SBIG StarChaser Off-Axis Guider Cameras

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SBIG StarChaser Off-Axis Guider Cameras

$999.00 USD$1,299.00 USD

The SBIG StarChaser is the world’s first all-in-one off-axis guider with built-in camera and integrated AO support.  Comes complete with MaxIm LT software.

Several versions are available to fit our various SBIG camera models.  Please read the Description below to make sure you choose the correct option.

 

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Product Description

SBIG StarChaser Off-Axis Guider Cameras

Diffraction Limited’s new SBIG StarChaser is the world’s first, all-in-one independent Off-Axis Guiding Camera with Adaptive Optics support. The StarChaser operates independently of the main camera. It combines a pick-off mirror, guider camera, guide port, and Adaptive Optics control.

Stop wasting time with ruined exposures caused by flexure between the main camera and guider.  Off-axis guiding eliminates this problem by using the same optical path for the main camera and the guider.

Most off-axis guider assemblies are awkward to use, consume too much back focus, and require you to focus by slipping a camera inside an eyepiece holder.  SBIG pioneered simplified off-axis guiding, with guide sensors built into CCD cameras. Later, we created the self-guiding filter wheel, placing the guide sensor in the light path ahead of photon-robbing narrowband filters. The StarChaser is the next step in this progression – a fully independent guide camera with AO capability.

Note:  When using with StarChaser with AO, you will need a StarChaser to AO-X/AO-8T Adapter Cable.  The necessary adapter cable is included in our StarChaser SC-3 / AO-X Bundle and StarChaser SC-2 / AO-8A Bundle.

Three Versions Available

SC-2 is designed to work with our compact SBIG cameras.  It supports the AO-8A adaptive optics unit.  Supported cameras include:

SC-3-LONG is designed to work with large format SBIG cameras with longer backfocus distance.  It supports the AO-X adaptive optics unit.  Supported cameras include:

  • STX-16803, STX-16801, STX-9000 with or without FW7-STX

SC-3-SHORT is designed to work with large format SBIG cameras with shorter backfocus distance.  It supports the AO-X adaptive optics unit.  Supported cameras include:

  • STXL-11002, STXL-6303, STXL 16200 with FW8S-STXL
  • Aluma AC 4040 w/ FW7-STX
  • Legacy STL cameras with large sensors and/or external filter wheel (requires adapter)

Next-Generation Off-Axis Guiding

The StarChaser represents our next generation of off-axis guide technology.  It features a high-sensitivity 1.3 megapixel Global Shutter CMOS sensor with 4.8 micron pixels. Unlike competing autoguiders, the StarChaser has a mechanical shutter for easy dark frame correction.  This feature, standard on all SBIG guiders, optimizes sensitivity and eliminates hot pixels that could degrade guiding accuracy.

The pick-off mirror position is adjustable by loosening a locking knob and sliding the mirror into or out of the housing. You can avoid vignetting the main sensor while optimizing the light path into the guide sensor.  Once that is set, focus is adjusted simply by turning a second knob.

Adaptive Optics Control

Thanks to the SBIG StarChaser series, our renowned Adaptive Optics (AO) technology is now available for virtually our entire camera line! Our AO-X (available separately) bolts onto the front of the StarChaser SC-3.  Our AO-8A (available separately) bolts onto the front of the StarChaser SC-2.  The StarChaser is in turn attached to the front of an SBIG standard filter wheel and camera.

Adaptive Optics technology eliminates guiding errors caused by common mount problems such as stiction, periodic error, and wind loads.  It can even reduce “slow seeing” effects resulting in higher resolution images.

Thin and Adaptable

The SC-2 is just 0.800″ (20.3 mm) thick.  When attaching to a filter wheel the existing adapter plate (0.147″ / 3.7 mm thick) would normally be moved from the filter wheel onto the front of the SC-2. When attaching an AO-8A to the front of the SC-2, the adapter plate is not used.

The SC-3 is just 0.870″ (22.1 mm) thick. When attaching to a filter wheel the existing plate (0.200″ / 5.1 mm thick) would normally be moved from the filter wheel onto the front of the StarChaser.

Please note that smaller diameter adapter plates may vignette the guide sensor.  A variety of optional adapter plates are available.

Highly Adjustable

Each StarChaser has a range of adjustment for the mirror position and the camera’s backfocus distance.  The mirror position is set to avoid vignetting the main sensor and the guide sensor.  The focus adjustment allows you to parfocalize the StarChaser’s guide sensor with the main camera’s sensor.

Three StarChaser models are available.  The SC-2 accommodates our compact cameras such as STC-7 and Aluma CCD.  The SC-3-LONG accommodates large format cameras with long backfocus distance, such as the STX-16803 with FW7-STX.  The SC-3-SHORT was designed to support our new large format CMOS cameras, which have much shorter backfocus distance than our legacy CCD models.

The StarChaser pickoff mirror can be adjusted to accommodate different sensors sizes, and it also has an impact on the focus range.

In the table below, Mirror Offset Adjustment Range gives the distance from the inner edge of the guide sensor to the optical center.  To avoid vignetting, the mirror should be positioned so it clears the edge of the main sensor.  At faster f/ratios the separation may need to be increased.  In some optical systems if the mirror is pulled all the way back then the guide sensor may be vignetted.

Back Focus Range, Mirror Retracted gives the focus range of the StarChaser model when the mirror is pulled back as far away from the main sensor as possible. This distance is measured from the front of the StarChaser (without any adapters) to the focal plane of the main camera.

Back Focus Range, Mirror Extended gives the focus range of the StarChaser model when the mirror is adjusted as far as possible towards the main optical axis.

Model (Recommended Camera Series)Mirror Offset Adjustment RangeBack Focus Range, Mirror RetractedBack Focus Range, Mirror Extended
StarChaser SC-2 (STC, STF, Aluma CCD)0.40" to 0.75" (10.2 mm to 19.1 mm)1.73" to 2.61" (43.9 mm to 66.3 mm)2.07" to 2.96" (52.6 mm to 75.2 mm)
StarChaser SC-3-LONG (STX)0.33" to 1.08" (8.4 mm to 27.4 mm)2.23" to 3.48" (56.6 mm to 88.4 mm)2.97" to 4.23" (75.4 mm to 107.4 mm)
StarChaser SC-3-SHORT (Aluma AC, STXL)0.66" to 0.88" (16.8 mm to 22.4 mm)1.51" to 2.84" (33.4 mm to 72.1 mm)1.73" to 3.06" (43.9 mm to 77.7 mm)

Supports Your SBIG Investment

Our renowned MaxIm LT software is included, providing integrated control of your StarChaser and SBIG main camera.  We also provide API interfaces for third-party software running under Windows, MacOS, or Linux.  An ASCOM standard camera interface is included. ASCOM does not currently support Adaptive Optics.

The StarChaser series support all currently-manufactured SBIG models, and many of the legacy models.  This includes STC, Aluma AC, Aluma CCD, STX, STXL, STF-1603, STF-3200, ST-1603, ST-3200, and STL research series cameras (via available adapter).

StarChasers support AO-8A (SC-2) and AO-X (SC-3) Adaptive Optics units.  This brings modern AO capability to many models that previously could not support AO operation.  All guiding and AO operations take place independently of the main camera.

The StarChaser requires a 12V power supply (included) and a USB 2.0 mini cable (6 foot / 2 meter cable included).  The StarChaser can send guider commands to the telescope either via ASCOM PulseGuide or an “ST-4” style tracking interface cable (included).

Note:  When using with StarChaser with AO, you will need a StarChaser to AO-X/AO-8T Adapter Cable.  The necessary adapter cable is included in our StarChaser SC-3 / AO-X Bundle and StarChaser SC-2 / AO-8A Bundle.

Additional Information

Temperature Regulation

No

OS Compatibility

Windows 7, 8, 10 x86/x64, MacOS 10.14 "Mojave" x86 binaries, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS x64, Raspbian Buster armhf, Ubuntu MATE arm64

Computer Interface

USB 2.0 Mini

Full Frame Download

0.2 sec

Adaptive Optics Option

Works with AO-X (cable required)

Pixel Digitization Rate

72 megapixels / second

A/D Converter

10 bits

Weight

0.9 lb / 400 g

Read Noise

5 e- typical

Power

12V, 300 mA

Exposure

13.5 ns to 59.26 s

Pixel Size

4.8 μm

Total Pixels

1,310,720 pixels

Sensor Size

6.18 mm x 4.95 mm

Shutter

Electronic Global Shutter plus Mechanical Dark Frame Shutter

Imaging Sensor

Astronomical CMOS 1.3 Megapixel

Filter Wheel Option

Attaches to FW7-STX and FW8S-STXL filter wheels

Dark Current e/p/s at 0 C

5 e-/p/s typical at 20C

Imaging / Pixel Array

1280 x 1024 pixels

Full Well Capacity

10,000 e-

Backfocus

Adds 0.87" (22.1 mm)

Documentation

Product overview

Product overview of StarChaser guide cameras.

Download

User Manual

User’s manual for installing and operating the StarChaser SC-3

Download

Software

Drivers and Camera Configuration Utility

StarChaser uses the DL Imaging driver package. Download the latest drivers and camera configuration utility.

Download

ASCOM Driver

Provides compatibility with many third party control applications. Please install the main driver package (above) first.

Download

MaxIm LT Software

Camera owners can request a MaxIm LT license here (camera serial number required):

Link

To get started immediately, request the full MaxIm DL Pro demo version here (click Demo tab):

Link

Once you receive your MaxIm LT license, simply replace your demo license using Help menu Enter License.

MacOS and Linux Drivers

Available by request. Please post in our support forum, Aluma section:

Link

Software Development Kit

Available by request. Please post in our support forum, Aluma section:

Link

Firmware Updates

Visit our Firmware Archive here:

Link

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