Starfish PRO
  Imaging Performance
  Image Sensor Support
  Software Support
  Spec Sheet
  Starfish PRO FAQ
 Ordering Information
  Starfish PRO 4M-M
  Starfish PRO 4M-C

  More Information
 Ordering Information
  Starfish Standard
  Starfish Guider



Let’s face it. The previous generation astro-cameras were designed with big, bulky enclosures that were fairly cumbersome to mount and utilize on your optical setup. Using them with modest size mounts and telescope focusers was a challenge.

The Starfish PRO camera has changed all of that with the advanced packaging techniques used in its enclosure design. Amazingly, though, it delivers a medium format camera that doesn’t give up anything in image quality. As a matter of fact, it sets a higher standard.

The Starfish PRO camera’s design started with the basic core electronic circuitry that made up the original Starfish Guide camera. This design included all the features necessary for basic camera operation such as image sensor timing generation, USB computer interface, and power regulation circuitry. However, we also added circuitry to support more advanced features like the 64MByte frame buffer and variable readout speed clock generation circuitry.

After defining the basic camera electronics design, we then looked for ways to integrate all of the circuitry into a very compact, physical design. A close look at our Image Processor board shows that most of the logic elements are contained in a few key components. We were able to employ Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) devices that not only allowed us to place over 90% of the logic elements into a single integrated circuit, but also allowed us to provide field upgrade capabilities that will allow feature enhancement through firmware upgrades in the future.

Next, we divided the circuitry into three separate circuit card assemblies that could be stacked inside the camera’s enclosure thus minimizing the overall size of the camera.

Equally important in the camera’s electronics design is the mechanical enclosure. The original Starfish guide camera was already fairly compact and lightweight. On the PRO design, we wanted to increase cooling, utilize medium format CCD sensors, and also include a mechanical shutter. Through advanced CAD modeling and clever design, we were able to end up with a design that was only 0.25” longer than the original Starfish. And, it ended up even lighter at only 14 oz. All, a fairly remarkable achievement.
CAD Model of Starfish PRO Enclosure

Holding a Starfish PRO in your hand instantly gives you a sense of the craftsmanship inherent in the camera. The camera is wonderfully machined and manufactured with a lustrous red anodize finish. The camera is esthetically pleasing and has a good solid feel.

Although the enclosure is designed to be great looking, it also has many features that enhance the camera’s usability.

Larger format sensors bring with them the challenge of maintaining the sensor parallel to the mounting flange of the camera so that focus is accurate across all of the pixels on the detector. Mechanical support of the sensor package, tolerances on the cold fingers and TEC coolers, and even the variances associated with mounting of the semiconductor die within the sensor’s chip package all conspire to affect planar orientation of the sensor.

While the Starfish PRO’s mechanical design is such that these tolerance variations are minimized, we have also included the ability to null out any remaining differences by including a set on collimation adjustment screws on the mounting ring of the camera.

Collimation is adjusted just like you would collimate your telescope optics by alternately turning one of the three screws. The screws are spring loaded to insure accurate adjustments can be made.
Throughout the camera assembly, all machined parts are manufactured to high tolerances in order to assure long life and peak performance of the camera. An example is the design of our custom shutter mechanism. It was a tough design challenge to fit the shutter into an enclosure as compact as that of the Starfish PRO. No off-the-shelf shutter mechanism would do so we designed our own. This required precision machining of very small parts of the mechanism such as the flag movement arms and their fasteners. Take a look at the picture below of the brass rivets that were designed for the camera and you can get an idea of the care we have taken in the design of the camera.
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