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Paul Schnitzler


Optical Front-end of RCA HC-2

RCA CCD Camera  HC-2


RCA CCD - Portable CCD Production Model shown at NAB, named HC-2 for Hawkeye Camera 2. The prototype CCD Camera was first shown at the NAB 1983. A few were manufactured and shipped to customers in 1984.

Need: Grab a Unique Opportunity

: How to build a camera from an exceptional new video sensor?

RCA Corporation had developed a remarkable new CCD imaging device: It had the equivalent of 2 f-stops greater sensitivity compared with previous sensors and had a resolution that was suitable for the critical broadcast television market.

In the past vidicon tubes were the choice for production TV cameras. The new device was capable of replacing this tube and run with lower power and greater sensitivity. It was ideal for the hand-held news-gathering camera.

Approach: The challenge was great: How can three devices be mounted so that the resulting color components were in focus and in registration. How can the assembly be stable for many years, work equally well in the
Arizona desert and the Alaskan tundra, and yet be repairable since it would be a very expensive component?

At RCA Laboratories, Paul Schnitzler built a multidiscipline team of video and mechanical engineers, chemists, and mathematicians to solve this problem. Half of the top management of the Labs was certain that this could not be done: Make the three color images align to better than 2 µm? No way!

Through the use of electronic image comparison, differential mechanical screws, thermal expansion analyses, and specialized organic adhesives, all of these issues were addressed and met.

Two different mechanical approaches were developed; one was used to mount the optical components, the second was used to confirm the success of the assembly.

Results: The camera was designed around an existing vidicon-based camera called the Hawkeye. We replaced the optical assembly with a CCD-based unit (see left photo). In six months the design, manufacturing process and two prototypes were completed. The Vice President of the Broadcast Systems division told us that we saved the company two months on a one year plan.

The HC-2 went on to win an Emmy for technical excellence from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The design team won a David Sarnoff Achievement Award for their work.

Do you need to build or energize your team? Contact us now by Email.



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