Archon is a high performance modular CCD controller developed by Semiconductor Technology Associates, Inc (STA).  An Archon system receives configuration information from and sends status and image data to a host PC via a gigabit Ethernet connection (either copper or fiber).  Power is supplied to Archon through a circular connector carrying the DC voltages necessary for a particular system, or through a standard AC power cable for the Archon AC variant.  The CCD to be operated is connected to Archon through a custom interface board, built to route signals from the CCD cabling to the internal Archon module connectors.

Feature summary:

  • Compact size: 11.5” x 8” x 4.5” (29.21 x 20.32 x 11.43 cm)
  • Archon AC size: 11.5” x 8” x 7” (29.21 x 20.32 x 17.78 cm)
  • Modular: 12 slots for ADC, clock driver, bias, heater, or other custom modules
  • Dense: Up to 4 ADC modules for 16 total CCD outputs
  • Low weight: 8.5 lbs (3.9 kg) for a typical 4 channel system, 17.5 lbs (8kg) for a 16 channel Archon AC system
  • Low power: 35 W for a typical 4 channel system, 89W for a 16 channel Archon AC system
  • High dynamic range: 108 dB at 100 kHz, 98 dB at 1 MHz using 16 or 32 bits per sample
  • Easy interfacing: standard gigabit network interface, either copper or fiber SFP module
  • On-board frame buffer: 2 GB RAM for flexible readout
  • Timing core: 100 MHz master clock for 10 ns timing resolution
  • ADC Module: 4 fully differential AC-coupled 100 MHz 16 bit channels using digital CDS, and software selectable 1.33 V or 4 V input range
  • ADM Module: 18 fully differential DC-coupled 12.5 MHz 18 bit channels using digital CDS and a 6V input range
  • Clock Driver Module: 8 channels of 100 MHz 14-bit DACs for generating slew-rate controlled, multi-level clocks from -13.000…+13.000 V
  • DriverX Module: 12 channels of 100 MHz 14-bit DACs for generating slew-rate controlled, multi-level clocks from -13.000…+13.000 V
  • Low Voltage Bias Module: 30 total biases at -14.000…+14.000 V, with 6 high power channels supplying up to 500 mA each (programmable current limit), and 24 low power channels supplying up to 10 mA each (1 A max total current per module)
  • High Voltage Bias Module: 30 total biases at 0.000…+31.000 V, with 6 high power channels supplying up to 250 mA each (programmable current limit), and 24 low power channels supplying up to 10 mA each (1 A max total current per module)
  • XV Bias Module: 4 channels at 0.000…+95.000 V and 4 channels at -95.000…0.000, each supplying up to 50 mA
  • HeaterX Module: Two 25W heater drivers (intended for 25 Ohm resistors) and three temperature sensor channels, with programmable excitation currents from 25 nA to 1.5 mA
  • High Speed Clock Module: 12 channels of LVDS clocks with 1 ns resolution, 12 clock magnitudes from 5.000…14.000V (up to 1A each), 12 clock offsets from -14.000V…+14.000V (10 mA each)
  • LVDS Clock Module: 16 channels of LVDS clocks with 10 ns resolution, +3.3V, +/-5V, +/-16V supplies
  • Digital I/O: General purpose digital I/O lines powered internally or externally are on the LVBias, Heater, HS and LVDS modules (8 lines on LVBias/Heater, 4 lines on HS/LVDS)
  • Digital I/O lines can be controlled by embedded VCPUs (virtual CPUs) that can be reprogrammed on the fly for simple communication tasks, such as reading a vacuum gauge
  • VCPUs include a UART for serial communication (300 to 115200 baud)
  • All biases monitor current and voltage
  • Triggering: opto-isolated BNC input and output
  • Synchronization: multiple controllers can be synchronized over dedicated Cat5 cable
  • Software: example GUI application provided with source for Windows and Linux
  • Temperature: operating range -20C to +40C

Complete details are available in the Archon manual.  Please contact us with any questions.

Download Archon Manual

Manual Revision 1.0.1166, Updated February 23, 2021

Download Standard Archon Price List

Download Archon GUI Source Code

GUI Version 1.0.1191, Updated June 28, 2022
The latest Archon firmware can be downloaded here.
Note: update both the firmware and the GUI version together to avoid compatibility errors.  Otherwise, the GUI may add configuration keys the backplane doesn’t recognize.

GUI Changelog


  • Added Qt6/Qt5.15 support


  • Added ADM support
  • Added NCF file format


  • Added DriverX support


  • Added XV Bias timing core control
  • Added Driver source selection


  • Added Apply All and Power On startup options
  • Added HeaterX temp sensor filter controls


  • Improved GUI responsiveness for high frame rates (such as power button status not changing to reflect the true state)


  • Added line scan mode to Deinterlacing tab


  • Added ADX and ADLN support to GUI
  • Fixed HeaterX Sensor C plotting and selection for control loop
  • Added fan tach and disable for Archon AC
  • Added Fit LUT, Zoom Fit, and Open FITS to image tab
  • Added status bar display of differential variance and last loaded image name
  • Added command line opening of raw files to use GUI as an image viewer


  • Added trigger in support to GUI
  • Added ADF and AD Rev H calibration support to GUI
  • Added Save Plots command to Heater and HeaterX tabs


  • Added timing core control of LVBias/LVXBias/HVBias/HVXBias
  • Added ADF module support
  • Fixed HeaterX temperature display
  • Fixed XY cursor coordinate display in Image and RawImage tabs


  • Corrected APPLYDIO command from VCPU tabs


  • Added “-small” startup option for scroll bars on smaller monitors
  • Added VCPU tab for VCPU (virtual CPU) control of modules with digital I/O
  • Fixed a FITS writing bug


  • Added HeaterX and XVBias module support
  • Modified image gain/offset sliders (now log scale)
  • Added horizontal raw plot markers


  • Added LVDS module support
  • Added TRIGA/TRIGB for precise timestamp purposes


  • Added FITS image saving
  • Added HVX/LVX/HS support


  • Autofetch bugfix


  • Added support for pixel rates up to 5 MHz
  • Added BIGBUF mode (768MB frame buffers)
  • Added LVBias/Heater digital I/O control