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Rabbit Keeps High Speed Photographic Equipment Connected

With the convenience of digital photography, people are taking more pictures than ever before. Yet there are moments, such as during an amusement park ride, when it would interesting to take a picture, but physically impossible to do so. Picsolve specializes in digital photographic solutions for theme parks and tourist locations. The company wanted to use digital cameras to obtain close-up pictures of 190 guests in a theater. Pre-determined points, such as exciting scenes, trigger the cameras to take a photograph. Steve Marchant of Marvell Consultants chose the RCM3200 RabbitCore® to help Picsolve provide customers with a picture perfect experience.

For this particular application Picsolve wanted to obtain close-up pictures of 190 guests using digital cameras in a theater. 95 shots are taken, with two guests in each shot which comprises the 190 shots. The controlling PC receives a signal from the PLC controller at the start of the movie. Pre-determined points, such as exciting scenes trigger the cameras to take the photograph. The RCM3200 waits for a user datagram protocol (UDP) datagram from the host PC, then toggles input to a complex programmable logic device (CPLD) which starts the timed exposure of the cameras. Once the picture is taken, the raw image data is transferred to external SRAM. Then the RCM3200 transfers the raw data to the PC using the TFTP protocol.

Marchant explains that the obvious approach to this application is to have 95 digital cameras each connected via USB cable, which is a risky installation and can pose cabling a nightmare. Rabbit’s RCM3200 Ethernet enabled core module provided Picsolve with a perfect reliable solution. “In this tough environment, we needed an industrial grade solution working over long cable runs. We settled on the idea of using Power over Ethernet to supply power and communications to each camera over a single UTP cable.” This solution reduced the cabling nightmare that other solutions might have incurred. Marchant further explained that the RCM3200 offered features such as plenty of memory, plenty of I/O, plenty of processing power, and low-power, all at an affordable price. “Our initial evaluation quickly showed the RCM3200 to be extremely well made and well supported both software-wise and technically.”

In the initial design phase, Picsolve considered an in-house design based on the 8751-type processor coupled with an Ethernet-to-serial chip, but found the process to be too complicated. Marchant also noted that a PC-based system was also considered, but this too proved to be bulky, power hungry and expensive. Rabbit’s RCM3200 proved to be a winner for Picsolve’s application. Marchant wanted to note, “Early on we developed a TFTP-based remote-boot system for the RCM3200 so that each module loads its application program from the server at power-up, and this allowed us to manage the deployment of software updates both during development and in the field much more easily. Building such as system was very straightforward using Dynamic C®.” The Rabbit development system provided Picsolve with a means to rapidly develop a reliable solution, at an affordable cost.

"The RCM3200 offered features such as plenty of memory, plenty of I/O, plenty of processing power, and low-power, all at an affordable price."
—Steve Marchant, Marvel Consultants


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