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How to run Dual Camera Acquisition for sCMOS Cameras

Sometimes you may want to run a multi-camera imaging setup. Most common would be a dual camera acquisition setup. There are a number of ways that this can be done – and it can be done quite easily.

Solis and iQ requires two instances of software

Simultaneous Imaging with two cameras using Andor Solis (version 4.21.300006 onwards) and Andor iQ (version 2.6). This is described as follows:

  • In order to set up the cameras to acquire simultaneously and synchronously in either Solis (or iQ), two instances of the software are required to be open, one for each camera.
  • Each software is capable of synchronizing the cameras under a ‘Master and Slave’ arrangement or alternatively a simultaneous external trigger can be provided to both cameras.

For a Master and Slave set-up: camera 1 (Master) will trigger camera 2 (Slave) to acquire images

  • Set the trigger of camera 1 to be internal
  • Set the trigger of camera 2 to be external
  • Using the trigger cables supplied with the camera, attach the Aux Out 1 ‘Fire’ cable of camera 1 (master) to the ‘External Trigger’ cable of camera 2 (slave) via a BNC connector.
  • In this mode camera 2 will wait in a state of readiness for camera 1 to "trigger it" to capture images. The exposure of camera 1 needs to be set marginally longer than the exposure of camera 2. If the exposure for camera 1 is too short there won’t be sufficient pulses available to trigger camera 2 to acquire all of the images in a kinetic series. A general rule of thumb is to set the exposure of camera 1 to be the same or longer than the read-out of the sensor.
  • In order to achieve the fastest possible acquisition speed from both cameras, set the exposure of camera 1 to be the same as the readout, otherwise set the exposure to be longer.
  • In the ‘Master - Slave’ mode, the exposure for camera 2 does not need to be set as it will trigger off of the pulses from camera 1. The exposure setting for camera 2 should be zero. This is because it is effectively the delay between camera 1 acquiring its internal trigger and sending a pulse to camera 2 to acquire. This ensures synchronous acquisition.
  • Once the settings are ready click for camera 2 so it is ready to pick up the trigger from camera 1.
  • To start the acquisition click for camera 1.
  • The cameras will now acquire simultaneous images as per the protocol entered.

For simultaneous External Trigger Dual Camera Operation

  • Connect both cameras to the external trigger using a BNC T-piece.
  • Both camera 1 and 2 should be set in External Trigger mode.
  • Enter the same acquisition parameters for each camera.
  • Click for both cameras so that both cameras are ready for the external trigger
  • Once external trigger fires acquisition will proceed for both cameras simultaneously.</li

Notes

  • Note that each camera should be on it's own card, although it is possible to run both off of a single card this would need to be tested for the specific setup.
  • With this set-up both cameras will run simultaneously with the same frame rate in both Solis and iQ and should be very close to that of a single camera.
  • Check the Hardware guide for the details of each mode as well as the SDK3 manual.

Category: Technical Article

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