SBIG ST-I single-shot color Planet Cam and Autoguider


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The SBIG ST-iC is a lightweight eyepiece-sized single-shot color CCD camera that is both an excellent autoguider and a high performance lunar/planetary imager with features and performance unavailable in any other camera in this size and price range . . .
Our Product #: STI-C

Product Description

Rather than using a low cost/high noise CMOS sensor as other planet cams do, the ST-i single-shot color Planet Cam/Autoguider uses a high quality, low noise, Kodak interline progressive scan true CCD sensor. The Kodak KAI-340 single-shot color CCD sensor in the ST-i has a 648 x 484 array of 7.4 micron square pixels and a measured read noise of only 9e-. Anti-blooming is standard. For descriptions of the single-shot color and interline concepts, click on the "Single Shot" and "Interline" icons above.

The ST-i uses the Class 1 version of this color Kodak sensor exclusively, with zero column defects, zero cluster defects, zero dead pixels, and zero saturated pixels. On-chip binning is available for 14.8 micron square pixels if desired, and various sub-frame modes may be used to speed-up the focus and download rates.

A full frame high res image will update at the rate of approximately 5 frames per second. In addition to full-frame, half-frame, and quarter-frame modes, the user may select a sub-frame region of interest (ROI) of any size located anywhere on the CCD. In focus mode, using a 20 x 20 pixel box, the update rate is greater than 20 frames per second.

While some inexpensive guiders save cost by using low cost 8 bit or 10 bit electronics, the single-shot color ST-i uses true high quality 16-bit A/D conversion for superior resolution of the full dynamic range of the CCD, which is greater than 70 dB.

The ST-i body weighs only 2.2 ounces and is no larger than many 1.25" eyepieces, measuring only 1.25" in diameter and 3.5" in length. The camera receives both control signals and power from the USB 2.0 port of your computer, so only one thin USB cable is required for using the camera as an imager.

The ST-i color has an electronic shutter allowing exposure times as short as 0.001 seconds. Unlike most other eyepiece-sized cameras, however, the ST-i also has a built-in mechanical shutter that lets the camera automatically take dark frames. This dramatically improves the performance of the ST-i, particularly when used as an autoguider. The ability to automatically take and subtract a dark frame results in a very smooth background against which detection of dim stars is more reliable.

The ST-i single-shot color comes with a front plate that is threaded for standard 1.25" filters; a 15' (4.6 meter) USB cable; a tracking cable; CCDOPS software with PlanetMasterTM, CCDSoftV5 software, and manuals on a CD-ROM. An optional 1.25" UV/IR blocking filter is recommended for imaging with this color camera.

The Planet Master software will take the sharpest image of the Moon and planets for you automatically. Typically, lunar/planetary imagers take a series of short exposures, knowing that throughout the sequence brief stable periods of seeing will give clear images. The Planet Master takes a sequence of short exposures, grades them for sharpness, and keeps the sharpest one.

Planet Master displays the images it is taking on your computer monitor in a split screen format. The left half of the screen displays the current image. The right side shows the sharpest image taken. The Planet Master command beeps twice each time a sharper image is acquired and updates the right hand image. When you are satisfied with the sharpness of the best image, hit the Done key and the Sharpest image will be shown.

Many planetary imagers like to average several of their best exposures, rather than just accept the single sharpest image. This requires taking a large number of images in a short time and examining each image to determine the best few of the lot. Planet Master makes this easier by automatically examining a series of images for you and assigning a Figure of Merit for sharpness to each one. Then, only the best of the lot can be selected for averaging, without having to tedious examine and judge each image manually.

For guiding purposes, the ST-i can typically guide on a star as faint as the 11th magnitude, using a 60mm guidescope and two second exposures. The guiding output port on the end of the ST-i is opto-isolated so it can be used with any mount having an autoguider input that conforms to the universally-accepted ST-4 standard.

The ST-i single-shot color Planet Cam/Autoguider has both 32 bit and 64 bit drivers and can be used with all Windows versions (including Windows 7) that support USB 2.0, as well as Mac and third Party Linux operating systems.

Tech Details

Pixel Array 648 x 484
Pixel Size 7.4 x 7.4 microns
Warranty 1 year


Review by:
I purchased this camera with the optional guide-scope package. I did choose to go with the color version so that I could try some planetary imaging.

Setup was extremely easy. Once I installed PHD, the camera was recognized right away and it began communicating with my Meade mount.

I also tried the camera very quickly with an imaging program. It worked instantly. I'm very pleased with my purchase. Thanks. (Posted on 8/4/2017)
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