Tetracam's Miniature

Multiple Camera Array


Note:  This product is no longer in production.  It has been replaced by the Macaw and the Micro-MCA.



Mini-MCA Image Size

The image that is captured on each Mini-MCA sensor and stored in each camera's flash memory is made up of 1280 x 1024 pixels (1.3 MPel).  Each pixel contains 8 or 10 bits of data depending upon the file format selected by the user (i.e., 10 bit DCM lossless, 8 bit RAW, and 10 bit RAW file types).

In total, with each exposure the Mini-MCA4 captures 5.2 Megapixels (4 X 1.3 MPel) of image data on four separate sensors and passes this to four separate flash memory cards. Each card stores a separate band of radiation.  The Mini-MCA6 captures 7.8 Megapixels   (6 X 1.3 MPel) of image data and passes this to six separate flash memory cards.   The Mini-MCA12 captures 15.6 Megapixels  (12 X 1.3 MPel) of image data and passes this to twelve separate flash memory cards. 

Since each image is stored with metadata that identifies ancillary information such as the GPS coordinates where the image was captured, the Mini-MCA's standard four, six or twelve 2GB cards are able to typically store approximately 500 to 900 images per channel.  Higher image counts are possible when larger compact flash memory cards are inserted into the Mini-MCA in place of the 2GB cards included with the system..

PixelWrench2, the software also included with the system, enables merging, viewing and analysis of the images captured at each exposure and conversion of the camera's native file formats into more common formats such as BMP, JPEG, TIFF, PNG, etc.


The Mini-MCA is a lightweight, compact version of Tetracam's MCA (Multiple Camera Array) system which it replaced.  Like the MCA, Mini-MCAs are available in three models. These are identified as the Mini-MCA4, Mini-MCA6 and Mini-MCA12.  The number in the model name identifies the number of cameras in the array.

Each Mini-MCA system contains 4, 6 or 12 factory-aligned multi-spectral cameras.  Each camera contains a customer-specified narrow-band filter that is inserted between the lens and sensor. With each exposure, 4, 6 or 12 separate bands of visible or near-infrared radiation move through each camera's lens and filter to form a separate monochromatic image on the camera's sensor.  The images from each camera in the array are simultaneously transferred to each camera's compact flash memory card for later access by the user.

Analysis of the combination of multi-spectral images captured during each exposure enables Mini-MCA users to identify plant stress factors, soil types, fertilizers, or insecticides; differentiate plant species or recognize other plant, soil or chemical conditions that are, in each case, able to be identified by their unique spectral signature.  Mini-MCA systems are also used to graphically illustrate vegetation indices such as NDVI that are defined by relationships of specific narrow-band wavelengths.  Additional information about observed vegetation may be derived from these.


Mini-MCA Sensitivity and Filter Selection

Each Mini-MCA channel may be equipped with a specific narrow-band filter which in combination with other user-selectable filters on the system's  other channels enables the Mini-MCA to expose a particular condition or enable the user to perform a particular function.  And, because Mini-MCA filters may be replaced by users in the field, these systems may be re-purposed again and again to detect different wavelengths at different times for different purposes.

The camera's image sensor's output is optimized for receipt of wavelengths at approximately 800nm dropping in a smooth curve to 20% peak output at 450 nm in the visible spectrum and 1050 nm in the near-infrared at the limits of its range.  A graph of the sensitivity of the camera's image sensor to impinging radiation is shown below. 

By choosing a specific narrow band optical filter that is within the sensor's range to place in front of each channel's sensor, the radiation that is able to reach each sensor may be restricted to a specific narrow band of wavelengths.  In this way, specific filter combinations may be selected that allow the Mini-MCA to expose a variety of plant conditions identifiable by their unique spectral signature.  For example, if the spectral response of various plants are known in the region of the spectrum monitored by the Mini-MCA, filters may be selected that will help differentiate one species from another (see graphic below).  This, of course, requires that the user knows which filters to select in advance in order to expose the sought-after differences.  Note:  For an excellent resource on spectral signatures of vegetation, reference "Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Vegetation" by Dr. Prasad Thenkabail, et al. available from Tetracam or our Multispectral Crop and Application Database.

Alternatively, the Mini-MCA may be set up to monitor specific bands of wavelengths from which vegetation indices may be extracted.  These provide information needed for extraction of NDVI, SAVI and other indices as well as information that is able to be deduced from these The band pass filters provided with the unit are customer designated at the time of order. These may be easily changed in the field in order to re-configure the system to look for different spectra to expose different conditions.  Standard filters (shown below) are included in the price of each system.  Alternative special or custom band pass filters are available upon request with prices provided via a quotation.  Additional information regarding band pass filter selection is available here.




Mini-MCA (with 9.6 mm Lens)

Ground Resolution & FOV Examples

The Mini-MCA's field of view (FOV) is laid out in a 4:3 format.  The horizontal angle of view for each Mini-MCA camera is 38.26 degrees.  The vertical angle of view is 30.97 degrees.  When carried in a manned or unmanned aircraft, the field of view of each camera increases as the system's above ground level (AGL) altitude increases. As the altitude increases, each camera's ability to resolve individual details on the ground decreases.   When flown at altitude of 400 feet above ground level, each Mini-MCA channel creates an image large enough to capture nearly one and one-half acres at a resolution of approximately two and a half inches per pixel in a single shot.    See chart below for example ground resolution and FOV when the camera is flown at various altitudes.  PixelWrench2 contains a FOV Optical Calculator for determining FOV and ground resolution at an altitude,


Sensor & Lens Parameters

Object Distance

(Altitude Above Ground Level in meters)

Ground Resolution

in mm per pixel


(width x height)

in meters

The values shown at right were derived from the FOV (Field of View) Optical Calculator contained in Tetracam's PixelWrench2 software (included with all Mini-MCA cameras) using the current values for the Mini-MCA camera shown below: 

Sensor Dimensions (mm):  6.66 x 5.32

Pixel Size (microns): 5.2

Camera Lens Focal Length (mm):  9.6

122 m (~ 400 ft)


84 x 67

213.4 m (~ 700 ft)


148 x 118

365.8 m (~ 1200 ft)


254 x 203

915 m (~ 3000 ft)


635 x 508

Note: In order to view a larger composite image of an area of interest, users may purchase third party software that stitches multi-spectral images of adjacent areas captured by a Tetracam system together into a larger image mosaic.  For information on such software, please send us email.


System Controls and Connections

  Mini-MCA System Menu

User control of the Mini-MCA is accomplished through hierarchical system menus such as the one shown at right. These are accessible by means of an external ADC/MCA Controller box and visible via an interconnected video display (supplied by the user).  The system menus may also be access via the system software (PixelWrench2) running on a Windows computer connected to the Mini-MCA through its USB interface. The system menus present users with a series of configuration choices.  Scrolling through and selecting these configures the camera.  Check out the User Manual (viewable via the link below) for precise descriptions of the system menus.


ADC/MCA Controller Box

The ADC/MCA Controller Box (shown at right) is included with each Mini-MCA system. This contains buttons that enable the user to manually scroll up and down through system menus, pick a selection or take a picture. Via its 16-Pin Multi-I/O connector, this box also may be used to interconnect the Mini-MCA with the RS232 transmit and receive lines of an optional GPS receiver in order to determine GPS coordinates at image capture time. The box may also be used to interconnect the Mini-MCA's NTSC or PAL video signal output to an external monitor in a manned aircraft or to a video transmitter in a UAV

USB Connection for Accessing System Via Computer

Mini-MCA image systems feature a fast USB interface (located behind the access panel on the Mini-MCA which also provides access to the system's compact flash memory cards). The provided USB cable interconnects Windows-based computers to the camera through the USB link.
If the camera is set via its menu settings to USBMODE = DISK, then the computer may transfer images and exchange data with the camera via this connector (but not trigger the camera to capture images).  If the camera is set via its menu settings to USBMODE = CAMERA, then the USB connector may be used to trigger the camera from, for example, an on-board laptop running Windows and SensorLink.   PixelWrench2 software supplied with the camera provides full camera control as well as image management and analysis via the camera's USB connection.



Back Panel Connectors & Controls

Power – 12VDC center positive supply capable of delivering 1.0 Amps continuous. The supplied wall-plug type supply connects to this jack. The camera is also supplied with an un-terminated power cord. In a manned or unmanned aircraft, 12 VDC may be supplied by the craft via this cable or through the Multi-I/O cable.

Camera Trigger - Red button that when pushed triggers camera to capture image.  The Mini-MCA may also be triggered in a variety of other ways - see below

Multi-IO Circular Connector - Information on the Mini-MCA's circular Multi-IO connector and the cables that that are available from Tetracam to connect to it are shown on our web site here.  

Check out the User Manual below for precise descriptions of all of the  Mini-MCA controls and connections.


Camera Triggering Options

The Mini-MCA cameras are synchronized to trigger at the same time through various means depending upon the user's preference.   These include:

  • On-Camera Shutter Release: The Mini-MCA possesses a red trigger button on the camera itself which when pressed triggers the camera 

  • Auto-Timer: The Mini-MCA may be configured to capture images continuously at intervals specified by the user via the camera's system menus.   Press the Shutter Release or trigger the system via one of the methods below to begin continuously capturing images.  Press the Shutter Release or trigger the camera again to stop continuous capture of images.  Always stop continuously capturing images by pressing the On-Camera Shutter Release or via a trigger command prior to powering the system off.  Interruption of power during continuous capture of images may damage the Mini-MCA. 

  • Remote Shutter Release: The Mini-MCA's included ADC/MCA Controller Box enables users to manually trigger the camera by pushing a button at the desired moment. This is the commonly-used  method of pilots aboard manned aircraft.    

  • Computer Triggering:  The camera may be triggered through its USB interface.  Optional GetShot software enables remote triggering under command of a linked computer. Optional SensorLink GPS waypoint triggering application enables camera triggering at pre-defined waypoints, a popular method used in manned aircraft.

  • External Triggering on UAV: Used on a UAV, UAV circuitry may be patched into the ADC/MCA box in order to deliver a low-true TAKE PIC command to the camera via Pin 5 on the Multi-I/O connector.

  • RS-232 Triggering:  The camera may be commanded to trigger by receiving an <ESC> T command via the RS232 connection on the ADC/MCA Box.  Due to the delays incumbent in a serial interface, the RS232 link is more commonly used to transfer GPS position coordinates to the camera at camera trigger time. When the camera is connected to a GPS receiver via an RS232 link to the ADC/MCA box, the camera records the coordinates of the location at which each image is captured into its log file upon receiving any camera trigger command.


Standard System Contents


The Mini-MCA4 System Includes:

4 channel Mini MCA camera
4 ea. 2 GB Certified CF Cards
4 ea. 9.6 mm lenses

4 ea. 1.3 MB image sensors (5.2 MB total)
4 ea. Standard Bandpass Filter Set *
- 490FS10-25
- 550FS10-25
- 680FS10-25
- 800FS10-25





Plus one each of the following:

ADC/MCA controller box & 6' Multi-I/O cable
12 VDC external power supply
System CD with PixelWrench2 software (PW2)
(See additional System CD contents under Features below)
Rugged Pelican Carrying Case
USB Cable
Power Cord (un-terminated on one end)
White Teflon Calibration Plate (AKA Calibration tag or Software Calibration Tile)



The Mini-MCA6 System Includes:

6 channel Mini MCA camera
6 ea. 2 GB Certified CF Cards
6 ea. 9.6 mm lenses
6 ea. 1.3 MB image sensors (7.8 MB total)
6 ea. Standard Bandpass Filter Set *
- 490FS10-25
- 550FS10-25
- 680FS10-25
- 720FS10-25
- 800FS10-25
- 900FS20-25




Plus one each of the following:

ADC/MCA controller box & 6' Multi-I/O cable
12 VDC external power supply
System CD with PixelWrench2 software (PW2)
(See additional System CD contents under Features below)
Rugged Pelican Carrying Case
USB Cable
Power Cord (un-terminated on one end)
White Teflon Calibration Plate (AKA Calibration tag or Software Calibration Tile)


  The Mini-MCA12 System Includes:

12 channel Mini MCA camera
12 ea. 2 GB Certified CF Cards
12 ea. 9.6 mm lenses
12 ea. 1.3 MB image sensors (15.6 MB total)
12 ea. Bandpass Filter Set *
- 490FS10-25
- 520FS10-25
- 550FS10-25

- 570FS10-25

- 671FS10-25
- 680FS10-25
- 700FS10-25

- 720FS10-25
- 800FS10-25
- 840FS10-25
- 900FS20-25
- 950FS40-25

Plus one each of the following:

ADC/MCA controller box & 6' Multi-I/O cable
12 VDC external power supply
System CD with PixelWrench2 software (PW2)
(See additional System CD contents under Features below)
Rugged Pelican Carrying Case
USB Cable
Power Cord (un-terminated on one end)
White Teflon Calibration Plate (AKA Calibration tag or Software Calibration Tile)


Mini MCA System CD Contents

List of files on included System CD:


Option Notes: 

*   Alternative band pass filters available upon request with quotation.  Additional information regarding band pass filter selection is available here.

Each Mini-MCA is a modular system that allows the end user to combine and sync multiple cameras together. Individual optical blocks may be removed from a Mini-MCA4, 6 or 12 to provide a lesser number of channels, if desired. 


Systems are provided with 2 GB compact flash memories (larger storage is available via quotation)

Other Options Commonly Purchased with this Product

**  For Mini-MCA Master Camera only

Typical Availability: 3 to 4 weeks - Faster turn-around times are often possible so please contact us to confirm availability or to obtain more information regarding configuration options and pricing.



Mini-MCA6 Equipped with Incident Light Sensor Mini-MCA12 Equipped with Incident Light Sensor


Summary of Mini-MCA System Features and Specifications











System Overview


5.2 to 15.6 MPel Configurable Camera Array of 4, 6 or 12 Multispectral channels (~450 to ~ 1000 nm) for Manned and Unmanned Aircraft






Sub-Models/Part Numbers


Mini-MCA 4 / TTC1024-Mini MCA 4

Mini-MCA 6 / TTC1021-Mini MCA 6

Mini-MCA12 / TTC1025-Mini MCA 12






Default Ports (one each of the following ports)


USB 1.1 data connection, RS232 Serial, Video (NTSC or Pal), Remote Shutter (External Trigger)






Image Triggering


On-Camera Shutter Release, Auto-Timer,  Remote Shutter (External Trigger), Computer Trigger via USB, RS232 Serial Trigger








 Voltage Input


+ 9 VDC to + 14 VDC Center Positive




 Nominal Current Draw


Mini-MCA4 -   300 milliamps

Mini-MCA6 -   450 milliamps

Mini-MCA12 - 900 milliamps






 Typical Power Consumption


Mini-MCA4 -   4 Watts

Mini-MCA6 -   5.4 Watts

Mini-MCA12 - 9 Watts













Mini-MCA Sensor









~450 nm to ~ 1000 nm







6.66 mm x 5.32 mm





  Pixel Size


5.2 microns








Each system holds 4, 6, or 12 user-selectable field-changeable 25 mm standard narrowband spectrometer filters (1 per channel in bandwidth increments > 1 nm).  Typical bandwidth increments equal 10 nm.


Mini-MCA filters are customer designated at the time of order.  These filters may be replaced by the user in the field with standard 25mm spectrometer filters in order to re-task the system with the following limitations.  Since wavelength impacts focus, a replacement filter should only replace a filter that is near the wavelength of the filter originally installed in the system in that channel position.  In the visible spectrum, replacing a filter with a new one that is within ±100 nm of the original is acceptable.  Beyond 700 nm, replacement filters should be within ±50 nm of the original.  Replacement of filters beyond this range requires factory re-focusing of the unit.   Consult the MCA User Manual linked below for further details on filter replacement.  Additional information on filter selection is available here.

















  Focal Length


9.6 mm fixed lens



















Horizontal Angle of View


38.26 degrees


Consult FOV calculator in PixelWrench2 - See also FOV Android APP



Vertical Angle of View


30.97 degrees


Consult FOV calculator in PixelWrench2 - See also FOV Android APP



Default Depth of Field


~2 m to infinity


Consult FOV calculator in PixelWrench2 - See also FOV Android APP



Image Exposure time


Auto or menu-selectable in ms





Default Image Dimensions


1280 x 1024 pixels (1.3 MPel)


Mini-MCA image size may be adjusted to alternate image size (1024 x 768) via menu selection




Default Image Storage


Images with metadata are stored on 2GB compact flash memories (1 per channel) in Tetracam native file formats (i.e., 10 bit DCM lossless, 8 bit RAW, and 10 bit RAW file types).  These are translatable via PixelWrench2 into standard image file types such as BMP, JPEG, TIFF, PNG, etc.



The Mini-MCA stores all images and image logs on standard compact flash memory cards (2GB storage per channel is included with the system  - up to 16 GB per channel is optionally available)

  Typical Number of Images Captured Per Mission   Approximately 500 to 900 images depending upon selected file type (i.e., 10 bit DCM lossless, 8 bit RAW, and 10 bit RAW file types).


  Higher numbers of images may be captured per mission by substituting an optional larger compact flash memory card for the 2GB card included with the equipment's standard contents.  


Image Capture Interval


Approximately 0.5 to 5.0 Seconds between consecutive images depending upon image format and resolution selected - 



For greater detail on this specification, See Interval Tables



Included Software


PixelWrench2 is included with each purchase of a Mini-MCA


PixelWrench2 enables users to convert images captured in Tetracam native file formats to file types commonly used with other software such as multi-page TIFFS.  Users may mouse over each pixel in the image stack to view a spectral graph showing reflected radiation v. wavelength for each location on the ground.  The software also enables users to convert any three captured bands into red, green and blue enabling their presentation as a false color image and enables extraction of vegetation indices such as NDVI from these.   See PixelWrench Product Web Page and the Help menu in the software for further details.





Mini-MCA4:  1.32 lbs.  (600  g)
Mini-MCA6:  1.54 lbs.  (700  g)
Mini-MCA12: 2.87 lbs. (1300 g)





Dimensions (mm)


Mini-MCA4:   131.4 x 78.3 x 87.6
Mini-MCA6:   131.4 x 78.3 x 87.6
Mini-MCA12: 154.4 x 78.3 x 87.6







Note: the camera will operate outside of the recommended environmental range, however performance may be degraded.




  • Temperature
    0 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees Fahrenheit) 

  • Humidity
    Less than 85% relative humidity, non-condensing    







Additional Mini-MCA Reference Information


Note:  All data shown in the printed reference materials linked below are subject to obsolescence prior to posting of new printed materials.  If discrepancies exists between data shown in these reference materials or between data shown in these materials and data shown on our web site,  please send email to for clarification.


Download the Mini MCA Brochure (2.97MB)

Download the Mini-MCA Users Manual (217kb)


Download the MIni-MCA6 Envelope Drawing in PDF format 


Download the Mini-MCA6 CAD File in IGS format


Download the Mini-MCA CAD File in SolidWorks format


Download the Mini-MCA12 CAD File in IGS format


Download the Mini MCA FAQ


Note:  The physical appearance and the dimensions of the Mini-MCA 4, 6 and 12 systems were updated in 2011.  Those shown in the photos and drawings on this web page supersede those shown in the current Brochure and Users Manual.


Tetracam Warranty Card




Mechanical Drawings and Photos




Low Resolution Examples of Mini-MCA6 Terrain Images (see Gallery for Originals)




Smart NDVI cameras are multispectral cameras for precision agriculture that can calculate vegetation indices and create false color NDVI images without the use of an image processing program accessory.

Precision Farming and Forestry need multispectral camera and NDVI camera images to create orthomosaic maps that allow interventions to be optimized. NDVI phenocameras that can perform time lapse photography are best for slow growing flora, while faster growing commercial harvests are best served by airborne NDVI mapping cameras.