Raspberry Pi 4 and Arducam: New Opportunities and Challenges to Arducam Camera Modules

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The Raspberry Pi 4 model B has been released on Jun 29th, and now you have access to up to 4GB of memory and 2 USB 3.0 ports, and that means a lot for Raspberry Pi 4 projects, especially for camera applications. With a boost in its performance, this long-anticipated Raspberry Pi sets a new standard for single board computers, and at the same time sets a series of opportunities and challenges for Arducam to face.

As we’re pretty sure that all the previous Raspberry Pi camera modules will continue to work with the Raspberry Pi 4, Arducam is still your reliable supplier to buy raspberry pi 4 cameras from. However, what makes us stand out is not just the basic camera modules, we’ve still got a lot of customized and exclusive camera modules and camera adapters different from the official camera modules that could be used with your Raspberry Pi 4.

The Raspberry Pi 4 offers more processing power for our high perfomance MIPI camera modules

Arducam is one of the first solution providers to offer high performance on Raspberry Pi and has released our MIPI camera product series for you to use global shutter cameras or high definition cameras directly through the MIPI CSI-2 port on the Raspberry Pi with the userland driver. That’s highly anticipated on Raspberry Pi, but the higher resolution requires more GPU memory and more compute performance, which makes it difficult for the previous Raspberry Pi models to handle. However, the Raspberry Pi 4 comes with an updated SoC and offers up to 4GB of memory so that we can explore more features and even higher resolutions on the Raspberry Pi 4.

With the two new USB 3 ports available on the Raspberry Pi, you will be able to use Arducam USB3 camera shield better. The Arducam USB camera shield is a general-purpose camera control board designed for both PCs and embedded systems like the Raspberry Pi. It supports almost all parallel interface image sensors ranging from 0.3MP to 16MP in global and rolling shutters. The Arducam USB3 camera shield comes with a comprehensive software SDK library and example source code you need to make it work on a Raspberry Pi 4. Fast camera evaluations on a Raspberry Pi just got faster and easier.

At the same time, we also need to make sure our current modules will continue to work with the Raspberry Pi 4. Many of our clients are concerned about whether our camera adapters could work with the Raspberry Pi 4. Arducam will make sure the Pi 4 multi-camera support continues with our multi camera adapters.

Arducam Introduces 8MP IMX219 Auto Focus, Wide Angle, Zero-Distortion and Spy Camera to the NVidia Jetson Nano

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NVIDIA JETSON NANO AND ITS CAMERAS

The Jetson Nano is a powerful single board computer from NVidia. Featuring the extraordinary GPU performance, this NVidia development board is widely used in image processing applications like motion-tracking, face recognition and home surveillance camera systems, and a smart camera is a key to realizing all of them. However, currently, the market does not offer many Jetson Nano cameras to choose from. Those cameras are either expensive or not able to cover the various user demands.

FROM RASPBERRY PI TO THE JETSON NANO

The NVidia Jetson Nano is a significant rival to the Raspberry Pi as it provides much better performances at a reasonable price tag, and at the same time, it keeps a similar appearance and functionalities for the compatibilities. The Raspberry Pi camera V2, for example, is compatible with and used a lot on the Jetson Nano.

The Raspberry Pi camera V2 is an 8 megapixel camera module with the Sony IMX219 sensor. If you are on a Raspberry Pi, you might have to go with the official Raspberry Pi camera module V2, but that’s not the case for the Jetson Nano.

As one of the major manufactures of the camera modules for the Raspberry Pi, Arducam is glad to bring the varieties of the Raspberry Pi cameras to the Jetson Nano community. We are thrilled to introduce our newest 8MP IMX219 camera modules for the NVidia Jetson Nano. You will be able to use autofocus or a spy camera on Jetson Nano, and the M12 Mount (S-Mount) also ensures that you will have a variety of lens to choose from, whether it’s a telescope, wide angle, fisheye or zero distortion lens, and that’s definitely a good news for those looking for a Jetson Nano camera lens.

Basic Model for Jetson Nano camera

30mm Sensor Extension cable for Jetson Nano

Auto focus camera for Jetson Nano

M12 Low-Distortion Lens Camera for Jetson Nano

Wide Angle M12 Lens Camera for Jetson Nano

Shrink Your Raspberry Pi Into A 40x25mm SoM(System on Module)

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Raspberry Pi the most popular single board computer platform in the education, maker space, even industrial applications and millions of makers build their own project around the Raspberry pi boards. The credit card size model B/B+ is the standard form factor in the Raspberry pi board family, and upgraded from old 1B to now 3B+ while keeping the connectors and pinout is the same. And the compute module CM/CM3 also opens the door to commercial user to build the Raspberry pi into their own products.

However the model B is too big and heavy for some space or weight constrained application like drones, and compute module’s DDR2 style connector is also bulky and tended to loose in the vibration environment. Recently we are working on OpenHD project for drone, and thinking how to reduce the weight and size for Raspberry pi and put together with other flight controllers. We are searching for the alternate form of factors Raspberry pi solution but no luck, because the Raspberry pi announced there is no such clone boards, they monopolize all the Broadcom chips. Finally we come up an idea to hack the current 3B/3B+ board to build our own SOM3.

After carefully de-soldering the main processor and LPDDR2 chip, we reverse engineered the all the layout of the board and shrink it into 40x25mm size SOM3 board. Two weeks after we got the PCB made, and put all the components back on, surprisingly it starts working. And we can design whatever mother boards for the SOM3 as we want, the stamp style solder pins is sound and steady.

Not just a single case, I guess lots of hackers are not fully satisfying the Raspberry Pi boards in terms of the form factors as we do. We are willing to help them modify their own Raspberry Pi boards. Note that we are not selling clone version of Raspberry Pi board, you have to buy the board from Raspberry Pi foundation. Customization services is something we can help.

Disclosure

ArduCam does not intend to sell/manufacture “cloned” versions of Raspberry Pi boards because at the present time it is not permitted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, they have elected to keep the Broadcom chip and most of the “magical” parts of the SOC BCM2835/2837 CPU/GPU closed source.

We find this to be somewhat ironic considering that the a vast majority of hackers, developers, and hobbyists use Raspberry Pi hardware specifically for using, studying, or testing open source based projects.

We truly hope that in the near future it will be easier to create customized, modified versions of the Raspberry Pi boards.

In the meantime, all of us here at ArduCam will continue to challenge convention by pushing the limits of what is possible in the pursuit of cutting edge innovation.

Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) Camera Is Finally Coming to The Raspberry Pi Thanks to Arducam

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We all know that there is a CSI connector on the Raspberry Pi to facilitate the connections of a small camera to the processor, but how should we facilitate the small camera itself?

As a professional camera manufacturer and solution provider, Arducam has been obsessed with this question for the last 6 years, and came up with a lot of solutions like adding a lens mount, a switchable IR cut filter, a multi-camera adapter, autofocus control, and most recently, MIPI camera support to the camera board of OV5647 and IMX219.

Is it a perfect time to take a good break now since we have already covered most use cases? I don’t think so. Arducam never settles down, and we want to push the cameras for Raspberry Pi to the extreme.

I am glad to introduce you to our newest PTZ camera for the Raspberry Pi. It’s real PTZ with servos for directional control and varifocal lens for optical zoom, and it supports autofocus and IR cut switch control.

Here is a short YouTube video to give you an idea on this nice little camera.

What Are PTZ Cameras

PTZ is an abbreviation for pan, tilt and zoom and reflects the movement options of the camera, and a pan–tilt–zoom camera (PTZ camera) is a camera that is capable of remote directional and zoom control.

The Need for PTZ Cameras

A PTZ camera is not a still camera. Instead, it could move the camera and the lens, and that means a single camera can be used to monitor places that should be covered by multiple ones. You can save a lot of cost and time in purchasing and deploying the camera if a PTZ camera can handle the job. With its moveable lens, you will also be able to zoom the camera to see a specific area that you are interested in. To conclude, it’s “do more with less.”

PTZ Cameras Are Expensive, But the Raspberry Pi Ecosystem Is Not

A PTZ camera is usually expensive than the other surveillance cameras. This is what it looks like when you search PTZ camera on Amazon:

Search Results of “PTZ camera” on Amazon

Arducam makes cameras, and we’ve made a lot of cost-effective ones for the Raspberry Pi. The whole idea about Raspberry Pi is “low-cost, high-performance … that people use to learn, solve problems and have fun. ” This is also the idea we are having here. It would be great if we can offer a cost-effective PTZ camera on the cost-effective Raspberry Pi.

Arducam R&D, Reliable Suppliers, and Informative Customers

Arducam has good relationships with both suppliers and customers.

On the one hand, Arducam works closely with all kinds of suppliers, especially those in optical lenses, to achieve better optical performance on our camera boards. The first time we got our hands on the newest varifocal lens from our supplier, we started to think that whether we could integrate this stuff with a raspberry pi camera project, and make a PTZ camera out of it.

On the other hand, we have a group of customers that really enjoy our product and services, and they will always give us new ideas on our products and push us to keep going forward until we surprise them with another new product. We’ve heard a lot of suggestions and proposals from our customers in this PTZ camera project, which really inspires our engineers. Without them, it would be much harder for us to present you with a PTZ camera for Raspberry Pi with optical zoom, autofocus control and switchable IR cut filter.

Possibilites

Although we have released this PTZ camera for Raspberry Pi as a new product, we still think that it’s more like a window to new possibilities. Customers will be able to make greater projects with this camera, such as adding image processing and recognition to the system so that the camera will be able to track and follow an object, and then zoom in to get the details.

Please let info@arducam.com know if you are interested in or have great ideas about this PTZ camera.

Check out the PTZ Camera here or get this cool cam from one of our distributors!

Use Almost Any MIPI Camera Module on Raspberry Pi (up to 18MP)

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THE RASBERRY PI CAMERA PROBLEM

On May 14, 2013, the Raspberry Pi foundation announced the release of the first camera module board (5MP OV5647) for Raspberry Pi. Three years later, the V2 camera (8MP IMX219) was out with upgrades in resolution and image quality. Together with their NoIR siblings, we only have four official camera modules in total.

For years, the Raspberry Pi foundation has lacked broad camera connectivity and camera driver support., and we are all stuck with two image sensors: 5MP OV5647 and 8MP IXM219. Admittedly, those two have decent image signal processing together with JPEG/H.264 encoding, and cover most of the low-end applications which only require a reasonably good picture or video streaming.

Clearly the restriction of official standard camera modules has limited Raspberry Pi imaging projects to a narrow range of performance and features.

WHAT IS MISSING

Machine vision applications, such as robots and self-driving cars, may require cameras with a global shutter. The global shutter avoids the rolling artifacts when the object is moving at high speed, so it is crucial for image processing such as object recognition, detection, and tracking. On the other side, rolling shutters on official Raspberry Pi camera modules produce images that are blurry enough to lose this competition.

For scientific applications, sensors with high sensitivity outside the visual spectrum, such as in the IR or UV frequency bands, are required, and many times only need RAW data acquisition. For a multi-camera system, like a 3D scanner application, all the cameras have to be synchronized to each other, usually by means of a hardware trigger. Other users simply need higher resolutions than the current 8MP camera for still image capture.

The current 5MP OV5647 and 8MP IMX219 camera modules have become a handicap for the whole Raspberry Pi ecosystem and a barrier around its possibilities.

PROBLEM SOLVED

While the Raspberry Pi foundation is satisfied with the current situation, Arducam steps forward to enable advanced applications.

The Arducam team has worked hard in the past few years to solve the technical issues, and now we just released a low cost, high-performance camera board for the Raspberry Pi platform, enabling users to connect most MIPI camera modules directly to Raspberry Pi’s native CSI camera port. The Arducam drivers for these cameras are V4L2 friendly, and support basic video mirror/flip and manual exposure/gain settings. In short, this offering from Arducam enables industrial quality cameras to be paired with low cost processors, and will bring many new machine vision applications to life.

Note: Now the camera drivers are moved to the userland SDK (github link), V4L2 kernel driver will not be updated or supported unless explicitly required (customized work might be required. RFS = Request For Support. ). All camera drivers are designed and maintained by Arducam team.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of newly added camera modules for Raspberry Pi.

Image SensorOV7251OV9281IMX135IMX298AR1820
Resolution0.3MP
640×480
1MP
1280×800
13MP
4208×3120
16MP
4656×3499
18MP
4912×3684
Full Resolution
Frame Rate
100fps60fps
(@1-lane MIPI)
10fps10fps6.5fps
Color TypeMonochromeMonochromeColor Bayer FilterColor Bayer FilterColor Bayer Filter
Shutter
Type
GlobalGlobalRollingRolling Rolling
Output
Format
8bit Gray8bit GrayRAW/
YUV 4:2:0
RAW/
YUV 4:2:0
RAW/
YUV 4:2:0
V4L2
Support
RFS*RFS*RFS*RFS*RFS*
Exposure
Control
Manual/
Software auto
Manual/
Software auto
Manual/
Software auto
Manual/
Software auto
Manual/
Software auto
Gain
Control
ManualManualManualManualManual
Focus
Control
FixedFixedProgrammableProgrammableFixed
Mirror/Flip
Control
SupportSupportSupportSupportSupport
JPEGSupport Support Support SupportSupport
H.264
Encoding
SupportSupportSupportSupportSupport

Video Demo

Here is a video demo with the monochrome Global Shutter VGA MIPI camera Module OV7251.

This demo is based on old V4L2 camera driver, we will update the new userland camera driver demo very soon.

Please check the following new userland camera driver demo:

Go with Arducam

You can contact Arducam for more information: sales@arducam.com

Check out these cameras or get them from one of our distributors!

New Arrival: Arducam’s New Low Distortion Lenses

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In our last post of the new M12 Lens Kit, we introduced a variety of lenses that will cover most of the use case scenarios. However, “most” is not enough, and we want to take a step forward to face bigger challenges. Today we are glad to add several new low distortion lenses to our product family.

Seeing is believing

One of our low distortion lenses

To put it simply, the broader Field of View (FOV) you need, the easier you will have distortion. Because with more details captured, you’ve got to find a way to squeeze all the information onto the image sensor. The optical design decides that you will face this “lens error.” After all, it’s hard to think of another method that allows you to shot 180 FOV without bending the image to a sphere.

When we use cameras to take pictures, we are capturing the light and squeezing it onto the sensor frame, so technically speaking, we have not reproduced the object, but instead, imaged it.

Straight Forward

If you are using our cameras for surveillance, it would be okay to have those distortions, and the fisheye effect is even somehow aesthetically interesting. However, if the image is for the computers and microcontrollers to process, you will want it to be as accurate as possible. We can use an algorithm to restore the degradation of the image, but industrial cameras that can correct and restore the distortion is actually not cost-effective. Why not reduce the distortion at the beginning with a low distortion lens? That will make life a lot easier.

Look ahead

As the distortion is a “lens error,” we will need lenses to handle this error. The optical design of those zero distortion cameras is different and efficient enough to present you with what the image really is. We’ve tested one of the lenses on an OV5647 sensor, and you can see from the pictures below about the clear difference between the low distortion lens and the normal ones.

70 Degree HFOV lens with distortion
70 degree HFOV lens with low distortion

Here are the newly arrived low distortion lenses:

PN

EFL

Format

H-FOV

V-FOV

D-FOV

Distortion

 

 

 

1/2.5”

1/4”

1/2.5”

1/4”

1/2.5”

1/4”

 

M2504ZH05S

4

1/2.5”

75

45

60

33

96

55

3%

M25360H06S

3.6

1/2.5”

90

55

75

41

120

68

3%

 

 

 

1/2.7”

1/4”

1/2.7”

1/4”

1/2.7”

1/4”

 

M27280M07S

2.8

1/2.7”

110

74

85

55

125

92

<1%

 

 

 

 

1/4”

 

1/4”

 

1/4”

 

M40210M09S

2.1

1/4”

 

93

 

70

 

110

<1%

M40320M06S

3.2

1/4”

 

64

 

51

 

85

<1%

Check out these zero-distortion lenses or get them from one of our distributors.