Overview - The STARFISH camera is a versatile imaging camera for the visible light frequency spectrum. The camera was designed to be used as a dedicated auto-guider camera and planetary imager for astro-photography applications. It uses a 1/2 optical format, 1.3-megapixel resolution, CMOS image sensor that provides exceptional performance. In fact, it rivals CCD quality based on signal-to-noise ratio and low-light sensitivity. The camera provides all of the benefits (high data rate, low power, cost) that only a CMOS image sensor can provide. And it does this without sacrificing image quality.
Integrated System - Fishcamp Engineering has designed a camera around this remarkable sensor to give the user a completely integrated, highly functional imaging device. All required logic elements including embedded CPU, frame grabber, and USB interface have been designed into a package just 2.75 in diameter by 3.125 long. Data and power are provided over the USB port on the back of the camera and a T-threaded coupling on the front allows direct connection to standard lens accessories. A C-mount adapter is available. For the Standard version of the Starfish, an external power connector is available when the internal TEC cooler is used to cool the image sensor for those applications requiring long exposures. The un-cooled, Guider version of the camera runs soley off of the +5v power available on the USB interface from your laptop. Optically coupled relay outputs and an RS-232 serial port allow the camera to drive external filter wheels and telescope mounts.
Embedded Image Processing - Hardware accelerated logic blocks in the pixel pipeline allow specialized image processing functions right on the camera. This allows for a more balanced system by relieving the host computer from having to handle this workload. Functions such as image statistics calculations, bias frame subtraction, and guide command timing operations are handled directly by the camera. A generous 64MByte memory is available for frame buffer and processing storage requirements.
Software Support - The STARFISH comes with our StarLink application that provides auto-guider and image capture when running under MacOS X. PC support is provided with drivers for popular software packages like CCDSoft and MaxIm DL. Also include with the camera are Stark-labs Nebulosity and PHDGuiding applications. These two programs are supported by both the Windows XP and Mac OS X operating systems. A software development kit is provided for those customers that need to write specialized application software.
Availability - The STARFISH camera is available immediately for delivery to our U.S. customers. We are currently working out the details of distribution to other markets. Please check this web site for future announcements.
Fishcamp Engineering - As a company, we have been involved in the design of custom imaging systems for many of our clients. We have designed systems as diverse as laser scanner and scientific imaging systems for the laboratory and industrial marketplaces. Some of our designs are being used in large professional astronomical observatories. We have experience in the visible, MWIR, and LWIR infrared spectrums. As amateur astronomers ourselves, we are excited to bring our expertise to the development of this camera and to make it available to the wider market.
- Dedicated guide camera for auto-guiding applications. Standard ST-4 style guider port.
- Planetary imaging with frame rates as fast as 25 fps and 5.2u pixel size.
- Long exposures of up to 5 minutes and TEC cooled image sensor (Standard camera).
- Integrated frame buffer and image processing hardware.