The availability of compact and powerful single board computers is enabling exciting new product designs. This is particularly useful in applications where miniaturization improves cost and/or efficiency. Additionally, vision systems are able to leverage fully-featured board level machine vision cameras to reduce a products overall size even further and provide operational flexibility while supporting custom or non-standard optics. Typical examples include medical diagnostics, metrology, robotics, embedded vision, packaging and print inspection, handheld scanners, benchtop labs and other space constrained systems.
In this article we cover several important aspects to consider when choosing an embedded vision camera; these include feature set, form factor and physical footprint, interface options, lens mounting, software support, thermal management, and electromagnetic compatibility.
Form Factor and Feature Set
When transitioning from cased to board level cameras, system designers should carefully consider their imaging and camera performance requirements. Many small board level cameras only support low resolution sensors, few GPIO lines, and limited on-camera features. Conversely, the board level variants of many full-featured machine vision cameras are simply standard cameras with their cases removed. While these cameras may achieve the required imaging performance, they may not be significantly smaller than standard cased models. Such cameras frequently use standard GPIO and interface connectors which are bulky and not ideal for embedded applications. For example, typical industrial locking connectors alone are about the same size as a Blackfly S board level camera.
FLIR’s Blackfly S board level cameras were designed from the ground up with embedded systems in mind. They deliver the same imaging performance and rich feature-set found on cased Blackfly S models in a remarkably compact 29mm x 29mm x 10mm form factor; while compact GPIO and interface connectors yield additional space savings. Another important benefit to FLIR’s embedded vision camera line-up is the availability of the same form factor on all cameras ranging with sensors from 1/3” to 1.1” – a consistent form factor across multiple camera models makes developing and upgrading systems and future product variants extremely easy.