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Pi add-on extends Pi camera range to 20 meters

Mar 11, 2021 — by Eric Brown — 3147 views

THine has launched a $59 “Cable Extension Kit for Raspberry Pi Camera” that extends the RPi cameras’ range from 15-20cm to up to 20 meters by using serializer-deserializer technology.

Official Raspberry Pi cameras have improved over the years, starting with the 5-megapixel RPi camera v1 from 2013 and advancing to the 8MP RPi Camera v2 and last year’s 12.3MP RPi High Quality Camera. Yet, many customers are disappointed to find the cameras reache only about a half foot away using the bundled Flat Flexible Cable (FFC). Now, Japan-based THine Electronics has launched a $59 add-on that ships with a 2-meter cable that can be strung together to extend the reach up to 20M without losing throughput.



Cable Extension Kit for Raspberry Pi Camera with Pi and Pi camera (left) and Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera
(click images to enlarge)

The Cable Extension Kit for Raspberry Pi Camera (THSER101) incorporates THine’s V-by-One HS serializer-deserializer technology to support up to 4Gbps per lane. The device can extend the transmission of 2MP, 1080p60 uncompressed video to greater than 15M with specified cables and can reach 20M at lower rates, claims THine Electronics, which operates in the US as THine Solutions.

Thine’s RPi camera kit, which we saw on Electronics Weekly, includes a “Plug Rx Board” add-on for the Raspberry Pi and a Plug Tx Board that attaches to the camera. The bundled 2M CAT5e LAN cable is accompanied by fastening hardware to extend it with similar LAN cables.



Thine’s camera kit boards and cables (left) and conceptual detail view
(click images to enlarge)

The kit supports all three of the Pi cameras, although the v1 must be a v1.3 and is compatible “for certain modes only.” No software configuration is required — the device detects which camera is connected and automatically sets the appropriate register settings.

The add-on has been tested with a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, but it should also be able to work with equal performance using a Raspberry Pi 3B+. Other Pi models with 40-pin connectors may also be able to use the kit, although there are no performance guarantees.



THine Plug Rx Board on Raspberry Pi 4 (left) and connected to outside PiKon telescope
(click images to enlarge)

As a demonstration, THine tested its kit with a 3D-printed PiKon telescope. The extended kit enabled inside viewing of the telescopic images while the telescope was set outside on a winter day (see image above and video below).



THine cam kit with PiKon telescope

Extending range is one of the main motivations to buy an embedded camera equipped with SerDES-derived GMSL (Gigabit Multimedia Serial Link) serial/deserializer technology. GMSL extends the camera range to up to 15 meters without losing latency. Unlike the THine kit, GMSL also provides bi-directional data, power, and control.

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GMSL-equipped camera kits such as E-con’s STURDeCAM20_CUXVR for the Jetson AGX Xavier typically ship with rugged FAKRA connectors. We have yet to see a GMSL camera for the Raspberry Pi, although E-con’s NileCAM30_USB GMSL camera is said to work with any computer with a USB 3.1 Gen1 interface. Since that is essentially the same as USB 3.0, an RPi 4 might work.

 
Further information

The Cable Extension Kit for Raspberry Pi Camera (THSER101) is available from Digi-Key for $58.78 and will soon be available at OKdo. More information may be found in THine Electronics’ announcement and product page.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

2 responses to “Pi add-on extends Pi camera range to 20 meters”

  1. Gabriele Profita says:

    That’s some crazy high price honestly…costs more than the Pi itself.

  2. Jrdiver says:

    Pi camera hdmi adapter extender works for this as well…and cheaper

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