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Apogee Alta U4000 - drivers and documentation needed

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#1 flolic

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Posted 09 January 2020 - 08:33 AM

Hi all,

 

I am looking for a old Apogee Alta U4000 camera drivers. Also, if anyone have user manual or any documentation for that camera

it would be great. 

 

Thanks,

Filip



#2 D_talley

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Posted 09 January 2020 - 10:15 AM

Have you had a chance to go to the driver site?

 

http://www.andor.com...ads?src=drivers



#3 flolic

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Posted 10 January 2020 - 02:40 AM

Of course, that was the first place that I tried to find drivers. But they don't mention this old camera at all.

Anyway, I found your thread about U8300 that helped me a lot ;)

https://www.cloudyni...-filter-wheel/ 

 

Btw. I bought this camera VERY cheaply as a non working unit. CCD chip is dead, but luckily I have few spares. 

Sensor died because of corrosion as a result of condensation inside chamber. Sensor used in those cameras does not have 

a cover glass and any condensation will kill them very quickly.



#4 D_talley

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Posted 10 January 2020 - 08:09 AM

Glad you got the drivers. I was going to tell you about the other thread but got interrupted.  Let us know if you have any problems. 

 

Sad that they did not put a cover glass on those cameras. I guess they learned to do it later. 



#5 flolic

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Posted 18 January 2020 - 03:45 PM

Anyone know how to properly purge sensor chamber with Argon? I replaced desiccant but anyway got some condensation on the CCD sensor.

There are two charging ports on the back side of camera, each have spring loaded ball check valve. Should I just pressurize chamber with Argon, or should I also connect vacuum pump on the other port?

It is my understanding that chamber should stay at positive pressure relative to atmosphere. But how much pressure?

 

My camera obviously leaked through hermetic electrical connection feed through, because (sealing epoxy?) was partially unglued from the housing. Also there are some traces of corrosion.

 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • chamber.jpg
  • chamber_connector_pins.jpg


#6 D_talley

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Posted 18 January 2020 - 07:28 PM

Your setup is a little different than with my U8300 but you should be able to fix it.  Where was the desiccant located? I don't see it in the photo. I would reseal the electrical port with some epoxy. 

On my camera the desiccant was inside the CCD housing on the left side. I recharged it and then filled the housing slowly with argon and quickly sealed it back.  So far the chip has been dew free.   I think you are just going to have to take the extra step to seal the electrical port without breaking the wires inside the chamber. 

 

In the attached photo you can see the desiccant that I recharged on the left side of the chamber.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Sensor-Cell.jpg


#7 flolic

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 04:22 AM

On my camera the desiccant is on the same location as in yours. I cut open the bag and baked the content for a few hours in a oven then seal it back.

Maybe I should just go your way and slowly fill the chamber with Argon to displace air, and then seal the chamber.



#8 flolic

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 02:11 PM

Anyway, I successfully purged the chamber, no more condensation smile.gif

First I connected the vacuum pump to the suction port near the power and USB connectors and pulled the air from the chamber. Then I connected Argon bottle (via the pressure regulator) to the charging port and slowly let the gas in. 

You can not "overfill" the chamber, any excessive pressure will vent out through the suction port.

My camera can now reach at least 60C temperature difference, before it was struggling with 50C smile.gif

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • charging_ports.jpg
  • delta_t.jpg

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#9 D_talley

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 02:20 PM

Glad you got it working. Also thanks for the diagram of the ports. Did not know that. 



#10 flolic

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 03:59 PM

So, I run some tests to characterize camera and comes to this. Camera was cooled to -35C. Readout noise is, by Pixinsight script, only 4.7e. Is that even possible with this sensor/camera??

 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • U4000_KAI4022_camera_measurement.PNG


#11 flolic

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 04:00 PM

Files in google drive:

https://drive.google...xBm-KhIZuHYKc4n



#12 Matt Dawson

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 01:43 AM

I just want to thank everyone on this thread for a real life saver! I bought a second hand interline U4000 (the model with no shutter) and  until I found this thread I thought I had bought a lemon and wasted $1000. Got it up and running now.smile.gif

 

It turns out there were multiple issues and addressing them one by one finally paid off. Finding the windows driver was the hardest part...once that was installed everything worked (nearly). The obsolete camera file is only for the old Parallel port cameras like the Ap series.

 

Once I got it installed  Windows 10 and Maxim DL could both find the camera,at which point... the next problem.

 

Every time I switched on the cooler the camera shuts down and Maxim DL crashes. Tried different laptops and different cables. 

 

500ma 12v power supply was the problem. Switched to a 3amp 12v power supply and 'lo and behold'' it works. Its a great camera and they are so cheap these days.

 

I am so happy!

 

Stay healthy,

Matt

Luxembourg

Europe

 

Home built 20" Dob on Osypowski equatorial platform.


Edited by Matt Dawson, 07 April 2020 - 02:17 AM.


#13 Matt Dawson

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 02:10 AM

One other thing. The camera came with a very strange non-standard sized screw-in camera thread size with no adapter to fit a 2" focuser nose-piece. Seems to be a one inch, perhaps for a microscope or MRI or CAT scanner or something. I managed to fashion an adapter  out of the back of an old SBig ST7. 

The moral of this story is never throw anything awaylol.gif .

Apog.jpg



#14 D_talley

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 07:18 AM

Glad the info and files worked.  These cameras are starting to show up on the used market at a low price.  Everyone now wants the new shiny thing. I have two Apogee cameras and they have improved my images. 



#15 xthestreams

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Posted 18 September 2020 - 09:20 PM

I’ve just picked up an old AP6EP (parallel) which I am trying to revive. With Andor unceremoniously dumping/hiding any old support information it’s been a challenge to get very far.

 

ive managed to get hold of xccdm and Dave Mills Linux work afternoon much Googling but figure it would help to make it easier for folks to keep these lovely little boxes going longer. They’re still great if like me you’re a long FL observatory and don’t like to see old tech thrown out while it’s still got a useful life.

 

Any interest in setting up an Apogee legacy support website? I’m happy to start up the raw framework, but it’s clear folks have more experience here that’s worth sharing - like how the heck do you reseal the chamber and recharge with argon!?



#16 Foxtrot01

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 08:12 AM

I’ve just picked up an old AP6EP (parallel) which I am trying to revive. With Andor unceremoniously dumping/hiding any old support information it’s been a challenge to get very far.

 

ive managed to get hold of xccdm and Dave Mills Linux work afternoon much Googling but figure it would help to make it easier for folks to keep these lovely little boxes going longer. They’re still great if like me you’re a long FL observatory and don’t like to see old tech thrown out while it’s still got a useful life.

 

Any interest in setting up an Apogee legacy support website? I’m happy to start up the raw framework, but it’s clear folks have more experience here that’s worth sharing - like how the heck do you reseal the chamber and recharge with argon!?

If someone pushes out a website, I will be happy to contribute the drivers and files that I have collected.  Could also put together a tutorial for argon purging etc...


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#17 xthestreams

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 10:42 PM

working on it now!



#18 xthestreams

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Posted 05 November 2020 - 10:50 PM

My U16M just arrived and I think it's a sad little duck.

 

#1, the best it seems to be Abel to cool to is roughly -5C with a heatsink temp of roughly 32C at room (20C) temp - my guess is that's not normal.

 

#2, it SQUEALS - high pitched noise coming from the camera body with or without the fans on, sounds like it';s coming from close to the 12V power inlet or it could simply be that it's the only place sound can escape teh otherwise solid body.

 

#3, the darks have variable pattern noise, some frames are relatively clean darks with pattern noise, other frames have large chunks of the frame blown out (This is a dark not a light), and to be clear, these are not column defects (which it exhibited until it got close to 0C) but entire bands running perpendicular to the column defects.

 

My guess is a power supply/noise related issue, but I could be wrong.

 

Any help gratefully accepted - especially any thoughts on how to recharge the argon without a vacuum pump (which I don't have) - my guess as to why #1 (and maybe even #2 and #3)



#19 mdavister

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 08:26 AM

What you are describing "sounds" like it could be some failed capacitors in the power supply section of the camera. As to which ones, that could take some effort. I would start by looking at the electrolytic (large aluminum cans) capacitors in the camera. The next ones would likely be the tantalum (plastic rectangular prisms, usually yellow or black), they have a tendancy to fail short at random points in time. The Apogee Ascent that I have doesn't have any electrolytics inside, just the tantalum.

 

As to recharging the argon, doesn't the U16M have two screws on the heatsink for access to the CCD chamber? If so, you could just flow argon gas through for a sufficient amount of time to displace most of the air. Argon is heavier than air so as long as the screw ports are up, the argon should stay in the chamber long enough to put the screws back in place.



#20 xthestreams

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 08:25 PM

Thanks, I’ll have a look at argon once I’ve gotten to the bottom of the sound, I suspect it’s related to the Peltier as when I powered the camera down and restarted my tests a few hours later, I did so with the cooler off and the noise was not audible until I turned on the cooler (oddly it didn’t stop after I switched the cooler off).

After much reading, I summoned up the courage to open the unit up (turn out it’s easier than my AP6) and found these little black pellets inside:

They are soft and consistently black throughout, they don’t appear to be biologic in nature but who knows.

The contents of a blown cap perhaps? There is a faint chemical smell around the PCB, but hard to tell if that’s just off gassed after a few years being idle.


Edited by xthestreams, 06 November 2020 - 09:01 PM.


#21 D_talley

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 10:04 PM

We need photos of the area. 



#22 xthestreams

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Posted 07 November 2020 - 01:04 AM

I think the pellets were bug poop.

 

This is the component that appears to be making the racket and is also VERY hot. 

 

https://belfuse.com/...tput-series.pdf

 

My tests today got me down to roughly -15C which is an improvement, I'll post the darks shortly - they all appear to have "waves" of noise through them, leading me to think something is resonating on the power supply, which ties to the idea that a cap has gone faulty.

 

Thankfully the seller graciously offered to let me test it, sadly I had already ordered the Precise Parts adapter in the hope that it would just work. 

 

Running one last test now before giving up.



#23 mdavister

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Posted 07 November 2020 - 07:55 PM

I would be certain that it's repairable. It's a shame that you are halfway around the world, I'd be interested in trying to repair it. Not to worry though, capacitors are pretty easy to replace. Please post some photos with any annotations of what is getting hot, maybe we can get this thing working.



#24 xthestreams

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Posted 07 November 2020 - 09:56 PM

Thanks Mitch! 

 

Let's start with the darks and see if that tells us anything. These are all 1 second darks, including one that I binned down (2x2) to see if that made a difference, it didn't.

 

https://www.dropbox....59RLADEYsa?dl=0

 

That Belfuse comment seems to be the source of the heat and noise, but I suspect now it's getting dirty power from a bad cap.

 

@coconuts is the seller, you may find he'll be interested in working on it with you, I don't feel comfortable going anywhere near one of these amazing (and no longer supported) devices with a soldering iron!



#25 xthestreams

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Posted 09 November 2020 - 08:15 AM

I went to do one last check on the camera today and it didn’t smell so good and had stopped working completely.

 

summoning up the courage to delicately disassemble the motherboard from the chassis (easier than it looked), I’ve done some more digging and a 6.8u/35v tantalum cap on the bottom of the board looks like it might be part of the problem, it’s right under the DC-DC converter, so this is starting to seem like the likely cause of death.

will send photos. 
 

my nagging doubt is that it’s the DC-DC converter that’s the real culprit, thoughts?




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