Collimate your telescope in-focus with your CCD camera!  

Unlike collimation procedures of the past, CCD Inspector provides a revolutionary new way to collimate a compound-optics telescope.

Collimation makes a huge difference in the quality of image and resolution that can be achieved. With CCDInspector, a collimation error of 10 arc-seconds can produce as much as 1 arc-seconds increase in FWHM of a star. This means that a good 3.0 arc-second FWHM image can become a 2.0 arc-second image with proper collimation! 

By measuring the exact displacement of the optical center from the physical center of the imaging configuration, CCDInspector is capable of detecting the smallest collimation errors with your CCD still attached to the telescope, and with telescope well focused! This is the best possible way to collimate, since:

  • The optical train is not disturbed by removing an eyepiece and replacing the camera after collimation
  • Focus position will need only minor adjustments to get to best focus after collimation is completed
  • What's more, the collimation can occur right on, or very near-by to the field you will be imaging. This may be the best way to collimate a telescopes with significant mirror flop
  • Since collimation is done on hundreds of stars, there's no need to re-center anything after adjusting collimation: just take the next image, and keep adjusting.

Real-time analysis of focus, seeing and tracking quality.

CCDInspector can performs the following functions:

1. Real-time focusing using Full-Width-at-Half-Maximum (FWHM), Peak Value, Half-Flux Diameter (HFD), and other display statistics
2. Seeing conditions estimation by measuring FWHM or HFD of a star
3. Focus quality monitoring during a long exposure by measuring the quality of the star image on the autoguider chip
4. Fast and easy way to evaluate the quality of a long exposure containing multiple stars and extended objects
5. Measure FWHM or a number of other statistics of a specific star in the image by selecting it.

Analyze your exposures for image quality

CCD Inspector employs a proprietary algorithm for star filtering and extraction. For each image, it will extract up to a few thousand stars from the entire image, ignoring hot pixels and other non-stellar structures. As part of the analysis, CCD Inspector will throw out stars that are bloomed or saturated, and any stars with too low a signal-to-noise ratio that may yield an inaccurate measurement. It will then pick the median FWHM value, and the median Aspect Ratio value of all the stars remaining in the list. These will be the values displayed next to the image name.

By its nature, the FWHM and Aspect Ratio displayed represent an "average" value for the image. There will be some stars with higher and some with lower FWHM in the image. The same applies to aspect ratio value.  The values chosen are meant to quantify the image for a meaningful comparison between similar images, such as multiple sub-frames of the same field of view.

CCDInspector will measure and display the following attributes of each exposure:

  • FWHM

  • Aspect Ratio

  • Background Brightness

  • Signal to Noise Ratio

  • Altitude of the image

  • Curvature amount

  • Collimation error

  • Tilt in X

  • Tilt in Y

  • Date and time of the image

  • Image Scale

  • Focal Length

  • Pixel Size

  • Camera Gain

  • Total stars used in analysis

Graph and plot your results to assist in future imaging sessions.

CCDInspector's Charts feature is a powerful analytical tool that allows direct comparison of various measured values from multiple images. Any of the numeric values can be used in a chart, whether computed or derived from the image.

Some example uses of the charting feature include:

  • Aspect Ratio plotted against Altitude can give an indication of how the mount tracks depending on position in the sky:
  • Collimation plotted against altitude or time can give an indication of mirror flop in the system

  • X or Y tilt over time can be an indicator of focuser sag, flexure, or mirror flop

  • Background brightness over time can indicate the time of the night when the sky is darkest

  • Changing curvature over time also implies changing collimation due to flexure or mirror flop

Camera Extrapolation Tool

Easily find out if a field flattener is needed with that larger sensor, or whether a larger secondary will be needed due to severe vignetting. Predict just how well that new camera will work with the current optics. Select from a large list of possible DSLR and CCD cameras and chips.

Aspect Ratio Map Tool

Aspect ratio map shows how stars shapes vary across the field of view, for example due to coma or to optical tilt. Easily see and diagnose tilt or coma problems.

Flat Frame Analysis

Flat Frame Analysis tool helps measure the degree of vignetting from a star field image or a flat frame. See the shape of vignetting in clearly marked contour lines, with % light fall-off shown.

CCDIS Registration Plug-in for CCDStack

This plug-in works in conjunction with CCDStack to provide a fast and extremely precise image registration using CCDInspector advanced star detection algorithm. CCDIS works seamlessly with CCDStack 1.3.2 and later, and registers images completely automatically. CCDIS handles rotation, differences in scale, image flip, and large linear shift with ease. CCDIS is fast on a single CPU, but will take full advantage of the modern multi-core CPUs for even faster performance. Here is a video demonstrating its performance on a single core machine.

Limit Alerts

Set limits on image parameters, such as FWHM, aspect ratio, background, etc. All images exceeding the limits will be flagged on the display for easy identification.



Camera Control Software:

CCDSoft version 5.00.153
MaxImDL/CCD version 4.10

Operating System

Windows 7
Windows Vista
Windows XP

Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0