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Frame Grabbers for Machine Vision: FAQ

1/11/2024
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General FAQ

What is the difference, if any, between the Windows and the Linux SDK?

The Linux SDK is similar to the WIndows SDK. It’s important to note that the API is not the same between Windows and Linux, but they are similar. The Linux SDK contains a kernel driver, libraries, examples and utilities. Some of the high level utilities (CamML, Ximilon, BitFlow Preview) are the same between Windows and Linux. The Linux API is documented on line here .

I need a camera file for my CoaXPress camera. What information do you need from me?

While we have created thousands upon thousands of cameras files, there are new cameras emerging every month and it’s not always possible to keep fully up to date with a specific mode for each and every one. Your best approach here is to send an email to support@bitflow.com and provide them with the following information.

  • Area scan / Line scan? 
  • Image width and Image height 
  • Bit-depth 
  • CXP Link speed 
  • Number of CXP links

I just got my new frame grabber, how do I get started?

When you receive your new board it comes with a postcard which directs you to our site to download the SDK. If this card is missing, please go to download. Unzip the file, open the pdf and follow the instructions. If you run into any issues, please go to  the last page of the pdf.  Here you will see a list of items to include when you contact support via email. 

What are camera files and how do I identify them?

Advantech offers cameras files for almost all of the current Camera Link and CoaXPress cameras that are on the market. In addition to this, you can have camera files for various options that the cameras offer, things like triggers (HW and SW), free running, different ROI to what the sensor offers etc.  In the part we have offered camera files for Analog and Differential cameras.  These files are still available today. 

The table here shows which camera files are associated with with frame grabbers


Frame grabbers Type Associated file extension
Cyton CXP
Aon CXP
CoaXPress .bfml
Axion CL
Camera Link
.bfml
Karbon CL
Neon CL
Camera Link
.r64
Alta AN*
Analog
.anlg
Karbon CXP*
CoaXPress
.kcxp
Neon DIF
Differential
.NDif
R2/R3*
Differential
.cam
R2/R3*
Camera Link
.rcl
What is camera link?

Camera Link is Machine Vision camera to frame grabber digital interconnect standard. Camera link use a serializer/deserializer to use transmit high speed digital data over a very small number of wires. Camera Link comes in three versions: Base (up to 24 bits), Medium (up to 48 bits), Full (up to 64 bits) and 80-bit (up to 80 bits, duh). The maximum Camera Link data clock is 85 MHz. This means the maximum data rate of Camera Link (using 80 bit mode) is 850 MB/S. 

Advantech’s Neon and Axion families are Camera Link frame grabbers. Camera Link is standard hosted by the Automate Imaging Association. For more information on the standard please visit https://www.visiononline.org/.

What is a frame grabber?

A Frame Grabber is an computer accessory that usually takes the form of an electronic circuit board that plugs into the motherboard of a Personal Computer. The purpose of a frame grabber is to capture images from a camera and put those images in the host memory of the PC. There are may different standards for transmitting images between a camera and a Frame Grabber. These standards include everything from analog low resolution RS-170 (basically TV from the beginning of the 20th century through very high speed digital serial standards transmitted over copper or fiber. The purpose of the Frame Grabber is the same, acquire images from the camera and make them available to programs running on the PC. Frame Grabbers can also control the cameras (depending on the interconnect standard) and interact electrically with the environment though various I/O signals.

Camera Link FAQ

What is the maximum baud rate for communication for the Axion family?

The maximum baud rate is 921,600 bits/second.

Using BFCOM, what baud rates are supported by the NEON?

The Neon supports up to 256 kb . You can modify the baud rate in BFCom via the File > Com properties menu command. 

The command to make the same change in the camera depends on the camera protocol. It’s different for every make of camera. You need to change the camera, then change BFCom to match.

Can you explain the colors of the triled on the Axion?

The Axion 1xE has 1 Tri LEDs while the 2xE has 2.  Tri LED1 is related to VFG0 and Tri LED2 is related to VFG1 

Note the following color/flash rate meanings 

  • Blinking Blue – PoCL “hunt” mode, looking for a camera to see if it needs power 
  • Blue – PoCL power is being provided to camera (this stage does not last long) 
  • Green – Pixel Clock from camera received 
  • Blinking Green – LVAL from camera received

Which type of CL connectors does Advantech use?

Neon CLB, CLD – MDR 

Neon CLQ, Axion 1xE, Axion 2xE – SDR

What is the max cable length I can run between my CL frame grabber and my camera?

First, you need to know the clock speed of the camera, as different frequencies can affect the cable length. With Camera Link Base, the max cable length is 10m, regardless of the clock speed. 

For the other camera link modes, (Medium, Full, 80-bit), the max length at 85 Mhz is 5m, at 66 Mhz is 7m and at 40 Mhz is 10m. 

Please note that the max. cable length may vary from cable to cable. Advantech recommends cables purchased from the following companies,  CEI, 3M, Hewtech, Intercon1

What is camera link?

Camera Link is Machine Vision camera to frame grabber digital interconnect standard. Camera link use a serializer/deserializer to use transmit high speed digital data over a very small number of wires. Camera Link comes in three versions: Base (up to 24 bits), Medium (up to 48 bits), Full (up to 64 bits) and 80-bit (up to 80 bits, duh). The maximum Camera Link data clock is 85 MHz. This means the maximum data rate of Camera Link (using 80 bit mode) is 850 MB/S. 

Advantech's Neon and Axion families are Camera Link frame grabbers. 

Camera Link is standard hosted by the Automate Imaging Association. For more information on the standard please visit https://www.visiononline.org/.

CoaXPress FAQ

I need a camera file for my CoaXPress camera. What information do you need from me?

While we have created thousands upon thousands of cameras files, there are new cameras emerging every month and it’s not always possible to keep fully up to date with a specific mode for each and every one. Your best approach here is to send an email to support@bitflow.com and provide them with the following information. 

  • Area scan / Line scan? 
  • Image width and Image height 
  • Bit-depth 
  • CXP Link speed 
  • Number of CXP links

Can you explain the colors of the triled on the CXP boards?

Each CoaXPress board has one Tri LED per link. Tri LED1 refers to VFG0, Tri LED2 refers to VFG1 etc. Typically all boards flash together if one camera is connected. 

Note the following color/flash rate meanings 

  • Blinking Red – Problem with the PCIe interface 
  • Blinking Blue – Looking for a link to see if it needs power 
  • Solid Blue – Link is powered, but not aligned 
  • Blinking Green – Link is aligned and receiving packets 
  • Solid Green – Link is aligned

Which type of CXP connectors does Advantech use?

For the Aon, Cyton (2 and 4) – DIN 1.0/2.3 

For the Claxon – Micro BNC

What is the max cable length I can run between my CXP frame grabber to my camera?

CXP has several different speeds (data rates) and these determine the length of cable required. 

For CXP1 or CXP 2.5 or CXP3, the max cable length is 105m 

For CXP6 or CXP12, the max cable length is 40m

Software FAQ

Which version of the SDK do I need?

There are two versions of the Windows SDK: free and paid. The free version is all that is need to use Advantech's frame grabbers with a 3rd party Machine Vision application such as LabVIEW, VisionPro and HALCON. The paid version is needed for users developing their own applications that will acquire from Advantech's frame grabbers. The paid version provides header files, libraries and copious quantities of example programs with source code. All of the APIs in each support language are fully documented. 

The Advantech's SDK supports Windows 7/Windows 8/Windows 10/11 in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. APIs are available for C/C++/C# (.NET). 

There is also a Advantech's SDK for Linux, 32-bit and 64 bit. Most current major distros kernel versions are supported. Both Intel and ARM processors are supported.

What is the difference, if any, between the Windows and the Linux SDK?

The Linux SDK is similar to the WIndows SDK. It’s important to note that the API is not the same between Windows and Linux, but they are similar. The Linux SDK contains a kernel driver, libraries, examples and utilities. Some of the high level utilities (CamML, Ximilon, BitFlow Preview) are the same between Windows and Linux. The Linux API is documented on line here .

I need a camera file for my CoaXPress camera. What information do you need from me?

While we have created thousands upon thousands of cameras files, there are new cameras emerging every month and it’s not always possible to keep fully up to date with a specific mode for each and every one. Your best approach here is to send an email to support@bitflow.com and provide them with the following information. 

  • Area scan / Line scan?  
  • Image width and Image height  
  • Bit-depth  
  • CXP Link speed  
  • Number of CXP links

I want to work with OPENCV. What do I need to know?

We do support OpenCV, however it is not through the use of a OpenCV specific driver. Because our frame grabbers can acquire directly into user allocated memory, we can work directly with OpenCV by simply using the BitFlow API to program the board to DMA images directly into OpenCV image buffers. You can then process them normally using OpenCV functions.

Is my frame grabber compatible with Windows 10?

Windows 10 support requires BitFlow SDK 5.90 or later.  However, if your PC is running 

Windows 10 with secure boot mode, then you will require SDK 6.20 or later.

I just got my new frame grabber, how do I get started?

When you receive your new board it comes with a postcard which directs you to our site to download the SDK. If this card is missing, please go to https://www.bitflow.com/current-downloads/ and download the SDK. Unzip the file, open the pdf and follow the instructions. If you run into any issues, please go to  the last page of the pdf.  Here you will see a list of items to include when you contact support via email. 

Using BFCOM, what baud rates are supported by the NEON?

The Neon supports up to 256 kb . You can modify the baud rate in BFCom via the File > Com properties menu command. 

The command to make the same change in the camera depends on the camera protocol. It’s different for every make of camera. You need to change the camera, then change BFCom to match.

What is overstep?

OVS (OVerStep) is a phenomenon where the DMA engine cannot keep up with the data stream from the camera. The most common reasons for this are: 

  • The BW of the camera video stream is higher than the BW of the PCI interface 
  • The MB bridge(s) will not give enough access to the PCI for frame grabber DMA engine 

Obviously, high activity on the MB will generate OVS. We always suggest to customer to stop activity while acquiring data from the camera. Access to disc or high intensity graphics are the usual suspects.

How can I rollback to an earlier version of the SDK?

Windows caches drivers and by default always uses the one with the newest version number regardless of what is most recently installed. The good news is that you can roll the system back to any driver version you want. The procedure is below: 

—————– 

To roll back to an older driver 

The solution is simple, you just need to manually tell Windows to use the older driver. Here are the instructions:

  1. Open the Device Manger 
  2. Search the list for “Imaging devices”, then “BitFlow XXXXX” 
  3. Right click on the relevant BitFlow board e.g. Axion and select “Update Driver Software” 
  4. Select “Browse my computer for driver software” 
  5. Select “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer” 
  6. In the next dialog, look in the list for “BitFlow Frame Grabber Version X.XXX”, select this item and hit Next 
  7. The older driver will be installed 
  8. You must then reboot your computer 

When your computer reboots, run our utility VerCheck and make sure the DLLs and the Driver are all the exact same version.

I have an installation issue with my Windows 7 system and the latest SDK. 

Starting with SDK 6.11 we are signing our kernel driver with a SHA-2 certificate. Microsoft is phasing out SHA-1 certificates. Unfortunately Windows 7 as it was originally released did not support SHA-2 certs. There is a patch which was released some time ago and you should have it on your system if you have automatic updates turned on. However, we understand why a machine vision system might have automatic updates turned off. The simple solution is to install just the following Microsoft patch, this will fix support for SHA-2 certs. 

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=46148 

After you install this patch, reboot your system and the driver should work. 

We are sorry about the inconvenience this has caused, but Microsoft is really forcing our hand here. 

This problem does not exist on Windows 8 and 10.

Which version of your SDK is free?

The Advantech Windows SDK comes in two flavors, drivers only (which is free) and the full development version, which is paid for.  There is also a Linux version of the SDK.

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