Camera Multiplexer for Raspberry Pi 4: Arducam Solutions for Your Applications, and the Coming Surprises We Prepare for You

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Introduction – What stops you from using dual cameras on the Raspberry Pi?

Many of the Raspberry Pi users may notice that there is only one camera slot on the board. Actually, the processors on the latest Raspberry Pi models, like the Pi 3 and Pi 4, offer support for two cameras, but only one of them is brought out on standard Pi boards. Although the Raspberry Pi Compute Modules bring out both to use, they still need customized carrier boards and are not widely used in the maker space.

Problem – Why would you need multi-cam or stereo camera for raspberry pi 4 (and more)

What if you need multiple cameras for a special application? Well, currently the easiest solution might be – you combine multiple Raspberry Pi boards and cameras. It’s feasible, but that really increases the complexity of wiring, the consumption of power and the occupation of space. In the end, the cost of deployment might far exceed your expectations.

Solution – Arducam want to be your savior in multi-camera applications

In the last several years, Arducam has designed and released multi-camera adapters for Raspberry Pi in 2 kinds: one allows you to connect 2 Pi cameras to a single Pi Zero, and the other allows for 4 Pi cameras to be connected to one Pi in Model A&B series. Both camera multiplexers are compatible with the standard 5MP OV5647 and 8MP IMX219 Pi camera drivers, so feel free to connect your existing cameras to our multiplexer and see them work as they should be. That being said, there are actually no restrictions on which model you are plugging those adapters into. You can put the stereo adapter where a 4-cam multiplexer is in and vice-versa.

The key point and fundamental theory of these multi-camera adapter boards is multiplexing. The Raspberry Pi only allows one camera to be connected and only recognizes one connected camera, so switching between different channels will allow different camera video streams to be transmitted to the RPi’s onboard CSI port one at a time. Therefore, the Raspberry Pi still connects to a single camera, but you will be able to see in the perspective of multiple ones.

Application – 3D Scanner, Dual-Cam, Surveillance, Drone Cam and More

Use Case 1: 3D Scanner with Raspi (Raspberry Pi) Camera

Recreate the 3d model from multiple images taken from different angles.

Use Case 2: Dual-Camera (360 view) for Raspberry Pi 4/3B+/3A+/3

Taking multiple images from different directions and stitching them together.

*We’ve also had an SPI multi-camera application here: https://www.arducam.com/arduino-panorama-photography-arducam/

Use Case 3: Enhanced Surveillance system with raspberry pi 4

Raspberry Pi-based surveillance camera, connecting multiple cameras to a single Pi, and pointing them at different locations to cover all areas.

Use Case 4: Raspi (Raspberry Pi) Camera for Drones

Most of the drone camera use FPV mode, but multi-camera setup will let you switch to side view or back view, so it’s even easier when running a mission.

Limitations – Asynchronous Switching

There are also many limitations with this solution: you can’t capture the image or video simultaneously. You can only switch to a camera and then shoot an image or video at a time. Because the cameras are running asynchronously, it might be at half of the frame rates during switching, and you have to drop the bad frames before getting the following good ones. The CSI-2 camera signals are very high-speed MIPI signals, which are subject to noise, attenuation, and interference. Therefore, extra-long cables and cascading is no longer supported.

Coming Next – True Stereo Camera, Two Pi Cameras Fully Synchronized

We will release a new true stereo camera very soon that let you connect two pi cameras at the same time and fully synchronized. Stay tuned with Arducam for more surprises.

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!

Arducam V2.1 Multi-Camera Adapter Board for Raspberry Pi 8MP Camera IMX219

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Introduction

Since the old multi-camera adapter board doesn’t work with Raspberry Pi 8MP IMX219 pi camera due to the camera driver issue. Now Arducam team designed upgrade V2.1 multi-camera adapter board for both 5MP and 8MP pi cameras. Consider that the high speed CSI camera MIPI signal integrity is sensitive to long cable connection, the new adapter board can only connect maximum 4 cameras to a single pi board. Because it covers the most of the use cases like 360 degree view photography and surveillance, and add more cameras will degrade the performance of the cameras. Like always please note that Raspberry Pi multi camera adapter board is nascent product that may have some stability issues and limitations because of the cable’s signal integrity and RPi’s closed source video core libraries, so use it on your own risk.

Application

  • IoT cameras
  • Robot cameras
  • Wildlife cameras
  • 3D scanner
  • 360 view surveillance camera

Features

  • Accommodate 4  Raspberry Pi cameras on an multi camera adapter board
  • Take still photos in sequence (not at the same time)
  • Display real time video in lower frame rate
  • 3 GPIOs required for multiplexing on the adapter board
  • All camera ports are FFC (flexible flat cable) connectors
  • Support 5MP OV5647 and 8MP IMX219 pi cameras
  • Support Raspberry Pi A/B/B+ and Pi 2, Pi3 B, Pi3B+

Video Demo

Check out the multi-cam adapter board or buy it from one of our distributors!

Second Generation ArduCAM USB2.0 Camera Shield

The second generation of Arducam USB2.0 shield is designed to replace the old one released on March 2017 while keeping the same form of factor and software compatible. The highlight of the new USB2.0 camera shield is that it has onboard 8MByte hardware frame buffer, and overcome the bandwidth and dropping frames issue when using the software frame buffer scheme. In addition, with onboard frame buffer it supports synchronized multiple cameras taking images exactly at the same time. Now it well supports both PC and embedded system like Raspberry Pi, and also can provide customized support for Odroid, Beaglebone Black, Nvidia JETSON TK/TX boards.

Features

  • Support any parallel image sensors
  • Support 8/10/12 bit pixel color depth
  • Build-in IRCUT control  (optional)
  • Need extra MIPI to parallel adapter board for supporting MIPI interface sensors
  • Support x86 PC, ARM 32/64bit, Odroid C2, Raspberry Pi hardware platforms
  • Support Windows, Linux OS, ROS
  • Support C/C++, Python Programming Languages
  • Fully customizable and can be ported to other hardware platform and software OS
  • Provide free binary SDK library and demo software source code

Specifications

  • Bandwidth:480Mbps USB2.0
  • I/O Voltage Standard: 3.3V
  • Connector: Micro-USB2.0
  • Onboard Frame Buffer 8MBytes
  • Size: 40 x 40 mm
  • Weight: 20g
  • Power Consumption: 5V/300mA
  • Operation Temperature: -10℃~+55℃

Table 1 Featured Parallel Camera Modules Supported

Resolution Frame RateCamera ModuleSensor Vendor
0.3MP30fpsOV7670/OV7725/OV7740Omnivision
0.3MP30fpsGC0308GlaxyCore
0.3MP60fpsMT9V022/MT9V034Aptina
1MP30fpsOV9712Omnivision
1MP30fpsNT99141Novatek
1.3MP22fpsAR0134/AR0135Aptina
1.3MP15fpsMT9M001Aptina
2MP12fpsMT9D111Aptina
3MP10fpsOV3640Aptina
5MP5fpsOV5640/OV5642Omnivision
9MP3fpsMT9N001Aptina
10MP3fpsMT9J001/MT9J003Aptina
14MP2fpsMT9F001/MT9F002Aptina

Video Demo

Documents

Arducam USB2 Camera Shield DataSheet
Arducam USB2 Camera Shield User Guide
Arducam USB Camera Shield SDK C/C++ User Guide
Arducam USB Camera Shield SDK Python User Guide

Check out the camera shield or buy it from one of our distributors now!

Arducam USB3.0 Camera Shield

Introduction

Arducam USB3 camera shield is the latest USB3.0 camera shields, it offers the improved performance and enhanced functions than the previous USB2.0 camera shield. It not only supports high resolution and high frame rate image sensors, but also supports stereoscopy camera and IRCUT control feature. With the given camera configuration files, user can switch between different cameras without any effort. It is the ideal solution for camera evaluation/testing, robot/drone, IoT, machine vision and scientific applications.Now it well supports both PC and embedded system like Raspberry Pi, and also can provide customized support for Odroid, Beaglebone Black, Nvidia JETSON TK/TX boards. Please also note that when this USB3 camera used on USB2 port the performance will be greatly degraded.

Features

  • Support any parallel image sensors (need proper register settings)
  • Support 8/10/12/14/16 bit pixel color depth
  • Support Stereoscopy mode for dual camera system
  • Build-in IRCUT control  (optional)
  • Need extra MIPI to parallel adapter board for supporting MIPI interface sensors (see Table1)
  • Support x86 PC, ARM 32/64bit, Odriod C2, Raspberry Pi hardware platforms
  • Support Windows, Linux OS, ROS
  • Support C/C++, Python Programming Languages
  • Fully customizable and can be ported to other hardware platform and software OS
  • Provide free binary SDK library and demo software source code

Specifications

  • Bandwidth: 5-Gbps USB3.0 PHY
  • Camera Databus: 16bit@100MHz
  • I/O Voltage Standard: 3.3V
  • Connector: Micro-USB3.0
  • Size: 40 x 40 mm
  • Weight: 10g
  • Power Consumption: 5V/300mA
  • Operation Temperature: -10℃~+55℃

Table 1 Featured Parallel Camera Modules Supported

Resolution Frame Rate Camera Module Sensor Vendor
0.3MP 60fps MT9V022/MT9V034 Aptina
1.3MP 50fps AR0134/AR0135 Aptina
9MP 7fps MT9N001 Aptina
10MP 6fps MT9J001/MT9J003 Aptina
14MP 5fps MT9F001/MT9F002 Aptina

Table 2 Featured MIPI Camera Modules Supported (Need MIPI-Parallel Adapter board)

Resolution Frame Rate Camera Module Sensor Vendor
0.3MP 240fps SC031GS(MIPI) SmartSense
0.3MP 100fps OV7251 (MIPI) Omnivision
5MP 15fps OV5647 (MIPI) Omnivision
8MP 8fps IMX219(MIPI) Sony
13MP 5fps OV13850 (MIPI) Omnivision

Table 3 Featured HISPI Camera Modules Supported (Need HISPI-Parallel Adapter board)

Resolution Frame Rate Camera Module Sensor Vendor
14MP 6fps MT9F002(HISPI) ONsemi
18MP 3fps AR1820HS(HISPI) ONsemi

Documents

Arducam USB3 Camera Shield DataSheet
Arducam USB3 Camera Shield User Guide
Arducam USB Camera Shield SDK C/C++ User Guide
Arducam USB Camera Shield SDK Python User Guide

Check out the USB3.0 Camera Shield or buy it from one of our distributors.

ArduCAM USB Camera Shield Released

 

This shield was upgraded to a new version. The limitation here doesn’t apply anymore.

The ArduCAM USB camera shield is a universal camera control board designed for both PCs and embedded systems like the Raspberry Pi, TI Beaglebone, and similar products. It supports most parallel interface image sensors ranging from 0.3MP to 14MP, including both global and rolling shutter sensors. The camera is packaged with the software you need to put it to work on Windows and Linux systems and  a comprehensive SDK library is provided to support this.  This SDK is fully integrated with Python, which allows for direct integration of our cameras with your OpenCV based applications.

The plug and play USB control interface simplifies integrating the camera with a wide range of computer hardware. The ready to use SDK library and demo source code makes the software integration process straightforward and efficient. Users can make it work in minutes without writing a line of code. The broad range of modules ArduCAM supports, combined with support for formats like RAW, RGB, YUV, JPEG assures our users a successful outcome.

The ArduCAM USB camera shield joins our product line of shields that offer SPI/IC2 interfaces. The USB camera shield offers significant speed gains over the SPI camera shield, running at as high a frame rate as the USB2.0 480Mbps bandwidth allows which can deliver  640_480(VGA at 60 FPS, through  4384_3228(14MP) at 2 FPS. By using a global shutter camera headboard such as the MT9V034/AR0134 together with USB camera shield, the user can achieve industrial level machine vision with our camera on a Raspberry pi without effort.

The ArduCAM is straightforward enough that it can be easily used with PCs and single board computers such as the Raspberry Pi and the Beaglebone. In short, the ArduCAM brings a plug and play solution to digital cameras at the hardware level.

Please visit our github to find more information and examples, and check the user guide here. Continue reading “ArduCAM USB Camera Shield Released” »