ALCAM FAQ- read me first

Q: What is ALCAM?
A: A chipset that sits that makes using images sensor easy. You can read images over the interface or record images and videos to an SD card or USB stick. ALCAM can also read and write files on the connected storage. For example, log files with info about the captured images.
The user manual details everything https://www.ghielectronics.com/downloads/ALCAM/ALCAM%20SoC%20Manual.pdf

Q: What is ALCAM-OEM?
A: This is the first product based on ALCAM chipset that was funded and shipped through Kickstarter. ALCAM-OEM by GHI Electronics, LLC — Kickstarter

Q: What are the available interfaces?
A: Microcontrollers can connect to ALCAM trough UART (Serial), SPI and I2C.

Q: Do I need a microcontroller to use ALCAM?
A: No! ALCAM has a stand alone mode. Through a pin, you can capture images and videos. This pin is connected to a button on the ALCAM-OEM board.

Q: What example code do you have?
A: We have example code for mbed, NETMF and Arduino. These examples run straight forward on NETMF Cerbuino, mbed arch and Arduino Unto. All examples are provided here https://www.ghielectronics.com/downloads/ALCAM/ALCAM_Examples.zip

Q: What is the easiest way to connect to these boards used in the examples?
A: There is a breakout shield for easily connecting to these boards. If you have one, just plug it in! This can be used with any board with the Arduino form factor and the examples provided are fro Arduino UNO, mbed Arch and NETMF FEZ Cerbuino. If not using the shield, use the shield schematic for wiring. To view the ALCAM Shield schematics please click on the following link, https://www.ghielectronics.com/downloads/schematic/ALCAM_OEM_Shield_Schematic.pdf

[em]Tip: The Arduino UNO uses the only single port for deploying programs and it is also used for talking to ALCAM after the Arduno UNO is programmed. This means that you need to remove ALCAM when deploying to Arduino. This is not the case on FEZ Cerberus for example as the serial port is independent.[/em]

Q: What is ALCAM Explorer?
A: It is a PC software that allow you to easily configure and use ALCAM. This software is highly recommended for everyone starting with ALCAM. To connect ALCAM to a PC, use the UART interface on ALCAM. Note that ALCAM is TTL serial and the PC is RS232 serial. You need a chip to convert the interface, or better use a USB to serial interface with TTL levels. We recommend using FTDI TTL-232R-3V3 which can be found at this link: USB TTL Serial Cable Series - FTDI Attached are a couple of pics to help you connect the cable. The black wire (Pin 1 of the cable) should connect to Pin 1 of ALCAM. To download ALCAM Explore click the following link, https://www.ghielectronics.com/downloads/ALCAM/ALCAM_Explorer.zip

[em]TIP: when wiring the serial port, remember that the TX pin from ALCAM goes to the RX on the serial to USB cable or the RS232 level converter, and vice versa for the RX on ALCAM where it connects to TX.[/em]

Q: Can I embed text right on top of the captured images?
A: No but ALCAM allows for writing (and reading) files so you could save a file that has the needed info. This Si useful for research for example where images are captures along with sensor info, like temperature and humidity.

Q: How do I connect a USB memory to ALCAM-OEM?
A: The USB+ and USB- are exposed. These need to be wired to a USB connector. Do not forget GND and 5V. Search the internet for the USB connector pin out. Another possible option is to use the Gadgeteer USB Host module offered by GHI for easier wiring.

Q: Where can I buy ALCAM?
A: ALCAM and ALCAM-OEM are not available for sale yet. We are working with early adopters and our close partners on perfecting ALCAM before making publicly available.

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[em]Q:How can I change settings if use the button?[/em]

A:Beside using commands, you can change settings (size, video mode, image mode, brightness, etc…) by loading configuration file. In Explorer application, go to “Miscellaneous” tab, there is a button “Generate Configuration File” to do this. Change the config you want, and save to file. The file name must be “ALCAM.CFG”, also must be in root folder. You should not change the default name. After that, copy your config file to media drive (SD or USB), insert to ALCAM. Mounting can be done automatically, just wait for the green led is on.

  • Make sure that your ALCAM is in idle state (not executing any command).
  • Press and hold the button for more than 10 secs.
    Release the button, there will be 2 cases:
  • Loading was succeed: The green led blinks fast (25ms)
  • Loading was failed: The green led blinks slowly (1000ms).

If loaded successful, new config will be applied.
If failed, nothing changed.
Both cases you have to reset ALCAM.

[em]Q: Do I need to keep loading configuration file every time ALCAM was disconnected from power source?[/em]
A: No.

  • The config won’t be lost after reset (power is still connected).
  • In case power is disconnected, if you have VBAT connected, the config is saved internally. You don’t need to reload again.

Q: [em]How do I take a picture by using the button?[/em]
A: Press and release the button quickly (less than 3 seconds). The red led will blink once if succeed, or blink few times depends on what kind of error found. Should not hold the button more than 3 seconds, because ALCAM will think that you wanted recording, or if more than 10 seconds, ALCAM will think that you are updating configuration.

[em]Q: How do I record a movie by using the button?[/em]
A: There are 3 kind of recording ALCAM supports.

  • Normal and Timelapse mode: For these modes, press and hold the button more than 3 seconds, but less than 10 seconds. ALCAM will think you wanted to update configuration if holding more than 10 seconds. After releasing the button, ALCAM will start recording.
    The red led must be blinking during recording.
    To stop, just need to press and release the button again (less than 3 seconds)
  • Stop motion mode: Same as 2 modes above for starting, press and hold the button more than 3 seconds to start recording, but less than 10 seconds.
    Different thing is, because in stop motion, ALCAM requires you to press then release the button quickly (less than 3 seconds) if you want to capture an image and add it into your movie. So to stop, instead of pressing and releasing quickly, you have to hold it more than 3 seconds.

[em]Q: What will be happened if both SD and USB are connected to ALCAM?[/em]
A: Both are mounted. if no special path was given, SD has higher priority so default file will be saved / loaded from SD.

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This page needs a small update The link to https://www.ghielectronics.com/downloads/ALCAM/ALCAM%20SoC%20Manual.pdf is not working at the moment.

But this one does : https://www.ghielectronics.com/downloads/ALCAM/ALCAM_SoC_User_Manual.pdf

Fixed the original post, thanks.