Dev Kit Weekly: THine THSER101 Raspberry Pi Camera Module Cable Extension Kit

July 23, 2021

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So we have a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. And we have version 2 of the Raspberry Pi Camera Module. They interface via a MIPI CSI-2 connector and this ribbon cable, which is about six inches long. But what if I wanted to position the camera a significant distance away from the Pi, say, to function as a webcam? Or across the room?

The ribbon cable gets really short, really fast. But don’t worry, THine has an alternative in the form of this cable extension kit, the THSER101, which is designed around this plug-and-play adaptor card that features V-by-One HS signaling technology.

Not familiar with V-by-One HS? Neither was I. So let’s start there.

V-by-One HS is an open digital signaling standard that runs over twisted pairs but much faster than LVDS – up to 16 Gbps per lane. A version of the technology was introduced by THine back in 2007 as a means of resolving timing skew, EMI, and other challenges that HDTV manufacturers were experiencing with LVDS. But since then, it’s high speed and integrated clock data recovery and equalizer capabilities have helped it gain success in other applications that need digital pixel transmission, like machine vision cameras, in-vehicle infotainment systems, and a whole bunch of other use cases that could benefit by reducing the amount of connectors and cabling in their designs thanks to V-by-One HS’s higher-capacity throughput.

But the ability to equalize V-by-One HS signals also had the benefit of extending the range of data transmissions – by a lot. That’s why the kit includes this 2 meter LAN cable, but it can be used with LAN cables as long as 20 meters!

The kit is designed around THine’s THCV241A and THCV242 SerDes chipset, which accepts MIPI CSI 2 inputs up to 1080p60 resolution and converts them to V-by-One HS over one, two, or four lanes at speeds as high as 4 Gbps. The SerDes chips also include bi-directional control capabilities via I2C and GPIO communication support.

The devices have been tested with the Raspberry Pi 4 and Raspberry Pi Camera Module version 2.1, but should work with any Raspberry Pi computer with a 40-pin connector and with the Raspberry Pi High-Quality Camera and select modes of the Raspberry Pi Camera Module version 1.3.

When THine says the THSER101 is plug-and-play, they mean it. If you have any of the aforementioned hardware and a LAN cable, all you have to do is plug the transmit board with the THCV241A serializer chip into the Raspberry Pi camera module with the stock ribbon cable, use the provided screws, spacers, and ribbon connector to interface the THCV242-based deserializer board with the Raspberry Pi computer, plug your LAN cable into both, and that’s it. No software required, andtthe system operates as if the camera module is plugged directly into the Raspberry Pi computer without any performance loss.

If you want proof that this setup works, check out thinesolutions.com/cable-extension-kit where there’s a link to a project that leveraged this very kit to pull images off a telescope sitting outside in the Chicago winter while keeping the Raspberry Pi, and its operators, warm and dry inside.

If you’ve seen enough and are ready to extend your reach with the THine THSER101 Cable Extension Kit for the Raspberry Pi Camera, you can purchase one from Digi-Key for $58.68.

But, as always on Dev Kit Weekly, you can try to win this one for free by filling out the form that’s linked to on the screen and entering this week’s raffle. Only as a bonus, this week we’re including the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, Raspberry Pi Camera Module Version 2, and even this official Raspberry Pi USB-C Power Supply with the Cable Extension Kit.

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The whole vision setup could be yours, and we’ll ship it to you anywhere in the world if you win.

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