04Jun2012

SBIG STT-8300 CCD Camera

Are you ready to take on the latest in CCD imaging? Check out the new STT series of cameras from Santa Barbara Instruments Group. The new STT series cameras are SBIG’s latest mid-sized cameras with unparalleled features and specs. 

The camera incorporates a Kodak KAF-8300 sensor – and a whole lot more.  Self-guiding has long been acknowledged as the best, most accurate way to guide long exposure astrophotos, particularly with commercial Schmidt Cassegain Telescopes. The single most common complaint however is finding bright stars when guiding through dark or narrowband filters. The STT filter wheel incorporates the self-guiding CCD inside the front cover of the filter wheel so that the guider picks off light from the guide stars before passing through the filters. There are two adjustment knobs on the filter wheel base: one for focus and one for moving the pick-off mirror.

A new filter wheel design for the SBIG STT series sets it apart from other designs. The carousel holds eight 36mm filters and inserts are available for 1.25″ and 31mm filters. Two new unique features make this an imager’s delight: First, the design incorporates a self-guiding CCD in the filter wheel cover so that light from the guide star is captured before passing through the filters. An optional filter wheel cover is available for wide angle imaging with Nikon or Canon 35mm camera lenses, or for anyone who does not need or want the built-in self-guiding feature.

Full set options, such as 36mm LRGB and Narrowband filters by Astrodon, Baader Planetarium and Astronomik are available for unvigntted imaging at any f/ratio. The second unique feature of the STT filter wheel is a positive centering mechanism that precisely re-positions and firmly holds filters in the same position over the CCD no matter how many times the carousel is moved. In tests of the new design, the re-positioning of filters was accurate to better than 5.4 microns after several complete rotations. This degree of precision means that flat fields taken after the filter has moved and returned are accurate to better than the level of a single pixel.

The STT uses the same efficient pin fin heat sink design as the STX series cameras to achieve the most efficient use of space and weight while maximizing the cooling capability of the camera. This type of heat sink is more expensive than typical parallel fin heat sinks, but the results speak for themselves. The STT prototypes achieved an average temperature delta greater than -50C in 5 minutes and a max of -57C in less than ten.

When taking flat field frames of filtered images, the flat field frame must show exactly the same optical characteristics to be the most effective. If there is dust on the filter, or uneven illumination caused by the filter, this must be represented precisely as seen in the light image to be corrected by the flat field frame. The STT filter wheel is designed to provide a new level of accuracy when taking flats through filters by repositioning filters to within a few microns every time. This allows the imager to take extremely accurate flat field frames even after rotating the filter wheel several times, or even after a loss of power.

Since its founding, SBIG’s mechanical shutters have been designed for highly reliable, even-illumination, of the sensor even at short exposures. Even-illumination is especially critical when taking flat fields with exposures of less than a second or even several seconds. This is very common when taking sky flats.

SBIG’s new STT-8300, is the first high speed 8300 camera with user-selectable automatic image processing! Thirty second dark frames were taken at room temperature to accentuate the number of warm pixels. In sample images the first frame is unprocessed, the second frame has a medium filter, and the third frame the most aggressive filter. The result of each image shows fewer bright pixels and each has correspondingly lower noise in the image. The user can select from eight levels of filter strength to suit his needs.

However, don’t stop there. The SBIG STT-8300 features a lot more, such as Ethernet and USB 2.0 Interface, Built-in Web Server, Twin Variable Speed Fans, MAR Coated Sapphire Chamber Window, Built-In Frost Detection System and RBI Pre-Flash. They include a 2-Stage Cooling Delta to -55C and are Liquid Cooling Ready. Combine that with a Low Noise 10MHz Readout (

Tammy Plotner writes for ‘Astro Space News

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