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.

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.