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New revision of G2 scientific CCD cameras released
 Faster download, even better CCD chip cooling, easier mounting—check what is new in the new revision of G2 series of scientific cooled CCD cameras.

Continuous development effort brought some innovations to the series of G2 CCD cameras. Innovations cover camera mechanics, electronics and also software.

G2 CCD camera—top quality scientific-grade instrument

G2 CCD camera—top quality scientific-grade instrument

More efficient CCD chip cooling up to -50°C below ambient

Updated G2 CCD cameras use magnetic-levitating fans instead of ball-bearing fans, used in the previous revisions. Magnetic-levitating fans are quieter and do not slow down at below-freezing temperatures. Also their durability is much higher.

But more important enhancement is redesigned heat sink and air flow vents. New heat sink has more fins and individual fins have better shaped, so the heat is more efficiently removed from the Peltier cooler hot side. Also air vents on the camera head are optimized to allow hot air escape the camera head as quickly as possible. New cameras can achieve up to 45 °C temperature drop below ambient temperature with air cooling and regulation working.

Optimized air vents on the G2 CCD camera head

Optimized air vents on the G2 CCD camera head

Air input vents are also differently shaped. They provide less air flow resistance and quieter operation, eliminating aerodynamic shocks. This makes the new version of G2 camera significantly quieter.

Maximum temperature drop -50°C provides little room for regulation

Maximum temperature drop -50°C provides little room for regulation

Temperature drop -48°C can be achieved wit approx. 90% of cooling power

Temperature drop -48°C can be achieved wit approx. 90% of cooling power

The environment thermometer was moved to different place so it is less affected by the Peltier hot side. The temperature it shows reflects the ambient air temperature more precisely and with less waves.

Faster download

G2 camera firmware was recently updated to provide very smooth frames, without any trace of irregularities caused by CCD clocking. Such irregularities occurred in the first models of G2 cameras, and although they were well below read noise (typically around 3 e- for the 15 e- read noise), they started to be observable after stacking many tens of individual frames without mutual shifting. The minus side was the firmware update eliminating these artifacts caused around 10% slowdown of frame read.

Enhanced digital electronics of the new revision of G2 cameras provide average speedup around 10% for standard read modes and 20% for low noise read modes. This effectively eliminates the slowdown caused by the enhanced firmware for standard read modes and brings approx. 10% resulting speedup for low noise read modes. The download times for individual cameras are summarized in the following table.

Camera Read Mode Download time (original) Download time (new) Speedup
G2-0402 Standard read 1.20 s 1.08 s 11 %
  ULN read 1.50 s 1.27 s 18 %
G2-1600 Standard read 4.50 s 4.09 s 10 %
  ULN read 6.00 s 4.90 s 22 %
G2-3200 Standard read 9.70 s 8.60 s 13 %
  ULN read 12.60 s 10.30 s 22 %

More light-tight shutter, minimized internal reflections

The whole CCD cold chamber light entrance was redesigned. The new light entrance eliminates vignetting of large chips, especially when used with fast optical systems. Artifacts caused by reflections, when some bright star was projected just to the border of light entrance, was also eliminated. New shutter provides much better shielding—it allows acquiring of dark frames during dawn or at twilight, it is no longer necessary to wait for dark.

CCD chip cold chamber with shutter open

CCD chip cold chamber with shutter open

Tripod-bolt mounting thread

The camera head was equipped with a threaded hole for standard tripod bolt (0.25-20 UNC thread). Although the camera is attached to the telescope focuser in majority of applications, sometimes it is used with photographic lens and needs to be attached to tripod or some mounting plate. The standard thread provides the more convenient way to do it.

Tripod bolt thread on the top of the G2 camera head

Tripod bolt thread on the top of the G2 camera head

Guiding

Well, guiding of the G2 camera with a standalone G1 guider is not a new feature of G2 camera itself. G1 guider can be definitely used to guide any CCD camera or DSLR on any mount equipped with standard Autoguider port. But both series of G2 and G1 cameras were designed to complement themselves, to be easily used as imaging/guiding pair. Advanced features, required for serious imaging and scientific work, were implemented in G2 series of cameras. G1 guiders on the other side do not provide active cooling, mechanical shutter or filter wheel. But they are optimized for simple operation (you need just single USB cable to operate G1 camera), they are light and small enough to be connected to any guider telescope, robust enough to provide thousands of guider images per main camera exposure and sensible enough to ensure reliable guiding even if only dim stars are available for guiding.

G2 scientific grade CCD camera and G1 guiding/imaging CCD camera

 
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