My boss recently asked me how difficult it would be to design a product that could continually record fairly low quality video and store the last few hours in some form of internal memory. I have never done any development with video before. Where would be a good place to start my design?

Do you have any suggestions for an MCU? I have been using Silicon Labs MCUs lately for other designs.

What would be the best camera type to use to keep the project as simple as possible?

What format would be best to store the video in?

Would I need a video codec or is that only need for a device that supports playback? This device would probably just need to be able to transfer the video to a PC for playback.

Any insight you can offer would be much appreciated!

ADDED: I have been looking on digikey at CMOS Image sensors. I see that there are several on there made by a company called OmniVision. These data sheets say that "The captured data can be transferred either by a standard parallel digital video port (DVP) or by a single-land MIPI high-speed serial interface".
I have never heard of either of those. How do you go about getting that into an image file? using C?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Jordan, I would suggest you created a new question from the ADDED section and accepted someones information for your original question. That was you reward someone for their hard work and allow someone to be rewarded for helping you with the next step. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk May 24 '10 at 14:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ When you create the new question could you link me to your datasheets you found for the new cameras, I am used to doing that type of interface but I would like to look at the datasheet to confirm my knowledge first. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk May 24 '10 at 14:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is a new proposal at Areas 51: Broadcast and Media Technologies where we invites experts in codec development work. Please join and invite others. \$\endgroup\$ – Dipan Mehta Feb 28 '12 at 5:49

There's a pretty neat UART camera module that you might be able to use for this as well. It's made by COmedia, and the one I've used is called the C328-7640, but I think they've discontinued it (according to SparkFun anyway), with a successor "in the works". At any rate, you could easily interface with this type of thing directly with something like an Atmel AVR (or Arduino for that matter), and you can also interface with an SD card with that same chip (using the SPI interface)... you'd just need some FAT32 library code to make the card readable in something like Windows. I haven't done that myself, but I've seen AVR and Arduino-based projects that have done it. With a system like this I think you'd end up capturing and storing a sequential JPEG images, and then you could post-process them in windows to create Motion-JPEG file that would give you video.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's too bad that it is discontinued. \$\endgroup\$ – PICyourBrain May 20 '10 at 17:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jordan, yea but did you see the C6810 and C6820 on the COMedia website? I would contact them and see if they have any distributors in your neck of the woods? Those things seem like they are exactly what you are looking for... Let us know what they cost and if they're available in the USA, will ya? \$\endgroup\$ – vicatcu May 20 '10 at 21:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jordan - there are some for sale options here as well electronics123.com/s.nl/sc.8/category.241/.f \$\endgroup\$ – vicatcu May 20 '10 at 21:18

Have you seen CMU cam? http://www.cmucam.org/

Is this the sort of thing you had in mind?

  • \$\begingroup\$ That is very similar to what I want to do but I can't use someone elses product. \$\endgroup\$ – PICyourBrain May 20 '10 at 18:35

For really low quality (and cost), you could try hacking a GameBoy Camera.


Perhaps, just writing raw frames to a big SD card.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ very cool. I do like the idea of just using an SD card rather than dealing with file transfers. \$\endgroup\$ – PICyourBrain May 20 '10 at 12:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ What would you suggest if I want a little higher quality or color video? \$\endgroup\$ – PICyourBrain May 20 '10 at 18:32

The parallel digital video port (DVP) is a SGI thing. See here for the spec.


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