LCC - The Low-Cost Camera

In the Meteor Research Group, we use LLTV (low lightlevel TV) cameras, also called Image-intensified cameras, to oberve meteors in the night sky. We are using different camera types: The LCC series is a low-cost camera, the ICC is a state-of-the-art imaging system optimized for high quality astrometry, the LIC is optimized for a larger field of view.

Here, we describe the LCC. The figure shows a block diagram of the camera.

Block diagram of the LCC.

The LCC camera series consists of the following elements:

  • Baffle - To avoid stray light entering the objective lens, and to reduce the probability of fogging of the lens
  • Objective lens - In the LCC, we use standard photo lenses, e.g. a 50 mm f/2.0 Zeiss lens. The sky is imaged via this lens onto the input window of the image intensifier.
  • Lens heater - from Kendrick, operated on 12 V.
  • Image intensifier - we obtained reasonably priced 2nd Generation MCP intensifiers with Quarz input window from DEP. They operate on 3 V.
  • Single board video camera - from Conrad electronics, operating on 12 V. They record the output window of the intensifier. An additional printed circuit board is used as a fixture for the cabling. It also has a 12 V to 3 V power regulator which is needed for the intensifier.
  • A connector - We used a pigtail in a previous camera and found out that this makes handling very complicated. A connector at the camera is a must! 4 wires go through it: +12 V and ground from the power supply and the video output signal and shield from the camera to the video recorder or PC.