CxFirmware tool is launched, it is necessary to explicitly connect to it using the “Connect” button.

Remark:

Please note the CxFirmware tool can work with one camera at a time only. If there are multiple Cx cameras connected upon the tool starts, only the first enumerated camera is connected.

If we want to update other connected camera than is the first enumerated and connected one, click the “Disconnect” button, which unplugs the first enumerated camera. Then unplug the unwanted camera from the PC and click the “Connect” button again. The remaining camera will be connected to the tool.

The “Camera Firmware” box shows the firmware version in the currently connected camera. The second box labeled “Current Firmware” shows the latest released firmware version for the particular camera.

There are two ways how to update camera firmware:

  1. Fully automatic update. The tool downloads the latest firmware and writes the camera Flash memory. No other action than clicking the “Update Automatically” button is required from the user.

    If the camera firmware and the current firmware versions are the same, the “Update Automatically” button remains disabled as no update is necessary.

    Remark:

    This method requires active Internet connection.

  2. Manual update. This method requires the desired *.cfx file with respective camera firmware is already downloaded from our Firmware Download page. Clicking the “Update from File” button opens a file-choosing dialog box. The selected file is then written to the camera Flash memory. The CxFirmware tool performs extensive check to ensure only a file compatible with connected camera is written. Also, any file corruption is detected.

The update process is performed in two phases. Do not unplug the camera while the firmware update is in progress!