Moravian instruments, Inc., source: https://www.gxccd.com/art?id=590&lang=409, printed: 06.06.2020 3:34:00

Main pageProductsCCD & CMOS cameras

C1+ Series CMOS Cameras
 C1+ camera models are designed to fulfill the gap between small and lightweight C1 models, intended as Moon and planetary cameras and auto-guiders, and C2 cameras, equipped with active sensor cooling and mechanical shutter and thus intended for more serious astronomical imaging and research. C1+ cameras are able to work as C1 ones, only being somewhat heavier and bulkier, and at the same time C1+ can replace the C2 models, only with slightly less cooling performance and lack of mechanical shutter.

C1+ cameras can operate from USB power lines only. However, some functions are available only if external 12VDC power supply is connected. C1+ functions equal to C1 cameras when powered from USB only:

  • Image acquisition.

  • Mount guiding through standard “autoguider” 6-pin connector.

When a 12VDC power is plugged in, C1+ camera functions are extend with:

  • Active and regulated sensor cooling with Peltier cooler.

  • Ability to control external filter wheel.

Still, C1+ capabilities lack some functionality, available in larger and heavier C2 cameras only:

  • C1+ have no mechanical shutter, necessary for automatic dark and bias frame acquisition in remote or robotic setups.

  • C1+ lack the possibility to use internal filter wheel.

  • C1+ cooling performance is slightly lower than in the case of C2, but the sensor temperature difference is only a few degrees Celsius.

C1 (left), C1+ (center) and C2 (right) cameras

C1 (left), C1+ (center) and C2 (right) cameras

Camera series C1 C1+ C2
Head front cross-section 57נ57mm 78נ78mm 114נ114mm
Head length (without telescope adapter) 49mm 80mm 65mm
Head weight 215g 675g 1000g
Power source Only USB USB and 12VDC Only 12VDC
Mechanical shutter No No Yes
Active sensor cooling No Yes (12VDC) Yes
Internal filter wheel No No Optional
External filter wheel No Optional (12VDC) Optional
Autoguider port Yes Yes No

Differences among C1, C1+ and C2 cameras

Mechanical design of this series makes it fully compatible with vast range of telescope adapters a external filter wheels, Camera Ethernet adapters, etc.

Rich software and driver support allows usage of C1+ camera without necessity to invest into any 3rd party software package thanks to included free SIPS software package. However, ASCOM (for Windows) and INDI (for Linux) drivers, shipped with the camera, provide the way to integrate C1+ camera with broad variety of camera control programs.

The C1+ 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 cameras usually require computer for operation control, image download, processing and storage etc. To operate the camera, you need a computer which:

  1. Is compatible with a PC standard and runs modern 32 or 64-bit Windows operating system.

  2. Is compatible with a PC standard and runs 32 or 64-bit Linux operating system.

    Remark:

    Drivers for 32-bit and 64-bit Linux systems are provided, but the SIPS camera control and image processing software, supplied with the camera, requires Windows operating system.

  3. Support for x64 based Apple Macintosh computers is also included.

    Remark:

    Only certain software packages are currently supported on Mac.

C1+ cameras are designed to be connected with the host PC through USB3.0 interface, operating at 5Gbps. Cameras are also compatible with USB 2.0 port to communicate with a host PC.

Alternatively, it is possible to use the Moravian Camera Ethernet Adapter device. This device can connect up to four Cx (with CMOS sensors) or Gx (with CCD sensors) cameras of any type and offers 1 Gbps and 10/100Mbps Ethernet interface for direct connection to the host PC. Because the PC then uses TCP/IP protocol to communicate with the cameras, it is possible to insert WiFi adapter or other networking device to the communication path.

Hint:

Please note that the USB standard allows usage of cable no longer than approx. 5 meters and USB 3.0 cables are even shorter to achieve very fast transfer speeds. On the other side, the TCP/IP communication protocol used to connect the camera over the Ethernet adapter is routable, so the distance between camera setup and the host PC is virtually unlimited.

Note the camera must be connected to some optical system (e.g. the telescope) to capture images. The camera is capable of long exposures, necessary to acquire the light from faint objects. If you plan to use the camera with the telescope, make sure the whole telescope/mount setup is capable to track the target object smoothly during long exposures.

C1+ Camera Overview

C1+ camera head is designed to be as small and compact as a cooled camera with rich features and compatible with broad set of accessories can be.

C1+ cameras are equipped with tiltable telescope interface and threaded holes for mounting on tripod or dovetail bar. They are also compatible with external filter wheels designed for larger C2 cameras camera head contains connector to control filter wheel. If the external filter wheel is used, the tiltable mechanism on the camera head is inactive and tiltable adapters for external filter wheels are used instead. Therefore, C1+ cameras can utilize vast range of telescope and lens adapters including off-axis guider adapters.

C1+ Camera with attached External filter wheel

C1+ Camera with attached External filter wheel

There are two sizes of the External filter wheels, each capable to accept multiple sizes of filters, available for the C1+ cameras:

  • Extra small “XS” size wheel for 8 unmounted filters D31mm or filters in 1.25 threaded cells.

  • Extra small “XS” size wheel for 7 unmounted filters D36mm.

  • Small “S” size wheel for 12 unmounted filters D31mm or filters in 1.25 threaded cells.

  • Small “S” size wheel for 10 unmounted filters D36mm.

Components of C1+ Camera system include:

  1. C1+ camera head with C1 compatible adapter with M42נ0.75 thread, 18.5mm BFD

  2. C1+ camera head with C2 compatible adapter with four M3 threaded holes 44mm apart and M48נ0.75 thread, 16.5mm BFD

    Remark:

    When used without spring and pushing screws, this adapter also works as base for External filter wheels.

  3. External Filter Wheel “XS” size (7 or 8 positions)

  4. External Filter Wheel “S” size (10 or 12 positions)

  5. C1 guider camera

    Remark:

    C1 cameras are completely independent devices with their own USB connection to the host PC. They can be used either on C2 OAG or on standalone guiding telescope.

    C1 cameras can share the Moravian Camera Ethernet Adapter with up to 3 other Cx cameras to be accessed over TCP/IP network.

  6. Off-Axis Guider with M48נ0.75 or M42נ0.75 (T2) thread

  7. C1 compatible Nikon bayonet lens adapter

  8. C1 compatible Canon EOS bayonet lens adapter

  9. C1 compatible M42נ0.75 (T-thread) threaded adapter, 55 mm BFD

  10. C1 compatible M48נ0.75 threaded adapter, 55 mm BFD

  11. C2 compatible M42נ0.75 (T-thread) or M48נ0.75 threaded adapter, 55 mm BFD

  12. C2 compatible Canon EOS bayonet lens adapter

  13. C2 compatible Nikon bayonet lens adapter

  14. Camera Ethernet Adapter (x86 CPU)

  15. Camera Ethernet Adapter (ARM CPU)

    Remark:

    Moravian Camera Ethernet Adapter allows connection of up to 4 Cx cameras of any type on the one side and 1 Gbps Ethernet on the other side. This adapter allows access to connected Cx cameras using routable TCP/IP protocol over unlimited distance.

  16. 8-positions external filter wheel “XS” for 1.25/D31 mm filters

  17. 7-positions external filter wheel “XS” for D36 mm filters

  18. 12-positions external filter wheel “S” for 1.25/D31 mm filters

  19. 10-positions external filter wheel “S” for D36 mm filters

  20. 7-positions external filter wheel “S” for 2/D50 mm filters

C1+ Camera Models

C1+ camera models are equipped with Sony IMX global shutter CMOS detectors with 3.45נ3.45 μm square pixels. Individual models differ in resolution only.

All used sensors utilize global electronic shutter. This means every pixel within the image is exposed in the same time, as opposed to rolling shutter sensors, which exposes individual lines one after another. There is no difference for long exposures of static objects, but imaging of moving objects using short exposure time using rolling shutter leads to image shape distortions.

Two lines of C1+ cameras are available depending on the available dynamic range (bit-depth of the digitized pixels):

  • C1+ cameras with Sony IMX sensors supporting 8- and 12-bit digitization. Because every 12-bit pixel occupies two bytes when transferred to host PC, 12-bit image download time is longer compared to 8-bit image. Maximal FPS in 8-bit mode is then significantly higher.

  • C1+ cameras with Sony IMX sensors supporting 12-bit digitization only. As the 12-bit read mode is always used for long-exposure applications (astronomical photography, scientific research) either way, lower theoretical download time in 8-bit mode brings no limitations for real-world scenarios. All other parameters being same (sensor size, resolution, pixels size, noise, ), lower price of these cameras may be then very attractive.

C1+ camera models with 8- and 12-bit digitization:

Model CMOS sensor Resolution Pixel size Image area
C1+3000 IMX252 2064נ1544 pixels 3.45נ3.45μm 7.12נ5.33mm
C1+5000 IMX250 2464נ2056 pixels 3.45נ3.45μm 8.50נ7.09mm
C1+12000 IMX253 4112נ3008 pixels 3.45נ3.45μm 14.19נ10.38mm

C1+ camera models with 12-bit digitization only:

Model CMOS sensor Resolution Pixel size Image area
C1+3000A IMX265 2064נ1544 pixels 3.45נ3.45μm 7.12נ5.33mm
C1+5000A IMX264 2464נ2056 pixels 3.45נ3.45μm 8.50נ7.09mm
C1+12000A IMX304 4112נ3008 pixels 3.45נ3.45μm 14.19נ10.38mm

Remark:

Cameras limited to 12-bit read mode are marked with letter A, following the model number. For instance, if C1+12000 marks camera with both 8- and 12-bit read modes, C1+12000A denotes camera model with only 12-bit read mode. All other parameters (sensor size, pixel resolution) are equal.

CMOS Sensors and Camera Electronics

CMOS camera electronics primary role, beside the sensor initialization and some auxiliary functions, is to transfer data from the CMOS detector to the host PC for storage and processing. So, as opposite to CCD cameras, CMOS camera design cannot influence number of important camera features, like the dynamic range (bit-depth of the digitized pixels).

Sensor linearity

The sensors used in C1+ cameras shows very good linearity in response to light. This means the camera can be used also for entry-level research projects, like for instance photometry or variable stars etc.

C1+3000 (IMX252) response to light

C1+3000 (IMX252) response to light

Download speed

As already noted, there are two lines of C1+ camera series, differing in the used sensor. The first series offers four different read modes:

  • 8-bit slow mode with ~132MPx/s digitization speed

  • 12-bit slow mode with ~72MPx/s digitization speed

  • 8-bit fast mode with ~263MPx/s digitization speed

  • 12-bit fast mode with ~132MPx/s digitization speed

Remark:

The slow variant of both read modes can be used to slightly lower the amount of heat generated by the sensor, as the communication interface operates at half speed compared to fast mode. Also, when the camera is connected using USB2.0 interface, fast read mode provides data at higher speed than the USB2.0 can handle and thus causes more interruptions of image digitization process.

The “A” version of C2 cameras offers only single read mode:

  • 12-bit fast mode with ~132 MPx/s digitization speed

The digitization speeds mentioned above are valid for USB3.0 connection. Also please note the digitization speeds do not necessarily lead to corresponding FPS, because every image downloaded has to be processed and displayed, which also consumes time. This time is negligible, if slow-scan camera needs many seconds for image download, but in the case of fast CMOS cameras, time for image processing in the PC (e.g. calculation of image standard deviation etc.) can be longer than image download itself.

Remark:

Despite one byte per pixels is transferred from camera to PC in the 8-bit read mode, many astronomical processing software packages work with 16-bit or 32-bit images only (e.g. SIPS). So, images occupy the same space in the computer memory regardless of the read mode.

Also, standard format for image storage in astronomy is FITS. While this format supports 8-bit per pixel, this variant is rather unusual and 16 or 32-bit integer or 32-bit floating-point pixels are typically stored to disk files to achieve as wide compatibility as possible.

Camera gain

Sensors used in C1+ cameras offer programmable gain from 0 to 24dB, which translates to the output signal multiplication from 1 to 15.9. Gain can be set with 0.1dB step.

Remark:

Note the C1+ camera firmware supports only analog gain, which means real amplification of the signal prior to its digitization. The used sensors support also digital gain control, which is only numerical operation, bringing no real benefit for astronomical camera. Any such operation can be performed later during image processing if desired.

Conversion factors and read noise

Generally, many sensor characteristics depend on the used gain. Hence, we provide two lists of parameters for both minimal and maximal gain.

Camera/sensor parameters for minimal gain 0dB (1):

Full well capacity 9000 e-
Conversion factor 2.2 e-/ADU
Read noise (12 bit) 1.8 e- RMS

Camera/sensor parameters for maximal gain 24dB (15.9):

Full well capacity 820 e-
Conversion factor 0.2 e-/ADU
Read noise (12 bit) 1.2 e- RMS

Remark:

Please note the values stated above are not published by sensor manufacturer, but determined from acquired images. Results may slightly vary depending on particular sensor and other factors (e.g. sensor temperature), but also on the software used to determine these values.

Exposure control

C1+ cameras are capable of very short exposures. The shortest exposure time is 125μs (1/8000 of second). This is also the step, by which the exposure time is expressed. So, the second shortest exposure is 250μs etc.

Long exposure timing is controlled by the host PC and there is no upper limit on exposure time. In reality the longest exposures are limited by saturation of the sensor either by incoming light or by dark current (see the following sub-chapter).

Internal mechanical shutter No
Shortest exposure time 125 μs (electronic shutter)
Longest exposure time Limited by chip saturation only

Exposure times

Cooling and power supply

As mentioned in the introduction, C1+ cameras can operate only with USB power. Camera is then capable to acquire images and to control (guide) telescope mount via autoguider port. However, active sensor cooling (as well as filter wheel operation) is available only if external 12VDC power supply is connected.

Remark:

Camera fan operates even without 12VDC power attached, only with lower fan speed. This helps to keep the camera electronics temperature close to environment temperature. When the external power is plugged in, the fan turns to full speed to remove the heat generated by the Peltier thermo-electric cooler.

Regulated thermoelectric cooling is capable to cool the CMOS sensor more than 40 C below ambient temperature. The Peltier hot side is cooled by fan. The sensor temperature is regulated with 0.1 C precision. High temperature drop and precision regulation ensure very low dark current for long exposures and allow proper image calibration.

C1+ air inlet with fan is on the bottom side of the camera head (left), air outlet vents are on the camera top side (right)

C1+ air inlet with fan is on the bottom side of the camera head (left), air outlet vents are on the camera top side (right)

The camera head contains two temperature sensors the first thermometer measures directly the temperature of the CMOS sensor. The second one measures the temperature inside the camera shell.

The cooling performance slightly depends on the amount of heat generated by a sensor used in the camera:

  • In general, lower resolution sensors generate less heat and thus reaches lower temperature.

  • The “A” version cameras, using sensors with limited read modes, also generate less heat and reaches lower temperature.

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

CMOS sensor cooling Thermoelectric (Peltier modules)
Maximal cooling Δ T ~44C below ambient
Regulated cooling Δ T 40C below ambient (90% cooling)
Regulation precision 0.1C
Hot side cooling Forced air cooling (fan)

Sensor cooling specifications

Remark:

The stated values are valid for C1+3000A camera. As noted above, maximum ΔT of higher resolution sensors (C1+5000A, C1+12000A) is slightly lower as well as ΔT of corresponding non-A camera versions.

Maximum temperature difference between CMOS sensor and ambient air may be reached when the cooling runs at 100% power. However, temperature cannot be regulated in such case, camera has no room for keeping the sensor temperature when the ambient temperature rises. Typical temperature drop can be achieved with cooling running at approx. 90% power, which provides enough room for regulation.

C1+3000A camera reaching -45C sensor temperature below ambient

C1+3000A camera reaching -45C sensor temperature below ambient

Power supply

The 12VDC power supply enables camera operation from arbitrary power source including batteries, wall adapters etc. Universal 100-240V AC/50-60Hz, 60W “brick” adapter is supplied with the camera. Although the camera power consumption does not exceed 25W, the 60W power supply ensures noise-free operation.

Camera power supply 12 V DC
Camera power consumption <1 W without cooling
22 W maximum cooling
Power plug 5.5/2.5 mm, center +
Adapter input voltage 100-240 V AC/50-60 Hz
Adapter output voltage 12 V DC/5 A
Adapter maximum power 60 W

Power supply specification

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 other than the supplied power source is used.

Remark:

Power consumption is measured on the DC side of the supplied power adapter. Camera consumes more energy from the AC outlet than stated here.

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

C1+ camera measures its input voltage and provides it to the control software. Input voltage is displayed in the Cooling tab of the Imaging Camera control tool in the SIPS program. This feature is important especially if you power the camera from batteries.

12 V DC/5 A power supply adapter for the C1+ camera

12 V DC/5 A power supply adapter for the C1+ camera

Autoguider port

A lot of astronomical telescope mounts (especially the mass-manufactured ones) are not precise enough to keep the star images perfectly round during long exposures without small corrections. Cooled astronomical cameras and digital SLR cameras allow perfectly sharp and high-resolution images, so even a small irregularity in mount tracking appears as star image deformations. C1+ cameras were designed with automatic mount guiding on mind.

C1+ cameras were designed to operate without any mechanically moving parts (with the exception of magnetically levitating fan). Electronic shutter allows extremely short exposures and also obtaining thousands of images in a short time, which is necessary for quality guiding.

C1+ cameras work in connection with a host computer (PC). Guiding corrections are not calculated in the camera itself, it only sends acquired images to the PC. The software running on the PC calculates the difference from required state and sends appropriate corrections to the telescope mount. The plus side of using a host PC CPU to process images is the fact, that current PCs provide overwhelming computational power compared to any embedded processor inside the guiding camera. Guiding algorithms then can determine star position with sub-pixel precision, can match multiple stars to calculate average difference, which limits the effects of seeing, etc.

Calculated corrections can be sent back to mount using PC-to-mount link. If the mount controller does not support so-called “Pulse Guide” commands, it is possible to use “Autoguider” port. It is enough to connect the C1+ camera and the mount using standard 6-wire cable and guide the mount through the camera.

The maximum sinking current of each pin of the C1+ camera is 400mA. If the mount does not treat the autoguider port as logical input only, but switches the guiding motors directly by these signals, a relay box must be inserted between the camera and the mount. The relay box ensures switching of currents required by the mount.

Standard 6-pin Autoguider Port is located beside the USB3 port on the back side of C1+ camera

Standard 6-pin Autoguider Port is located beside the USB3 port on the back side of C1+ camera

The Autoguider port follows the de-facto standard introduced by SBIG ST-4 autoguider. The pins have the following functions:

1 R.A. + (Right)
2 Dec + (Up)
3 Dec (Down)
4 R.A. (Left)
5 Common (Ground)
6 Not connected

Mechanical Specifications

Compact and robust camera head measures only 78נ78נ80 mm (approx. 3.1נ3.1נ3.2 inches). The head is CNC-machined from high-quality aluminum and black anodized. The head itself contains USB-B (device) connector, Autoguider port connector, connector for External Filter Wheel and 12VDC power plug.

The front side of the C1+ camera body is not intended for direct attachment of the telescope/lens adapter. It is instead designed to accept tiltable adapter base, on with the telescope and lens adapters are mounted. There are two variants of adapters available:

  • C1 compatible adapter base with M42נ0.75 (T-thread) and back focal distance (BFD) 18.5mm.

    The 18.5mm BFD equals to C1 camera with M42נ0.75 adapter. Numerous extension adapters are available for C1 cameras, like M48נ0.75 thread or M42נ0.75 thread (T-adapter) with 55mm BFD, Canon EOS and Nikon bayonets etc. All these adapters are then compatible also with C1+ cameras.

    As opposed to C1 series, these adapters are mounted on the tiltable base and therefore can adjust optical axis if necessary.

  • C2 compatible adapter base with 16.5mm BFD. This adapter contains four M3 threaded holed 44mm apart and also M48נ0.75 thread.

    Note the 16.5mm BFD equals to BFD of large cooled C2 cameras without filter wheel. Therefore, it is possible to attach all adapters for C2 cameras as well as external filter wheels to this adapter.

    When used with External filter wheel, this adapter lacks the tilting spring and pushing screws, which are not necessary as the External filter wheel itself offer tiltable adapters intended for C2 cameras.

    Remark:

    Of course, this adapter base can be used without External filter wheel and then it provides M48נ0.75 with very short 16.5mm BFD.

C1+ camera with C1 compatible adapter (left) and with C2 compatible adapter (right)

C1+ camera with C1 compatible adapter (left) and with C2 compatible adapter (right)

Head dimensions 79mmנ78mmנ80mm (without adapter base)
Back focal distance 18.5mm (with C1 compatible adapter base)
16.5mm (with C2 compatible adapter base)
Camera head weight 0.68kg

Mechanical specifications

Remark:

Back focus distance is measured from the sensor to the base on which adjustable adapters are mounted. Various adapters then provide back focal distance specific for the particular adapter type (e.g. M48 threaded adapter back focal distance is 55mm).

Stated back focal distance already calculates with glass permanently placed in the optical path (e.g. optical window covering the sensor cold chamber).

C1+ Camera with C1 compatible adapter base

C1+ camera head with C1 compatible adapter side view dimensions

C1+ camera head with C1 compatible adapter side view dimensions

C1+ camera head with C1 compatible adapter front view dimensions

C1+ camera head with C1 compatible adapter front view dimensions

C1+ Camera with C2 compatible adapter base

C1+ camera head with C2 compatible adapter side view dimensions

C1+ camera head with C2 compatible adapter side view dimensions

C1+ camera head with C2 compatible adapter front view dimensions

C1+ camera head with C2 compatible adapter front view dimensions

C1+ Camera with “XS” External Filter Wheel

C1+ cameras can be equipped with the same external filter wheels like the C2 cameras. In such case the C2 compatible adapter has to be used as a base for the External filter wheel.

Remark:

The filter wheel can be used only if the C1+ camera is plugged to 12VDC external power supply.

If the external filter wheel is used, tiltable adapters for C2 or G2 Mark II cameras have to be used with it.

C1+ camera head with External filter wheel side view dimensions

C1+ camera head with External filter wheel side view dimensions

C1+ camera head with External filter wheel bottom view dimensions

C1+ camera head with External filter wheel bottom view dimensions

The “S” sized External filter wheel diameter is greater (viz. External Filter Wheels), but the back focal distance of all external filter wheels is identical.

Optional accessories

Various accessories are offered with C1+ cameras to enhance functionality and help camera integration into imaging setups.

Telescope adapters

Telescope and lens adapters, intended for usage with C1+ cameras, are of two kinds:

  • Adapters for C1 cameras. These adapters are mounted using M42נ0.75 thread with 18.5mm BFD. C1 compatible adapter base must be mounted on the C1+ camera head.

  • Adapters for C2 cameras. C2 camera adapters are mounted on a tiltable base, which is manufactured on external filter wheel or on a standalone base if no filter wheel is used. Filter wheel or adapter base is mounted using four M3 threaded holes on a plate 16.5mm from the sensor.

    • If a C2 adapter has to be used without filter wheel, a stack of two adapter bases must be used on C1+ camera C2 compatible adapter base for C1+ camera and C2 adapter base on it. However, such combination is superfluous despite it is possible, as majority of C2 adapter have an equivalent designed for C1 camera and thus can be used with C1 compatible adapter base.

    • The same tiltable adapter base is manufactured on the front plate of the external filter wheels. External filter wheel needs the C2 compatible adapter base attached to C1+ camera. Then all C2 adapters can be used.

For illustration of adapter options, see the figure in the C1+ Camera Overview chapter.

Adapters for C1+ cameras with C1 compatible adapter base

Adapters are mounted to the C1 compatible adapter base, which provide titling mechanism.

  • T-thread with 55mm BFD M42נ0.75 inner thread adapter, preserves 55mm BFD.

  • M48נ0.75 with 55mm BFD adapter with inner thread M48נ0.75, preserves 55mm BFD.

  • Nikon bayonet standard Nikon lens adapter, preserves 46.5mm back focal distance.

  • Canon EOS bayonet standard Canon EOS lens adapter, preserves 44mm back focal distance.

Adapters for C1 cameras, compatible with C1+ models

Adapters for C1 cameras, compatible with C1+ models

Adapters for C1+ cameras with C2 compatible adapter base and external filter wheel

C1+ uses the same External filter wheels like the C2 series. These External filter wheels are equipped with tiltable base, intended for adapters.

  • 2-inch barrel adapter for standard 2" focusers.

  • T-thread short M42נ0.75 inner thread adapter.

  • T-thread with 55mm BFD M42נ0.75 inner thread adapter, preserves 55mm BFD.

  • M48נ0.75 short adapter with inner thread M48נ0.75.

  • M48נ0.75 with 55mm BFD adapter with inner thread M48נ0.75, preserves 55mm BFD

  • Canon EOS bayonet standard Canon EOS lens adapter, preserves 44mm back focal distance.

  • Nikon bayonet standard Nikon lens adapter, preserves 46.5mm back focal distance.

Attaching camera head to telescope mount

C1+ camera heads are equipped with “tripod” thread (0.25) on the bottom side. This thread can be used to attach 1.75inch “dovetail bar” (Vixen standard). It is then possible to attach the camera head, e.g. equipped with photographic lens, directly to various telescope mounts supporting this standard.

1.75" bar for standard telescope mounts

1.75" bar for standard telescope mounts

Another possibility is to use four metric M4 threaded holes, also located on the bottom side of the camera head.

Position of the tripod thread and four M4 threaded holes on the bottom of C1+ camera head

Position of the “tripod” thread and four M4 threaded holes on the bottom of C1+ camera head

Tool-less desiccant containers

C1+ cameras employ the same desiccant container like the larger C2, C3 and C4 cameras, aw well as CCD based G2, G3 and G4 cameras. The whole container can be unscrewed, so it is possible to exchange silica-gel without the necessity to remove the camera from the telescope.

The whole desiccant container can be baked to dry the silica-gel inside or its content can be poured out after unscrewing the perforated internal cap and baked separately

The whole desiccant container can be baked to dry the silica-gel inside or its content can be poured out after unscrewing the perforated internal cap and baked separately

Remark:

This is why the container itself does not contain any sealing, which could be damaged by high temperature in the owen. The sealing remains on the sensor cold chamber instead.

New containers have a thin O-ring close to the threaded edge of the container. This O-ring plays no role in sealing the sensor cold chamber itself. It is intended only to hold possible dust particles from entering the front half of the camera head with the sensor chamber optical window, shutter and possibly internal filter wheel. While the O-ring material should sustain the high temperature during silica-gel baking, it is possible to remove it and put it back again prior to threading the contained back to the camera.

Container shipped with the camera by default does not exceed the camera head outline. It is equipped with a slot for tool (or for just a coin), allowing releasing and also tightening of the container.

This design also allows usage of some optional parts:

  • Threaded hermetic cap, allowing sealing of the dried container when it is not immediately attached to the camera head.

  • Alternate (somewhat longer) desiccant container, modified to be able to be screw in and tightened (as well as released and screwed out) without any tool.

Comparison of the standard and tool-less container (left), optional cap, standard and tool-less variant of the container

Moravian Camera Ethernet Adapter

The Moravian Camera Ethernet Adapter device allows connection of up to four Cx cameras of any type on one side and 1Gbps Ethernet interface on the other side. So, this device allows attaching of cameras to virtually unlimited distance using the routable TCP/IP protocol.

The Moravian Camera Ethernet Adapter device (left) and the adapter with connected two cameras (right)

Moravian Camera Ethernet Adapter device is described in detail here.

Software support

Software and driver support of the Cx series CMOS cameras is as rich as is the case of their Gx series CCD camera siblings.

However, latest versions of all software packages and drivers has to be installed to use Cx cameras.

  • If the C1+ camera is connected directly to host PC using USB cable, a new system driver CxCamera.sys must be installed (see the “Installing and Using Drivers and Software” manual, shipped with every camera). The system driver pre-installation package version 2.35 and later contains this driver.

  • When the C1+ camera is connected through the Moravian Camera Ethernet Adapter device, the device should be updated to firmware version 43 or later to work with CMOS cameras (see the “Moravian Camera Ethernet Adapter User's Guide” for firmware update procedure).

    Hint:

    When the SIPS is connected to the camera using the Moravian Camera Ethernet Adapter device, it shows the attached device firmware version in the Windows Action Center notification area.

  • Linux driver packages and libraries must be upgraded to latest versions, too. See the Download section of this site for details.

The SIPS (Scientific Image Processing System) software package version 3.18 or later is necessary to control C1+ cameras.

Warning:

Support for CMOS based Cx cameras was gradually added to individual SIPS version. While previous minor SIPS versions could be able to recognize C1+ cameras, always use v3.18 or later for reliable camera operation.

C1+ camera drivers for 3rd party software packages also need to be updated to work with C1+ cameras. Minimum versions for respective drivers are:

  • ASCOM drivers version 4.11

  • Drivers for TheSkyX (all versions for Windows, MacOS and Linux) version 2.3

  • Astroart drivers version 3.3

SIPS

Powerful SIPS (Scientific Image Processing System) software, supplied with the camera, allows complete camera control (exposures, cooling, filter selection etc.). Also automatic sequences of images with different filters, different binning etc. are supported. With full ASCOM standard support, SIPS can be also used to control other observatory equipment. Specifically the telescope mounts, but also other devices (focusers, dome or roof controllers, GPS receivers etc.).

SIPS also supports automatic guiding, including image dithering. Both “autoguider” port hardware interface (6-wire cable) and mount “Pulse-Guide API” guiding methods are supported. For hi-quality mounts, capable to track without the necessity to guide at last during one exposure, inter-image guiding using the main camera only is available.

SIPS controlling whole observatory (shown in optional dark skin)

SIPS controlling whole observatory (shown in optional dark skin)

But SIPS is capable to do much more than just camera and observatory control. Many tools for image calibration, 16 and 32bit FITS file handling, image set processing (e.g. median combine), image transformation, image export etc. are available.

SIPS handles FITS files, supports image calibration and processing

As the first “S” in the abbreviation SIPS means Scientific, the software supports astrometric image reduction as well as photometric processing of image series.

SIPS focuses to advanced astrometric and photometric image reduction, but also provides some very basic astro-photography processing

SIPS software package is freely available for download from this www site. All functions are thoroughly described in the SIPS User's Manual, installed with every copy of the software.

Drivers for ASCOM standard as well as native drivers for third-party software are also available (e.g. TheSkyX, AstroArt, etc.). Visit the download page of this web site for current list of available drivers, please.

Also INDI drivers for 32bit and 64bit Linux running on x86 and ARM are available. Also drivers for TheSkyX package running on macOS are supplied with the camera.

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).

The SIPS Guider tool window

The SIPS “Guider” tool window

The “Guiding” tool 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. There is also a graph showing 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. Complete log of calibration procedure, detected offsets, correction pulses etc. is also shown in this tool. The log can by anytime saved to log file.

An alternative to classic autoguiding is the inter-image guiding, designed for modern mounts, which are precise enough to keep tracking with sub-pixel precision through the single exposure, and irregularities only appear on the multiple-exposure time-span. Inter-image guiding then performs slight mount position fixes between individual exposures of the main camera, which eliminates “traveling” of the observed objects through the detector area during observing session. This guiding method uses main imaging camera, it does not use another guiding camera and naturally does not need neither OAG nor separate guiding telescope to feed the light into it.

Inter-image guiding controls in the Guiding tab of the Imager Camera tool window

Inter-image guiding controls in the Guiding tab of the Imager Camera tool window

Advanced reconstruction of color information of single-shot-color cameras

Color sensors have red, green and blue filters applied directly on individual pixels (so-called Bayer mask).

Every pixel registers light of particular color only (red, green or blue). But color image should contain all three colors for every pixel. So it is necessary to calculate missing information from values of neighboring pixels.

There are many ways how to calculate missing color values from simple extending of colors to neighboring pixels (this method leads to coarse images with visible color errors) to methods based on bi-linear or bi-cubic interpolation to even more advanced multi-pass methods etc.

Bi-linear interpolation provides significantly better results than simple extending of color information to neighboring pixels and still it is fast enough. But if the telescope/lens resolution is close to the size of individual pixels, color artifacts appear close to fine details, as demonstrated by the image below left.

The above raw image with colors calculated using bi-linear interpolation (left) and the same raw image, but now processed by the multi-pass de-mosaic algorithm (right)

Multi-pass algorithm is significantly slower compared to single-pass bi-linear interpolation, but the resulting image is much better, especially in fine details. This method allows using of color camera resolution to its limits.

SIPS offers choosing of color image interpolation method in both “Image Transform” and “New Image Transform” tools. For fast image previews or if the smallest details are significantly bigger than is the pixel size (be it due to seeing or resolution of the used telescope/lens) the fast bi-linear interpolation is good enough. But the best results can be achieved using multi-pass method.