The heart of the MicronEye is the OpticRAM.
The opticRAM was developed and is manufactured by Micron Technology, Inc. The OpticRAM is composed of 65,536 individual image sensing elements called pixels. These pixels are organized into two rectangles (often referred to as arrays) of 128 x 256 pixels each. Each array of cells is separated by an optical "dead" zone of about 25 elements in width.
When an image is focused onto the OpticRAM, a digital representation of the image is "exposed" on the OpticRAM. The MicronEye transmits this image from the OpticRAM to the computer. The software included with the MicronEye takes the transmitted image and displays it on the computer's graphics screen.
Because the image created by the OpticRAM is digital, the image produced is black and white. The MicronEye may produce shades of gray by multiple scans at different exposure times. MicronEye users with an Epson printer can produce pictures with grey tones with the software provided.
The low cost of the MicronEye is directly attributable to the technological advance represented by Micron's OpticRAM. In terms of cost per pixel, the OpticRAM represents a 1000x reduction in price over earlier generation image-sensing chips such as the CCD. As a result, the MicronEye brings capabilities to your computer which were previously available only to large industrial users.
The electronics in the MicronEye provide an interface between the opticRAM and computer. It also provides a means by which the Micron Eye can receive commands from the computer. Using a crystal to assure accuracy, the Micron Eye drive electronics provides all the requisite timing signals and circuitry to execute commands received from the computer. The Micron Eye automatically sequences the OpticRAM so that each image sensing element in the OpticRAM is accessed and the appropriate video information is returned to the computer for display or processing.
In addition, the MicronEye's electronic shutter is easily controlled by sending the Micron Eye the appropriate commands. A command to the Micron Eye to SOAK, "opens" the shutter. After the appropriate period of exposure has elapsed, a command to the Micron Eye to REFRESH will "close" the shutter. The software provided automatically performs these functions. The Chapter on Technical Information explains the commands available for controlling the MicronEye for users who want to design their own assembly language interfaces. (For most users, the routines provided should be more than adequate.) As you might suspect,the MicronEye's shutter is not a mechanical shutter. The MicronEye controls whether or not the OpticRAM is sensitive to light or not. This feature allows for precise continuous control of the MicronEye's "shutter speed."
If for any reason you must remove the OpticRAM from its socket, caution is imperative. The OpticRAM is susceptible to static and can be damaged by static electricity. Be certain to properly orient the OpticRAM when reinserting it into the socket. For the bullet, the OpticRAM is oriented properly when the red edge of the ribbon cable is on the same side of the camera as the Pin 1 notch on the OpticRAM. For the camera, the OpticRAM is oriented properly when the Pin 1 notch on the OpticRAM is on the same edge as the Pin 1 notch on other IC's in the camera. Removal of the OpticRAM from the bullet may require that the tips of the chip extractor tool be bent out slightly to accommodate the narrowness of the bullet housing.