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Temperature Compensating Focuser Color Filter Wheel Filters Lenses, Optics Quality Control

IFW - Intelligent Filter Wheel

Above: Optec IFW Filter Wheel System showing Filter Selector Housing, Hand Control,
Filter Wheel with Filters, optional spare Filter Wheel (172,307 bytes)

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.

Above: IFW Filter Selector and Hand Control shown mounted on Meade 16" LX200 SCT axial port.
Shown with optional Optec TCF-S focuser attached (217,613 bytes)

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.

Above: Optec IFW Filter Wheel with Filters (169,457 bytes)

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. Click on the link below to view an MPEG showing how easy changing filter wheels can be.

IFW Filter Carousel Change.mpg automated presentation showing how easy it is t change the Filter Wheel Magazine. This is an "mpg" MPEG movie clip, and so your Web Browser must be suitably enabled with a player plug-in such as Apple QuickTime, or WIndows Media Player. Clip size is 295,958 bytes.

So, what does it the IFW filter selector system cost?  It depends on your configuration. MAXfilter 2" owners who bough their system from us can immediately upgrade for about $900. Please contact Company Seven for details.

Optec 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 CCD cameras can communicate directly with the IFW filter selector with Optec's IFW Controller program. The IFW Controller software requires a serial port for PC mode communication. This Windows program is written in Visual Basic and can be downloaded from our ftp site. Order stock no. 17695 (PC serial port converter) and a reverse cable to use the IFW filter selector in PC mode.

    Left: Optec IFW Controller Software Panel for Windows PC and Serial Port.
    Note Digital Readout. (217,613 bytes)

Click here to download the IFW Controller software package with source code and the IFW Technical Manual in PDF format:

IFW Controller, version 1.0 
[self-extracting .exe - about 6.7Mb]

    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.



Typical IFW Filter Selector System configuration:

17455 Meade Telescope Mount for 3" Rear-Cell Thread, Meade 10"/12" LX-200. $55.00
17350 IFW, Intelligent Filter Wheel,  Automatic 2" Filter Selector System. $695.00
17355 5-position Filter Wheel. $195.00
17461 TCF Mounting Ring for TCF Temperature Compensating Focuser. $50.00
17471 12-ft. Control Cable,  Hand Control to IFW. $35.00
17477 12-ft. SBIG Camera Control Cable, ST-7/8/9 controller to Hand Control. $25.00
17445 RGB-IR Tri-Color Imaging Filter Set with IR-Blocking. $295.00
17241 Luminance filter with IR-Blocking, parfocal with RGB-IR set above. $95.00
TOTAL Package Price, IFW setup for LRGB-IR imaging
  using 10"/12" Meade LX-200 and SBIG ST-7,8, or 9 camera:

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