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Publication numberUSRE41144 E1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 11/203,651
Publication dateFeb 23, 2010
Filing dateAug 15, 2005
Priority dateFeb 15, 1999
Fee statusPaid
Also published asUS6618080
Publication number11203651, 203651, US RE41144 E1, US RE41144E1, US-E1-RE41144, USRE41144 E1, USRE41144E1
InventorsShigeto Igarashi
Original AssigneeWatec Co., Ltd.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Auxiliary amplifier selection circuit for a CCD camera
US RE41144 E1
Abstract
Object: To broaden the range of photographing of object, until illumination of 0.02 lux. Construction: In the case of sufficient bright object, photographing is performed by a conventional circuit at a high S/N ratio, at a high degree. In the case of an insufficient bright object, inserting auxiliary amplifying circuit m, m1, m2 or em and ignoring the S/N ratio, and raising the amplification degree. In the case of sufficient bright object, photographing is performed by high S/N ratio, and high degree, in the case of insufficient bright object, an auxiliary amplifying circuit m, m1, m2 or em is inserted ignoring the S/N ratio until utility noise composite of 20 dB (10%).
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Claims(15)
1. In a signal amplifying circuit system for a charge coupled device camera the improvement comprising;:
a first automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit (m1) having a low amplification degree and high signal to noise ratio;
a second separate automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit (m2) having a high amplification degree and a low signal to noise ratio that is less than about the minimum signal to noise ratio of said auxiliary amplifying circuit with a high signal to noise ratio;
a detector for detecting a change of object illumination; and,
a switch activated by said detector for switching from said first automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit (m1) having a low amplification degree and a high signal to noise ratio to said second separate automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit (m2) having a high amplification degree and a low signal to noise ratio when said object illumination produces a signal-to-noise ratio that is less than the minimum signal to noise ratio of said first automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit (m1) with said high signal to noise ratio;
whereby said charge coupled device camera is switched to said second separate automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit (m2) having a high amplification degree when ambient illumination of said object is extremely low thereby substantially broadening the range of light levels suitable for photographs by said charged coupled device camera.
2. The signal amplifying circuit system according to claim 1 in which said signal to noise ratio of said second separate automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit (m2) with a high amplification degree and low signal to noise ratio is a minimum signal to noise ratio that is greater than about 20 dB.
3. The signal amplifying circuit system according to claim 2 in which said second separate automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit (m2) having a high signal to noise ratio has a signal to noise ratio that is kept at greater than about 40 dB.
4. The signal amplifying circuit system according to claim 2 in which said detector is constructed to detect and activate said switch at light levels below about 0.02 lux at a signal to noise ratio above about 40 dB.
5. The signal amplifying circuit system according to claim 4 in which the light level for photographs are broadened to low light levels in the range of 0.01 lux to about 0.001 lux.
6. A signal amplifying circuit system for a charge coupled device (CCD) camera, which inputs an input signal from a charge coupled device (CCD) sensor and outputs a video output signal, comprising:
a first automatic gain control amplifier for amplifying the input signal from a charge coupled device (CCD) sensor, said first automatic gain control amplifier being capable of varying an amplification degree so as to substantially output a constant voltage within a predetermined range of input;
a second automatic gain control amplifier coupled in series with the first automatic gain control amplifier, an amplification degree of said second automatic gain control substantially being 0 dB when the video output signal which is obtained through the first automatic gain control amplifier and the second automatic gain control amplifier is not less than a predetermined level; and
an automatic gain control (AGC) level detector for monitoring the video output signal and for varying the amplification degree of said second automatic gain control amplifier when the video output signal is less than a predetermined level,
wherein the input signal from the charge coupled device sensor is amplified by said first automatic gain control amplifier when the video output signal is not less than the predetermined level, and the input signal from the charge coupled device sensor is amplified by both said first automatic gain control amplifier and said second automatic gain control amplifier when the video output signal is less than the predetermined level thereby substantially broadening a range of light levels suitable for photographs by the charge coupled device camera, and
wherein said level detector comprises a comparator which receives said video output signal, and said second automatic gain control amplifier receives an output of said comparator, said amplification degree of said second automatic gain control amplifier being controlled by said output of said comparator.
7. A signal amplifying circuit system for a charge coupled device (CCD) camera, comprising:
a first automatic gain control amplifier for amplifying a signal from a charge coupled device (CCD) sensor, said first automatic gain control amplifier being capable of varying an amplification degree so as to substantially output a constant voltage within a predetermined range of input;
a second automatic gain control amplifier coupled in series with the first automatic gain control amplifier, an amplification degree of said second automatic gain control amplifier substantially being 0 dB when a video output signal is not less than a predetermined level; and
an automatic gain control (AGC) level detector for monitoring said video output signal and for varying the amplification degree of said second automatic gain control amplifier when said video output signal is less than a predetermined level,
wherein said detector controls an amplification of said signal from the charge coupled device sensor by varying the amplification degree of said second automatic gain control amplifier based on whether said video output signal is less than the predetermined level, and
wherein said level detector comprises a comparator which receives said video output signal, and said second automatic gain control amplifier receives an output of said comparator, said amplification degree of said second automatic gain control amplifier being controlled by said output of said comparator.
8. The signal amplifying circuit system of claim 7, wherein said detector causes said signal from the charge coupled device sensor to be amplified by said first automatic gain control amplifier when said video output signal is not less than the predetermined level, and causes said signal from the charge coupled device sensor to be amplified by said first and second automatic gain control amplifiers when said video output signal is less than the predetermined level.
9. The signal amplifying circuit system of claim 7, further comprising:
a switch coupled to said second automatic gain control amplifier, said detector controlling said switch to control said amplification.
10. The signal amplifying circuit system of claim 7, wherein said detector varies the amplification degree of said second automatic gain control amplifier such that a voltage of said video output signal is maintained at a constant voltage.
11. The signal amplifying circuit system of claim 7, further comprising:
a low pass filter receiving the amplified input signal from the first automatic gain control amplifier, and outputting a filtered signal, said second automatic gain control amplifier amplifying said filtered signal.
12. The signal amplifying circuit system of claim 11, wherein said predetermined level comprises a reference voltage, said comparator comparing a voltage of said video output signal to said reference voltage.
13. The signal amplifying circuit system of claim 12, wherein when said voltage of said video output signal is less than said reference voltage, said output of said comparator causes a change in said amplification degree of said second automatic gain control amplifier.
14. The signal amplifying circuit system of claim 6, wherein a signal from the charge coupled device sensor is not amplified by said second automatic gain control amplifier when a video output signal not less than the predetermined level.
15. The signal amplifying circuit system of claim 12, wherein if said detector detects that said voltage of said video output signal is less than said reference voltage, said output of said comparator increases said amplification degree of said second automatic gain control amplifier.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a signal amplifying circuit in a CCD (Charge Couple Device) camera using an area image sensor for use in a device such as a monitoring video camera.

2. Background Information

Heretofore, as shown in FIG. 5, in a conventional CCD camera, a light signal passed through lens a is transduced into signal S1, by CCD sensor b. The signal S1 is a sampling held in CDS c as signal S1, the signal S1 is processed in processing circuit d and output from signal input part 1 as signal S2 as shown in FIG. 6.

This invention relates to processing circuit d which is explained in more detail. As shown in FIG. 5, OSC (oscillator) 2 generates a synchronizing signal, timing generator 3 drives a CCD, V driver 4 is an iris signal S4 output from processing circuit d for an automatic iris.

To obtain composite video signal S1, processing circuit d is constructed as shown in FIG. 7. Input signal S1 is amplified to a predetermined level V1 in AGC amplifier e and transduced into constant level signal S3. On the other hand, signal S4 amplified in fixed amplifier f is output as a control signal of a lens having an automatic iris or control signal for inputting a light limiting circuit.

Operation of above device is as follows:

Signal S3, AGC, amplified in AGC amplifier e is passed by low pass filter g, to remove a useless wide frequency component, passed through gamma correction circuit h, white clip circuit i, composite sync mixer j, driver k (matching to 75 ohm line) and output as a video output signal S2 shown in FIG. 6. In the composite video output signal, S2, the S/N (signal to noise) ratio is set to more than 40 dB (1%). This invention concerns the S/N ratio.

Problems to be Solved by This Invention.

If an object is illuminated by a sufficient light source of more than 0.02 lux, the S/N ratio is kept more than 40 dB (1%) and no problems occur, but in low illumination such as night, photographing is impossible. However, in night photographing, it is desired to broaden the range of illuminating until 0.02 lux under a wrong S/N ratio.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

This invention intends to eliminate said drawbacks, and an object of this invention is to provide a signal amplifying circuit in a CCD (Charge Couple Device) camera in which under a sufficient object illuminating conditions (normally more than 0.02 lux), photographing normal circuit construction (FIGS. 5 and 7), while under a low object illuminating condition, photographing while ignoring the S/N ratio, by inserting auxiliary amplifying circuit m or raising the amplification factor of AGC amplifier e.

Namely, in this invention when photographing at normal object illumination, the photograph is at a high S/N ratio and high grade, but when photographing at a low object illumination, the photograph is at high noise and ignoring the utility 20 db S/N ratio (noise component 10%).

The detection means of said low object illumination is an output level of fixed amplifier f or lowering of the video output level (FIG. 2).

The above and other objects, advantages and novel features of this invention will be more fully understood from the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numbers indicate like or similar parts throughout wherein:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a first embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 2(A) shows the relation of object Lux (abscissa) and video output voltage (ordinate) of a prior device (dotted line) and this invention. (B) shows the relation of object Lux (abscissa) and S/N ratio (ordinate) of this invention. (C) shows the relation of object Lux (abscissa) and gain of auxiliary amplifying circuit m (ordinate) of this invention.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a second embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a third embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a conventional CCD camera.

FIG. 6 is a graph of video output signal S2.

FIG. 7 is a block diagram of the processing circuit d in a conventional CCD camera.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

According to claim 1 of this invention, signal processing circuit d of a video camera using a CCD, area sensor etc. is increased in an auxiliary amplifying circuit m, the amplification degree of the auxiliary amplifying circuit m being raised according to necessity so as to maintain the video output voltage at a predetermined voltage and vary the amplification degree of the processing circuit d so that the range of photographing is broadened.

According to claim 2 of this invention, signal processing circuit d of a video camera using a CCD, area sensor etc. provides an automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit m1 of high S/N ratio, low amplification degree and automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit m2 of low S/N ratio, high amplification degree. According to necessity, it is possible to selectively use automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit m1 of high S/N ratio or automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit m2 of low S/N ratio.

According to claim 3 of this invention, signal processing circuit d of a video camera using a CCD, area sensor etc. the function of said two automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuits m1 and m2 in claim 2 are included in one AGC amplifying circuit em which functions are switched by outer switching.

According to claim 4 of this invention, to detect the change of object illumination, the output voltage or the signal level in signal amplifying process is detected.

Embodiments

First Embodiment.

FIG. 1 illustrates the first embodiment of this invention.

As shown in FIG. 1, in this invention, auxiliary amplifying circuit m is newly inserted between low pass filter g and gamma correction circuit h in a conventional circuit shown in FIGS. 5 and 7 which raises the amplification degree by detecting the variation in the video output voltage (FIG. 2). The amplification degree of the auxiliary amplifying circuit m changes from 0 dB to 20 dB.

Operation of above device is as follows:

In normal photography, the amplification degree is 0 dB.

AGC level detector r monitors video output signal S2 and if the image signal is lower than 0.72 v, the output of level detector r changes and the amplification degree of the auxiliary amplifying circuit m increases.

By said feedback operation, the video output voltage is maintained at a regular voltage of 0.72 v.

In the first embodiment, auxiliary amplifying circuit m is newly inserted between low pass filter g and gamma correction circuit h, but may be inserted between gamma correction circuit h and white clip circuit i, or between AGC amplifier e and low pass filter g, or between signal input part 1 and AGC amplifier e.

The above relationships are shown in the graphs of FIGS. 2(A), (B), (C). FIG. 2(A) shows the relationship of object Lux (abscissa) and video output voltage (ordinate) of the prior device (dotted line) compared with this invention. The hatched lines shows the broadened range for photographs in this invention. FIG. 2(B) shows the relationship of object Lux (abscissa) and S/N ratio (ordinate) of this invention. FIG. 2 (C) shows the relationship of object Lux (abscissa) and gain of auxiliary amplifying circuit m (ordinate) of this invention. In the prior device, as shown in FIG. 2(A), dotted line indicates the prior device, photographing is impossible at object Lux of 0.02 Lux (S/N ratio is 40 dB).

In this invention, as shown in FIG. 2(C), the object Lux is lower than 0.02 Lux, the amplification degree increases, and photographing is possible until an object of Lux 0.002 Lux. But the S/N ratio is lowered to 25 dB as shown in FIG. 2(B).

Second Embodiment.

FIG. 3 shows the second embodiment of this invention.

As shown in FIG. 2, in the second embodiment, in signal processing circuit d of video camera using a CCD, area sensor etc. an automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit m1 of high S/N ratio amplification degree 0 dB to 26 dB and an automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit m2 of low S/N ratio amplification degree 0 dB to 46 dB are provided. According to necessity, it is possible to selectively use automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit m1 of high S/N ratio or automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit m2 of low S/N ratio by switch S. VDD is an electric source.

As shown in FIG. 2(C), the object illumination is higher than 0.02 Lux, amplification degree automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit m1 of high S/N and low amplification degree 0 dB to 26 dB works. For an object illumination lower than 0.02 Lux, high amplification degree automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuit m2 works, and the amplification degree increases. However the S/N ratio is lower than 25 dB as shown in FIG. 2(B).

Third Embodiment.

FIG. 4 shows the third embodiment of this invention.

As shown in FIG. 4, in the third embodiment, two automatic gain control auxiliary amplifying circuits m1 m2 are provided in one AGC amplifying circuit em and their amplification degrees are changed by switch S and voltage or current.

Maximum amplification degrees are 0 dB to 26 dB and 0 dB to 46 dB and their amplification degrees are selected by switch S. Level of entering light are detected by level detecting circuit r and controls the switch S and set the amplification degree to a suitable value.

As explained in the construction, the same effects are accomplished.

Effect of This Invention

According to this invention, in the case of sufficiently bright object, photographing is performed by conventional circuit, in the case of insufficient bright object, inserting auxiliary amplifying circuit m, m1, m2 or em, ignoring the S/N ratio, and raising the amplification degree, in the case of a sufficient bright object, photographing is performed by high S/N ratio, and high degree, in the case of insufficient bright object, inserting auxiliary amplifying circuit m, m1, m2 or em, and ignoring S/N ratio, utility photographing is possible.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification348/229.1, 348/E05.041, 348/366, 348/364
International ClassificationH04N5/243, H04N5/14, H04N5/235, H04N5/238
Cooperative ClassificationH04N5/243
European ClassificationH04N5/243
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 16, 2010FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8