Ex-view Discussions

From:  Jon Grove  
Date:  Wed Feb 6, 2002  9:03 am
Subject:  ExView CCTV news...

   Hi Group, 

Just to whet your appetites, I thought you might be interested to hear that 
Steve Chambers and I have been working on some modifications to the 1004X 
ExView monochrome CCTV camera, and we have made several breakthroughs.

I have a prototype setup which allows: 

  *  Full-frame 640x480 capture. 
  *  'Autoguide mode' (640x240 live video + simultaneous 640x240 integration). 
  *  100% capture success (no missed exposures). 
  *  Amplifier disable. 
  *  Peltier cooling. 

Last night I took a (somewhat out of focus) cooled, 120second, amp-disabled 
640x480 image of a corner of my room. This was the first time I'd tried out 
all the new features simultaneously, and I was pleased at the success. There
are a few hot pixels, in part because the cooling was not 'full on' and I 
haven't yet applied thermal compound to all the joints in the cold finger 
assembly. But as a proof of concept - well, judge for yourselves. The room 
was lit by 3 or 4 LEDs, and a digital clock on the other side of the room. 
The shadows on the wall and the highlight to the right were cast by a small 
red LED on the PSU for the Peltier. The dark left-hand corners are vignetting 
because the CCD was not centralised properly beneath the lens. The image is 
completely unprocessed other than to rotate it 180 degrees (the camera was 
upside-down at the time!)

At present my setup is manually controlled, but I'm confident that it will be 
PC controlled (via the printer port) in the near future.

When we've finalised a circuit diagram and got some software sorted out, I'll 
let you all know. Watch this space... 

  Clear skies, 
  Jon Grove. 

From:  "wlbehrens"  
Date:  Wed Feb 6, 2002  10:37 am
Subject:  Re: ExView CCTV news...

Ya baby..now were talking. Excellent work Jon and Steve. So you actually were 
able to integrate first an even frame then an odd frame.....very cool. You 
should be able to auto-guide from AstroVideo with out changing the capture 
I would think. Once again bravo on a job well done.


From:  Jon Grove  
Date:  Thu Feb 7, 2002  12:32 am
Subject:  RE: [QCUIAG] Re: ExView CCTV news...

Actually, the integration happens simultaneously so the whole frame is exposed 
in one go. The trick is to read it out in two chunks, odd and even, and then 
put them back together again in software.


From:  "steve_chambers_1"  
Date:  Thu Feb 7, 2002  1:01 am
Subject:  Re: ExView CCTV news...


I would like to write a few words about this camera. As most of you will know 
Jon has been working with the 1004x for some months. Jon developed a manual 
control of the shutter and has posted some images including a striking m42 and 
developed software.

My own input to the project has been relatively minor. 

As Jon has said the modified video camera should be able to offer,

                Computer controlled exposures,
                On-chip amp control
                Full vertical resolution this has not been easy!!
                Possible self-guide

Probably the biggest factor though is the fact that the camera uses sony's fabled 
ex-had chip.

To put this into context.

The vesta uses a had chip. The ToUcam uses a `new structure had' (I think), which 
is about twice as sensitive. The ex-view chip is at least twice as sensitive again.

Moreover the webcams use primary filters on the chip which reduce the sensitively 
by 2/3 thirds. Also the chip in the 1004x is larger than the webcams.

Result. Sensitivity wise this camera, has the potential to be, on a par with `ANY' 
of the commercial ccd imagers from SBIG, Apogee, Starlight etc.

If you have a interest in objects from the Abell catalogue this is what you have 
been waiting for :-)

   Steve C  

From:  "joe_canadian_eh_2000"  
Date:  Sun Feb 10, 2002  10:41 am
Subject:  Re: ExView CCTV news...

Congrats and thanks to both Jon Groves And Steve Chambers, for sharing your findings 
with the QCUIAG.

With the Philips webcams becoming more difficult to source, this is welcome news. 

I look forward to seeing the results.

   Len Benschop
   Oshawa Canada   

From:  "ssb73q"  
Date:  Tue Feb 12, 2002  2:12 pm
Subject:  SuperCircuits 0.0003 Lux PC164C

I had previously reported on the SuperCircuits B&W PC164C. I currently use one 
for a finder scope on my NexStar 8. I like that camera so much I ordered 2 more, 
one for use as a finder on my Newtonian beast, and another as a B&W imaging camera.
The first PC164C I bought I sent back because it had 5 hot pixels. It was replaced 
with a new one that still had 3 hot pixels. I subsequently found out that hot pixels 
are very common in the Sony Ex-View super HAD CCD chip. A pleasant surprise was that 
one of my new PC164C cameras only has one hot pixel and the other has none, zero hot 
pixels. I tested all three cameras for sensitivity and find them all equally sensitive. 
Guess which camera I will use for imaging?

The two new cameras however have a new switch on the back of the camera that the old 
one doesn't. That switch is labeled DC/VID. I don't what it's for, switching it doesn't 
seem to change anything. My older PC164C has a pot at that position labeled DC level 
which I won't move without knowing what it does. I don't know its purpose, there's 
nothing in the single sheet documentation. If anyone out there knows the purpose of 
these, please let me know.

What's nice is that the quality of the current PC164Cs seems to be improved.


From:  Steven Jindra  
Date:  Tue Feb 12, 2002  3:01 pm
Subject:  Re: [QCUIAG] SuperCircuits 0.0003 Lux PC164C


The DC and Vid switch is for selecting either of two iris control formats 
(DC or Video) for auto iris cctv type lenses. That is what the little four pin
connector is for. The other switch allows selecting either auto iris control (for 
either of those formats) or electronic shutter for lenses without an auto iris.
    Hope this helps.
    Steven Jindra

From:  "vilarestil"  
Date:  Wed Feb 13, 2002  9:55 am
Subject:  1004X board

Looking forward to the mod details for the 1004X board by Jon and Steve. Any 
idea of timescale as this one sounds exciting?!

RF Concepts are now offering the 1004XA camera board which is supposed to be the 
same thing but with audio.

Does anybody know if this is the case? Question for Jon or Steve, did you get your 
original prototype board from RF Concepts or is there another UK supplier of these
excellent cameras?

  All the best for now,


From:  "steve_chambers_1"  
Date:  Wed Feb 13, 2002  1:06 pm
Subject:  Re: 1004X board

  Hi Adam

I have both a board camera without audio and a camera in a little square case with 
audio both from rf concepts. There is little diffrence between then. The components 
are slightly more tightly packed on the latter.

  Steve C

From:  Jon Grove  
Date:  Thu Feb 14, 2002  8:11 am
Subject:  RE: [QCUIAG] Re: 1004X board

  Hi folks, 

Sorry if it seems I'm keeping you in the dark (although that's not such a bad place 
for an astronomer). I'm just tidying up the design of the mod at the moment, and sorting 
out some software to drive it. I want to be sure that when I do publish it I don't have 
to tell people to redo all their soldering because of a design flaw!

Shouldn't be long now... 


From:  Jon Grove  
Date:  Fri Feb 15, 2002  1:41 am
Subject:  ExView fullframe first celestial light

Last night there were only thin whispy clouds in my area, and so I decided to try 
the newly 'fullframe' modified 1004X camera on some real astronomical objects. It 
was rather windy and everything was wobbling around a bit, but I thought I'd have 
a go anyway.
I took a few exposures of the M42/M43 area, ranging from 6 seconds down to 0.5 seconds, 
and I also took some of the Flame nebula, at about 6 seconds. The sky was a bit bright 
(streetlights reflected off the thin clouds) so longer exposures didn't really make
much sense. I tried M81 and M82 but the light pollution was too bad in that direction.
M51 was not visible at all.

Anyway, here is a mosaic of the M42/M43 region, and my Flame nebula (overprocessed to 
combat the light pollution). 

Clear (and still) skies, 


From:  "dehahne"  
Date:  Fri Feb 15, 2002  7:49 am
Subject:  Re: ExView fullframe first celestial light


What set up did you use to capture the M42/43 image (i.e. scope specs, focal reducer,
etc)? I'm currious to see what it takes to get the kind of field of view you captured.
I guess I would also need to know the CCD dimensions on the 1004X as well. 


  Dave Hahne 
  Poquoson, VA

From:  Jon Grove  
Date:  Fri Feb 15, 2002  8:28 am
Subject:  RE: [QCUIAG] Re: ExView fullframe first celestial light


The CCD is a Sony ICX255AL, 6mm diagonal device. I had it at prime focus of a 150mm 
f/5 Newtonian (Orion Europa). No focal reducer or anything. The image is a mosaic of 
several exposures, and I scaled the final result down to 50% size because the stars
were rather bloated due to turbulence.

Attached is a raw frame from the mosaic, to give you an idea. It is a 6 second exposure,
taken in conditions of turbulence and light pollution. You might also notice that the 
CCD wasn't square-on to the optical axis, so the right-hand side is less focussed than 
the left!


From:  "ssb73q"  
Date:  Fri Feb 15, 2002  8:55 am
Subject:  Re: ExView fullframe first celestial light


Very nice work! Does your camera use the "standard" Sony chip set? I wonder if your 
work will have relevance to the SuperCircuit PC164C?

When will you describe you modification?


From:  Jon Grove  
Date:  Fri Feb 15, 2002  9:12 am
Subject:  RE: [QCUIAG] Re: ExView fullframe first celestial light

  Thanks, Richard. 

Yes, the camera uses the standard Sony chipset - I suspect the mod will apply to the 
PC164C with only minor changes, if it uses the same or similar chipset. It looks as 
though the PC164C has a few controls on it (the 1004X  has none!) so the PCB is no doubt
laid out differently, but I'd guess that the circuitry probably resembles the Sony 
suggested circuits which they publish in their spec sheets for the ccd and timing 
generator chips.

Basically, if the camera uses the ICX2463R timing generator then the mod should work 
fairly easily. 


From:  "Dr. S.J. Wainwright"  
Date:  Sat Mar 9, 2002  2:46 pm
Subject:  Re: [QCUIAG] Re: M51, ExView 1004X

When Derek Francis and I have finished the mod and tested it Bev will put the
controls into AstroVideo. Hopefully this will not be too long. 

        Clear skies 
        Dr. S.J. Wainwright 
        FAX: UK: 0870 1641692 
        International : +44 870 1641692