The Optec Intelligent Filter Wheel brings to astronomy a new level of sophisticated equipment for the benefit of the astro-imager. Astro-imaging in this age of astronomy requires the use of many color filters and the management of these filters during an observational session can sometimes be confusing. The use of the wrong filter could easily spoil an otherwise successful imaging run.
The Optec IFW has the ability to determine the identification (ID) of a particular wheel and apply that wheel ID to a preprogrammed set of filters. The names, not just position numbers of these filters, are displayed on the eight character display and are also available to the camera operating software via an RS-232 interface using a simple command structure. Up to 5 different filter wheels can have separate IDs and each wheel can have up to 5 filters for a total of 25 identifiable filters.
The IFW filter wheel can easily be removed from the IFW system without tools or removal from the telescope. A hinged door is secured by a single captive thumbscrew. Once opened, the wheel can be extracted and another inserted in its place. The entire process takes only a few seconds. Hitting the HOME switch on the hand control or invoking the HOME function in the operating program will set the wheel to position one and bring up the available filters for that wheel.
The IFW can be controlled by either the switches on the hand control, an SBIG camera controller, or by an external computer via an RS-232 interface. The RS-232 operating protocol is a set of simple ASCII commands that any programmer can easily implement. While any software capable of controlling the SBIG CFW-8 filter wheel can immediately control the IFW, we believe developers will incorporate the IFW serial operating protocol since it offers full feedback including filter names. Optec’s IFW control software can be used for the filter description programming and also for filter selection and control.
Swapping filter wheels takes only seconds and does NOT require removing the camera from the telescope.
So, what does it the IFW filter selector system cost? It depends on your configuration. MAXfilter 2" owners can immediately upgrade for about $900. Call for details.
TCF-S users will be pleased to learn how easily the filter wheel fits into their system. SBIG camera owners will find the full CFW-8 compatibility makes the IFW easy to integrate into their observing programs without the need to learn new software. Users of other cameras can communicate directly with the IFW filter selector with Optec's IFW Controller program. This Windows program is written in Visual Basic and can be downloaded from our ftp site. IFW Controller requires a serial port for PC mode communication. Order stock no. 17695 (PC serial port converter) and a reverse cable to use the IFW filter selector in PC mode.
The IFW Filter Selector can currently be used in any of these three modes:
- SBIG CFW8 compatible mode using an SBIG camera/controller. SBIG control cable is required.
- Parallel port mode with MaxIm DL/CCD version 2 or above. Optec #17495, PC Parallel Port Converter, and a reverse cable are required.
- Serial port mode with IFW Controller software or MaxIm DL/CCD version 3 or above. Optec #17695, PC Serial Port Converter, and a reverse cable are required.