QHYCCD designs and manufactures high-performance scientific grade CMOS and CCD cameras. The QHY line of products include thermoelectrically cooled cameras, high- resolution scientific grade cameras, astronomical imaging cameras, digital X-ray machine DR cameras, and solar, industrial and laboratory cameras. The sensor arrays used in QHY cameras range from 400,000 pixels to more than 50 megapixels. Sensor format sizes range from 1/4 inch to medium format photography size (61mm diagonal), all with complete independent intellectual property rights. Most of the company's products are exported to the United States and Europe. The rich QHY product line is renowned for excellent performance and reliable quality. The company goal is to provide customers with first-class products and services.
QHYCCD, founded by Qiu Hongyun, Ph.D., produced China's first CCD cameras for astronomical observations in 2003 when the market was dominated by a relatively few manufacturers mostly based in the United States and in Europe. Since that time, however, a number of companies have made entry into the astronomical and scientific imaging market place. Despite the increased pressure of competition from established manufacturers, QHYCCD continued to develop and produce larger and more capable cameras contributing to its rise in popularity not only in China but also in the U.S. and Europe over the ensuing years. In less than 10 years, the QHY line expanded to about a dozen models. Today the QHY product line includes over 40 different models and configurations including scientific cameras like the 50 Megapixel medium format CCD (61.3mm diagonal) QHY50 pictured at left. Satisfied QHY customers include the LAMOST Observatory (above right) with eight QHY45 cameras on the largest optical telescope in China (4 meters). The QHY45 CCD is 2K x 2K with 24 micron pixels and 70.1mm diagonal size. For other scientific and industrial use, work has just begun on a fast 29 Megapixel, 35mm format CCD based camera that will output multiple frames per second. Development is also underwae on an E2V thinned back illuminated CCD camera for professional astronomy applications.
Unlike some companies that primarily offer one type of camera, either CCD or CMOS, QHYCCD has expertise in development of both types, large and small. Almost complete is a new QHY42 camera using a 2k x 2k back illuminated CMOS sensor with 11 micron pixels. This sensor delivers 95% peak quantum efficiency and only 1.3e- of noise with an output of 48 frames per second! For astronomy applications requiring long exposures, a smaller 2k x 2k sensor with 6 micron pixels and global shutter is planned that will appeal to astro-imagers. In beta test as this is written is the new QHY183M, a 20 Megapixel back illuminated monochrome CMOS camera with high QE and 15 FPS output expected to sell for around $1000. The broad product line of QHYCCD, with cameras costing over $40,000 to as little as $99, means that there is a high quality scientific grade camera available for nearly any budget or application.
As many amateur astronomers can testify, in the case of QHYCCD,affordable does not mean lower quality. QHY cameras have been usedby amateurs for nearly 15 years with satisfaction and success. The first observatory established in China by and for amateurs is Xingming Observatory. Set up and managed by amateur Gao Xing, the observatory is housed at the Nanshan Station of Xinjiang Astronomical Observatory affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The Nanshan site is about 75 km southeast of Ürümqi, a major city along the ancient Silk Road. There are about 280 observable nights per year, with median atmospheric seeing around 1.4". Established in 2007, the observatory offers online access to several telescopes and cameras and is currently conducting several scientific surveys including the NSP (nova search plan), CSP (the comet search plan) and SASP (supernovae and asteroids search plan) and various specialized sub-projects. Observations are carried out almost every clear night. In 2010, a half-meter telescope equipped with a QHY9 camera began running the SASP (Supernova and Asteroid Search Plan). This has since been upgraded with a QHY16 camera. Within a few years, the program has found dozens of supernovae and nearly a hundred asteroids. "QHYCCD's biggest feature is the high cost (of competing products). "If you want to buy the same performance (in other products) some prices are twice as much as QHYCCD. And even compared to those products costing more than twice as much, QHYCCD is not inferior." Xingming Observatory has always been very keen on collaborations with other amateurs and professionals. The site is located in a longitude range with relatively few observatories, and so a significant effort has been devoted into timedomain observations. The Xingming facilities have participated in rapid follow-up of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) detected by the Swift spacecraft as well as high frequency observations of asteroids and comets. [Note: If you have any suggestions or comments, please contact: Ye Quan-Zhi at the California Instute of Technology (qye at caltech.edu) and/or Man-To Hui at the University of California at Los Angeles (pachacoti at ucla.edu)].
Many amateurs are performing research and contributing to science in the field of astronomy. However, unlike professionals, the vast majority of amateur astronomers, particularly in the United States and Europe, take images for aesthetic reasons rather than scientific research or discovery. Overwhelming evidence of the use of QHY cameras for aesthetic astro-imaging can be found on the QHY Flickr group. Although the group has been in existence only a few years, there are over 2,000 amateur images posted to this group alone, testifying to the capability of QHY cameras to engage in a wide range of imaging styles and applicaitons. The extraordinarily low noise and high sensitivity of QHY CMOS cameras has made them the camera of choice for planetary imaging where stacking and processing numerous frames tremendously improves the image. Moreover, the same low noise cameras facilitate taking and combining shorfter exposures of deep space objects to achieve similar results as a single long exposure. This makes it much easier to control guiding corrections and focus in each individual sub-frame and to discard a bad frame when necessary without losing an entire night's work.
Whether you are a professional astronomer or an amateur, whether you are doing research or taking aesthetic images, whether you have a blank check from a well endowed foundation or are on a retiree's budget, QHYCCD has a solution that will help you. With 15 years of experience, QHY has the expertise to provide a quality product for just about any need.
CIRRICULUM VITAE SUMMARY
QHYCCD Founder Dr. Qiu Hongyun
Dr. Qiu Hongyun was born in 1977 in Weiyuan City, Sichuan Province, China. He graduated from Weiyuan middle school in 1996 and attended Tsinghua University in Beijing where he received a BS degree in Materials Science in 2000. He continued his postgraduate studies at Tsinghua University and received a PhD in Optical Science and Engineering in 2007. In 2009 he founded Beijing Star Sense Scientific Co., Ltd., and was CEO from 2009 to 2012. The company was renamed in 2012 to Light Speed Vision (Beijing) Co., Ltd., (QHYCCD). In 2013 Dr. Qiu was admitted to Harvard University for post-doctoral work and he moved to the United States from 2013 to 2015. His research topic was the design and structure of a light system for three dimensional imaging, and the implementation of noise reduction in both hardware and software. He applied low noise readout technology to the high speed CCD design for a high speed structured light system and worked with other group members to research the algorithm for noise reduction in the 3D image reconstruction and an increase in the precision of high speed real time 3D measurements. In 2015 he returned to Beijing where he remains today, working as CEO of Light Speed Vision (Beijing) Co., Ltd., (QHYCCD) designing and producing scientific CCD and CMOS cameras for astronomy, science and industry.
From childhood Dr. Qiu Hongyun held a keen interest in nature, science and technology. As a young boy he would go to the chemical factory where his father worked and do chemistry experiments in the lab. He also enjoyed tinkering with electronics and made small board projects and a radio. In the 5th grade he read in a Science magazine about the approach of a comet. He tried to see the comet and although the toy binoculars he was able to find failed to be useful in spotting the comet, the effort and excitement of the event generated an interest in astronomy and that interest led to his making a small refractor telescope and later to attempt astrophotography with film. He had no camera only a homemade film holder. He would develop the film himself. By the time he was in Middle School, his interest in astronomy had grown. As a science project, he made an ultra-long zoom lens (about 800-3000mm) and got very good results with it. The lens earned him an award for invention and even an award for innovation his first year of University study.
By that time, however, Hongyun was becoming interested in electronic imaging for astronomy. In 1988 he joined the Amateur Astronomy Society of Tsinghua University and worked with other members making a 200mm Newtonian reflector. The telescope incorporated a mechanical system that would allow the secondary mirror to rotate to three 50 directions where they installed an eyepiece, a film camera, and a high sensitivity security video CCD camera. The telescope design brought the group a science & technology award. Even so, Hongyun was somewhat disappointed in the results that could be obtained with the video camera and he set his mind to find a way to improve the results of electronic imaging.
In 1999 Hongyun designed a LCD projector that could project a 100 inch TV image on a wall. At that time the biggest TV available in China was a 34 inch CRT. The 100 inch TV project generated a lot of interest in his Univerity's campus innovation competition. He fondly remembers watching the Carl Sagan movie "Contact" and how the big screen gave such a deep impression when Jodi Foster went on her trip through the worm hole. His booth at the science fair was crowded with people wanting to see the large image. One of the visitors was another student who proposed setting up a team to produce the device. Hongyun agreed and that year the first entrepreneur team in China to be founded solely by the students born. The team became famous in China and received good funding; however, by that time Hongyun was in the midst of his PhD study and eventually left the team to return to the University to complete his PhD in optical engineering. He never lost his interest in astronomical imaging, though, and in 2003 he came across some interesting CCD sensors for sale in the electronics market.
The first sensors Hongyun found where the Sony ICX038 and ICX262. The IMX038 is a monochrome sensor with 0.4mega pixel and often used in security cameras. The ICX262 is a 3.3 Megapixel color CCD used in NIKON990 digital cameras. Since the consumer digital camera had appeared in China in 1999, and Hongyun happened to have one, he was excited to find that particular sensor at a reasonable price. Megapixel astronomy cameras were very expensive at that time, so relying on his experience with electronic design and his knowledge of astronomy, he began to design a new astro-camera, based first on the smaller CCD to work out the kinks, and later on the larger color sensor as a potential commercial project. The first camera set up for testing is seen in the picture at right. It worked, taking suitable images of a magnitude 7 comet using a 135mm f/3.5 camera lens. For the ICX262 based camera Hongyun added the ability to adjust the gain to suit the imaging and the design was very successful. The first long exposure color image was very beautiful and the Sony 3.3 Megapixel CCD's low dark current (SuperHAD technology) was an attractive feature. That was the year 2004.
Hongyun realized that although this first camera had 3.3 Megapixels, the pixels were very small, only 3.45um, which is too small at the time for SCT and other large scopes most amateurs were using for imaging. He hoped to design a camera optimized for these larger scopes. Nikon then released a DSLR with an APS-C sensor. The sensor was big enough and used 6 micros pixels. It also had high sensitivity and low dark current, but they proved difficult to get from Sony. The cameras were available at reasonable prices, so Hongyun planned to buy some new D50 cameras and take the CCD sensor out to make an camera with this sensor. It would be called the QHY8. Needless to say it became a hot product and QHY sold hundreds of QHY8, QHY8PRO and eventually released the QHY10 and QHY12 models. QHY had arrived in the amateur astronomy imaging market to stay. Another reality of astro-imaging that did not escape Dr. Qiu's attention was the need for autoguiding, although the first QHY autoguider almost never was. While experimenting with CMOS for deep space imaging Dr. Qiu developed the QHY5. The CMOS sensor offered decent performance, high frame rates and low price. He experimented with both Omnivision and Micron CMOS and settled on the Micron MT9M001, 1.3 megapixel 1/2 inch sensor. It delivered 15fps to 30fps at full resolution and it came in a monochrome version. But it had a big problem - the sensor had unacceptable random horizontal noise, especially in high gain, which made it unusable for deep space imaging of faint objects. "I am a person who expects perfection, especially in the hardware design, camera performance and image quality." So the decision was made to relegate the QHY5 design to the trash bin and move on to something else.However, before killing the project, Craig Stark of Stark Labs happened to mention that he was developing autoguiding software called PHD Guiding and he thought the QHY5 could be used for autoguiding instead of imaging because the random horizontal banding might not affect the result for guiding purposes. Testing confirmed this and the QHY5 autoguider was born! Due to its positive features, like good sensitivity and high resolution, plus the low price, the QHY became one of the hottest autoguiders, selling thousands each year, and still available in OEM products.
From these humble beginnings, QHYCCD has grown to a leading supplier of cooled CCD and CMOS cameras for science and industry, with a current offering of approximately 40 models and configurations of cameras, filter wheels, guiders, and other accessories for astronomical imaging. And from the modest small CCDs and APS sized sensors, QHYCCD now supplies cameras with sensors up to 50 Megapixels, and up to 70mm diagonal size, plus several 35mm format cameras and scores of smaller sized sensors, including both front and back illuminated CMOS sensors with over 90% QE.