For a project, I would like to move the camera of a smartphone (Honor 7 in my case) ouside of the device by an extension of some sort.

I have determined that the connectors have a pitch of 0.4mm. The socket has 34 (17+17) pins while the header has 38 (19+19) pins, with the outer pins not being connected.

My current approach is to find a FFC/FPC with this pitch and connect it somehow, just to verify that this works at all.

The problem is that I am unable to find such a cable. The only way I can see is by custom order from a manufacturer, which I as a private person cannot do.

How would I best create this extension?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure you can't custom order it? Flat-flex cables are just flex PCB, and PCB fabs do orders for individuals quite often. \$\endgroup\$ – Hearth Feb 3 '19 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Typically FFC prototyping is extremely expensive compared to board prototyping. OSHpark now offers a moderately affordable service for flex circuits that could probably be abused to do this at prototype level, but I'd try to find a compatible cable and maybe make a joiner with two connectors on a PC board. Another option might be to see if you can deal with a USB camera, perhaps replacing the phone with an embedded board, or just trying to host in on the phone the way those cheapie USB video endoscopes try to. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Feb 3 '19 at 20:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to make you aware, phone compatible external cameras exist. I use a USB endoscope with my phone to look in things. A USB camera with the correct protocols will automatically connect and function when plugged in to the phone. The only reason you'd need a custom arrangement is if you couldn't find this type of camera with adequate specs. \$\endgroup\$ – K H Feb 3 '19 at 22:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ How far are you looking to extend it? MIPI CSI and similar signals are not intended to travel more than a handful of centimeters. There may be crosstalk and other signal integrity problems. \$\endgroup\$ – pericynthion Feb 4 '19 at 0:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KH Would I be able to use such an external camera via an API? I need to process the images from the camera, for example by applying filters to it. \$\endgroup\$ – Beta Carotin Feb 5 '19 at 7:02

If your desire is to do this project you will have to put on the engineering type hat and do what engineers do all the time. Here are some of the steps involved...

  1. Determine the economic feasibility of modding versus purchase of other technology to achieve similar results
  2. Research the technology used
  3. Find datasheets for key components (headers, connectors and camera)
  4. Understand the camera data transfer protocol and frequencies involved
  5. Learn about signal integrity and decide if lengthening the cable will be detrimental to the operation of the phone and/or the camera
  6. If not already a user get an CAD package that supports drawing schematics, building part decals and making board and flex cable artwork
  7. Draw schematics for any paddle boards and flex cables needed for the extension and extract layout netlists
  8. Create footprint decals for all the parts that are needed if not already in an existing library
  9. Pull part decals and netlists into routing design CAD package and make artwork for paddle boards and flex cables
  10. Contract with manufacturers to make prototypes of the boards and flex cables that have been designed
  11. Purchase or get samples of the parts that will be needed
  12. When parts and boards/cables arrive assemble
  13. Finally test it and see if it works
  14. If not working rinse and repeat back to somewhere around step 1.

If this all sounds daunting you may want to consider some type of IP camera (WiFi) and stream it to your existing phone and not have to build anything.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The complexity and required effort of your suggested approach is out of scope for my project. For now, I would like to just be able to somehow extend the device and see if it keeps working before investing a lot of time and money. \$\endgroup\$ – Beta Carotin Feb 5 '19 at 7:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BetaCarotin - Without doing the due diligence similar to what I describe trying to extend an embedded camera 20cm has very little chance of working. For your one off experiments you would be way better off with a WiFi camera or a USB compatible camera designed to work with a cell phone. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Karas Feb 5 '19 at 9:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would you also know whether I can access such a camera in my app? For this project, I need to process the image in real time. \$\endgroup\$ – Beta Carotin Feb 6 '19 at 8:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BetaCarotin - Well it can be said for certain that WiFi cameras (a home security camera for example) can be seen in an App on a smart phone. I would guess similar for a USB camera on an Android phone but have not tried it myself but you could pose that as a question over on the Android Enthusiasts Stack Exchange. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Karas Feb 6 '19 at 10:23

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