Hackaday Prize Entry: An Open Source Industrial Camera

Over the last few years, connecting a camera to the Internet has gotten cheaper and cheaper. The advances that made this possible did not come through security cameras, but instead tiny cell phone camera modules, ARM boards, and embedded computing. Right now, if you want a livestream of your back yard, you’d probably get a Raspberry Pi and camera module. This will work for 90% of cases, but what if you want to livestream a slightly harsher environment? What if you want image processing right on the camera? What if you want this camera to have a rating for environmental protection?

[Apodiant]’s entry for the 2015 Hackaday Prize is solving the latter problem. It’s an Open Source Industrial Smart Camera with Ethernet, USB, and serial outputs, an ARM CPU for image processing, all tucked away in a sturdy aluminum enclosure.

The preliminary BOM for this camera is an iMX6 – a very capable microcontroller that can run Linux and OpenCV. The image sensor is a 1.2 megapixel unit [Apodiant] already has experience with, and the enclosure is an off the shelf deal for anyone who wants to build their own.


If this sort of setup sounds familiar, you’re right: there have been a few projects that have taken camera modules, added a powerful microcontroller, and run image processing on them. The latest in a long line of these projects is the OpenMV. That had a successful Kickstarter, and since [Apodiant] is going for the Hackaday Prize Best Product competition, it looks like a good fit.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

36 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: An Open Source Industrial Camera

  1. It’s pretty far from a real thing. Why do these pipe dreams get featured? It’s a waste of time until there is at least some sort of prototype. Or maybe feature my open source moon rocket. Almost finished!

        1. I agree with this 110%, a concept is one this, actually creating a working prototype is a whole different story. Heck even a buggy kinda sometime working prototype would be good any more.

        2. I could be wrong, but wasn’t the contest to make something? Wouldn’t that by default mean that we were starting with nothing and people would be at different levels of completion?

        3. Unless you are doing a trivial project that involves stacking premade Arduino boards together, you are unlikely to see a real product in working prototype in anything other than rendering this early in the contest. That even more true when the persons involve are doing this part time. Not every project have premade eval boards.

          A good engineer plans things just like a good chef. There are lots of steps of prepwork designing/simulating stuff so that your first proto is close to 95% working and may only require a trivial tweak or two before full production. That is a bit different than the usual hacker software like mentality by hacking premade eval board until somethings work.

          Now having said that I have a realization that trivial projects that the readers could replicate easily whether or not they follow the theme of the contest are the ones that gets the most attention. It seems like the more complex ones are left in the dark because of readers’ bias.

  2. So if I get the Hackaday prize right, you can basically save the world with *any* electronics project?

    Good luck for this camera project by the way, I’m looking forward for the first working prototype.

    1. Basically yes. I’ve seen clocks registered into the hackaday Prize. As I understand, it’s just to get a t-shirt. I’d like to get a t-shirt too but I would prefer registering a real project. Not whatever I’m working on.

    2. From what they’ve said previously it seems that the “Best Product” prize is entirely separate from the “Save the World” category and doesn’t have the same restrictions on it

          1. Isn’t a “wide-ranging problem” kind of generic? I’m not saying that this scanner is going to end world hunger, but you can’t say that it couldn’t be part of a larger solution that would.

          2. I think that’s the point though, i.e. is the project open enough to be used in something that could address a problem.
            Obviously it would be up to the submitted to outline the possible implications of their project (documenting how it solves a problem is part of the rules too).

  3. Huge upward slope to climb. Plus you can already buy USB industrial cameras for dirt on ebay from china makers that at least use the standard C mount lens so you can get good optics in front of the camera instead of the junk cameraphone lenses.

    you can actually buy C mount camera boards for the Raspberry Pi, so building a machine vision camera is actually quite trivial today with normal hardware.

    1. there is a bit of a difference between what you are describing and what my goals are. I am not looking to make a glorified webcam. I am attempting to make a full featured industrial “smart camera” (god I hate that label).

      I can also assure you that I will not be using “junk camera phone lenses”. the lenses I will be using are Industrial spec and used in current commercial units.
      There are major downfalls with c-mount lenses. The main being that I would like to make this IP-67 rated. Not easy to do with a c-mount… well not without making it massive and expensive.

      1. The components aren’t very expensive, completed cameras however… I love the Basler stuff, mut my wallet doesn’t.
        The electronics I could probably do (the required bandwidth is peanuts; e.q. 2k pixels*1kHz*8bpp=2MB/s (or 2MS/s)), but reliabally mounting the CCD to the lens…

        1. We use a few of the Basler 8k cameras at work. They are nice… The problem with trying to make one is the minimum quantities. I could probably get my hands on a few samples, but a small production run would be next to impossible.

  4. i picked up a coupe for my industrial camera needs when it was KS’ing, i’m using point grey grasshopper usb3’s at the moment but want more res and speed., hacking on a samsung nx1 at the moment, which is not really that suitable since the mounts on DSLRs are awful.

    if i design my own, i’d go this way, sensor + xo3 + arm etc.

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