Playing With Fusion 2021 New Product Release: SnakeEyes
We expect 2021 to present lots of engagement and affordability issues for FRC teams, so we’ve tackled both with our newest product offering:
Skip the reading by watching the SnakeEyes intro video.
SnakeEyes integrates the low-volume components of an FRC vision system into a single Raspberry Pi HAT, allowing you to select the RPi and camera module that best suits your needs (or is already sitting on your shelf!). Power to the module can be provided by passive PoE or a Weidmuller connector, both reverse polarity protected, which powers both the LEDs and a 5V PSU to feed your RPi. LED drivers are insanely bright and dimmable, capable driving a full 1A through each LED to maximize optical output.
In addition to the traditional headache-inducing green we are have a more-eye-friendly Far Red version of this module. We’ve been working with Chris Gerth of FRC Team 1736, Robot Casserole, to bring this product to life, so a big shout out to him for all of his hard work. He’s even iterated through integration concepts to optimize the assembly experience and final product. With all parts in-hand, it only takes about 20 minutes to complete the electrical and mechanical assembly of the sample module!
SnakeEyes is in pre-order and will begin shipping the week of January 11th.
Looks good! I love that there are more cheaper options for computer vision in FRC. And I like the idea of swapping out camera / lens modules - there may be a game where a fisheye lens makes sense.
What kind of software stack would you run on the Pi?
Cool, it’s like a better version of the original Gloworm concept. Can this fit the OV5647 modules that support proper M12 lenses? Also, any plans to license this work permissively?
PhotonVision supports SnakeEyes. There are docs on how to use it here. Because we have an easy vendor configuration system, you can control the LEDs on your SnakeEyes through PhotonVision just like you control e.g. a Gloworm (which is also supported by PhotonVision.) The only difference right now is that SnakeEyes requires you to upload the vendor config through the web UI because it doesn’t come packaged in the image like it does on the Gloworm.
Very interesting, and a very attractive price point.
What sorts of cameras are recommended for this? Standard USB cameras, or one of the Pi-specific modules?
Interesting concept. Just to compare prices, if you’re buying all of the parts new then a full kit should cost:
- SnakeEyes – $40
- Raspberry Pi 4 – $35
- Raspberry Pi Camera v2 – $30
- 3D Printed Case + Hardware – about $5
- 25x25x10mm Fan – about $5
- 8GB microSD card – about $5
That totals to $120, compared to $125 for a Gloworm (or $400 for a Limelight, but that includes proprietary software). Obviously the cost would be lower if you already own some of the parts, or higher if you use more expensive parts.
This looks like a really cool product, and you can bring the overall price down even more if you use a Raspberry Pi Camera v1.3, which you can get on Amazon for $9.
The layout of integrated standoffs is set up for Raspberry Pi Foundation-specific cameras, and the LEDs are arranged to paint the retro-reflective targets in a way that lets the camera see best from that location. There are a number of other camera suppliers out there, all of whom seem to have different layout/placement. The hole in SnakeEyes is big enough that you can probably get other cameras positioned a case-integral mounting structure (instead of using the board standoffs).
With 2020-21 being so strange, do what you can to create a learning opportunity. My personal opinion? Pick up whatever you a) have on your shelf or b) can buy cheap/used and roll with it. I did a quick eBay sweep this morning, and even if you didn’t have anything to get started, you should be able to build a learner/starter setup (Pi 2-3, Pi-cam 1.3) for about $90, all in. Once you have the hand of vision processing you can figure out where to head next. Upgrade your camera? Maybe swap out the Pi for the 4 (or 5… you know it’s in the works)? With SnakeEyes, it’s as simple as disassembling your current setup and reassembling with the upgrade parts.
The only hang-up I really see is 3D printing a case. If you don’t have access to a 3D printer, DM me and we’ll get you a case printed on the cheap, as well.
Is it possible to use the PSEye camera wtih SnakeEyes?
SnakeEyes itself is just a Hat for a raspberry pi, and won’t drive any particular requirement for software compatibility. As long as whatever software you are running on the Pi supports a PSEye, SnakeEyes won’t stop you from doing so.
However, the LED board is not well suited to illuminate targets such that a PSEye would see them brightly.
I meant from a mechanical perspective, the screw holes fit the RPi camera, but I was wondering how you’d fit other cameras into the case.
Ok. The reference case design was built up assuming a raspberry pi camera, and won’t accommodate a PSEye in its current shape.
I’d imagine with a right angle header and some careful case design you could make something that might work, but I’ve not tried yet.
Will the mounting holes work with the RPi camera v1?
The hole pattern matches RPi Cam 1 and 2, both standard and NOIR versions.
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