Get Started with THine Cable Extension Kit for Raspberry Pi Camera

Site your Pi camera module up to 20m away from your Raspberry Pi unit with this plug-and-play cable extension kit.

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This Getting Started will guide you through setting up and configuring your camera module cable extension kit for Raspberry Pi. We used a Raspberry Pi HQ camera module with a telephoto lens and a Raspberry Pi V2 camera module attached to a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. The kit is also compatible with Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ and other compatible camera models.

Note: The camera is compatible with Raspberry Pi OS & Legacy.

We also show how to use the new Open Source libcamera software to take still and video images.


Difficulty:

Easy

Time:

30 Mins

Steps:

7


What you'll need:

Raspberry Pi OS Setup

Set up your Raspberry Pi so that it boots into the Raspberry Pi desktop. Follow our guide to set up the Raspberry Pi, but leave the Pi out of the case.

Now update your operating system by executing the following commands in LXTerminal:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

The camera interface is disabled by default, so enable it in the configuration app: 

  • From the main menu, select Preferences -> Raspberry Pi Configuration
  • In the Interfaces tab click enable Camera
  • Click OK and power off the Raspberry Pi

Receiver HAT assembly

With the Raspberry Pi-powered off the cable extension kit can now be assembled.

The kit consists of a Receiver HAT which fits onto the 40-pin male headers of the Raspberry Pi, a small Transmitter board that attaches to the camera module, plus two short ribbon cables, a 2m long CAT 5E ethernet extension cable and a pack of screws with stand-offs.

project parts

Insert one of the ribbon cables into the camera connector on the Receiver board:

  • Carefully pull back the black bar on the camera connector to open it
  • Slide the ribbon cable into the connector with the blue marker facing downwards
  • Close the connector by pushing the bar shut

Attach the Receiver board to the Raspberry Pi 40-pin header:

  • Fit the 3 larger stand-offs to the Raspberry Pi using screws from underneath
  • Align the Receiver connector pin 1 with pin 1 on the Raspberry Pi header and push the connectors together
  • Screw down the top screws
project part

Attach the ribbon cable to the Raspberry Pi camera connector:

  • Slide open the connector bar to open it
  • Insert the ribbon cable with the blue bar facing the USB ports of the Pi
  • Press down on the bar to close the connector

That completes the extender Receiver assembly.

project part

Transmitter assembly

The small Transmitter board attaches to the camera module itself:

  • Open the bar on the Transmitter camera connector
  • Slide the ribbon cable from your camera module into the connector with the blue bar facing upwards
  • Close the connector bar

Mounting stand-offs and screws are provided, but we didn’t use these in this setup.

That completes the Transmitter assembly.

project part

Cabling

The kit comes with a 2m long CAT 5E ethernet cable which we used, but you can add your own cable of up to 20m long:

  • Plug in the ethernet cable connectors into the Transmitter and Receiver

That completes the hardware setup.

Project image with a Raspberry Pi camera

Camera drivers

Raspberry Pi is transitioning from a legacy camera software stack based on proprietary Broadcom GPU code to an open-source stack based on libcamera. This is not installed by default in the current version of Raspberry Pi OS (Buster)

Install the libcamera library and apps by executing the following command in LXTerminal:

sudo apt install libcamera-apps

Edit the boot configuration in /boot/config.txt and add a device tree overlay for your particular camera module – use nano or vi to add the appropriate line to the end of the file:

For the High-Quality camera that uses the imx477 module add:

dtoverlay=imx477

For the Raspberry Pi V2 camera that uses the imx219 module add:

dtoverlay=imx219

Now reboot for the changes to take effect.

Tip: If you want to go back to using the legacy software, comment out the overlay you just added and reboot.

 

Still shots

Everything is now in place to start taking photographs.

To frame and focus your camera execute the following command in LXTerminal:

libcamera-hello -t 0

This code will open a window showing the camera image. Press Ctrl + C to close it.

To capture an image in the Pictures directory, use the following commands:

cd ~/Pictures
libcamera-jpeg -o test.jpg

This code will open the preview and take the shot after about 5 seconds. You can view the output by opening the file in the File Manager.

Video

Taking video is just as easy. To take a 10-second video in h.264 format and save it in the Videos dir, use the following commands:

cd ~/Videos
libcamera-vid -t 10000 -o test.h264

You can view it by opening it in the File Manager.

Tip: Full details of all the commands available using the libcamera software can be found in the Official Raspberry Pi camera documentation here.

To convert the video to a more usable format like MP4 install gpac:

sudo apt install gpac

Now convert your h.264 video to mp4:

MP4Box -add test.h264 test.mp4

Summary

This guide showed how to set up and configure the THine camera extension kit with your Raspberry Pi and camera module and take test shots and video using the new libcamera software.

If you need to locate your camera module away from your Raspberry Pi, the THine camera extension kit is a great solution. It allows you to position your camera more easily by running a CAT 5 ethernet cable to the camera and Transmitter whilst keeping your Pi in a more convenient location close to power and networking and away from harsh environments. The camera can even be sited up to 20m away!

The kit is suitable for Raspberry Pi 4 Model B and 3B+ and most compatible camera modules, including the Raspberry Pi V2 and High-Quality cameras, with no loss in image quality.

Happy remote snapping!


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