The ST-402ME CCD camera with enhanced cooling uses the same high performance monochrome imaging detector (CCD chip) as SBIG’s well-known (and more expensive) self-guiding ST-7ME. Since the ST-402ME does not include the built-in self-guiding detector chip of the ST-7ME, you get the excellent B&W imaging performance of the bigger camera at a more affordable price. An inexpensive optional internal filter wheel with custom color filters lets you do RGB/LRGB color imaging.
The CCD detector is centered in the camera body and is correctly spaced for Celestron telescopes having Fastar optics. The hard anodized black aluminum camera body is only 2.1 inches deep, with electrical connections on the side. This allows maximum clearance to reduce the chance of the camera hitting the drive base of a fork mounted telescope when imaging objects in the north. Electronic relays provide typical autoguider output through an RJ-11 jack, so that the camera can also be used as a highly sensitive autoguider with a larger field of view than most other autoguiders.
The imaging detector of the ST-402ME is the enhanced blue response 765 x 510 pixel Class 2 KAF-0402ME. This Kodak imaging chip has microlens technology (a series of tiny lenses that concentrate more of the incoming light on each pixel). This provides much higher quantum efficiency (QE) than previous detectors and makes the ST-402ME perfect for imaging deep space objects such as dim galaxies and emission nebula. Peak quantum efficiency is almost 85% and occurs near the H-alpha emission line at 656 nm, making this camera extraordinarily sensitive at this photographically important wavelength. In order to provide the largest full well capacity for linear response scientific measurements and the widest dynamic range for imaging, the ST-402ME does not have built-in antiblooming (ABG).
Kodak classifies their imaging detectors according to the number and type of “defects” found on the detector. A CCD's point, cluster, and column defects are defined in the “Astronomical Terms” section above left. The Class 2 detector of the ST-402ME has no more than 10 point defects in its entire 390,150 pixel imaging area, no more than 4 cluster defects, and no column defects. The few point and cluster defects of the ST-402ME are easily removed from an image during processing. While the Class 2 detector of this camera is excellent for imaging and casual scientific measurements, those planning on doing extensive astrometric and photometric measurements might prefer to upgrade to the Class 1 detector of the #402ME1.
By using an off-axis guider and illuminated reticle eyepiece, or a separate guiding CCD, carefully guided exposures up to one hour duration are possible with the ST-402ME. This enables a standard 8” Schmidt-Cassegrain to capture images showing 19th magnitude stars from typical background observing sites. Pixel binning modes (1x1, 2x2, and 3x3) allow the user to match the pixel size to various telescope focal lengths ranging from long focal length refractors and SCT's to short focal length camera lenses.
The camera includes a mechanical shutter, 16-bit analog to digital (A/D) converter, and regulated temperature control. All of its electronics are integrated into the CCD head. Communication to your PC is through new high speed electronics and a high speed USB 2.0 interface (also compatible with USB 1.1). Data transfer rates are up to 1,200,000 pixels per second with USB 2.0 (400,000 with USB 1.2), allowing a full frame download in less than 1 second.
The new enhanced cooling configuration uses a single stage thermoelectric cooler with an active 50mm magnetic levitating fan and fan guard. A larger heat sink is used than in previous versions of the camera and new circuitry routes more power to the thermoelectric cooling module. Typical cooling is now -35° C from ambient.
A regulated power supply is built into the camera so you can operate directly from a 12V battery or other unregulated 12VDC source. A wall transformer with a special center positive cable with locking collar that’s unique to the ST-402ME is also supplied for operation in North America from 110VAC.
The camera body has a high-speed USB interface port; a user-rechargeable desiccant pack (there’s no need to return the camera to the factory for frosting problems); an internal shutter for automatic dark frames; a 1.25” nosepiece (a 2" nosepiece is optional); a T-thread ring for attaching to T-mount photo accessories; a 1/4”-20 thread tripod mounting socket; a 15-foot USB cable (third party USB extenders are available for longer cable); and a CD-ROM containing the software and manuals for SBIG's CCDOPS version 5 camera control software and a demo version of Software Bisque's TheSky version 5, level II, with telescope control for Windows.
While the software supplied with this camera is designed for use with a Windows-based PC, SBIG can also supply software to let Apple Macintosh owners control the camera. The software is available free from SBIG upon request to any new SBIG camera purchaser with proof of purchase. Simply send SBIG a copy of your invoice with the camera serial number and request the EquinoX Planetarium Software with SBIG Camera Control. The EquinoX software requires a Apple Macintosh computer (G3, G4 or G5), OS X 10.2 or later, 30MB of free RAM, and 92MB of hard disk space. The software can control all SBIG ST-series cameras and Ethernet cameras. OS X drivers for the cameras are also required and can be downloaded from SBIG at no charge.
Detector specifications are as follows:
Imaging Detector: Kodak KAF-0402ME, Class 2.
Pixel Array: 765 x 510 pixels.
Pixel Size: 9 x 9 microns.
Total Pixels: 390,150.
Full Well Capacity without ABG: ~100,000e-.
Dark Current: 1e-/pixel/second at 0 degrees C.
Readout specifications are as follows:
Exposure: 0.04 to 3600 seconds, 10ms resolution.
Correlated Double Sampling: yes.
A/D conversion: 16 bits.
A/D gain: >2.3e-/ADU.
Read noise: 17e- RMS.
Binning modes: 1x1, 2x2, 3x3.
Pixel digitization rate: up to 800,000 pixels per second.
Full frame acquisition: less than 1 second.
Optical specifications with 8” f/10 (2000mm focal length) scope are as follows:
Field of view: 12 x 8 arc minutes.
Pixel size: 0.9 x 0.9 arc seconds.
Limiting magnitude: magnitude 14 in one second.
Limiting magnitude for 3 arc second FWHM stars: magnitude 18 in one minute.
System specifications are as follows:
Standard cooling: single stage thermoelectric, active fan, -25° C from ambient typical.
Temperature regulation: +/-0.1 degree C.
Power requirements: 10-14.5 VDC at 1 amp, 120 Volt AC 35 watt desktop power supply with center positive locking ring cable included.
Computer interface: USB 2.0 (USB 1.1 compatible).
Computer compatibility: Windows 98/2000/Me/XP.
Physical specifications are as follows:
Optical head: measures 4” x 5” x 2.1” deep (10.2 x 12.7 cm x 5.2 cm deep), weighs 1.5 pounds/0.68 Kg.
CPU: no separate CPU required, all electronics integrated into optical head.
Supplied mounting methods: T-thread, 1.25” nosepiece.
Back focus needed: 0.69”/1.75 cm.
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