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Introducing the OpenMV Cam RT

Posted by Kwabena Agyeman on

Hi Folks!

It's been a long time since we sent out our last email update and a lot has happened since then. However, that will change starting now. We're going to be getting back to a two-week cadence on email updates to keep everyone informed on what we're up to. Ibrahim and me are working harder than ever on OpenMV now. So, with that said, we'd like to introduce you to the latest OpenMV Cam!

The OpenMV Cam RT

OpenMV Cam RT

But, before I get into the details, I'd like to share a little back-story.

When we launched the OpenMV Cam H7 Plus the OpenMV Cam became more popular than ever. We've consistently sold out of the OpenMV Cam H7 Plus and we've wanted now to build more units for years. However, it's been impossible for us to get the larger package STM32H7 chips that support external SDRAM. We've been waiting on an order of 5K STM32H743VIIK6 chips we placed back in April 2021 (2 years ago now) that have yet to be delivered.

So, as the chip shortage started to ease this year we were excited to get back to production again as our order for 5K chips was set to be delivered in March. However, one month before delivery we got news that it would be delayed again until December. Similarly, the STM32H743VIT6 that powers the OpenMV Cam H7 regular is tough to find on the market now too (i.e. the chips are going for the same price as the whole camera unit right now).

Given all this it was time for a redesign and a new direction. Note, we were actually were planning on launching a new higher speced H7 based camera called the H7 Pro using some of those 5K chips. We had the firmware ready to go along with everything else. But, without being able to get the STM32H743VIIK6 we can't build it.

Say Hello to My Little Friend


Alright, what is the OpenMV Cam RT? Well, it's an OpenMV Cam powered by NXP's IMXRT1060 - and it's an ABSOLUTELY packed board. We used every single I/O pin on the processor to give you the most features possible. Here are the performance specs:

  • Cortex-M7 @ 600 MHz w/ Double Precision FPU
    • 32-KB Instruction Cache + 32-KB Data Cache
    • This is a 1.25X Faster Processor than the H7 Plus
  • 1MB of SRAM on chip (acts as an L2 cache in our firmware)
    • All of this SRAM is linearly mapped so we can use it all as an L2 cache to speed up image processing at larger resolutions.
  • 32MB of 16-bit SDRAM @ 160 MHz - 320 MB/s
    • This is the same amount of RAM on the H7 Plus - albeit with a slightly slower theoretical data rate. However, it may be faster in practice thanks to a better memory SDRAM controller on the IMX.
  • 16MB of QUADSPI Flash for storage @ 160 MHz - 80 MB/s
    • This is the half the amount of storage flash on the H7 Plus. However, it's clocked way higher.
  • 8MB of QUADSPI Flash for firmware @ 160 MHz - 80 MB/s
    • This is 4X the program space on the H7 Plus.
  • SD Card Slot @ 50 MHz - 25 MB/s
    • Same as the H7 Plus.

From our tests on the IMX RT dev boards so far it's definitely faster than the H7 Plus. We're excited to bring the system to you. But, there's way more! Peripherals are important and we packed a lot of great features on the OpenMV Cam RT.

  • USB High Speed Support (480 Mb/s)
    • Finally! You can stream images out of the OpenMV Cam at the rate they are coming in. Want to turn your OpenMV Cam into a webcam? Not going to be a problem anymore.
  • 10/100 Mb/s Ethernet onboard
    • We'll be launching the OpenMV Cam RT along with a PoE Ethernet shield for it! Yes, you're going to be able to remotely deploy these cameras now. And... did you know OpenMV IDE has Ethernet/WiFi Debugging support?
  • WiFi (a/b/g/n) and BLE (v5.1) onboard (11/54/65 Mb/s)
    • No need to buy the WiFi shield anymore and use up all your I/O pins. This is going to be a standard feature moving forwards. We have a chip antenna onboard by default and an option to attach a U.FL antenna connector instead. 
  • Secure Element Support via the ATECC608B
    • We want you to be able to build the OpenMV Cam RT into real products. That starts with being able to securely store your device private keys.
  • An accelerometer onboard
    • Coming soon: auto image rotation like your phone! We've actually want to bring this feature to our product for years and now we finally can. Yes, it would be nice to have a full 9-DoF IMU. However, the cost for IMU chips is still really high right now. Note, you'll have full access to the accelerometer to use it for anything you want.
  • JTAG Support via a standard ARM 10-pin connector
    • Now you can use a SEGGER J-LINK or etc. to debug your OpenMV Cam. This makes the OpenMV Cam RT like a dev board for you professionals out there.
  • USB Battery Charging
    • Thanks to the BQ24075 onboard we have dynamic-power-path-management support that allows the OpenMV Cam RT to charge an attached 3.7V LiPo at 100mA while keeping our USB power consumption below 500mA. If your application draws more than 400mA (unlikely) the battery charger will automatically reduce the battery charging current to keep the system total under 500mA.
    • And... like the OpenMV Cam H7 and OpenMV Cam H7 Plus you can run off the battery when USB is not present.
    • However, as an improvement we now have an ideal diode onboard to select between battery/USB power and VIN (which has priority). So, you can now support powering your OpenMV Cam via VIN, USB, and optionally have a battery all at the same time. No more conflicts!
  • Real Low Power Support
    • The OpenMV Cam RT is equipped with a 32 KHz RTC (which is inside the IMXRT) and supports a hardware power down mode. So, when you put your OpenMV Cam RT into deep sleep we actually turn off the main 3.3V regulator onboard. This allows the system to draw 50uA in it's lowest power mode! Then, you can wakeup via a new dedicated I/O pin or via an RTC alarm.

As you can see, the OpenMV RT is a big upgrade! We're excited to move forward with it! However, there's one more thing onboard I want to mention: EMI Suppression and Transient Voltage Suppression (TVS) support onboard!

With the OpenMV Cam RT and moving forwards we're serious about making our electronics better now. So, this means we added TVS Diodes to all the I/O pins so that you can't zap and destroy your OpenMV Cam RT via static shock anymore. Further more, we've got EMI filters now on all external interfaces to reduce radiated noise. These are small features, but, hopefully they will result in less randomly dead OpenMV Cams.

OpenMV Cam RT

OpenMV Cam RT Product Launch

Thanks for reading this far! We just sent the OpenMV Cam RT off to sample production last week. We expect to get sample units back in May. Assuming they work and we finish board bring-up in May we will greenlight a 2K unit production run in June. All the parts to build the OpenMV Cam RT are in stock with distributors so we expect the production run to not take too long.

In the mean time, if you want to get your hands on one of the production samples you can! We're selling off 32 extra units here! If you are all at interested in this impulse buy now as these will go quick.

You can also find all the specs, schematic, datasheets, etc. on the link above.

What about OpenMV Cam H7 Plus Orders?

We're going to be converting OpenMV Cam H7 Plus orders into credit for the OpenMV Cam RT. Given it's unlikely we will receive the chips to build the H7 Plus this year we're just going to move everyone to the OpenMV Cam RT. Everything except the PYB module will be the same from a software standpoint.

What's the OpenMV Cam RT Pricing?

Our contract manufacturer is working on the cost of the production run right now and we'll have pricing information soon. We have an estimated cost right now. But, once we have the final price per unit we'll be able to determine what sales price should be. I don't expect it to be more than the OpenMV Cam H7 Plus with a WiFi Shield from our store right now.

Final Note

You may have noticed the nice 3D renders of the board! That's thanks to us using Altium now! We're in the process of bringing all our boards into Altium and generating 3D CAD for everything we sell. We want to empower everyone to more easily build the OpenMV Cam, it's shields, and accessories into things.

And... That's all folks! Thanks for reading! In the next update I'll talk about the new shields we have coming out for the OpenMV Cam RT!