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APM Professional Telescopes

APM Professional Telescopes

1m F/8 Ritchey Chrétien with dual Nasmyth Foci, Cape Town (South Africa)

Another large telescope for the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). An 1m F/8 Alt-Az mounted Ritchey Chrétien for robotic use. It has dual Nasmyth Foci. The main telescopes used for research are located at the SAAO observing station (32°22.795’S 20°48,657’E) near Sutherland in the Northern Cape, a 4-hour drive from Cape Town.

ASA Telescopes

ASA600 with DDM200

ASA600 OTA is the perfect fit for the ASA direct drive mounts with absolute encoders. As all ASA telescopes the ASA600 is equipped with quartz glass optics from ASA.


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Diffraction Limited Cameras

SBIG Aluma AC4040

SBIGCustom 600x600Our most popular camera, the SBIG Aluma AC4040 is a large format Scientific CMOS camera, featuring a 16.8 megapixel sensor with 9 micron pixels.  The camera is compatible with the StarChaser SC-4 Guider and optional AO-X Adaptive Optics accessories.

The Aluma AC4040 is available in Front Illuminated (FSI) and ultra-sensitive Back-Illuminated (BSI) versions.  BSI versions are offered with VIS-NIR and UV-VIS optical coating options.

FSI cameras are currently available with Class 1 or Class 2 sensors.  Class 2 sensors have been individually selected to meet SBIG’s requirements for long exposure operation.

BSI models are offered with Class 1 sensors.  Please note that BSI cameras are a special order item.  These are built-to-order and have longer lead times.

The SBIG Aluma AC Series represents the state-of-the-art in Advanced Scientific CMOS cameras for astronomical imaging systems. The camera’s advanced design permits high speed download via the USB 3.0 connection to the control computer. The Aluma AC4040 uses the Gpixel GSENSE4040 CMOS sensor with 16.8 million pixels at 9 microns. The sensor measures almost 37mm square. The Aluma AC series has powerful two stage cooling and supports optional water cooling. Aluma AC cameras can be operated directly from a 12VDC 8A power supply.

Four variants are available:

  1. FSI Class 1
  2. FSI Class 2
  3. BSI UV-VIS Class 1
  4. BSI VIS-NIR Class 1

 Power Cable

  1. US
  2. European
  3. Australia


Design features include:

High Quantum Efficiency

Our previous flagship CCD camera, the STX-16803, had very good peak quantum efficiency at 60%. The new Aluma AC4040 improves on this significantly.

The new Aluma AC4040 standard Front-Side Illuminated (FSI) model has a peak Quantum Efficiency (QE) of 74%, and features a much broader peak that is almost flat through the visible spectrum – from 450 nm through to over 900 nm.  This means the overall sensitivity of the Aluma AC4040 is much higher than its CCD predecessor.

The FSI camera is available with an economical Class 2 sensor, or a premium Class 1 sensor with fewer pixel defects.

We recommend the FSI Class 1 camera for most applications, as it has the best performance tradeoff in most situations.  FSI cameras have excellent sensitivity, and have much lower dark current and higher well depth compared to BSI cameras.  In most situations this provides the best tradeoff for signal, noise, and dynamic range.


Aluma AC4040 Quantum Efficiency

BSI Version

The Aluma AC4040BSI is a special-order version, featuring a Back-Side Illuminated (BSI) sensor.  The BSI sensor has an incredible peak QE of 95%, and more importantly features features significant UV sensitivity beyond 250 nm.  In order to achieve this performance, the compromise is much higher dark current and lower full-well capacity than the standard FSI sensor.  The BSI version is therefore best suited to applications where UV sensitivity is required, or for applications such as Space Situational Awareness that require rapid acquisition of faint targets.  For most other applications we recommend the FSI version as it provides the best overall compromise between sensitivity, noise, and dynamic range.

The  chamber window for the Aluma AC4040BSI can be ordered with either the standard VIS-NIR coatings, or with optional UV-VIS coatings for optimal UV sensitivity.

Please note that the BSI camera is a special order item.  They are built-to-order, and as such have longer lead times.  The standard camera includes a Class 1 sensor.  Class 0 sensors are also available; please call for pricing.


The Aluma AC4040 scientific CMOS camera features StackPro™, a revolutionary feature that performs image stacking inside the camera.

CMOS sensors often have more limited well depth and bit depth than their CCD predecessors.  At the same time, the modern CMOS sensors have much lower read noise than the equivalent CCD.  This low read noise can be used to advantage, by stacking many shorter exposures to achieve the same final result.  This does however result in a lot of extra disk usage and post-processing.

StackPro™ performs the stacking automatically, inside the camera.  It automatically subdivides your exposure into up to 16 individual subexposures, and stacks them inside the camera prior to download.  This eliminates the excessive amounts of data cluttering up your hard drive.  Stacking can also be used as an alternative to HDR mode.

HDR Mode

The sensor in the AC4040 is capable of operating in HDR mode, where high-gain and low-gain images are read out simultaneously.  An HDR Merge plug-in is available for MaxIm DL Pro, which greatly simplifies the process of producing clean, highly linear images.

Superior Cooling

Proven pin heatsink design shared with industry leading STX series cameras gets the heat out while providing low vibration.  Includes SmartCooling™ intelligent thermoelectric cooling and fan operation.

Water Circulation Ready

For high ambient temperature environments, the liquid cooling option improves thermal performance and helps minimize dark current.

User Rechargeable Desiccant

SBIG pioneered including a high-tech user-replaceable cartridge with ceramic filter and molecular sieve desiccant. Unlike competing cameras, which require factory service when their chamber desiccant eventually saturates out, the user can easily recharge the desiccant.  This eliminates the need for costly service – not to mention the associated down-time and shipping costs.  This feature is especially important in high-humidity locations.

Electronic and Mechanical Shutters

The GSENSE CMOS sensor has an electronic rolling shutter.  In addition the Aluma AC series cameras include a mechanical shutter to enable convenient dark-frame subtraction for optimal performance and sensitivity.  This is essential for remote/robotic operation.

Optional 7 and 10 Position Filter Wheel

Self-Guiding and Adaptive Optics Options Available

The Aluma AC4040 is compatible with the new 10 position SBIG AFW Filter Wheels filter wheel, utilizing 50 mm square filters and the compatible 7 position SBIG FW7-STX filter wheel.

SBIG AFW Filter Wheel 3 600x600.stx fw51 25

Optional Chroma Interference Filters

mega chroma individual filtersBandpass Filters (H-Alpha, OIII, SII, H-Beta, Jovian Methane, LoGlow Light Pollution Filter), LRGB Filters (and combined with H-Alpha), Bessel / Classic UBVRI Filters, Sloan ugriz Filters
Ha, OIII and SII Filter with 5nm or 3nm F/3

Overview Chroma Filter

The available SBIG SBIG StarChaser SC-4 Off-Axis Guider Camera is an excellent low-cost option for integrated autoguiding in front of the filters, and it supports our  SBIG AO-X Adaptive Optics accessory.

The AO-X uses a tip-tilt window to quickly and precisely adjust the image position in response to autoguider feedback.  With Adaptive Optics there is no backlash, stiction, or lag, and the movements are precise and accurate.  This allows the AO-X to not only remove the effects of periodic error, drift, and wind gusts, but also reduce the effects of atmospheric seeing.  When used with an Aluma AC camera, the AO-X requires the StarChaser SC-4.

For more information please see SBIG AO-X Adaptive Optics.

Img 0597AOX


USB 3.0 Interface

The Aluma AC includes a USB 3.0 interface port for high speed downloads.  For installations where longer cable lengths are required, the port is also compatible with USB 2.0.

I2C AUX Port

The STX cameras have a convenient auxiliary control port (also known as an I2C AUX port), which controls the filter wheel and provides optional external trigger interfaces.  Unlike older SBIG models, the AUX port is not used for AO-X control, as this function is now handled by the optional SBIG StarChaser SC-4 off-axis guiding camera.

MaxIm LT Software

All SBIG cameras come with our MaxIm LT software  MaxIm LT is a special version of our venerable MaxIm DL software for Windows that provides complete control of your camera, filter wheel, and autoguider, plus advanced image processing capabilities. If you wish you can upgrade to MaxIm DL Pro to get complete observatory integration and even more processing and analysis capabilities.

Included Accessories

  1. deluxe carrying case
  2. universal power supply
  3. Aluma AC4040
  4. power extension cable
  5. USB 3.0 cable
  6. and MaxIm LT software (Windows)

0.001-3600 sec

OS Compatibility

Windows 7, 8, 10 x86/x64. Contact us for Linux support.

Full Frame Download

0.75 second

Pixel Digitization Rate

100 MHz


3.5 lbs / 1.6 kG

Filter Size

50mm Square

Read Noise (typ)

3.7 e- typical

Temperature Regulation


Computer Interface

USB 3.0


12 VDC 8A

Cooling Delta

~ 35C from ambient with air cooling, water cooling available

Adaptive Optics Option

AO-X with StarChaser SC-4

A/D Converter

Dual 12 bit with HDR capability

Dark Current e-/p/s

0.3 e-/p/s typical

Full Well Capacity

In HDR mode, FSI ~ 70,000 e-; BSI ~ 39,000 e-

Sensor Size

36.8 mm x 36.8 mm

Imaging / Pixel Array

4096 px x 4096 px


Rolling electronic, Mechanical dark shutter

Self-Guiding In Front of Filters

Yes, with StarChaser SC-4

Pixel Size

9 μm

Total Pixels

16.8 million pixels

Filter Wheel Option


OAG Option

StarChaser SC-3

Imaging Sensor

Gpixel GSENSE4040

Sensor Grade

FSI Class 2, FSI Class 1, BSI UV-VIS Class 1, BSI VIS-NIR Class 1



Product overview

A technical overview of the Aluma AC4040.

Data Sheet

Operating manual

Installation, and operating instructions for Aluma AC series cameras.

Mounting Plate Drawing

Drawing for the 10018 “STX” style mounting plate.

Backfocus Calculator Spreadsheet

This Excel spreadsheet helps you calculate backfocus distance for your system. If you do not have Excel it can be uploaded into Google Sheets.


Drivers and Camera Configuration Utility

This camera uses the DL Imaging driver package. Download the latest drivers and camera configuration utility.

ASCOM Driver x64

Provides compatibility with many third party control applications. Please install the main driver package (above) first.

MaxIm LT Software

Camera owners can request a MaxIm LT license here (camera serial number required):

To get started immediately, request the full MaxIm DL Pro demo version here (click Demo tab):

Once you receive your MaxIm LT license, simply replace your demo license using Help menu Enter License.

MacOS and Linux Drivers

Available by request. Please post in our support forum, Aluma section:

Software Development Kit

Available by request. Please post in our support forum, Aluma section:

Firmware Updates

Visit our Firmware Archive here:

APM Professional Telescopes

1m F/8 Ritchey Chrétien with dual Nasmyth Foci, Cape Town (South Africa)

Another large telescope for the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). An 1m F/8 Alt-Az mounted Ritchey Chrétien for robotic use. It has dual Nasmyth Foci. The main telescopes used for research are located at the SAAO observing station (32°22.795’S 20°48,657’E) near Sutherland in the Northern Cape, a 4-hour drive from Cape Town.

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