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THine Raspberry Pi camera extender

I’ve just got my hands on one of these and thought you guys are going to love this.

Basically it extends the Pi MIPI interface over standard Ethernet UTP cable using THine’s proprietary “V-by-One” serialiser/deserialiser interface chips. Power is supplied to the camera over unused pairs in the UTP cable.

As the device acts just as a MIPI (CSI-2) transceiver, it is compatible with all Pi specified cameras - and there are no necessary software drivers. It really is just a jazzy extension cable. It works as standard up to 20m but some people claim to had it working at 45m (completely unverified, btw).

A couple of downsides though; firstly the HAT occupies a lot of the user interface real estate so, unless you’re adept at hacking the Pi’s IO system, you may have issues connecting your other equipment. Secondly, it has a side entry RJ-45 connector which doesn’t make things easy if your Pi is in a pressure tube, although I have seen some Ethernet cables at Digikey with right-angle connectors which should mitigate the problem.

Finally, there is no Jetson Nano version of the product (yet?) but I’m pretty sure there will be a workaround somewhere on the internet.

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Thanks for the heads-up @Sarawak_ROV :slight_smile:

It’s always cool to see interesting solutions to problems, and nice when there are things like this that could improve the way people approach things. I can imagine this could be used for having an RPi camera in a separate enclosure to the main one, or perhaps for drop-cam scenarios or similar. No doubt others will have their own ideas, and hopefully this is useful to them :slight_smile:

Also, thanks for providing a seemingly fair review - definitely always nice to see downsides and caveats mentioned, since no product is a perfect fit for every purpose.

Thanks @EliotBR, yes, this was a revelation to me as well; I’m currently designing an inspection system to be deployed on a Schilling Atlas manipulator. The original concept was to deploy the entire system on the grabber but there were huge technical issues.

The THine interface means we can use an RPi instead of customised electronics and we can have the main system in the ROV basket and just the tool head and camera on the Atlas.

Basically, for $59.00 we have saved over $20k in R&D and mechanical design, not to mention overpriced SS cameras.

Back to the THine interface; it appears that it only derives 5v and GND from the RPi user interface which means, with a little hacking and a longer FPC cable, it can be used remotely from the main RPi board. This obviously negates all the downsides I mentioned earlier.

I will try to post more of my results when I get the time.

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