Real time ccd video using the I3 system


Imagine being able to see galaxies and nebula in real time with superb detail directly on a video or computer monitor. This technology that was once only available to professional observatories is being manufactured today by Collins Electro Optics for both amateur and professional observers at a fraction of the original cost with better performance than the professional systems of only a few years ago. Professional observatories have been using intensified imaging systems for years. Now amateurs can also benefit from this revolutionary technology. Here’s how the system works (please refer to the image above).

The I 3 Piece main body is attached to any optical telescope just like a conventional eyepiece (custom mounting for large telescopes is also available). The video adapter is attached to the I 3 main body in place of the visual adapter (eyepiece), which is thread attached to the video camera as shown. The BNC connector couples to 75 OHM video cable and the composite video output can be fed to a monitor (high resolution black and white is best), a VCR (super VHS is best), the recursive frame averager from Collins Electro Optics or the non linear video editor card by Fast AV installed in your computer.


Let’s use a hypothetical example of a 12" f 5 Newtonian. Attach the I 3 system with visual adapter first at the eyepiece mount with the 25mm eyepiece adapter. Power up the I 3 Piece and focus the system on any star field. Power off the I 3 and attach the video adapter as you did the eyepiece,thread the adapter to the I3 body approximately half the total thread distance.Then attach the camera as shown.Adjust the f stop of the video adapter to f 4. Bring the camera output directly to your monitor first (or if using the frame averager, set the frame wheel to 0). Power up the I 3 and camera. You will see the star field on your monitor. Rotate the entire camera and video adapter assembly about the thread with the lock ring till sharp focus is achieved on the monitor and lock the ring in place.You can now experiment with different f stop settings and camera settings. You will now see deep sky objects at the scale 2369/telescope focal length in inches= field in arc minutes. (60" focal length in our example) 2369/ telescope focal length (60") = 39.5 arc minutes therefore a deep sky object of 39.5 minutes angular size will fill the diagonal on the monitor. Use the formula to calculate for other focal lengths and objects angular scales.



All intensified imaging systems produce background noise (called scintillation noise). The amount of noise is governed by signal to noise ratio and intensifier type with Generation 3 producing the most superior results due to its outstanding signal to noise ratio and photo response. The Collins Electro Optics recursive frame averager dramatically reduces background noise while increasing signal to noise ratio by up to 9db. The user can select 0, 2, 4, 8 or 16 frame integration. Freeze frame is also switch selectable. Frame integration removes transient noise that does not appear at the same location from frame to frame. When 8 or 16 frame averaging is selected, noise reduction is so dramatic that the sky background becomes very smooth and optically ‘quiet’ with very little observable noise. The frame averager is powered by 12 VDC and has BNC input and output. A to D conversion at 8 bits (256 grey scale) and average memory of 12 bits.



Further dramatic results may be achieved with non linear editing from the Fast AV digital editor installed in your Pentium (200 MHZ minimum) computer with IDE hard drive (a larger 10 GIG is preferred). The entire system would operate as follows. The analog composite video signal from the CCD video camera is fed to the frame averager where A to D to A signal conversion takes place, the processed analog signal is fed to the non linear editor card in your computer where it is digitized (24 bit). The incoming real time image can be adjusted for contrast and brightness in real time and stored directly on your hard drive with NO quality loss as a captured frame or streaming video at up to Beta quality. (4 MB per second). Real time video clips are perfect for recording satellites as they transit overhead or meteor showers. The stored video clip or images may be further modified to an unlimited extent using Media Studio Pro software (included). Image manipulation from gamma control to additional noise reduction can be accomplished at the computer at any time. The Fast AV master will accept any standard NTSC video signal and is perfect for professional editing applications of all types (the special effects are outstanding). Any cam corder video, VHS tape, etc. can be edited using the Fast AV master and Media Studio Pro software. The price performance ratio of the product is remarkable.



Collins Electro Optics is proud to offer the Astrovid 2000 System from Adirondack video astronomy. The combination of high resolution, high signal to noise ratio and remote user adjustable camera settings makes the Astrovid 2000 an excellent choice for real time video imaging of deep sky objects when used in conjunction with the I 3 system. Contact AVA for complete specifications at 1-518-812-0025 or visit their web site at For certain professional observatory applications, we can provide CCD video cameras with digital output , contact us for additional information.

Collins Electro Optics 9025 E.Kenyon Ave.Denver CO 80237 303-889-5910,fax 303-779-8496(9-5M-F)