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Old 14th Mar 2019, 9:26 pm   #21
beamcurrent
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Default Re: CCD camera history

Thanks for all the replies about early CCDs, a good number of leads to follow up and I will add details to the museum website in due course..

Quote:
HL79 may be wrong and it could have been a BVP330. Brian(Beamcurrent) should be able to correct me on this since it was a single camera drama unit that came from Tel OBs)
I moved to Tel OBs from SCPD in 1986-7 and I was on the larger units. There were lots of SCU's (single camera units) in use. But I started on the LPU (light production unit) We had 3 sony 330s on the LPU which was the first unit I worked on then I was moved to the type 5s with LDK5s. I'm sure there were HL79s about but I did not work with them.
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Old 14th Mar 2019, 9:59 pm   #22
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Default Re: CCD camera history

The difficulty here is not the consumer/broadcast applications which surfaced 'on the record', it's the likely untold story of military R&D. If something is a game changer from a technological perspective for military applications, it's 'sat on'. No patents will appear and the general public will know nothing until it (eventually) breaks through. Primary sources for CCD technology in this field will be hard to come by, even now. The period we're talking about is the height of the Cold War and things are still a bit twitchy in the history department!

At the risk of going OT, I can tell a story which illustrates what this *could* lead to. Over 10 years ago now, probably nearer 12 or 13, I was lucky enough to be involved in some deep R&D which took me to St Petersburg on many occasions. Cutting a long story short, I was privileged to visit the TV museum there - no, not the public Post and Telecommunications one, but I did go there too. This one was 'private' and documented all manner of broadcast and space oriented TV work. It was fascinating, and no more so when I received an invitation to go down the corridor to look at something they didn't normally show visitors. As the huge steel door clanged shut behind us, I could make out something the size of a single-decker bus. The light clicked-on and there it was - a Soviet era 'spy satellite' from the late 60s. The technology was explained as using 6" vidicons (yes, 6") and there were four of them, each with a lens the size of an old round-type dustbin. The cameras resolved 4,000 lines and fed a still frame back to the ground in a second or two to be printed out on an electron-beam recorder (also on show) back at the ground station. Impressive? You bet. It was further explained to me that the Soviet thinking was that the US 'equivalent' was flawed, in that it was a relatively low resolution line array camera (technology not described), which produced high resolution pictures using the motion of the satellite as the 'frame scan'. This took well over three minutes per frame and my hosts pointed out that an ICBM would be up and away well before their camera had even seen it! The Soviet scheme was near real-time and, it was claimed gave them the edge. It was admitted that the vidicons didn't always give a 'good picture', but why was not elaborated on.

Now, the USA probably knew all of this and could have gone the vidicon route (and perhaps did), but a CCD line array camera could have given them the edge, especially if the 'vertical' scanning rate could be increased using a mechanical scanner. Line arrays are much simpler than frame arrays, and apart from pixel by pixel normalisation, could have been created with 60s technology.

The above is, admittedly, speculation, but that's where you are with much of the military technology from that period. I suspect, but would need to prove (somehow), that the origins of CCDs are older than is 'known', but it would take some digging to prove it. My suspicion would be that this history is still 'secret' (even though the technology is common knowledge and much improved.

This takes us back to primary sources. Patents are one example, but you need to go deeper to see if there's anything pre-dating that public manifestation.

Shoot me down, but as a qualified historian (and engineer), this is the kind of thing I'm looking for all the time. The Internet is simply not a good enough resource for things such as this.

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Old 15th Mar 2019, 9:05 am   #23
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Default Re: CCD camera history

Fascinating story PaulM, it would be so interesting to learn how they integrated the optics and various sensors.
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Old 15th Mar 2019, 7:25 pm   #24
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Originally Posted by merlinmaxwell View Post
It was a domestic chip, what happened to it I have no idea.
Philips had developed the chip for their domestic offering, the output of the chip was masked to serially provide RGB, RGB, RGB etc. When they came to develop their range of professional cameras they decided rather obviously the horizontal resolution of the chip was not sufficient, but, if they did away with the RGB masking the chip would then output a single stream of samples that was (just) about good enough for professional use.

So, they did away with the RGB masking and glued 3 of the chips to the back of a conventional light splitting prism and hey presto it was the heart of their professional range - the LDK 90. They also introduced the rotating mechanical shutter in front the prism block so that samples could be shuffled down vertically from the active (exposed) part of the sensor to the blanked off part of the sensor chip during the blanking interval therefore guaranteeing no overloading of vertically aligned individual pixel sensors if the camera happened to be looking a a very bright source.

The rotating shutter feature was stunningly effective. I went on the maintenance course for the camera in Breda. The lecturer pointed the camera at a 1KW tungsten lamp and zoomed in and focussed on the filament!! I'd never seen anything like it before or since. I think the light splitting prism was bought in from Sony or similar, it was certainly Japanese and not Philips own product. We did speculate to ourselves how reliable the rotating shutter would be.

We were told that in the event of 'no camera output' we should put our ears to the side of the camera to ensure the shutter was still rotating (it gave out a low level sort of 'ticking' sound) because if the shutter had stopped for some reason in the light path due to a fault it could of course block any light from reaching the sensors and hence apparently no output apart from syncs etc!

In practice the cameras were incredibly reliable, we had 5 and in all the years of operation (about 5) we only had one fault on one camera which I tracked down to a simple dry joint. In the end the cameras were replaced with their later counterparts - the LDK91 which was 16:9 capable.

I would put the cameras at the very low end of broadcast standard, if you looked very closely at the pictures you could see they weren't quite up to mustard.
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Old 15th Mar 2019, 9:05 pm   #25
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Default Re: CCD camera history

I have 2 LDK90s in the collection, both still work, or did the last time I powered them up. Mine have had no faults since I got them. Just as well really I don't fancy mending them!! On the subject of the shutter, which is a bit of a concern, mine make a worrying whirring noise when rotated. As for the resolution my note say 604 horiz pixels, short of the 720 required for SD pictures. This shortfall did not stop the BBC from using them. https://www.tvcameramuseum.org/bts/ldk90/ldk90p1.htm

What Paul says about the military development is true, but we find out, as best we can what we can with the sources available. I am less interested the the military, more interested in the precursors of the broadcast cameras like the LDK90 and the RCA CCD-1 cameras.

The mention of the Domestic CCDs is interesting, I had assumed that they came after the broadcast use, mainly on unproven cost assumptions? Need to find the dates they were launched at.

Newlite4 post led me to this site http://imagesensors.org/past-worksho...ine-library-3/ which has conference reports going back to 1973.

More later, Brian
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Old 16th Mar 2019, 12:48 pm   #26
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The whirring noise sounds about right even though I described it as a ticking noise. Another 'something' I remember about the sensor. When it was used in its domestic role and was giving out RGB sequentially, it didn't really matter if the outputs of the three vertical strips of pixels matched precisely. But when the sensor was adapted for broadcast use it certainly did matter! In the manual for the cameras you will (should) see a menu option whereby the camera can be put into a self alignment mode and adjusts the outputs of the pixels to match one another. I'm not sure if you have to point the camera at a neutral test card of some sort but if you look at the camera output when it's performing this self alignment you can see vertical strips of pixels 'waxing and waning' into each other until they all blend into a uniform output. Quite a remarkable camera really, and from memory I think Philips/BTS took the rotating shutter principle into what I would describe as their range of true broadcast/studio cameras.

PS. These cameras were used in LWT's studio 10 which was a sort of topical production studio, not really 'high end'.
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Old 16th Mar 2019, 7:10 pm   #27
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Default Re: CCD camera history

I was not involved with Broadcast Cameras but Cameras used in Industry.
Itís a subject thatís always interested me, unfortunately i was unable to dedicate as much time studying the subject as I would like to have done, this was left to the back room boys.
I was involved with the project engineers when we started to change from Videcon Tubes to CCD Sensors. The large Optics we used had ND wedges, Filters and Rotating Shutters, so changing from the Videcon sensor to the CCD sensor and getting the results we wanted proved a real challenge for the special tasks we had to fulfill.
One final observation, I wonder what the old broadcast engineers must think when they seen the picture on a moder TV!
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Old 19th Mar 2019, 3:28 pm   #28
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Default Re: CCD camera history

I have added quite a lot of new pictures and information see https://www.tvcameramuseum.org/earlyccd/ccdthumb.html There are still a few gaps to fill as the information becomes available.

I need more information/pictures about the work at Bell Labs. I have a number of papers describing the progress in CCD operation and fabrication, but little in the way of part numbers or pictures of cameras that incorporated devices.

Also need a picture of any camera that used the GEC Hirst Research Centre, Wembley, CCD sensor type MA357.

In particular I would like to find one of the EEV Sentinel cameras to add to the collection.

Thank you to all who have posted to this thread, some good leads that I have followed up.
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Old 19th Mar 2019, 8:34 pm   #29
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Driving past eh E2V site last week I noticed that the name board now says "Teledyne E2V". A quick search revealed that E2V was acquired by Teledyne in 2017. Extract from a press release follows. Seems that they are still leaders in specialised CCD imagers.:

Teledyne Completes Acquisition of e2v
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. and CHELMSFORD, U.K. – March 28, 2017 – Teledyne Technologies Incorporated (NYSE:TDY) (“Teledyne”) and e2v technologies plc (“e2v”) jointly announced today the successful completion of the previously announced acquisition by Teledyne of e2v by means of a Scheme of Arrangement.

For the machine vision market, e2v provides high performance image sensors and custom camera solutions and application specific standard products. In addition, e2v provides high performance space qualified imaging sensors and arrays for space science and astronomy. e2v also produces components and subsystems that deliver high reliability radio frequency power generation for healthcare, industrial and defense applications. Finally, the company provides high reliability semiconductors and board-level solutions for use in aerospace, space and communications applications.

Re #22, the prosecution file of a patent will reveal any prior art cited during prosecution. Unfortunately the files of the earlier ( Pre- 1978 UK patents) no longer exist. I believe that the files of US patents are kept in perpetuity and might be accessible on line, although it is some years since I had to do this and am not sure how far back the electronic files go.

Last edited by emeritus; 19th Mar 2019 at 8:42 pm.
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