Note: Product shipping October, 2017
Our mid-size SBIG® Aluma® Series cameras offer performance and features not available in any other scientific-grade imaging camera. This lightweight (2.2 lbs) and compact (4.5″ x 4.5″ x 4″ with handles) camera includes two-stage cooling, USB 2.0 and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n interfaces, ultra-reliable even-illumination shutter, and fast low-noise readout. Aluma can be operated from a tablet or smartphone, or from a Windows, Macintosh, or Linux PC.
The Aluma series supports a wide range of accessories, including the 8-position FW8S-Aluma filter wheel with micron-level filter positioning, FW8G-Aluma filter wheel with built-in autoguider, AO-8A Adaptive Optics accessory, Remote Guide Head, and CLA lens adapters.
Aluma is designed to operate either via USB 2.0 or WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. Designed from the ground-up to support operation on any modern computing platform, Aluma is compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. Fully-documented and supported drivers are available for all platforms, including ASCOM drivers. The Aluma camera interface specification is fully documented, supporting the development of fully custom interfaces.
All Aluma models ship with MaxIm AL for Windows. In addition our new Aluma software for iOS and Android is under development. Aluma also supports third-party applications through ASCOM and native SBIG drivers.
Aluma cameras measure just 108mm x 108mm x 101mm (4.25″ x 4.25″ x 4.0″) with handles (89mm, or 3.5″ without handles) and weigh just 1kg (2.2 lbs).
All Aluma cameras include a mechanical shutter, which is used for both dark/bias calibration frames and for shuttering exposures on full frame sensors. Rather than using a complex iris shutter, which are prone to failure, the Aluma uses a twin vane shutter and direct drive motor for high repeatability, reliability, and extremely long life. The shutter is designed to be “even illumination” for the best accuracy in photometric measurements.
The Aluma uses two-stage TE cooling, twin variable-speed fans and a heat sink design optimized using computer thermal flow simulation. This permits high performance using air cooling only.
The Aluma 8300 uses the popular 8 megapixel ON Semi (formerly Kodak) KAF-8300-AXC sensor. The sensor has 3448 x 2574 pixels at 5.4 microns square, for a 17.96 mm x 13.52 mm optical format.
This is a high sensitivity full frame CCD sensor with low dark current and low read noise. Combining this high performance sensor with Aluma’s high cooling performance and low readout noise results in exceptionally clean images.
This sensor includes microlens technology that concentrates light on the sensitive area of each pixel. The CCD’s sensitivity peaks in the center of the visible spectrum at 550 nm, and maintains high sensitivity throughout the visible spectrum.
The optional FW8S-Aluma 8-position filter wheel includes a positive centering mechanism that precisely centers each filter in the exact same position every time. This single-pixel accuracy completely eliminates ghost images of dust spots and other artifacts after flat-fielding. This high precision results in the highest quality images and excellent photometric accuracy.
The Aluma wheel holds standard 36 mm filters, and inserts are available for 1-1/4″ filters, which are suitable for smaller format CCD sensors.
The Aluma filter wheel replaces the camera’s front plate, resulting in the minimum possible back-focus, ensuring that the camera / filter wheel combination will reach focus on the widest possible variety of optical systems. Optional “CLA” adapters facilitate using the FW8S-Aluma with standard Canon and Nikon camera lenses.
For astronomical imaging, the wheel is available in the FW8G-Aluma configuration. This adds a built-in focal reducer and autoguider. The pick-off mirror and guide camera focus can both be adjusted and locked using simple thumbscrews. With the autoguider positioned in front of the filters, optimum guiding sensitivity is provided for all filter slots. Using a built-in autoguider system eliminates issues with flexure, mirror shift, and other mechanical problems that can degrade guiding accuracy.
The FW8G-Aluma is thicker and does not permit use of CLA lens adapters. Interchangeable plates are available to switch your wheel between FW8G and FW8S configuration.
All Aluma models can operate with the optional AO-8A Adaptive Optics accessory. The AO-8A uses a tip-tilt window to quickly and precisely adjust the image position in response to autoguider feedback. With Adaptive Optics there is no backlash, stiction or lag, and the movements are extremely precise and accurate. This allows the AO-8A to not only remove the effects of periodic error, drift, and wind gusts, but also reduce the effects of atmospheric seeing.