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Wandboard SBC gains camera add-ons

Feb 14, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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RadiumBoards launched a 720p, 1.3-megapixel MIPI Camera Board for the Wandboard a month after Avnet announced a $49, 5-megapixel Wandcam for the open SBC.

In recent months, three camera add-ons have emerged to give eyes to the community-backed Wandboard single board computer. In November, E-con Systems released a $69 Wandboard version of the 5-megapixel e-CAM50IMX6 camera add-on it announced last July for the similarly Freescale i.MX6-based Boundary Devices BD_SL_i.MX6 SBC. Last month, Avnet announced a 5-megapixel $49 Wandcam, and now RadiumBoards, owned by India-based VVDN Technologies, has begun shipping a $50, 1.3-megapixel MIPI Camera Board.



RadiumBoards MIPI Camera Board; E-Con e-CAM50IMX6; Avnet WandCam
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Wandboard SBC
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Wandboard.org’s SBC was announced last March, built around the ARM Cortex-A9 based i.MX6 system-on chip, with single- and dual-core versions priced at $79 and $99. In May, the project announced a $129 quad-core version that similarly runs Linux and Android. Since then, other open i.MX6 hacker boards have emerged including Fedevel’s i.MX6 Rex and Newark Element14′s RIoTboard.

All three Wandboard camera daughter boards take advantage of the MIPI-CSI2 camera interface found on the i.MX6 and Wandboard, as well as the built-in imaging accelerator offered by the i.MX6. MIPI-CSI2, which is unavailable on many open SBCs like the BeagleBone Black or Raspberry Pi, provides a more responsive interface between the camera and the host processor than does USB. Other interface options for the BeagleBone include the GPMC interface, which RadiumBoards uses for its $50 HD Camera Cape for the BeagleBone Black, linking to the CAM I/F interface on an Aptina sensor.

The Raspberry Pi has an older CSI interface that is used by supporting camera modules. For more on the differences between CSI, CSI-2, and the new CSI-3, see the MIPI Alliance website.

 
RadiumBoards MIPI Camera Board

RadiumBoards’s new MIPI Camera Board for the Wandboard uses the same 1.3-megapixel 1/6-inch Aptina MT9M114 HD sensor it used on its BeagleBone HD Camera Cape. The sensor delivers 720p video at 30 frames per second (fps), and provides 110° viewing angles and 1.7mm focal length. It outputs in YUV422, and supports automatic image correction and enhancement.




MIPI Camera Board
(click image to enlarge)

The MIPI Camera Board comprises the image sensor and a separate lens, mounted on a lens holder. A 100mm flex cable connects via a 33-pin FPC connector to the MIPI CSI-2 interface.

The 40 x 30 x 1.6mm daughter card draws 3.3V and 5V power from the Wandboard via FPC, and features dual power LEDs. The device is said to support temperatures of 0 to 85°C. A CD supplies Linux source code and drivers, and the system also supports Android.

 
Avnet Wandcam

Like E-Con’s $69 e-CAM50IMX6 camera, Avnet’s $49 Wandcam offers 5-megapixel imaging using an OmniVision OV5640 CMOS sensor. In this case, the sensor is provided via an integrated Leopard Imaging Camera Module. The latter offers 10cm to infinity autofocus and a 3.5mm focal length.



Wandcam

Like the MIPI Camera Board, the Wandcam daughter card plugs into the Wandboard via a 33-pin flex cable and the MIPI CSI-2 interface. The Wandcam ships with Linux 3.0.35 with Gstreamer 0.10. It offers Linux driver support via the Freescale Community BSP (Yocto Project Linux) and Ubuntu images from Wandboard.

No video resolutions were listed for the Wandcam. However, the E-Con e-CAM50IMX6, which uses the same sensor, offers 15fps video when running at the full 5 megapixels. In VGA or 720p video modes, it runs at 60fps, and if you don’t mind cropped frames, it can also handle 1080p at 30fps.

 
Further information

The RadiumBoards MIPI Camera Board ($50) and Avnet Wandcam ($49) are available now at the RadiumBoards MIPI Camera Board product page and Avnet Wandcam product page, respectively. More information on the $69 e-CAM50IMX6 for the Wandboard may be found here.
 

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