This page presents a CCD controler able to read-out different kind of CCDs called CHUNGARA. This controler aims to be affordable, compact and well performing.
(This page has been written in 2002)


Why Chungara ?
The Chungara lake is located at 4200m of elevation, in the Chilian Altiplano, closeby to the Bolivian border. This is the place where we first draw in a piece of paper the architecture of this CCD controller, so we call it "Chungara" as a memory of this event.

The Chungara lake in front of the Parinacota volcano. A beautifull place... photo: F.Colas

The system architecture

This chart shows the Chungara CCD controller architecture.

The idea behind this camera to be able to readout all kind of CCD, as the following 7 CCDs for instance :

Millions of pixels
Size (HxV) pixels
768 x 512
1500 x 1024
2000 x 2000
2000 x 2000
2000 x 3000
4000 x 4000
5000 x 4500


The main box

This box contains the main Chungara's controler board, the cables that are tied to it are : the ethernet cable, the power supply cable, the clock/bias cable and the two video cables. This box shall remain closeby to the CCD head (max 50cm). The next image shows the top view of the opened controler box, the ethernet board is located on top of the main board (top-left). The analog clock and bias lines are driven to the head with a SCSI like cable.

Main box(160x110x50) top view, opened, as scale the white RJ45 connector connected to the box.

how the cables reach the head : clock-bias cable, peltier power cable and the two video cables.


Main box upside-down showing components for clock/biases generation and video chain, this board is a 4 layer board with SMD parts.

The power supply

The power supply is intended to supply the main controler box and the CCD heads with :

This power supply uses commercial parts for the voltage supplies (24V, +15V ...). The shutter controlled and the power supply controlled board are custom made (picture 1 and picture 2).

The cooling of the CCD

CCD marconi47-10 mounted on top a three stage peltier element cooler. The cold finger and the guiding CCD are also visible. The max delta Temperature achievable form ambient temperature with power set to 60% is 45 Celcius degres. The CCD chamber can be completely air evacuated to avoid moisture to freeze directly on the CCD surface.

The CCD heads boards

The head board are unique to a CCD, but the clocks/biases cable interface is common to all CCDs.

The controler is able to drive the following CCDs

Main CCDs :


2048x2048, 14um pixel, Backside thinned, MPP CCD

Loral 2x2K CCD head board.


2048x2048, 14um pixel, Frontside, MPP CCD

TH7899M CCD head board.



1024x1024, 13um pixel, Backside thinned, MPP CCD

Marconi47-10 head board.

Some tests have been achieved using this setup, see here and concerning sky tests, have a look here.

Readout noise achieved with this CCD is around 7.5e- at 75Kpx/sec, the whole CCD is read in 14sec. The whole guiding CCD (360x240 10 um pixels) is read in 0.3sec

Marconi47-10 head board, with the guiding TC255P CCD, located a 17mm from the main CCD optical axis.


Kodak KAF0400/1600ME/3200ME (any kind)

Head PCB has been done and this device is working successfuly !


TK1024 or Site1024

1024x1024, 24um pixel, Backside thinned, MPP CCD

Tk1024 CCD head board, upside down, the common interface is the 34 pin black connector.


4096x4096, 9um pixel, Kodak CCD, this device has 16 millions pixels and can be read out within 58sec. The device has 36x36 mm sensitive surface !!

The board is a 100x100mm 4 layer PCB. The guiding CCDs (TC237 or TC255) slots can be seen.

E2V 42-40

2048x2048, 13um pixel, high performance low noise backside illuminated CCD, E2V (marconi CCD), this device has 4 millions pixels. The sensitive area is 26.6 x 26.6 mm.

The board is a 100x100mm 4 layer PCB. The guiding CCDs (TC237 or TC255) slots can be seen.

KAF 22000CE

4080x5440, 9um pixel, RGB color array, this device has 22 millions pixels.The device has 50 x 38.8 mm sensitive surface... this is really huge !

The board is a 100x100mm 4 layer PCB. The guiding CCDs (TC237 or TC255) slots can be seen.

KAF 6303E

3072 x 2048 pixels, 9x9µm : this 27.6 x 18.5 mm device

This cameras CANNOT be manufactured by mecastronic as stated in this page, no contract has been set, this company is just violating copyrights and is unable to produce them ! So do not buy anything from them. No company is going to manufacture them, this product is discontinued for ever and not available for sale.

All right reserved by Cyril CAVADORE, Oct 2008, Return to my home page