These instructions are for the Watec video camera, with the supplied software.
No software is needed with the optional TFT or other TV or composite video monitor.

If you have the slim USB CCD, you need these instructions instead.
If you have the High Resolution CCD, you need these instructions instead.
If you have the Macro x-ray camera, you need these instructions instead.
If you have the Laue camera, you need these instructions instead.
If you have the EMCCD camera, you need these instructions instead.

You can download the NeutronOptics software CD for the Watec video camera here.

Install the latest version of the EzCAP Driver

To record and analyse the image on a PC, a video frame grabber is needed, such as the USB-2 EzCAP device supplied with the camera or available as an optional extra. You can install the EzCAP drivers from the NeutronOptics CD. Or you can download the latest VIDBOX 1168 drivers for Windows-XP/7/8. Dismiss any warning that the driver has not been approved for Windows. After installation, re-boot then plug in the EzCAP device. Cancel any search on Windows update for drivers, and the drivers should be found.
A driver manual can also be downladed.

Do not install older drivers or software from the EzCAP CD.

You can check that the driver is installed by right-clicking "My Computer/Properties" then "Device Manager". When the EzCAP device is plugged in, it should be listed under "Sound, video and game controllers" as "USB Audio Device" and "USB2.0 VIDBOX FW" without any yellow warning tags.

Older drivers might be listed as "SMI Grabber DEV" or eventually "USB 2861 Device" and "USB Audio Device" or under "Imaging Devices" or "Scanners and cameras" as "Grabster AV 350" or "USB 2861 Device". If necessary, double-click the device in the list, select "Driver", click "Update Driver" and "Search Automatically on C:\.

If you need to remove a driver, right click on it in "Device Manager" & select "Uninstall". Also uninstall any "SMI Grabber" application. Then reboot, install the latest drivers, reboot again and plug in the device.

Finally, connect the camera using the supplied video cable plugged into the yellow composite video socket of the EzCAP frame grabber, then follow the camera operating instructions under Help. You should now be able to display the camera video using Windows media display software, such as AMCap, VLC, VirtualDub or RoboRealm.

Using the supplied AMCap Video Display Software

A licensed version of AMCap v9.20 will be found on the NeutronOptics CD. Drag the "AMCap" folder to the root level C: with your ImageJ folder (if you use ImageJ).

DON'T install AMCap in a Win-7 directory eg "C:\Program Files" that it cannot write to.

With the USB frame grabber plugged in, click the AMCap "Devices" menu and select the device as the camera. Set "Options/Video Capture Filter" to "PAL", and the "Options/Video Capture Pin" to the maximum video size (720x576) at a frame rate of 25 hertz and maximum quality (1.0). The "Video Crossbar" should be set to "Video Composte In" and "Video Decoder Out".

To display the crosshair, useful for positioning samples, first choose "VMR9 Windowless mode" under Capture/Setup/Options then select menu Window/Crosshair.
Double-click the AMCAP window to switch to a full screen display.

With AMCap, you can monitor the camera in real time and save a snapshot by pressing the "Enter" key. (Ignore the fussy Windows-7 warning the first time you do this :-) You can remove noise, colour or do almost everything else with the free ImageJ software.
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What if I see no image with AMCap ?

  • Most problems are due to bad connections or a corrupt amcap.ini file.
  • Check that you have a video signal eg with a TV monitor.
  • Check that the EzCAP green light comes on when you start AMCap.
  • Reset "Options/Video Capture Filter/Video Proc Amp/" to default values.
  • Reset all AMCap options by deleting the "amcap.ini" file.
    It will be re-created when AMCap closes.
  • Or replace it with our standard amcap.ini.
  • Read the inbuilt Help (F1) and the AMCap FAQ.
  • Eventually, download the latest VIDBOX 1168 drivers for Windows-XP/7/8.
    Use it to uninstall the current driver, reboot, install the new driver and reboot.
  • Windows-8 will need the latest VIDBOX 1168 drivers for Windows-XP/7/8.

Introduction to ImageJ and Advanced Image Analysis

ImageJ is recommended for more complex image analysis. Acquisition with ImageJ allows integration over longer periods to produce 10-bit images, as well as the automatic stitching together of two cameras to form mosaic images extending the field of view. ImageJ acquisition is required if you have the 2-CCD Laue Camera or the EMCCD camera.

As well as the functions listed as menu items, a great number of custom macros and plug-ins are available. In particular, you can download our AMCap video camera capture plugin for Windows, which installs the small camera icon shown above.

Using ImageJ functions to treat camera images

Drag an image to ImageJ or use the File /Open menu. The Image menu allows you to adjustF the image brightness, contrast etc, while the Process and Plugins menus allow more powerful operations. For example, here we see the use of the Process/Noise/Despeckle function to remove hot pixels from a long exposure.

The large number of ImageJ menus may at first seem challenging, but the basic functions are similar to other image treatment applications, and are fully documented. The big difference is that ImageJ can be scripted to do everything, runs on any computer, and is free.
Click on the illustrations to enlarge them.

Using free software such as VideoLan VLC

VLC is a popular free alternative to the Windows media player, and also displays input from capture devices such as the EzCAP frame grabber. With the camera connected, select the the device as the VLC "Video Device" and click "Play" to display the camera.

If the display appears small or otherwise incorrect, before clicking "Play" click "Configure", select PAL as the video format, and set the video size to 720x576. The rightmost control on the display will allow you to adjust video effects such as contrast, brightness, rotation of the image etc. VLC's "Video/Snapshot" (or "Shift-S"), will save a snapshot of the display, while the "Tools/Preferences/Video" menu will allow you to set the format for this image file, as well as the directory where it will be saved (after re-opening the capture device).

Once you have configured VLC, you can open video input with "Ctrl-C" then hit "Return" to initialise the default stream and "Shift-S" to save a snapshot. Then use ImageJ or other free image treatment applications to remove noise (Despeckle), measure intensities etc.
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Using the RoboRealm Video Capture Software

RoboRealm is an alternative to AMCap/ImageJ that allows you to capture, transform and record photos or videos of the camera output using a single application. RoboRealm is free to download for a 30 day test.

When you first launch RoboRealm, with the USB frame-grabber plugged in, click the "Camera" button at the bottom of the display window. Then click the "Options" window at the top and select the device as the camera. Click on "Video Capture" and for the Video Standard select "PAL". Then for the "Video format" button choose the maximum video size (720x576).

Filters and Image Treatment in RoboRealm

RoboRealm filters (left side of the interface) are applied sequentially.

For the neutron camera try:
  • Filters/Salt_Pepper: removes hot pixel noise visible with long exposures.
  • Transformations/Rotate-Mirror: correct the camera's mirror image.
  • Transformations/Radial: correct pincushion & barrel distortion.
  • Try Histogram/Normalize: or especially Histogram/Equalize: after filtering.
  • Adjust/Intensity: and Adjust/Contrast: also adjusts these properties.
  • Histogram/Levels: provides an interactive interface for adjusting these levels.
  • Colors/Pseudo_Color: colours the image according to intensity.
  • Edges/Canny: finds and emphasises edges in the image.
  • Webserver: allows remote monitoring of the image over the WWW.
  • Loading/Saving: applies to AVI videos and GIF, JPEG, TIFF etc images.
You can store a series of transformations so that they are automatically applied to every image. You can take a snapshot image at any time, save it in various formats and later re-open it in RoboRealm or ImageJ to correct it off-line. The simplest format is Portable Gray Map (*.pgm) which contains just an ID line P5/P6, the image dimensions (720x576), then the maximum gray level (255) followed by an array of binary 0-255 levels.

Using a Linux or Macintosh computer

Recent versions of Linux and Macintosh systems should contain drivers for the EzCAP frame grabber. For example with Ubuntu linux you can visualise the camera output using the standard v412 video driver with "mplayer tv://" eg:

mplayer tv:// -tv driver=v4l2:width=720:height=576:outfmt=uyvy:norm=PAL:device=/dev/video0:input=1:fps=25

Mplayer also has switches to flip the image, take snapshots etc.

Both VideoLan VLC and ImageJ are available for linux and Macintosh.
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