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AIC conference equipment notes

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#1 akulapanam

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 07:17 PM

Attended AIC this morning / afternoon and wanted to pass along some of my notes for those of you who couldn’t go this year.

- OnSemi every manufacturer except QHY believes that CMOS hasn’t caught up with CCD for many astronomical and lab applications especially on the large pixel side.
- OnSemi camera availability will range anywhere from 6 months to another 2 years. One manufacturer believes there is still a slim hope for another company to take up manufacturer of these chips.
- On the Gpixel side Sbig has a new 4040 camera. Atik might bring one to market but is looking at other manufacturers. SX is considering it as well. While not at the conference Moravian will be releasing one shortly as well.
- On the smaller Sony side SX and Atik have 1” cameras available now based on the 304 or 428. Sbig has a 4th generation in development as well. That said they generally believe that performance isn’t better than current Sony CCD especially the new SX proline or QSI.
- On the large Sony side FLI, Atik, and Sbig are all working on cameras here.
- SX can upgrade your existing camera to the proline which gets about a 20-30% decrease in read noise. Upgrade is fairly cheap.(a couple $ )
- QHY has two new Sony and 1 new APS-C from Gpixel in development
- In the mounts department the Mach 2 is in production with deliveries in December. The new EQ-8 with encoders is really slick. For the really high end customer Bisque has two direct drive mounts. I continue to like the Rainbow astro mounts, probably need to get one at some point. The line between premium and consumer grade continues to blur.
- The new Bisque computer is underwhelming IMHO. At ~$1700 you basically get a Primadulab, Asus, MSI, or Onlogic fanless PC + power ports (which prima has) that is limited to running TSX. It uses a bit more power than Gemini Lake powered CPUs and there is no automation suite that runs TSX and on ARM Linux. This is really for the setup nightly customer.
- Adam Block and Christopher Go had really nice talks.
- The optical structures/farpoint 200 imaging newt is a beauty though as is the 14” RASA. The 11” RASA is getting the 8” focuser.
- General attendance was good. A couple of big name missing vendors including ZWO and AGO Optical didn’t attend this year.

Edited by akulapanam, 15 November 2019 - 07:19 PM.

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#2 Coconuts

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 08:12 PM

Thanks.  On your bullet point "QHY has two new Sony and 1 new APS-C from Gpixel in development", could you either elaborate, or ask them what two Sony sensors they are working on?  Their IMX455 based sensor is already shipping; news on the development of a camera based on either the IMX461 and/or an IMX411 based sensor would definitely constitute news for those of us with large image circles.

 

All the best,

 

Kevin



#3 maxmir

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 08:40 PM

Thanks so much for the update. I wish I could get away.

 

" The 11” RASA is getting the 8” focuser " *          

 

8 "focuser sounds strange that's a lot bigger than secondary.



#4 APshooter

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 08:48 PM

Great news on the Rasa 11 as that's one I'm looking at.  Also wanted to see the 14" Rasa, but will probably go to NEAF next year and will check it out there.



#5 WadeH237

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 09:34 PM

- General attendance was good. A couple of big name missing vendors including ZWO and AGO Optical didn’t attend this year.

I was also surprised that Officina Stellare appears to be missing, as does Optec, and also (but a little less surprised) that I did not see Starlight Instruments.  I was kind of hoping to see iOptron here as well, and they are not.  With as big a push as they are making into the lower priced imaging mount market, this would have been a good audience for them.

 

I am encouraged that attendance seems to be pretty good.  I was at 3 breakouts today, and they were all well attended.  We'll get a better idea of the full size of the attendance at tomorrow's general sessions.  I am really looking forward to a couple of them, especially the session on AI based collimation.



#6 Swanny

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 11:10 PM

Starlight is set up outside the venue next to the Sky West booth I believe? By the sign in booth. No Optec though.

My first AIC so nothing to gauge against. The Keller PI presentation was pretty much full this morning and the Pugh/Block talks were also well attended. Seems like it has a decent number of attendees overall.

#7 jhayes_tucson

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 11:48 PM

Thanks for the report!!  I'm having a blast in New Zealand but I sure wish that I could have been in two places at once...

 

John



#8 akulapanam

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 12:13 AM

Thanks.  On your bullet point "QHY has two new Sony and 1 new APS-C from Gpixel in development", could you either elaborate, or ask them what two Sony sensors they are working on?  Their IMX455 based sensor is already shipping; news on the development of a camera based on either the IMX461 and/or an IMX411 based sensor would definitely constitute news for those of us with large image circles.

 

All the best,

 

Kevin

I should have taken a photo.  These were smaller, think 1" size.  I believe one is the large pixel IMX432.  Honestly the GPixel was the most interesting which I believe is this thing.   http://en.gpixelinc....chanies/22.html

 

Thanks so much for the update. I wish I could get away.

 

" The 11” RASA is getting the 8” focuser " *          

 

8 "focuser sounds strange that's a lot bigger than secondary.

Sorry, meant the focuser from the 8" RASA.

 

I was also surprised that Officina Stellare appears to be missing, as does Optec, and also (but a little less surprised) that I did not see Starlight Instruments.  I was kind of hoping to see iOptron here as well, and they are not.  With as big a push as they are making into the lower priced imaging mount market, this would have been a good audience for them.

 

I am encouraged that attendance seems to be pretty good.  I was at 3 breakouts today, and they were all well attended.  We'll get a better idea of the full size of the attendance at tomorrow's general sessions.  I am really looking forward to a couple of them, especially the session on AI based collimation.

Starlight was there.  Bisque had an OS scope and Tolga, Bisque, and New Mexico Southern Skies are OS dealers.  OS is mostly focused on professional at the moment after their IPO.

 

Starlight is set up outside the venue next to the Sky West booth I believe? By the sign in booth. No Optec though.

My first AIC so nothing to gauge against. The Keller PI presentation was pretty much full this morning and the Pugh/Block talks were also well attended. Seems like it has a decent number of attendees overall.

Yeah they are listed on the website.  I didn't stop by their booth unfortunately.



#9 akulapanam

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 12:23 AM

A couple of other notes:

  • It was suggested in another thread the binned read noise of the IMX455 was less than the number of pixels * the read noise of one pixel.  Sadly this does not appear to be the case.  QHY said it might be a bit less but not by much and the other vendors working with the chip said it had less read noise at the equivalent pixel size than the 11002 but not the 16803 (dependent on gain).  Would be interesting to see some basic CCD script numbers here.
  • Innovation Foresight has an awesome tool for collimation and wavefront analysis based on AI technology.  This will allow you to take real time readings in average or better seeing.  Software should be out in a month or two.  Will definitely purchase.
  • The SBIG OAG is pretty awesome.  High sensitivity CMOS camera, shutter, low backfocus, and ability to control a AO system.


#10 ezwheels

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 12:28 AM

Attendance this year is a record for this conference. This was announced before the PHD presentation tonight.

 

The Mach 2 looks awesome and is silent, fast and stout. 

 

Glass has been ordered for the next Stowaway run from A-P.

 

The RST mount is light and compact! Wow, great to see it person.

 

The new SB tripod is really really nice and will be offered in all black and eventually with mounting plates for other companies mounts. 

 

Yes, I talked with quite a few camera manufacturers and the response was oddly the same. CMOS is not ready and the pixels are very small. Both may or may not be valid, but the point is if no one takes over ON SEMI's line, CCD will be gone very soon and these guys better get with the program. Due to the miniscule size of the market and thus our limited ability to influence chip manufacturers, what will likely have to change is our expectations and approaches. It is far more likely that imaging scopes will adapt to the pixel scale rather than the other way around. 


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#11 WadeH237

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 01:17 AM

Attendance this year is a record for this conference. This was announced before the PHD presentation tonight.

Yup. I heard that, and I think that it's great news. I enjoy this conference and would like to see it do well.
 

Yes, I talked with quite a few camera manufacturers and the response was oddly the same. CMOS is not ready and the pixels are very small. Both may or may not be valid, but the point is if no one takes over ON SEMI's line, CCD will be gone very soon and these guys better get with the program. Due to the miniscule size of the market and thus our limited ability to influence chip manufacturers, what will likely have to change is our expectations and approaches. It is far more likely that imaging scopes will adapt to the pixel scale rather than the other way around.

I came to here shopping for a camera.

 

I've been using an ASI1600MM-cool for a few years now. There is lots to like about the camera - especially for the price - but I'm just done with the microlens artifacts around bright stars.  I do a fair amount of imaging at very dark skies, and then to shoot tens of hours per target.  When I go deep on them, there are a few affected stars in all of my recent data.  My hard requirements are that I want a mono camera with a sensor no larger than 4/3 (since I am not ready to put together a scope setup that can illuminate a large sensor - and I don't want to re-buy a few thousand $ in filters to cover a big sensor).

 

After talking with nearly all of the manufacturers on site (I didn't get to QHY), I ended up going with a QSI690wsg-8.  A few of them hinted that there is hope in the future for CMOS sensors that might the suitable, but nothing right now.  The Sony sensor in the QHY690 is a step backwards in size, but ticks off all of my other boxes (mono, low read noise, very low dark current, right size pixels, high QE and well depth, etc.)  That same sensor is available in cameras from Atik, SBIG and Starlight Xpress.  Atik is the company that bought QSI, and according to them, the QSI is the higher quality of the two.  I'm not yet convinced that today's SBIG is as good as the SBIG of old, but my opinion of them went up today after talking with them for a while.  And I was very impressed with the Starlight Xpress offering.  The SX was my second choice.  The QSI just beat it out (but not by much) in packaging and integration.

 

And finally, thanks for the head's up that Starlight Instruments is set up outside of the showcase area.  I'll be sure to stop by there tomorrow.


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#12 Peter in Reno

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 01:19 AM

CMOS is not ready and the pixels are very small.

CMOS is not ready for what? Not ready for astronomy market?

 

Peter



#13 akulapanam

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 01:51 AM

CMOS is not ready for what? Not ready for astronomy market?

Peter

No one told me they weren’t ready, just that on the small sensor side the 3rd and 4th gen Sony weren’t better than the Sony ccd’s (or materially worse but the ccd didn’t need darks) and on the large pixel / large frame side nothing existed yet that outperformed the 16200/16803.

Edited by akulapanam, 16 November 2019 - 01:54 AM.


#14 ezwheels

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 01:57 AM

Yup. I heard that, and I think that it's great news. I enjoy this conference and would like to see it do well.
 

I came to here shopping for a camera.

 

I've been using an ASI1600MM-cool for a few years now. There is lots to like about the camera - especially for the price - but I'm just done with the microlens artifacts around bright stars.  I do a fair amount of imaging at very dark skies, and then to shoot tens of hours per target.  When I go deep on them, there are a few affected stars in all of my recent data.  My hard requirements are that I want a mono camera with a sensor no larger than 4/3 (since I am not ready to put together a scope setup that can illuminate a large sensor - and I don't want to re-buy a few thousand $ in filters to cover a big sensor).

 

After talking with nearly all of the manufacturers on site (I didn't get to QHY), I ended up going with a QSI690wsg-8.  A few of them hinted that there is hope in the future for CMOS sensors that might the suitable, but nothing right now.  The Sony sensor in the QHY690 is a step backwards in size, but ticks off all of my other boxes (mono, low read noise, very low dark current, right size pixels, high QE and well depth, etc.)  That same sensor is available in cameras from Atik, SBIG and Starlight Xpress.  Atik is the company that bought QSI, and according to them, the QSI is the higher quality of the two.  I'm not yet convinced that today's SBIG is as good as the SBIG of old, but my opinion of them went up today after talking with them for a while.  And I was very impressed with the Starlight Xpress offering.  The SX was my second choice.  The QSI just beat it out (but not by much) in packaging and integration.

 

And finally, thanks for the head's up that Starlight Instruments is set up outside of the showcase area.  I'll be sure to stop by there tomorrow.

Yeah, I hear you on the 1600. But the ATIK horizon 2 uses the same panasonic sensor and looked good and has an AR coating on the glass in front of the sensor. I had no idea about this option. If I was in the market for something about this size again, I would be looking at that as well. I was impressed with SX's offerings as well. 



#15 ezwheels

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 02:09 AM

CMOS is not ready for what? Not ready for astronomy market?

 

Peter

'Not ready to replace CCD' was how I took it, but "not ready" was what I heard. The remark and concerns about the pixel size in CMOS cameras trending smaller is valid (for some users), but it is the way the technology is heading. And since two of the best CCD chips for AP are going the way of the Dodo, like it or not, here we go.



#16 Swanny

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 09:41 AM

I think someone from FLI is presenting this morning on that very thing: CMOs vs CCDs the differences.
.

#17 rms40

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 11:08 AM

Thanks for all the conference info. How does this compare to NEAIC/NEAF in NY? Same only different...ha...

 

Both are a long way from me. I have been to NEAIC once. I will go to one or the other again.

 

Randall


Edited by rms40, 16 November 2019 - 11:12 AM.

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#18 Dean J.

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 12:10 PM


The Mach 2 looks awesome and is silent, fast and stout. 

 

I would sure like to see photos of the Mach2 posted if anyone has taken some.  AP has shown only a few pictures of the Mach2.


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#19 akulapanam

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 01:39 PM

Thanks for all the conference info. How does this compare to NEAIC/NEAF in NY? Same only different...ha...

Both are a long way from me. I have been to NEAIC once. I will go to one or the other again.

Randall

AIC - best opportunity to have one on one time with US vendors, decent content. Average age about ~60 years old. With exception of vendors I might have been the youngest at the conference and I’m in my mid 30s.

NEAF - best selection of vendors but packed so less opportunity to chat. Average age is probably ~late 50s.

CEDIC - by far the best content, lots of opportunity to learn. Good opportunity to chat with European vendors. In the middle of nowhere (18 hours from Vegas). Average age is early ~50s. Youngest audience

Edited by akulapanam, 16 November 2019 - 01:56 PM.


#20 Alex McConahay

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 03:54 PM

Jeff from Optec is down with Woodland Hills. 

 

Alex



#21 pfile

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 04:32 PM

couldn't go this year; thanks for the updates and yes any mach2 pictures would be appreciated, especially of the built-in thru-the-mount cabling and how they terminate in the dec head. i heard AP posted some on their FB page but i ain't going there!

 

encouraged to hear the attendance seems strong, then again they did change to an every-two-years cadence a while back so i suppose this would be expected.

 

rob



#22 rms40

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 05:51 PM

It is good to hear that attendance is strong. There seems to an underlying theme with several vendors either not booking a spot or doubling up with others.  We wouldn't have nearly the opportunities for new designs and equipment without them. I sure want to be able to go to these conferences in the future. Support our vendors! Buy their products! I'm doing my part....

 

Randall



#23 Swanny

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 07:17 PM

Conferences are a big marketing expense for our industry suppliers. I appreciate them coming out west and setting up for us to show their wares. It is a great chance to see products and touch before deciding to purchase.

In regards to the Mach 2, I will take mine when my name is called. Very quiet and I really like how they did the wiring of the USB/power to keep it clean cable wise. It is very nice.
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#24 WadeH237

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 11:13 PM

couldn't go this year; thanks for the updates and yes any mach2 pictures would be appreciated, especially of the built-in thru-the-mount cabling and how they terminate in the dec head. i heard AP posted some on their FB page but i ain't going there!

 

encouraged to hear the attendance seems strong, then again they did change to an every-two-years cadence a while back so i suppose this would be expected.

 

rob

When I was in their booth today, I took two photos.  One of them is on the bottom of the RA axis where a USB cable and PowerPole can be plugged into the mount.  The other is of the declination axis, where the below connections terminate.  It's just another USB and PowerPole port.  They are pass throughs.

 

In the booth, they have a small USB hub mounted on the side-by-side dovetail adapter, and a Pegasus Astro power unit mounted on top of the 130 refractor.  Nothing is currently plugged into the small USB hub.  The power and USB are plugged into the Pegasus, and the system is controlled from a laptop on a table next to the mount.

 

I'm sorry, I didn't get more pictures.  I just remembered this request, and it was a bit crowded.  I was crawling around a few people to get these two..  And sorry that they are sideways.  They are correctly oriented on my phone...

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#25 pfile

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 11:36 PM

thanks wade! it turns out if you right-click and say "view image" the orientation is correct.

 

so does that mean a polar finder scope can not be put in the RA axis? it looks like the motor cables and power/USB are where the eyepiece of a polar scope would be.

 

rob




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