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  1. #1
    hbarwood@troy.edu's Avatar
    hbarwood@troy.edu Guest

    Default Cooled CCD cameras - recommendations?



    I am interested in obtaining a color cooled CCD camera such as those
    used in high level astrophotography. I would like to have input from
    any users on some questions I have:

    Software - Live imaging? Low light focusing? "white balance" issues?
    Ease of export of the image to an IP software package?

    Camera - IR blocking filter? Mounting methods? Spectral response?

    My interest is in adapting such a camera to very low light imaging of
    luminescent images with specific bandpass filters extending into the
    NIR.

    If any users of these cameras would be kind enough to help me out I
    would be appreciative. Thanks.

    Henry Barwood


  2. #2
    Eric's Avatar
    Eric Guest

    Default Cooled CCD cameras - recommendations?

    Henry,

    If you are going to be using bandpass filters, you probably want a
    monochrome camera rather than a colour camera. There are a number of
    companies (SBIG, FLI, Apogee) that make cameras for long exposures.
    There are also companies that make video rate and faster cameras with
    similar CCD sensors.
    www.sbig.com
    www.fli-cam.com
    www.ccd.com
    www.ptgrey.com
    www.1394imaging.com

    IR blocking filters are standard on most webcams and consumer digital
    cameras, but astronomical cameras typically do not have an IR blocking
    filters.

    Focusing is always an issue with low light levels - I have to find a
    star and focus at maybe 1 frame per second, and then take a long
    exposure of whatever nebula, galaxy I'm going for. 'Real-time' focusing
    doesn't happen at low light levels.

    Take a look for "Handbook of CCD Astronomy" by Steve Howell for a good
    technical overview on faint object imaging. Should be able to get it
    used from Powell's Books for maybe $15. It's an astronomy book, but it
    covers everything you'll run into with low light imaging.
    www.powells.com

    Many cameras ship with basic software. But once you figure out what
    you're doing, you'll likely want something with more power and options.
    CCD Soft and Maxim DL are aimed at astrophotography. Quantum Image is
    more general and is very powerful.
    www.bisque.com
    www.cyanogen.com
    www.quantimage.com

    Eric.


    hbarwood@troy.edu wrote:

  3. #3
    hbarwood@troy.edu's Avatar
    hbarwood@troy.edu Guest

    Default Cooled CCD cameras - recommendations?

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for your insightful comments.

    Let me clarify a bit. I posed the question to astronomers, but my
    actual use in in microscopy. I do a lot of cathodoluminescence
    microscopy. I have a very old Vicam that I removed the IR blocking
    filter from. Using this very low resolution, non-cooled camera, I
    opened up a world of IR imaging that shows details simply not present
    in visible images. I am trying to find a suitable camera to conduct
    more rigorous examination of my samples, but have a problem. Cameras
    for low light (fluorescence) microscopy are 2-3 orders of magnitude
    beyond my budget.

    Straining all my resources, I probably can afford an astrocam. Since I
    build all my microscopes and instruments out of salvaged or donated
    equipment (or stuff I buy off of E-bay!), I would adapt the camera
    myself if it is suitably configured to begin with. In CL work, color
    (even false-color) is a key component of recognition of different
    luminescent substances.

    Henry


  4. #4
    Eric's Avatar
    Eric Guest

    Default Cooled CCD cameras - recommendations?

    Henry,

    If you're looking for something inexpensive, Meade makes a camera called
    the DIS-Pro. It's a monchrome CCD camera, long exposure, but uncooled. I
    have seen a few mods here and there on the web detailing the addition of
    a Peltier cooler. It's about US$400 and the coolers may be around $20
    from Melcor and others.

    BTW, what are you taking pictures of ?

    Eric.

    hbarwood@troy.edu wrote:

  5. #5
    hbarwood@troy.edu's Avatar
    hbarwood@troy.edu Guest

    Default Cooled CCD cameras - recommendations?

    Hi Eric,

    I am making cathodoluminescent images of petrographic thin sections of
    rocks, refractories, fossils, etc. I use a vacuum stage with a cold
    cathode electron gun called a Luminoscope. Many common minerals and
    compounds luminesce under electron bombardment. Computer monitors and
    television screens (well, at least the non-liquid crystal ones!)
    generate an image using cathodoluminescent phosphors. Essentially no
    work has been done on NIR luminescence.

    Henry


  6. #6
    Eric's Avatar
    Eric Guest

    Default Cooled CCD cameras - recommendations?

    So it's like an electron microscope - scan the target with an electron
    beam, but I don't measure the backscattered electrons, I image the
    luminescence through a window in the side of the vacuum chamber ?

    So you could get bandpas filters or use a spectrograph to look for very
    specific items in the rock.

    What kind of electron energy are you using ? Probably only need
    something around 100 eV ? Or do you vary the incoming energy ?

    Eric.

    hbarwood@troy.edu wrote:

  7. #7
    hbarwood@troy.edu's Avatar
    hbarwood@troy.edu Guest

    Default Cooled CCD cameras - recommendations?

    Hi Eric,

    Actually, it is much less hi-tech than that. You establish a vacuum
    chamber at about 50 microns and then use a cold cathode to generate an
    electron beam at 4-20KV. The beam will make a lot of things "glow" (in
    living color!). Technique goes back to Crookes, but only became popular
    in the late 1960's when a commercial device, the Luminoscope, was
    marketed. I've used one for years to look at alkali syenites,
    carbonates, refractory materials, etc. With the development of digital
    imaging, a lot of new uese have cropped up!

    Henry


  8. #8
    Eric's Avatar
    Eric Guest

    Default Cooled CCD cameras - recommendations?

    That sounds very interesting. Particularly the bit about fossils.

    Thanks, Henry.

    Eric.

    hbarwood@troy.edu wrote:

  9. #9
    David Hutchinson's Avatar
    David Hutchinson Guest

    Default Cooled CCD cameras - recommendations?

    Henry

    If you want something real cheap to play with, I'd recommend a monochrome
    CCTV camera using the Sony EXview HAD chip. They will see to under 0.01
    lux, and mine (as an uncased PCB) cost about $80. They have quite a good
    near IR response. www.rfconcepts.co.uk is one supplier. (There is a mod to
    increase video gain - mail me if you need it).

    Then look for a group called QCUIAG - they specialise in getting low light
    images out of uncooled cameras, and some of their results are spectacular.

    None of this stuff will beat a cooled CCD, but then it doesn't cost the
    same...

    Good luck - oh, at 20KV I guess you get some very soft Xrays. Not sure
    CCDs will cope well with that - this might limit your sensitivity

    Sounds great fun

    --David

    hbarwood@troy.edu wrote:


  10. #10
    hbarwood@troy.edu's Avatar
    hbarwood@troy.edu Guest

    Default Cooled CCD cameras - recommendations?

    Thanks for the information. My present camera is rated at 1 lux, so
    that would be two orders of magnitude better. I've visited the QCUIAG
    groups before and they have some excellent information.

    The Luminoscope is fully encased and all observation is done through a
    lead glass port.

    Henry


 

 
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