Fire-i monochrome camera
aka OLI - Oliver's Lunar Imager
Image by Unibrain
The Fire-i monochrome board by Unibrain features a Sony ICX098BL monochrome CCD and a IEEE1394a/IIDC v1.04 DCAM ("Firewire") interface. Frame rates upto 30fps uncompressed are possible with 8bit depth (Y8).
The package contains the board itself, a small daughtercard with a second IEEE1394a connector (6pin), CD containing the Fire-i application software including license for the fire-i cameras and a 6-pin/6-pin IEEE1394a cable. The board comes wrapped into bubble-foil - not ESD-poof!
I mounted the board into a standard plastic case. A mechanical drawing of the board is available as a .pdf file on the Unibrain website. I printed it 1:1 to have template to cut the hole for the lens mount and drill holes for the screws to fix the board:
Two plastic standoffs are screwed into the case to hold the PCB.
The LEDs on the board are covered with duct-tape to avoid parasitic light in the case.
The firewire cable is squeezed into a hole in one case part as a pull relief, the power cable ist fixed inside the case for the same purpose.
The "Bird"- mod
The longest exposure time of the Fire-i out of the box is ~1/31s = 32ms
- a true value compared to the driver settings of a ToUcam which aren't
correct times and which change with the framerate.
Imaging with a ToUcam pro and scopes around 8" aperture integration times of at least 50ms or longer are required to image e.g. saturn at reasonable scales. 32ms results in too dim images even at maximum gain. For most planetary imaging purposes with smaller scopes longer integration times are required.
A hardware modification of the Fire-i board has been published by Anthony
Wesley aka "Bird". It disables the shutter control of the Sony CXD1267AN
vertical clock driver so that exposure/integration times are directly
coupled to the framerate.
If the trace is cut, shutter controll is disabled, integration times are determined by framerate, so 1/30s, 1/15s, 1/7.5s and 1/3.75s are possible with the Unibrain fire-i windows application. Using other capture software like Coriander under Linux gives more possible framerates and integration times like 1/25s, 1/12.5s, 1/6.25s, and 1/3.125s.
Just cutting the trace totally disables direct shutter control by software, all intergration times shorter than 1/30s are lost!. To regain the shorter times the cut can simply be bridged by a switch to enable or disable shutter control.