Back last year (2004) when Steve C. asked for
beta testers for the 16bit camera project I put my name on that very
list..... well once in a while you've get some luck!
The manual stated the first time the new name for the camera as 'Artemis'
that is what you will read from now on. (http://www.artemisccd.co.uk/)
Below what I wrote down while building the Beta Kit of this camera -
read on or click to one of the topics to the left. Right now there are
different retail kits available.
One day in January 05 the beta kit arrived - All the
electronics were neatly packaged and labeled - professional looking. Also
the housing, a machined part and some software which was supposed to drive
the cam once finished.
At the workbench: Reading the included manual was not
only fun but it also provided information about what I am going to build
and how. Well structured and cut in manageable pieces - not to forget the
tests to do after finishing each step.
Starting with the power supplies (there are some to
drive the camera) one could get a grip on these small parts - but
soldering SMD parts on a PCB is not as hard as lifting
the leg of a vertical driver of a QC3000. If you take your time to do
it properly the power supply is finished and tested in about 5 hours
working time - 2 evenings maybe.
Next stop, the microprocessor and all the things needed
to drive such a camera. Again the manual leads in steps and tests. Now I
had to solder the more challenging parts with a glorious
ADC that is 40 pins at 0.5mm pitch as the last step. May take 3 up to
evenings depending on your condition.
As a refreshment there was need to put a peltier
and other mechanical parts in place. The housing of this beta cam was
not yet finished so I could add some paint to the
case. - Arthur's comment: QuackCam - but yellow goes nice together
with the LX90 blue...
Well, in the end there was the camera sitting on the
bench ready for the first exposure.
In my case the result was not really an image but a grey
soup of pixels - it was late (early to be correct) so I decided to start
debugging the other day. A quick check on the CCD side revealed a missing
signal and voila one of those little pins was not connected anymore - I
had tested it with the included diagnostic software but when I put the
board into the cam it must have become loose. A short dip with the solder
iron and then the cam was working.
If you think about such a cam without pre-assembled
boards it is a good idea to start now with some exercises in SMD
soldering. Get the appropriate tools for the SMD
parts and do some practice. Also needed is a multimeter to test and adjust
and a 12V power supply or battery.
A first night usage:
Artemis equipped with the smallest supported CCD, an
icx255, with Canon 85mm lens mounted with a Witty on an LX90. Artemis is
use from UT 18:30 to 23:00. Outside temp ~0 deg C - no wind. Moon 95%
Newest soft i.e. firmware 1.5 and Acquire 1.1.
Setup of the cam was easy and straight forward, cabling
length (power and USB) can be chosen by the user which is nice. I've used
a 2.5m high grade USB 2.0 cable with ferrite at one end. I also used a
switching power supply at 12.5 V and checked the voltages for increased
noise or ripples but I could not find an increased level on the test
points compared it with the LabSupply I used on the bench (the field
supply is not exactly a quite one - carries some 0.1V noise). The whole
thing looks quite professional now!
Neither the size nor the weight of the cam was an issue
and it seemed to carry the lens quite well (no feeling of - should I place
a mat under the scope if something breaks).
Focusing was easy up to 1 sec frames. Taking images
worked well and reliable.
No comments so far on sensitivity or other imaging
parameters - it was just to let it see the sky .....
--> all in all a really nice experience and a reward
after soldering 0.5mm spaced ADCs to the board!! Looking forward to do
more imaging with this Artemis camera.