The Antares family of cooled CCD imaging systems


Programmable readout rate from 25 to 167 kHz - enabling the optimum trade-off between signal to noise ratio and readout speed to be obtained


PixCellent has used CCD technology to develop a range of cooled CCD camera systems that can meet the needs of a broad range of imaging applications.
Cooled CCD camera systems enable extremely small differences of light intensity to be detected. Consequently, details of very low contrast phenomena can be studied against much brighter backgrounds, without saturation of the higher intensity areas. This ability to detect low contrast images, combined with the high sensitivity and wide dynamic range of the CCD, results in performance figures for cooled CCD cameras far surpassing that of most other imaging systems.
The Antares family is an important addition to PixCellent's range of cooled CCD camera systems.

The Antares Controller

The Antares controller provides a wide range of fully programmable gain and read-out rate up to its maximum of 167 KHz pixel rate. Its ADC produces a full true 16-bit dynamic range (65536 grey levels) at all speeds in the range.

The Antares range of controllers offer many additional benefits over competing systems. All voltages and waveforms are controlled by down-loading from the host computer. This allows the configuration of the CCD chip to be separated from the controller and means that it is not necessary to have chip-specific settings embedded in the controller. This allows field maintenance to be done much more conveniently since all the setup for a particular chip and a particular head is contained in the configuration file which is stored in the computer and is independent of the particular controller in use. This is also important for OEM customers who do not want to have to maintain one-to-one correspondence between head, chip and controller.

In addition all voltages settings within the controller are read back with full 16 bit precision into the host computer, allowing all bias settings, temperatures, clock voltage settings, signal processing controls as well as all D C power supplies to be monitored remotely. Again this allows much more rapid diagnostics of problems and is possible with other makes of controller.

The Antares controller is manufactured using the latest surface mount, multilayer printed circuit board design. Not only does this provides extremely good value for money that it does mean that the controller is intrinsically very reliable. The Antares controller is manufactured by EG&G under full ISO 9001 accreditation.

System components

For more information on PixCellent's PixCel software package, please refer to the PixCel datasheet.

Cooled CCD camera head

For more information on the CCDs supported by PixCellent, please refer to the CCD datasheet and selection guide.
The camera head houses the CCD in a cooled environment. There are four types of head available:

Camera electronics unit

This unit connects to the host computer via an interface card, which interprets instructions sent from the host to control the camera head and returns 16-bit digitized image data for processing.
Some typical figures are shown in the table below for the Antares controller fitted with an EEV CCD55-20 CCD or a Kodak KAF-0400 CCD. The pixel rate is measured in kHz and defines the time taken for individual pixels to be read out from the CCD. The noise is measured in electrons and is the internal noise level that applies whenever a pixel is read out from the CCD. As the table indicates, all models can provide fast pixel readout rates with very low readout noise. Alternatively, the readout rate can be increased, with only a small increase in noise. Within this range are a number of combinations which will suit a variety of imaging applications.

Table 1: Antares performance figures

EEV EEV EEV Kodak Kodak SITe (BI)
CCD 30-11 CCD 55-20 CCD55-30 KAF-0400 KAF-1600 SIT003
Pixels: 1024x256 1152x770 1152x1242 768x512 1536x1024 1024x1024
Full Frame Time 2 6.6 7.2 3 12 7.9
Binned 2x2 0.5 1.7 1.9 0.75 3 2.1
Binned 4x4 0.14 0.45 0.5 0.2 0.8 0.6
Full Parallel Bin 0.03 0.032 0.033 0.025 0.03 0.095

Additional hardware

An IBM PC-compatible computer is required to control the camera system and to process the resultant images using the selected software package. Minimum hardware requirements are a Pentium class computer with a 1.2 Gbyte hard disk drive, 64MB RAM and expansion slots for the PixCellent PCI interface card. An SVGA card that is supported by Microsoft Windows 95/98 in a 1024x768 (256 colours) mode is also required, with an appropriate monitor and mouse. Optional hardware peripherals that users may require include:


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Site last updated: 12 April, 1999.