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PICList Thread
'[OT] Cheap Video camera discussion'
1999\11\23@171335 by Russell McMahon

picon face
Here's a heavily edited thread from the Legged Robot :-) list re CCD an
similar video cameras suitable for microprocessor interface. Should be of
interest to PIC users or anyone interested ion cheap machine vision.

If anyone is keen enough I can copy them the original messages (about 15 of
them) but I think I've got most of the useful content here.



I'm looking for a CCD camera that I can directly access with a
Microcontroller. The only kind of CCD camera I can find outputs composite
video. What I'm looking for is something that looks more like a memory
device (if this even exists).

Look at the VV6301 (color) or VV5301 (b&w) digital CCD's at:
I got the eval kit for the 6300 (6301 predecessor) and it was REALLY
easy to use and hooks directly to a microprocessor. If you want the
sample code I wrote or any tech questions feel free to ask. The eval kit
was 110$ with a single (surface mount) each at 25-30$ in single qty's.
Eval kit is a good start.

It seems they have modifed the eval kit extensively. It may be quite a
bit more $$$. It may be better to go with the plain chip, the old eval
kit only added a few extra external parts (resistors, caps, and a serial
driver) to simplify initial design. THe only real problem is that the
CCD chip is only available in surface mount. You may be able to get a
surface-mount to dip adapter PCB from digikey or the like.

This is a robot platform that has a Micro that has a printer port for a
cam type of ccd camera. You can buy the system from them I think from here:
But really what you need is a Single Board Computer that runs DOS and the
make sure you get a printer port camera that can run under DOS or something
similure. For micro with 32K or less ram I really don't think you'll be able
to get a camera to run with one unless you know some Magic Spells for that
sort of project! =)

Try the Photobit chips..
Insight Electronics sells the chips.
It is not exactly a memory device, but the digital output stream
could be fed into a memory device, and then you could put together
the interface you are looking for.

I checked out the specs. These photobit devices look really impressive!
Better resolution and speed for cheaper price. I priced the
300x300-36fps (PB-0100) for about 20 bucks US versus the VV6300 160x120
for about 36-40 bucks! The schematic is easier for the photobit as well.
Contains the same I2C control bus and 4bit/8bit pixel out interface. The
VV6300 has more pixel data output options (serial/4bit/8bit or I2C
output) but if you want parallel data out (recommended) the photobit's
definately seems best buy.
I'm ordering a few for eval.

Has anyone found a source for any cheap board mount lenses? What lenses are
people planning on using with these image sensors?
I'd like to use the Photbit devices also, but don't know where to buy the
lenses. Ideally I'd like a range of lens choices from cheap plastic ones,
to mounts with screw in high quality lenses...

Go to and click on products. You can then download the
product specification pdf there. What more information would you like? I
just read the product specification document today.
I have some code for bayer color quantization decoding and misc other
routines for the VV6300 that I will post to my website soon. I will get
the photobit chips next week and will post any information as I get it
to my website. The circuit is really simple and included in the product
specs. It could be a little while before I start fiddling with them
since I have a lot of other stuff to complete.
I ordered 3 of "PB-0101 44pin Ceramic Byte Color" (~22$ US if I remember
right) from CDC Corp at 1-(888)-677-3135. 5$ shipping - FEDEX or UPS...a
little advice to Canadians (such as myself) - order through FEDEX, UPS
in Canada is REALLY unreliable.
I too am interested in finding good lenses for these sensors. I am
thinking of ordering some through a surplus magazine I saw "All
Electronics" (, I seem to remember them
having electric focus lenses in thier collection as well, really cheap.
Look at thier online catalog in pdf format.

addendum to my last message: seems "All Electronics" has sold all of the surplus lenses I
thought would be perfect. There doesnt seem to be any adequate lenses in
thier current catalog in my opinion. I will let you know If I find any

I've found a web page that has plastic lenses with M12x0.5 threads that can
screw into a lens mount:
Still need to check on the prices. Anyone know where to find lens mounts?

Here's another URL
Their stuff looks good but also seems expensive.
Any opinions?

The RoboCAM uses the VV6300/5300 chip I was talking about. They just
provide it mounted to a PCB with the extra resistors/caps needed to run
the CCD voltage references.

And yet another idea-

     Russell McMahon

>From other worlds -

What can one man* do?
Help the hungry at no cost to yourself!

(* - or woman, child or internet enabled intelligent entity :-))

1999\11\24@024049 by Mark Willis

I just mentioned the file, 282k, which uses a 4164 as a
camera, in another post.  Those're pretty cheap - And they DO resemble a
memory-mapped device, Russell <EG>  Only B&W, of course.


Russell McMahon wrote:
{Quote hidden}

I do small package shipping for small businesses, world-wide.

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