Frequently Asked Questions

Our FAQs are organised into four sections for ease of navigation: General Queries, Maintenance & Repair, Software and Using Your Camera. Don’t forget there is a mine of information in the user manual supplied with the camera, so in the first instance, please check either the printed copy or the PDF recorded on the CDROM.

Have a question that isn’t answered here? Email support@atik-cameras.com with your query, and we’ll do our best to help.

What adapter do I need for…?

The best place to find out about any adapters you might need is from your Atik dealer, who you can find on our where to buy page. There are such a huge range of compatible products available that we're not always able to keep up with specifications of other manufacturers.

How do I replace my lost Users Manual?

All of our User Manuals and guides are available in PDF format as part of our core software installer available on our Downloads page. Alternatively, they are also available from the Products page of each individual camera.

I’ve lost the USB cable supplied with GP camera; can I use a generic cable?

The GP camera requires a high quality cable of less than 1.2m. If in doubt, please contact your Atik dealer who will be able to advise you on this. The length can be extended by using a USB hub or active extender, if required.

Which sensor grades are used on your cameras?

The Sony sensors (with the exception of engineering samples) are not graded, so all the Sony sensors we use are the highest and only grade commercially available.  The sensor in the Atik 4000 comes in a single commercial grade and is specified as having no column defects. The KAI11002 used in the Atik 11000 comes in grade I and II types.  We fit a grade II sensor as standard as we find the premium price placed on the grade I sensor is not justified when the camera is to be used for astroimaging. In short, this is because Kodak's grading system uses a test where the sensors are run at a high frame rate and high temperature. As our cameras are cooled, these tests become an unreliable indicator of astroimaging performance. We've performed our own tests found no benefit in image quality from using the expensive grade I sensors over the grade II. This means we can provide you with a premium sensor at the best possible price.

How do I contact technical support?

Please send an e-mail to support@atik-cameras.com. We aim to answer all emails within 2 working days.

Where can I share images I have taken with my Atik Camera?

Lots of Forums and Magazines publish astronomical pictures. The Atik Camera forums, UKAI and Stargazers Lounge are good places to start. Our 2015 Competition is also open to submissions, all of which are displayed in our gallery and across our website. We also select a small number of images to feature on our Facebook and Google+ pages and you can upload your images (or links to them) on Twitter - if you do, be sure mention us @AtikCameras and we'll be sure to retweet you!  

I would like to get into astro imaging but am unsure where to start?

Astronomical Imaging can be both massively rewarding and rather frustrating. Talking to like minded astronomers will help emphasise the former! The Atik forum can be useful (you don’t need to have an Atik camera to join) and UKAI is also well recommended. There are many hundreds of astronomy societies that meet throughout the world so it's worthwhile finding your local one. We're also busy working on a number of guides aimed at helping beginners, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don't miss them!

Which filters work with your filter wheel?

The following are known to work fine although this is not a comprehensive list:
  • Baader 1.25”, 36mm, 2” and 50mm
  • Astronomics
  • Astrodon

Will Atik Cameras support USB3?

All of our cameras are compatible with the USB3 specification. However, they transfer data at USB2.0 speeds. Due to the long exposures used when imaging deep sky objects, data transfer speeds are less important than with other kinds of imaging.

What is the back focus of my camera?

You can find the back focus distance for your camera either in the technical specifications on the Product pages or the accompanying mechanical drawings. They will also have been included in your Getting Started guide.  

What is the optical window made of?

The optical window is made from high quality BK7 crown glass with anti-reflective coating. No specific filtering is employed in the optical path.

How long will it take to repair my camera?

Naturally, this depends on the nature of the repair. Provided we have all the necessary parts in stock, we aim to have all repairs completed within 10 working days. However, if we need to order parts in, we'll advise you of how much longer this will take on a case-by-case basis.

My optical window is scratched/marked – where can I get a new one?

Please contact our support team on support@atik-cameras.com

What product do you recommend to clean the external glass on my optical window?

If you see donut shaped shadows on your flat field images you will likely have small specks of dust somewhere in your optical train. If you rotate the camera and the donut remains in the same position, it’s likely the dust is on the front optical window of the camera. First try cleaning with an air duster or a soft optical brush. More stubborn dust or marks can be removed with a lens pen or cleaning solution such as Baader Planetarium's Optical Wonder Fluid - this is what we use and strongly recommend, just be careful not to scratch the surface of the window.

I think that there is some dirt on my CCD sensor, can I clean it myself?

Dust on the surface typically shows itself as discrete dark spots on a flat field image. They will normally be removed during processing by using a flat field frame correction. If you wish to have the CCD cleaned please contact our support team on support@atik-cameras.com.

How do I revive my old desiccant tablets?

When the CCD of a camera is cooled, any moisture in the CCD chamber will condense on the CCD as moisture droplets or frost. To avoid this, the CCD chambers are sealed and then air dried and this will last years with normal use. Some Atik camera models feature desiccant tablets that can be changed when they become exhausted, though the method varies slightly between cameras. Our 4-Series cameras along with a selection of other models feature a desiccant port on the outside of the CCD which allows you to easily access the desiccant tablets. It should be easy to determine visually whether or not this applies to your camera. The CCD chambers of the Atik One models are filled with high purity Argon which negates the need for desiccant tablets. Some of our other models feature internal desiccant ports which can be accessed by opening the camera. If you are not entirely confident about how to do this without causing any damage, we recommend you contact support@atik-cameras.com for advice before trying. Where applicable, we provide a round plastic tool which can be placed around the screwdriver to avoid burring the slot. When you remove the cap, an o-ring and one or more desiccant tablets will be found inside. First, leave the camera with the cap and desiccant removed somewhere dry for a couple of days. To then regenerate the desiccant tablets, place them on a baking tray in an oven at 200 degrees for 60-90 minutes. Warning! The tablets will get very hot. After they are cool enough to handle, replace in the camera and replace the o-ring and the cap. Wait 24 hours before cooling the camera once again.  

My 16IC or original filter wheel won’t work with my new laptop, what can I do?

We've taken the drivers for the 16IC and the original filter wheels out of the core software installer, but they're still available on our downloads page. Download the USB1/USB2 Drivers file, and install the USB 1 drivers - this should solve the problem.

Do you supply drivers for software X?

Drivers for Maxim DL, AstroArt and ASCOM can be found as part of our core software package available on our Downloads page and our installation CDs. For support with other software including Nebulosity and Prism, please contact the software developer directly.

Are Atik cameras compatible with Matlab?

While Matlab is not officially supported, a number of customers have had success by using our SDK which is free to download from the Downloads page.

Can Atik Cameras be controlled with Micromanager?

A Micromanager adaptor is under development. Please contact support@atik-cameras.com with any specific questions.

Can Atik Cameras be controlled with ImageJ?

Yes, an ImageJ plugin is available to control all Atik Cameras, just check the appropriate box when installing the core software package. Don’t worry if you have already installed Capture without the plugin, it can simply be re-installed from the CDROM or from our Downloads page.

Do you support LabView?

Officially we do not support LabView. We appreciate that this is particularly important to some customers so we can supply a range of vi files which will permit control and image acquisition in a LabView environment. We can supply these through support@atik-cameras.com

What software can I use with Atik Cameras?

We provide our own Capture software as well as plugins for Maxim, Astro Art and CCD Soft. In addition, Prism, PHD and K3CCDTools can support Atik Cameras - please check the software developer's website to find which models are supported.

Do you support OSX, Android, Linux, DOS?

Atik only maintain the software and drivers that we provide for Windows. Linux and MacOS are supported by 3rd part developers including TheSkyX by Software BisqueNebulosity by Stark Labs and Cloud Makers. Please check their specifications for compatibility. We do have experience of helping OEM customers develop for other platforms.

How do I download Dawn and other optional software?

All of our software is available from our Downloads page. During installation, a dialogue box will open allowing several software options to be downloaded at the same time.

My camera is no longer being recognised by my computer, what can I do?

We recommend that you switch off both the camera and computer, wait ten seconds, and switch on again. With no other peripherals attached or software running, plug in the USB cable and power connector. The presence of the camera can be checked in Device Manager. All Atik cameras except the GP will be listed under USB devices in Device Manager. The GP will have its own class under Atik Cameras and the EFW2 will be listed under HID devices.

I am seeing occasional horizontal lines in my image, what is causing these?

If you see the occasional horizontal line(s) on your images and the line changes positions in subsequent images, it's indicative that the USB transfer of the image to the computer is being interrupted. This is most commonly due to other programs running on the PC. Try closing all other programs so you are only running Artemis Capture, then add back one program at a time until the program causing the problem becomes apparent. It's also worth checking that an anti-virus scheduled scan isn't taking place as these can also interrupt the USB transfer of the image.

Can I take one-shot colour (OSC) images when binning pixels?

Yes, you can.  However, the colour information will be lost and the image will be monochrome.

My sensor has a vertical bright line! What is causing this?

These are typically charge traps and add a few ADU counts to the pixel values of a column.  They are caused by small defects in the CCD either during manufacture or by comic ray strikes during the lifetime of the camera.  The Kodak sensors are more prone to these than the Sony sensors but neither type is completely immune.  They can be fixed during processing by using dark frames or dithering and sigma combine during stacking.
Please note that these are not the same as a column defect. A column defect is a column with pixel values that are always saturated i.e. 65000 ADU counts. Unfortunately these can not be corrected by dark frames.  If your camera develops a column defect please send an uncalibrated dark frame to our support team on support@atik-cameras.com

How much cooling should I use?

Cooling the CCD will decrease the the number of hot pixels and the thermal signal generally, but the exact amount of cooling will depend on your own requirements.  If you are using standard dark frames, these should be taken at the same temperature as the the imaging frames.  This means it's worth imaging at 5 to 10 degrees above the minimum the camera can achieve to ensure you can get corresponding calibration frames when imaging across a number of nights.  However, if you are using dithering or defect mapping to calibrate your images it better to set the camera to maximum cooling by entering a set point below which the camera can achieve.  This will give you the best quality of data.

Why are the colours strange when I de-Bayer an image?

To de-Bayer an image correctly, the software needs to know which Bayer matrix the camera is using and the colour of the first pixel. This information is automatically generated within Atik software (Capture, ArtemisRGB and Dawn). There is, however, no accepted way to pass this information to 3rd party software, so manual entry of the matrix type and offset are required. The Matrix type is RGB (sometimes called RGGB or RGBG) and the offsets in x and y have to be found by deduction. Each value will either be 0 or 1. Two of the four possibilities will produce a strange magenta image while the other incorrect option will have red and blue swapped. Once found, the correct settings should always work with that software - so make a note! It's worth noting that colour cameras work best with an IR blocking filter. This will give images with stronger colour and more saturation.

Why is the image from my colour camera monochrome (black & white)?

Colour cameras have individual red, green or blue filters over each pixel in a pattern called a Bayer matrix. This allows software to generate a colour image using a process known as ‘de-Bayering’. This process only works when the image is taken with a cameras native resolution (1x1 binning). Any higher binning will combine pixels of different colours which destroys the colour information and leaves you with a monochrome image.

My images are coming out completely black, what could be the cause?

Ironically, it's likely that the camera is receiving too much light.  If the sensor is saturated while imaging during the day or while pointed at the moon the software may be displaying the image as all black.  You can check the pixel values to see if they really are all zero (actually black) or 65000 which will confirm you have a saturated image. If you're powering the camera from a battery pack, it may be that there isn't enough power for the camera to function fully. This can lead to the appearance that the camera is functioning correctly, but means it's unable to take images. Try recharging the battery pack, or using the camera with a mains power supply to rule this out.

How do I connect my camera to telescope X?

All of our cameras except the Atik 11000 feature standard T threads (M42x0.75) and 1.23 or 2 inch draw tubes. Your telescope vendor will be able to suggest a suitable adaptor should the telescope not come equipped with these as supplied. We recommend that the T thread coupling method is used in preference to the draw tube as it’s less likely to lead to incorrect tilt or collimation. The M54x1 thread used in the OAG, EFW2(50mm) and Atik 11000 is a standard used by many astroimagers and your telescope vendor should be able to suggest suitable adaptors. Alternatively, Precision Parts has experience of joining many different imaging trains together.

What power supply specification do you recommend?

The camera requires a well regulated 12V supply capable of providing at least 2.5A. When choosing a supply, make sure it's suitable to the environment in which it will be used. For example, a power supply suitable for use in an indoor observatory may not be suitable for outdoor field use. The connector is a standard 2.1mm jack plug with centre positive. If a battery is used, please ensure that the lead is fused at 2.5A or less and the correct polarity observed.

What is the maximum voltage that can be used to power the cameras?

The nominal supply voltage required is 12Vdc with an absolute maximum of 13.8V