App note: CCD Fundamentals


ON Semiconductor’s Charge-Coupled Devices primer application note. Link here (PDF)

Like many technologies, the Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) started out as one kind of creature and wound up as something completely different. Invented in the late 1960’s by researchers at Bell Labs, it was initially conceived as a new type of computer memory circuit, and it was demonstrated in 1970 for that facility. It soon became apparent that the CCD had many other potential applications, including signal processing and imaging, the latter because of silicon’s light sensitivity that responds to wavelengths less than 1.1 m (the visible spectrum falls between 0.4 m and 0.7 m). The CCD’s early promise as a memory element has since disappeared, but its superb ability to detect light has turned the CCD into the premier image sensor technology.

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  1. It’s a very nice app note, good intro to CCD tech. Pity CCDs have dropped out of the general consumer market. But astronomy sensors, even amateur-level ones, are very nice.
    What I would *really* like to see are projects that interface CMOS sensors directly. I can find modules that use the usual 300KB FIFO, but that limits resolution. But some sensor chips have a JPEG mode. Well, if I don’t want to use a RPi+camera, what options do I have for a battery-powered thingy?

  2. VGA resolution, $40 Serial JPEG camera
    Arducam, several from 0.3 to 5 MP

    I have a 5MP Arducam but a 5 MP JPEG image will generally not fit in its memory! So you have to use lower resolution. The only way to “interface directly” to such a sensor is to program your own FPGA, as far as I know. That’s what Arducam does but the small memory is a limitation.

    One guy has connected an Aptina MT9M001 sensor to a Teensy 3.1 (which I would not have guessed possible.)

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