Water Cooled CCD


Most ccd hacks today are based around modding webcams. Back in 2000, amateur astronomer ‘astroturtle’ built his own water cooled CCD camera. It was based on the long discontinued Texas Instruments TC245 CCD chip. Water cooling enhanced by a peltier junction is neccesary just to keep the chip cool enough during operation. The result? 378×242 pixels and a 2 second refresh rate.

39 thoughts on “Water Cooled CCD

    1. To remove the cooling fan from the CCD sensor hence improve its cooling and minimize vibrations. The lower the temp of the chip the lower the noise levels in your images. Great work on this one!

  1. Why?
    The colder the CCD the less noise it will pickup.
    Astronomy geeks cool CCDs so they can take very long exposures of very faint objects. If you don’t cool it then you will go random noise that shows up as random pixels during your long exposures.

  2. Why not just use a cheep digital camera wally world has some 6megapixel (with a crap lens for a 7mpx camera) for 70 bucks.
    4 megapixels (same lens but doesn’t effect pic at 4mpx)for 50 bucks.

    with that you could really get a high deff pic :p

    or go all out and use an SLR chip :)

  3. so.. why doesn’t anyone mod a Nikon D200 or something..
    what about a n2-cooled pro-camera with 10Mpix and minutes of exposure?
    i guess that there will be some noise with an unmodded nikon *, but if it’s really cooled, there should be less noise. just a thought.

  4. You can use a digital SLR you just need an adapter. IIRC they are called T-adapters and can be bought quite a few places for a bit of change. Never used one myself but they are supposed to work well.

    The problem of course is that an unmodified digital camera isn’t really optimized for this kind of photography. Long-exposure noise remains a weakness in many DSLRs. Though CCDs have improved so much in the past few years that they might still offer better performance.

    Also, if you are willing to do some post-processing much of the noise can be removed using darkfield techniques or other similar tricks.

  5. Generally; the cooler the sensor the lower the darkcurrent and other dark blemishes (hot columns, hot spots, etc..), which ultimately means a lower level of light is detectable.
    “random noise” (shot noise) can be more of an electronics issue during/with the readout of the CCD, though clock induced charge can also problematic.

    EM tech at @-100c @90fps is the way forward :)

  6. yea well what can i say mmmmmmmmm load of crap just about fits the bill whats wrong with a telescope pmsl stoned you,r so right there all idiots on here NEXT HACK PLZ if you can call this a hack

  7. mmmmmmm what can i say that i dont say abbt evry hack there lods of crap i hav a ting fro pepl like stoned cuz he cant sple nethr can i an im jus a lonly guy what can i say i don get n e form teh wief pmsl love steve

  8. would it be better to use multiple reference frames of different colors/brightness/bleed patterns sorted at different temperatures? i always thought there was a correlation between the colors observed and the sig/noise ratio of each pixel.

    like if you take a red picture, then you’d get a slighlty different noise pattern than a black one.

    just like this link but with color references instead of black reference frame:
    [ http://www.aim-dtp.net/aim/techniques/dark_current_noise/index.htm ]

  9. again, i stress the fact that i have no agenda to put down hackaday, but i am just dying to ask:

    why? i see no point in going through all that trouble just to get a lousy not-even-vga resolution. i mean, if you use a high-res ccd at room temperature and scale the picture down to 378×242, wouldn’t it look ||the same|| ?

    it would certainly cost more after buying all the electronics components required to do the hack described here than to simply use a better ccd sensor.

    perhaps i just have kiss on the brain??

  10. #18- for the reason that some posters have mentioned. Some people might get a crazy idea to do some long exposure, low light photography and this shows how fluid cooling can be done. The TC245 CCD chip appears to blow chunks but this project isn’t really about the CCD.

  11. disclaimer to steve: i am not the real steve. just givin ya the heads up.

    i agree with mike. lets everyone post under the name “steve”. if nothing else it will just be a hilarious thing to do. that is all.

  12. I’m steve the troll. Please feed me more everyone because your hatred makes me feel good about myself. You see I’m starved for attention in real life so I have to gain it through your scorn. It may be pathetic, but it is the only way I feel important for a brief moment.

    So please keep feeding your local troll.

  13. I’m steve the troll. Please feed me more everyone because your hatred makes me feel good about myself. You see I’m starved for attention in real life so I have to gain it through your scorn. It may be pathetic, but it is the only way I feel important for a brief moment.

    So please keep feeding your local troll.

  14. I’ve heard that it’s a great way of getting smooth images (and the photos of various deep-sky objects he has are great), but I dunno if it’s really worth the work on such a low-res sensor. Neat project though (if not a hack per se).

  15. I know that with film photography you have to take 3 different shots with 3 different filters. maybe the same thing can be applied here. also, modern commercial ccd telescope adaptors somtimes have a built in peltier cooler, so this is definitly useful.

  16. Well, im guessing that the code got changed, seeing as how the last 4 comments use drastically different grammar, punctuation, and spelling, yet are all “steve.” Will I be steve, too? I wonder…

    Plus, when you go to send in a comment, couldn’t you just track who sends the comment in, and then forward them all the “Make _________ bigger!” spam you get? I mean, the email address is already used for one thing…

  17. I would like to apologize to all for my behaviour, I know I haven’t been easy, it’s just … well, I just found out I was gay, and it came as a shock to me, even though I shouldn’t have been too surprised. I need you guys, please don’t be mean to me, you’ll make me cry again. I’ll soon post a hack myself about how to make your own blouse in no time, you just need a needle and a little of that happy hands.

  18. Just want to say, y’all are much better at this than I. If anybody here is particularly gifted with the software edge of digital photography, eg, pixelmapping, etc, could you please point me at some good references? I am working on a project that requires some expertise in it and unfortunately I am not posessed of that knowledge. Thanks in advance.

  19. i didn’t get to mention that i had a breakthrough in therapy today, it seems that i am frustrated that i am not smart enough nor do i have enough girth or length to make a hack of my own, and to make myself feel better i make everyone else sad.

    firefox crashed and my sessionsaver didn’t save to whole text i wrote, and after i calmed down and wiped my eyes i retyped everything, please don’t tell mother i was a bad boy, she’ll lock me in the cellar again with my grandmothers shitzu. i’m not emotionally strong enough to fight off its advances anymore, i think i’ll just let the dog have its way.

    btw, needs more LED-zorz

  20. this is why i use film. my photo teacher had some medium format film that was at iso-40 or something insanely low. it made coolest pics when you left it or a few hours. i have a pic i took on a hill on a very clear night and right above me way an air-traffic route (there is a gov’t lab near my house, all planes follow a rigid path) so all the stars left 90 degree arcs and there was several semi-squiggly lines going throught a half-inch line down the middle. the planes were in the same general path, but each had some variance to it.

    its an 8×10 on my wall right now.

  21. When the cookbook CCD project first came out, it was a revolution in astrophotography. You literally couldn’t buy a digital camera for less than $2500 at the time. You could build this one for $500 or less.

    Several people have asked, why not a modern sensor? Usually, although not always, the modern sensors use small pixel sizes, often under 8um in size, that simply don’t collect enough photons to knock the signal-to-noise ratio down. (Noise in this case follows the square root of the signal).

    Secondly, this CCD is monochrome–no color filters on the pixels. It’s equivalent to a color sensor about three times as big. You can still take color images if you want, just expose three times through three different filters.

    This camera also cools the CCD down to 30 degrees celsius below ambient, which nearly completely removes all the dark current which causes a lot of noise on most modern camera’s long exposures. This project shows you how to budget for thermal heat production and what temperature you can expect at the CCD.

    There is a similar project with a better sensor called the Genesis CCD although it too is a little dated. Most people now buy their CCD cameras.

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