ORION Digital Image Acquisition System Basic
The ORION™ Digital Image Acquisition System, sometimes called a "frame grabber" is the ideal solution for users of older analog SEMs waiting to get away from emulsion (e.g. film) film based imaging and move into the realm of digital imaging. The basic package includes a PCI frame grabbing board and the supporting software capable of capturing images as large as 8000 x 8000 pixels.
So in plain simple terms, just what can this do for me?
First, we want to make clear just who would and would not benefit from the ORION system: It is for users of relatively old or really old SEMs - those having an analog output and for which image recording can be done presently only with either instant (e.g. Polaroid® Land) or conventional (e.g. MACO®, Fuji®, etc.) photographic recording.
Second, we want to make clear just who would not need or would not benefit from ORION™ Digital Image Acquisition System: It would not be needed by users who have a relatively new SEM that already gives a digital output. But like with all broad-sweeping statements, there are some exceptions. For example, those with the Cambridge® Model 360, JEOL® 5800, 6300, 6400, LEO® DSM 9xx, Hitachi® 4000, can produce a digital image on the viewing screen but there is no way to export the image out of the image into a file such as .tif or .jpg. Users of such SEMs are otherwise left only with the possibility of recording their images on conventional roll or Polaroid® film.
So this means that for someone who has an old SEM with analog output, or a digital SEM as indicated above they can, for a relatively small amount of money, literally upgrade their system to the standards approaching those of a brand new system, in terms of image recording . There is no need to purchase a brand new SEM in order to obtain the benefits of digital imaging, just add on to your system the relatively inexpensive ORION product! You can immediately enjoy the benefits of never having to purchase another case of Polaroid or conventional film. And if you are using conventional photography, you never again have to "wait" to see how your micrographs came out, because you can now enjoy the benefits of "instant" electronic imaging. Never throw out a "bad" micrograph again - just delete it and take a new one!
We are told by some customers (depending on their volume of Polaroid film usage) that the system can pay for itself in film savings in a period as short as several months! In some countries, where film is heavily taxed, the payback can be even faster! Even a university that uses their SEM only two weeks a year for a course can find the payback to be fairly quick.
Highlights of the ORION system:
- The ORION system allows the user of a non-digital (e.g. analog output) SEM to view real-time images, via a standard computer monitor, as they are generated by the microscope.
- All images of particular interest can, with a few keystrokes, be archived to disk. A variety of standard file formats allows a wide range of image processing software, and desktop publishing/word processing packages, to access these images.
- These images can then be printed out on one of the new low cost printers with publication-quality graphics at will.
The ORION™ Digital Image Acquisition System operates in primarily two acquisition modes:
Here one is working with the slow scan mode of their SEM. It is used primarily for the "set up" of the image, that is, focusing, setting gains, etc. The image generated has a much lower resolution than in the Record mode.
Here one is working with the record (e.g. photo write) mode of the SEM. A single SEM scan produces a full resolution (up to 8000 x 8000 pixels, dependant upon the instrument) image. There would be some "range" as to just what one means by "full resolution" since the answer would depend to some degree on the image itself as well as the SEM to which it is interfaced and how it is synchronized to the scan rate. But by way of example, in our own independent analytical and testing laboratory, which is used heavily for industrial clients bringing us their SEM samples, when interfaced to our JEOL® Model 840, the time is approximately 45 seconds, which is about the same as an exposure when using Polaroid Land or conventional emulsion film. The scan speed is also variable but this is again dependent on the SEM, as well as the goal of the operator. Excellent and user friendly software is included for easy and efficient operation of the ORION software. A comprehensive user/installation manual is provided with each ORION system shipment. The installation and testing instructions are written so that someone with moderate computer and SEM electronics skills can do the installation themselves. However, if you are unsure about your abilities, the installation and interfacing to the SEM should be pretty easy for any service engineer experienced in the servicing of your particular instrument. Alternatively, SPI Supplies can arrange installation and set-up of the system for an additional fee.
Specifications for the minimum (and recommended) computer requirements:
- Pentium® 500 MHz Processor (1.0GHz+ recommended)
- 1 Gb RAM
- Microsoft Windows® 2000 or XP operating system
- 1 Full length PCI slot (The PCI board measures 260mm x 100mm)
- 8 Mb Video card (PCI or AGP) (64+ Mb recommended)
- Window graphics modes supported: 1024 x 768, 1152 x 864, 1280 x 1024, and 1600 x 1200.
- Recommended setting is 16.7 million colors in order to get 256 true levels of grey on the screen.
- 40 Gb Hard Drive (A CD or DVD writer is helpful for long term data storage)
Customize your ORION package to meet your own needs:
The following options can be added to the ORION system to increase the functionality and flexibility. These options can be purchased with the system, or added at a later time.
Available (optional) ORION modules:
- Graphic tools
- Macro Commands
- EDS Mapping
- Anaglyphic Stereo Imaging
- LEO® DSM Remote Control
Please note that installation of the ORION system in no way affects Polaroid Land instant or conventional film recording. It is still possible to take Polaroid and conventional film images with the ORION system installed.