This is a "basic" version of the GPCAM for autoguiding or planetary imaging with LRGB filters.
It does not include the Meteor lens, 5mm CS-to-C-mount extension, or the extra UV/IR cut filter in the "fully-loaded" GPCAM package.
Instead of the usual UV/IR cut filter, a clear AR-Coated optical window is included which transmits UV and IR light.
This is ideal for autoguiding (approx. 35% sensitivity gain over UV/IR filtered sensor) and for LRGB planetary imaging (planetary filters have UV/IR cut built-in).
This camera also has extended exposure boards, with onboard analog gain control, onboard noise control, and trigger mode.
It also takes advantage of the debugged Altair drivers available here: cameras.altairastro.com (opens new window).
GPCAM BASIC - what's in the box:
1) GPCAM Camera
2) CS Adapter with Clear AR Coated Optical Window
3) 1.25" Nosepiece with 1.25" Astro Filter thread
4) 1.5m ST4 Guide Cable
5) USB2.0 Cable
6) Plastic dust cap
What's not included in this package:
1) 5mm CS to C extension adapter
2) CS-Mounted UV/IR Cut filter (available separately code: GPCAM-METEORLENS)
3) Meteor Lens (available separately code: GPCAM-METEORLENS)
About the GPCAM:
About the size of a small eyepiece, and weighing about 70 grams, the GP-CAM packs many features into a very small form factor.
For autoguiding with the Altair Miniguider and Starwave optical tube range, the GPCAMMT9M034 Mono camera is ideal!
You get all the sensitivity and light weight direct fitment - just like a 1.25" eyepiece. No hassle, no fuss, no adapters required.
The GP-CAM let's you image the Moon, Sun and Planets, and even deep-sky imaging. What's more - an ST4 auto-guiding port is included!
Special voltage regulation hardware and on-board noise reduction circuitry allow the GPCAM to outperform CMOS cameras using older electronics boards, so the GPCAM can even be used for longer deepsky exposures. Japanese SMD boards and US made components give better reliability than older style cameras on the market.
If you ever wanted to experiment with imaging the planets with colour RGB filters, or in UV or IR, the GPCAM GPCAMMT9M034M Mono is also ideally suited.
What's more, you can attach a standard C or CS-mount lens for wide angle imaging of the sky to capture meteorites and aurora displays - or just create a video of the night sky as the earth rotates.
Full ROI (Region Of Interest) support is included, allowing you to increase the frame rate to very high speeds by focusing on planets or solar features, and with the free downloadable AltairCapture software, you can even take darkframes in seconds.
The sensor: Specially selected 1/3" Aptina MT9M034 HD CMOS sensor with 3.75 micron pixels, high sensitivity and fast frame rate, as well as long time exposure capability. The mono CMOS sensor has a Peak QE rating of 74% outperforming many more expensive CCD sensors, and is optimised for performance in a very low light environment, making it perfect for solar, planetary imaging, video astronomy, and deepsky imaging. The peak Quantum Efficiency (QE) of the Aptina MT9M034 Mono sensor is appox. 75% in green light, making it one of the most sensitive 1/3" CMOS sensors available at this price.
The electronics: Altair Astro GPCAM PCB boards feature ESD protection (Electro-Static Discharge). All the electronic components on the PCB board are of high quality and are imported from the USA and Japan. These quality components give Altair cameras more stable performance and a longer lifespan than most other cameras, hence the two year warranty. Non-essential circuitry is shut down during long exposures resulting in even less noise and a stronger signal. Special voltage regulation hardware and on-board noise reduction circuitry allow the GPCAM to outperform CMOS cameras using older electronics boards, so the GPCAM can even be used for longer deepsky exposures. Japanese SMD boards and US made components give better reliability than older style cameras on the market.
The casing: The camera casing is CNC machined on a CNC lathe will multi axis milling capabilities, accurate to thousands of an inch, therefore component fit and alignment are very accurate. The case features an internal heat transfer structure designed to conduct heat away from the electronics, and directly from the sensor to be dissipated through the outer housing quickly and efficiently resulting in a cooler sensor and lower noise in long exposure mode. The GPCAM is attractive for auto guiding because it has a slim casing which fits between OAG and Filter wheel or Guidescope and main optical tube. The ST4 & USB cables protrude from the back of the camera for more clearance. Some cameras do not have this slim casing, and some even have a large wide body with cables protruding from the sides at 90 degrees to the optical axis, or USB/ST4 cables which cannot be combined in a sheath because they are too far apart. This means they are difficult or impossible to use with an OAG and most finder/guiders with cable pull and clearance issues. Neat cable management and clearance are more reasons to choose the GPCAM.
The optical window: The sensor is protected by a double-side Anti Reflection (AR) coated optical window, The colour camera optical window blocks UV & IR light enabling direct use with telescopes, barlow and reducer lenses. The mono camera optical window is clear to allow the user full control over what type of light they wish to pass for example narrowband imaging, Ha solar imaging, RGB planetary imaging or even UV and IR planetary imaging (reveals extreme detail).
Connecting your GPCAM to your PC and mount: A built-in ST4 auto guider port is included on the rear face with 2m ST4 cable for easy connection between auto guider directly to your GOTO mount. The camera is powered through the included 2m USB 2.0 cable, which is aligned with the USB cable so you can combine them in a sheath or tie them together with cable ties to reduce cable-clutter.
Connecting your GPCAM to telescopes with filters, and C or CS-Mount lenses: The CNC machined aluminum housing has a standard 1.25 inch OD barrel to fit to almost any telescope focuser including the Altair Miniguider 60, 80, and Starwave 50mm guide scopes. A standard 1.25 inch eyepiece filter can be installed on the end of the 1.25" barrel, such as a light pollution or other special filter. The 1.25" barrel can be removed to reveal a standard CS/C-mount thread compatible with most industrial and surveillance lenses, or microscope eyepiece adapters. If you want to image in exotic wavelengths like UV or IR you can use the clear optical window which comes with the MONO camera. For use with a Barlow lens for imaging, you need a UV/IR Blocking filter. For guiding only the clear optical window is all you need (increased sensitivity of around 35%). The GPCAM is a very flexible system compared other cameras. It allows you to swap the optical window instantly and easily whilst avoiding touching the filter, a feature not possible with some other cameras. A 5mm CS to C mount converter ring is also included. This allows you to attach CS-mount as well as C-mount lenses, so you have a huge range of lenses available to experiment with, unlike other cameras which only allow the use of CS lenses. See the GPCAM system chart for more info.
The Meteor lens: You can use the 150 degree FOV F1.6 Meteor lens for wide angle imaging of the sky to capture meteorites and aurora displays - or just create a video of the night sky as the earth rotates. You can even make timelapse daytime videos to capture cloud formations or capture any activity with standard high speed video mode. This little lens is sharp too, and perfectly capable of macro photography and video. Your imagination is the limit!
Software & compatibility:
Note: This camera does not come with software in the box. You will need to download GP-CAM drivers and software to make it work. DO NOT PLUG IN CAMERA UNTIL YOU HAVE INSTALLED THE DRIVERS.
Fully supported by the latest version of Sharpcap for still and video capture, and full control of your camera. Sharpcap supports darkframe subtraction, and live image stacking for viewing deepsky objects in real-time!
AltairCapture astrophotography software supports on-the-fly darkframe subtraction, video preview, video recording, snapshot image capture, timelapse, and real 8 or 12 bit data output in .SER and .AVI video, stills or frame-stacks in .PNG, TIFF .BMP formats and more. You can control the camera frame rate, exposure time from milliseconds to minutes, colour balance, gain, gamma, live histogram manipulation (in RGB or Mono), switching between mono or colour modes, camera resolution, ROI (Region Of Interest) and a lot more.
A special version of PHD2 Guiding can also be downloaded here. GPCAM is also supported in the official release of PHD2.6
ASCOM drivers available at cameras.altairastro.com.
Beta drivers are available on the Altair Astro Google Group.
A Note on typical Frame Rates
GPCAM V1 Mono and Colour cameras:
Approx. Max frame rates (assuming computer Bus and Hard Drive operating at full bandwidth)*:
8 bit mode:
640x480 56-62fps (ROI)
320x240 80-93fps (ROI)
12 bit mode - approx 50% of above.
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