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Linux-friendly TI DLP chipset targets 3D imaging apps

May 14, 2013 — by Eric Brown 2,427 views

[Updated May 15] — Texas Instruments (TI) announced an evaluation kit for its next-generation digital-light-processing (DLP) chipset, offering much higher resolution and brightness than its predecessor. The DLP LightCrafter 4500 is aimed at 3D imaging applications such as machine vision, quality control, dental and retinal scanning, spectrometers, augmented reality devices, and 3D printers.

The DLP LightCrafter 4500 is built around TI’s new WXGA-resolution DLP4500 chipset, which includes a more precise DLPC350 controller than the previous model, and features a 150-lumen LED light engine and a provision for connection to a Wand board for controlling the LightCrafter hardware stack via embedded Linux.

DLP 4500 chipset and LightCrafter 4500 evaluation kit
(click chipset image to enlarge)


DLP4500 light paths
(click to enlarge)

The kit moves from the earlier DLP3000 chipset to a new DLP4500 chipset, a 0.45-inch diagonal DMD (digital micromirror device) MOEMS (micro-opto-electromechanical system) unit. The DLP4500 is equipped with 1.03 million MEMS micromirrors with 7.6μm pitch and 12-degree tilt. The device provides a WXGA, 1140 x 912-pixel array, up from the earlier WVGA (684 x 608), supporting image resolutions of 1280 x 800 vs. 854 x 480 pixels, says TI


The DLP4500 chipset also incorporates a DLPC350 digital controller that offers more precise control over the micromirrors than was available with the earlier DLP3000, The DLPC350 supplies a structured light mode for one-to-one mapping of input data to the micromirrors. This enables binary pattern rates up to 4225Hz per second, or grayscale rates of 120Hz with 24-, 27-, and 30-bit RGB patterns. Streaming patterns speeds can reach 2880Hz, says TI.

Block diagrams: DLP4500 chipset and a typical app
(click images to enlarge)


The controller’s video projection mode, meanwhile, is said to provide programmable color adjustment, color space conversion, and digamma. The DLPC350 can also produce two input and two output trigger signals to synch multiple cameras, sensors, and other peripherals, as well as “enable interactive display capabilities with moving objects.”

Although the evaluation kit itself is limited to a 150 lumen LED light engine, it’s available with one of two different lumen DLP4500 chipset options, ranging to 200 lumens for the FQE model and 500 lumens for the higher end FQD model. This results in better performance in high ambient light settings such as factories or medical environments, says TI.

The LightCrafter 4500 board’s video interfaces include mini-HDMI, 24-bit RGB, and Flat Panel Display-link (FPD-link) ports. It also provides I2C and USB ports, for external interfacing and control.

Operating temperatures are said to range from -10 to 70° C for the DMD and 0 to 115° C for the controller, so we assume the DLP subsystem can handle 0 to 70° C.

Linux support coming

Unlike TI’s earlier LightCrafter 3000 subsystem, the LightCrafter 4500 does not have a built-in DM365 DaVinci ARM9 processor for its Linux-based control firmware. Instead, the LightCrafter 4500 board provides a pair of 48-pin header connectors for powering and interfacing with a Panda board‘s expansion bus.

To support this interface, a modified version of the Panda Linux OS with support for the LightCrafter 4500 will be released later this year. “The power of the OMAP4460’s 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 with POWERVR and IVA-HD hardware accelerators offers interesting possibilities in structured light, intelligent lightning, and augmented reality applications. The combination of high resolution projection, high resolution image capture, digital signal processing, and the use of different visible wavelengths in a single tool helps the development of interesting new applications,” says TI.

The DLP LightCrafter 4500 evaluation kit goes on sale for $1,299 in July. The standalone DLP4500 chipset is available now for purchase in either a 200- or 500-lumen configuration at an undisclosed price. TI’s DLP chipsets and development platforms are on display at Laser World of Photonics at partner stands #301 and #207 in Hall B2, from May 13-16, 2013 in Munich, Germany.

More information may be found at the DLP LightCrafter 4500 product page, as well as the DLP LightCrafter 4500 announcement page (includes videos). More on the DLP4500 chipset, including a datasheet, may be found here.

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