Making AVRcam (was CMUcam) clones
November 27, 2010
I've been looking for some video processing to go with my simple PICAXE robots and came across the CMUcam from the Seattle Robotics Society awile back. They have three versions but the one I'm interested in is the most primitive CMUcam v1. It's not its laundry list of amazing features I'm attracted to but its simplicity. It speaks standard serial to chips like the PICAXE, BS2, Ardu, etc. and can be programmed from a PC through a relatively cheap "SX Blitz" USB programmer. Not a lot of wizardry involved.
Per marketing vomit:
At 17 frames per second, CMUcam can do the following:
- track the position and size of a colorful or bright object
- measure the RGB or YUV statistics of an image region
- automatically acquire and track the first object it sees
- physically track using a directly connected servo
- dump a complete image over the serial port
- dump a bitmap showing the shape of the tracked object
At the bottom of the users manual it gives a components list (with Digi-key part numbers) and a schematic of the board. I took the time to look up the parts and their current prices as well as finding some replacements (most noteably, the 75MHz oscillator is only available in an SMD package). I also substituted in some lesser priced components (mostly the expensive gold plated connectors were replaced with cheap tin plated).
The CMUcam can be purchased fully assembled for $109 from Seattle Robotics themselves. What sport is that though? To build your own, it would cost ~$75 for a single component kit with everything listed on the spec sheet with my modifications. The price would drop to ~$65 per component kit if 10 of each part was bought. A Parallax SX Blitz programmer would have to be procurred to get the CMUcam HEX file on the chip but I'm willing to eat that cost and program the chips pro bono.
You would need to make the PCB but that isn't a terrible task with the schematic being provided and PCB services from places like Sparkfun making one-off custom boards for reasonable rates. Perhaps we could draw up a decent PCB of our own and use Seedstudio or something like that for all 10 PCBs.
Just seeing if anyone would want to buy a component kit like this. Sooner or later I think I'm going to do it, by myself or not. I might try to grab ten of everything if there's nine other people interested.