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Linux-driven DLP platform for 3D vision teams up with Raspberry Pi

Jan 23, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 1287 views

Keynote Photonics has launched a $499 “LC3000G2-Pi” light-steering and 3D vision add-on for the Raspberry Pi, and will soon ship a “LC3000G2-PRO,” which similarly offers TI’s DLP3000 chipset, but runs TI Lightcrafter APIs on its own DM365-based Linux board.

Texas Instruments’s Linux-driven DLP (digital light processing) technology was originally launched as a projection technology, and is still primarily used for projection applications ranging from pico projectors you can plug into your laptop to advanced digital cinema projection machines. Yet, the technology is increasing moving into machine vision.

In announcing its latest “FlexLight” models based on TI’s DLP3000 chipset, Keynote Photonics does not even mention projection, although the devices can serve as pico projectors. Instead the new Raspberry Pi compatible FlexLight LC3000G2-Pi and more advanced, standalone FlexLight LC3000G2-PRO are touted for their ability to drive 3D machine vision, retinal scanning, and other “advanced light steering applications.”



LC3000G2-Pi with a Raspberry Pi Zero
(click image to enlarge)

The two “FlexLight” light steering platforms implement the same TI DLP3000 chipset used in Keynote’s soon to be discontinued LC3000 Lightcrafter, which is billed as a pico projector. The DLP3000 offers high-speed spatial light modulation with pattern rates over 4KHz, as well as enhanced brightness technology.

Whereas the $499 LC3000G2-Pi depends on a Raspberry Pi 3 or Zero to run its Lightcrafter API infused Linux stack, the $750 LC3000G2-PRO runs similar Linux software on TI’s ARM9 based, HD-ready DaVinci DM365 SoC. It also offers advanced features like a factory focus lock solution, a 140mm short-focus standoff, and forced-air cooling. Keynote Photonics also announced a LC3000-EKT evaluation kit product for developers for those who want to bring their own optical engine (see farther below).

The LC3000-G2-PI is the first commercial DLP-based Raspberry Pi add-on that we’ve seen, although there have been hobbyist hacks to control DLP equipment from the Pi, as well as Muve’s $55 Raspberry Pi 3 with nanoDLP software for controlling a nanoDLP 3D printer from the Pi. (3D printing was not specifically mentioned as an application for Keynote’s new products.)


DLP LightCrafter
Display 2000 EVM

DLP platforms have also run on other hacker boards. Last August TI announced a DLP LightCrafter Display 2000 EVM that integrates the lower-end, 0.2-inch, 640 x 360 ready DLP2000 chipset, and which is designed to work with the BeagleBone Black or Green. Back in 2013, when TI announced a higher-end DLP4500 chipset aimed at advanced 3D imaging applications, it chose the now defunct, community-backed PandaBoard as the Linux brain for the device.



LC4500-RGB with BeagleBone

Keynote sells a similar LC4500-RGB device with the DLP4500 wedded to an optional BeagleBone instead of a Panda. The $1,295 LC4500-RGB offers a 1.2:1 short throw lens, full color, 912 x 1140 high pattern resolution, and 1280 x 800 video resolution. It also provides 200 lumens brightness, or up to 350 lumens in full white mode, among other features.

 
LC3000-G2-PI

The LC3000-G2-PI can be “mechanically integrated” with the Raspberry Pi or connected via the HDMI port via a flex cable. The 7 x 7 x 3-inch, 1-pound device provides a DLP3000-based RGB LED light engine with up to 100L (lumens) light output. The LC3000-G2-PI has a focus-locking mechanism, a short focus with a 150mm stand-off, and a 1.9 throw ratio.

The LC3000-G2-PI can project images and video at up to 854 x 480 (WVGA) resolution, and can project high speed patterns at 608 x 684. The device provides an up to a 4000Hz binary pattern rate and an up to 120Hz 8-bit grayscale pattern rate. The control board integrates a configurable I/O trigger for syncing up with peripherals including cameras and sensors.

The GUI application provided for the BYO Raspberry Pi is compatible with TI’s LightCrafter API. The software enables enhanced pattern sequences and system controls, and is optimized for production deployment for applications such as machine vision that require structured lighting or precisely controlled illumination.

 
LC3000G2-PRO

The LC3000G2-PRO offers the same DLP3000 chipset and the other specs of the LC3000-G2-PI, but offers some more advanced features. Designed for standalone operation, it integrates a driver board that runs Linux on TI’s ARM9-based, 300MHz DaVinci TMS320DM365 (DM365) DSP SoC.


LC3000G2-PRO

The 140 x 65 x 35mm PRO models supplies a shorter, 140mm short-focus standoff, and also adds forced-air cooling. Other features not found on the RPi model include the addition of 128MB NAND flash for pattern and sequence storage, as well as USB, mini-HDMI, and UART interfaces.

Developers can create, store, and display high-speed pattern sequences via a USB-based API implemented with an RNDIS driver. A host GUI is also available.

A PRO+ model offers all the features of the PRO, but boosts the 100L capability to 200 full-white, monochrome lumens via a 3-channel LED driver board. No pricing was listed for the PRO+.

 
LC3000-EKT

The $499 to $749 LC3000-EKT provides all the features on the circa-2012 TI DLP LightCrafter Evaluation Module, and similarly runs Linux on the DaVinci DM365, the same ARM9 SoC found on the LC3000G2-PRO. What’s missing is the DLP3000 based optical engine. It’s assumed that developers will want to bring their own.



LC3000-EKT

New features compared to the TI eval kit include the ability to connect “all three LED colors and strobe signals” via a standard FPC cable to the developer’s own driver electronics, says Keynote. Alternatively, you can instead connect to the optional 3-channel LED Driver board — the same one found on the LC3000-PRO. Also included are a remote power-on/power-off connector and optional DMD or LED extension cables.

 
Further information

The newly announced LC3000-G2-PI and LC3000G2-PRO sell for $499 and $750 respectively, but are both listed as out of stock. You can enter your email address to sign up for a waitlist. The LC3000-G2-PI is said to be available in full- and sub-module versions, but no pricing was provided for the latter. No pricing was listed for the LC3000G2-PRO+ model that adds 200 lumens monochrome brightness.

The LC3000-EKT DLP controller is available now for $499 to $749. The higher price reflects options such as a 3-channel LED Driver board and cables.

More information may be found on the Keynote Photonics LC3000-G2-PI and LC3000G2-PRO, and LC3000-EKT product and shopping pages. The company’s LC3000-G2 series news announcement is here.
 

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