Our high performance Aluma® Series cameras offer capabilities and features not available in any other scientific-grade imaging camera. This lightweight (2.2 lbs) and compact (4.5? x 4.5? x 4? with handles) camera includes two-stage cooling, USB 2.0 interface, ultra-reliable even-illumination shutter, and fast low-noise readout.
The Aluma series supports a wide range of accessories, including the 8-position FW8S-Aluma filter wheel with micron-level filter positioning, StarChaser SC-2 off-axis guide camera, and AO-8A Adaptive Optics accessory.
Aluma CCD is a new generation of research cameras tuned for even better performance. Over two years of collaboration with university researchers helped us bring you an enhanced new Aluma CCD series that represent the best value in a high-performance mid-sized 16-bit CCD detector. We have carefully refined the camera electronics for improved performance, minimum amp glow, and low noise.
Aluma Features include:
- High-performance CCD imaging sensors
- Light weight, compact design
- Centered optical axis for optimum instrument balance
- Ultra reliable even-illumination (photometric) mechanical shutter
- USB 2.0 interface
- Full frame image buffering eliminates readout artifacts
- 2-Stage TE cooling with typical -50C from ambient
- Twin variable speed fans with SmartCoolingTM technology
- High accuracy temperature regulation
- Built-in RBI Pre-flash (full frame front-illuminated sensors only)
- External TTL trigger inputs and output
- Included 110V / 220V power supply and optional 12VDC operation
- User-rechargeable desiccant plug
- Built-in 1/4-20 tripod mount
- Support for high precision 8-position filter wheels
- Works with StarChaser SC-2 off-axis guide camera and AO-8A adaptive optics
- Bulletproof firmware update capability – virtually impossible to “brick”
All Aluma CCD models ship with MaxIm LT for Windows – a special version of MaxIm DL specific to our cameras. Aluma also supports third-party applications through ASCOM and native drivers.
Compact and Lightweight Design
Aluma cameras measure just 4.25? x 4.25? x 4.0? with handles (3.5? without handles) and weigh just 2.2 lbs (1 kg).
All Aluma cameras include a mechanical shutter, which is used for both dark/bias calibration frames and for shuttering exposures on full frame sensors. Rather than using a complex iris shutter, which are prone to failure, the Aluma uses a twin vane shutter and direct drive motor for high repeatability, reliability, and extremely long life. The shutter is designed to be “even illumination” for the best accuracy in photometric measurements.
The left image shows a flat field image taken with a camera using an iris type shutter. The right image is a flat field image taken under the same conditions using our even-illumination shutter.
High Performance KAF-8300 Image Sensor
The Aluma 8300 uses the popular 8 megapixel ON Semi (formerly Kodak) KAF-8300-AXC sensor. The sensor has 3448 x 2574 pixels at 5.4 microns square, for a 17.96 mm x 13.52 mm chip size.
This is a high sensitivity full frame CCD sensor with low dark current and low read noise. Combining this high performance sensor with Aluma’s high cooling performance and low readout noise results in exceptionally clean images.
This sensor includes microlens technology that concentrates light on the sensitive area of each pixel. The CCD’s sensitivity peaks in the center of the visible spectrum at 550 nm, and maintains high sensitivity throughout the visible spectrum.
KAF-8300 Quantum Efficiency
All Aluma cameras include our powerful new SmartCooling technology. The two-stage cooler, powerful fans, and advanced heat sink designed using thermal flow simulation combine to produce typical cooling delta from ambient of -50C. This is quite a feat considering the Aluma’s very compact and lightweight package.
SmartCooling automatically adjusts the fan speed to optimize cooler performance and power consumption. The camera’s firmware is constantly monitoring the sensor and heat sink temperatures, as well as controlling the cooler power. When full cooling power is needed – when ramping down or running near full power – the fans ramp up to their maximum speed, resulting in the strongest possible cooling. When less cooling power is needed the fans automatically slow to reduce noise levels and power consumption. SmartCooling also prevents any possibility of overheating by backing off power if the heat sink gets too hot – so you don’t need to worry if your camera is baking in a hot observatory during the day.
Advanced Software Included
All SBIG cameras come with our MaxIm LT software – a $249 value! MaxIm LT is a special version of our venerable MaxIm DL software that provides complete control of your camera, filter wheel, and autoguider, plus advanced image processing capabilities. If you wish you can upgrade to MaxIm DL Pro to get complete observatory integration and even more processing and analysis capabilities.
Each Aluma camera package includes:
- MaxIm LT software – please use this form to request your license
- Deluxe carrying case
- Universal power supply (110V / 220V, 50-60 Hz)
- 2? Nosepiece adapter
- USB flash drive containing software, drivers, and documentation
- 15 foot (4.5 m) USB cable
- Tracking interface cable
Optional Micron-Precision Filter Wheel
The optional FW8S-Aluma 8-position filter wheel includes a positive centering mechanism that precisely centers each filter in the exact same position every time. This single-pixel accuracy completely eliminates ghost images of dust spots and other artifacts after flat-fielding.
Positive detent mechanism provides single-pixel filter position accuracy
Precision flat-fielding with utlra-accurate indexing
The left-hand image shows a dust spot on the filters. A flat-field calibration frame was taken, then the filter wheel was rotated several times before taking a second picture, which was flat-field calibrated, at right. No evidence of the dust spot is visible. This high precision results in the highest quality images and excellent photometric accuracy.
The Aluma wheel holds standard 36 mm filters, and inserts are available for 1-1/4? filters, which are suitable for smaller format CCD sensors.
The Aluma filter wheel replaces the camera’s front plate, resulting in the minimum possible back-focus, ensuring that the camera / filter wheel combination will reach focus on the widest possible variety of optical systems.
Optional 16 Position Filter Wheel
The optional AFW-16-36R filter wheel, attached via AFW to Small Format Camera Adapter, provides for a full sixteen 36 mm filters. Please note that the AFW wheels work with large format accessories, and do not accommodate screw-in 1-1/4? filters due to their height.
Optional StarChaser SC-2 Off-Axis Guide Camera
For astronomical imaging the Aluma series works the the StarChaser SC-2 Off-Axis Guide Camera. This provides reliable guiding with no impact from optical train flexure. It also supports operation of the optional AO-8A Adaptive Optics accessory.
Optional AO-8A Adaptive Optics
All Aluma models can operate with the AO-8A Adaptive Optics accessory. The AO-8A uses a tip-tilt window to quickly and precisely adjust the image position in response to autoguider feedback. With Adaptive Optics there is no backlash, stiction, or lag, and the movements are extremely precise and accurate. This allows the AO-8A to not only remove the effects of periodic error, drift, and wind gusts, but also reduce the effects of atmospheric seeing.
For more information please see AO-8A.