Build a Cheap, Quick (and Powerful!) Video Streaming System

Picture this scenario: you need to develop an embedded vision application – something like an object detection system or real time digital video processing – but you don’t have the time or money to build out the whole thing. You need something quick, you need something flexible, and you need something that is powerful enough for the job.  

Since embedded vision has become more ubiquitous in the past decade across a wide range of industries, you’d think the scenario posed above would have a clear, definitive answer, right? Surprisingly enough, there aren’t many options for easily prototyping solutions that will bring your design from idea to fruition that are fast, reliable, AND cost effective.  You’re in luck today, though, as we have a solid option that we think will take your video streaming capabilities to the next level.  

The Process 

When putting together a system like this, you needn’t go any farther than your own desk. You do need a couple of tools, though: 

To make sure we have the processing power needed to stream multiple camera inputs at a good rate, we’re using the ZedBoard, loaded with a Xilinx Zynq-7000 AP SoC, which features ARM processor cores and FPGA fabric. As an added benefit of using the FMC Pcam Adapter, any of our FPGA boards with an FMC connector will work, though for the purpose of this walkthrough, we’ll be focusing on using the ZedBoard. 

Step 1 – Follow the instructions that are listed in the “Demo Setup” section of the README file found in the project repository and ZIP archive. Keep in mind that the hardware platform and bitstream file must be exported before launching SDK. 

Step 2 – Head over to the full demo for a complete run down of setting up your highly efficient, yet remarkably easy vision system. 

Typically, you would need to purchase the ZedBoard, FMC Pcam Adapter, and Pcams separately (approx. $840 MSRP), but starting this month, Digilent is offering a pretty sweet bundle that includes the main components of what you’ll need to get up and running. We’re calling it the ZedBoard Advanced Image Processing Kit, and for only $669, it comes with the Zedboard, FMC Adapter, AND two Pcam 5C’s. You can upgrade to a quad cam kit for only $50 more. 

Let us know in the comments below if you were able to use this cheap and powerful embedded video streaming system setup!  


2 Comments on “Build a Cheap, Quick (and Powerful!) Video Streaming System”

    1. Hi Yamato, it will work only if it uses the same sensor and wire assignments within the cable. If the Pi cam doesn’t use an OV5640 for the sensor, it probably won’t work, at least without modification of the demo.

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