About this project
All fps1000 cameras will now be shipped in a new sealed, metal case and with internal battery.
A Stereo 3D option is now available.
Full resolution HD videos can be found here:
What is the fps1000?
The fps1000 is a high speed camera. It records video at a much higher speed than normal video cameras which allows it to capture motion than would normally appear as a blur. When played back at normal video speeds the images seem to move in slow motion with all the fine detailed movement that is normally missed. So high speed cameras are also ironically called slow motion cameras.
The fps1000 is a Portable, Low Cost, high frame rate camera.
The sprinkler video above is produced on the fps1000 GOLD edition at 1280 x 720 @290 fps.
All of the sample videos shown below are produced by the fps1000 SILVER camera recording at 840 fps at a resolution of 640 x 480 and played back at 25 fps.
exploding coke bottle
teapot dropped from a window
fps stands for frames per second. It is the measure of how many images a camera can record per second. Standard video rates are 30-60 fps. The desire is for higher frame rates even for normal video as this creates smoother action. Newer equipment can achieve 120 or more frames per second. But if you want to capture very high speed action then you need much more than this. The benchmark for high frame rate cameras is around 1,000 frames per second or more. At these rates you can freeze motion that the eye normally would not be able to see. But this kind of performance doesn’t come easily. To capture these images takes extremely high speed memory and very fast video processing – video rates measured in Gbits per second. This leads to expensive, memory-restricted designs.
Frame Rate Comparison
This video of a smashing teapot was taken with the fps1000 at 840 fps but is played back at frame rates of 60, 120, 240 and 840 fps. The 60 and 120 fps cannot be called slow motion; 240 fps shows some slow motion details but 840 fps is a dramatic improvement.
the higher the frame rate the better the effect
Easy to Use
Operation of the camera is through the LCD touch screen. The LCD screen allows you to see in real time what the camera is seeing, even during high speed recording. This allows you to easily frame a shot and keep focus even with a moving target. The LCD display can then be used to play back the recording at any speed from single frame to real time, backwards and forwards. The start and end points of a clip can easily be marked and then saved to the on-board micro-SD card controller to an external card for transfer to another device. All commands are via a simple graphical user interface using the touch screen.
The fps1000 uses a standard C mount fitting which makes it suitable for almost any lens on the market with the wide range of low cost C mount adapters that are available.
The fps1000 is available in monochrome or colour versions at the same cost. The version can be specified after ordering. The colour version uses the common BAYER colour mask. All images are saved from the board in RAW format, preserving all colour and luminance details for easy post-processing. Software is in development for compressing the images on-board for quick download where image quality is not as important.
Program it Yourself
The fps1000 is essentially a single board fully integrated camera which can easily be adopted into your own custom application. You have full access to the on-board STMicro ARM processor which can be programmed and debugged via a Serial Wire Debug (SWD) port on the board. All the driver software to access the on-board peripherals including the LCD display, touch screen, USB and micro SD card sockets and the high speed video grab controller. The high speed frame grabbing is all done in hardware so the CPU is free to run your software.
The idea of making a high frame rate camera started exactly a year ago when I was inspired by some high speed still images. Scenes that were frozen in time using high speed single frame photography. When I investigated how these were made I discovered that the key was to use high speed flash photography requiring darkened ambient light and lengthy setup. I wanted to be able to capture images spontaneously. This led me to think: what if I could take moving pictures at high speed? This would give me thousands of still images in daylight. Through this idea I stumbled upon the field of high frame rate photography and was instantly hooked. This is a field where frame rates are measured in hundreds or thousands of frames per second. As I investigated the equipment that produces these images I realised that they had three things in common that prevented their widespread use:
- Portability. Most fast cameras were bulky often requiring the permanent attachment to a computer for framing and control. This made them unsuitable for spontaneous, creative, personal use.
- Limited memory capacity. With the extremely high data rates involved in high speed capture most high speed cameras only have enough memory capacity for a few seconds of image capture. This means that shots must be carefully triggered to ensure that the desired shot is captured.
- Cost. High speed cameras traditionally cost many thousands of pounds due to the high data rates and expensive memory thus restricting their use for specialist applications.
These attributes are hardly surprising; a 1 second video at VGA resolution and 1,000 frames per second requires an incredible 400 MBytes of very high speed memory. The challenge was set. How could I use the latest technology to produce a portable, easy to use camera that didn't cost tens of thousands or even thousands of pounds, but a few hundred putting, it in the reach of everyone?
lunchtime for Rio our pet bearded dragon
I solved these problems with the application of low cost high performance components. The result is a self-contained high speed camera with up to 32GBytes of memory, enough for over 1 ½ minutes of full speed image capture, and an integrated colour LCD display for real time live preview and playback. User control is via a touch screen. Added to this is an ARM Cortex M4 CPU with 2MBytes of program memory that is fully user programmable. It has full access to all on-board resources including the high speed capture hardware and integrated LCD display, USB and micro SD card interface.
The key to the design is the novel use of readily-available flash memory. This provides the memory capacity that I wanted but is traditionally too slow for this type of product. However, through a novel proprietary architecture I designed a memory system that was high capacity and low cost that ran at over 5 GBits per second. Another key part of the product is a custom programmable gate array that handles the very high speed data rates from the image sensor, performs the high speed memory access and controls the integrated LCD controller. It's completely self contained requiring only an external 5v power supply from a low cost battery charger.
Most people have seen the standard high frame rate video that can be produced from high frame rate cameras. But having a portable camera adds a new dimension to the possibilities - a high speed moving point of view. This produces magical images where the subject appears frozen in time while the viewer is moving past it.
How Will the Funding be Used?
The design is complete and sources for the components have been found. To achieve the very low target prices, components must be purchased in sufficiently large quantities. Kickstarter provides the ideal forum to get pre-orders allowing bulk purchase of components.
busy meerkat - handheld fps1000 following the motion
Three versions of the fps1000 are available: SILVER, GOLD and PLATINUM, differing in the amount of recording memory, maximum resolution and maximum frame rate. In all other respects the cameras are identical in terms of size and included hardware and software. The feature list of the different versions is shown on the comparison chart below:
Even higher frame rates are possible by reducing the resolution. The fps1000 is easily software-configurable for different resolutions. Some examples of alternate frame rates are shown in the table.
here's to a successful kickstarter!
Photographs of the Finished Boards
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk of a product of this nature is in the mass production of boards repeatably to a high standard of quality and reliability.
The fps1000 consists of a single board facilitating an inherently reliable product. Although it uses the latest component packaging, the PCB has been designed to conservative standards reducing the risk in PCB and assembly faults.
The use of a single, high density programmable logic chip for all of the complex high speed circuitry reduces component cost and keeps the amount of interconnections to a minimum, reducing problems associated with high speed logic. The risks in ramping up production are small. Similarly the board uses standard surface mount technology and low chip counts for ease of manufacture and test.
Production boards have already been produced and the design has been proven and tested for many months. All boards that have been built have worked first time. Two separate manufacturing facilities have been used both with the equipment needed for automatic assembly of surface mount BGA packages. There is ample capacity for assembly and testing large batches of boards.
The basic on-board software is functional which allows full control of all features. Software development will continue to provide a richer set of functionality.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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