How to save cabling costs with new machine vision interfaces

Posted by Gretchen Alper on Wed, Aug 29, 2012

With higher resolution and frame speed, the latest machine vision cameras can improve accuracy and increase capabilities with 3D measurements.  One of the challenges can be transferring this high data rate to the frame grabber and processing system.  Many advances have been made with Camera Link to increase data rates, but this can come at a big cable cost and with a limited distance (less than 10 to 15 meters).  The latest interfaces, such as CoaXPress, can reduce cable costs up to 98% for high data rate applications.

There are new standard machine vision interfaces that can efficiently support data rates such as 4 Megapixels at 180 fps or above.  At Adimec we have customers for our CoaXPress solutions that need a cost-effective and elegant solution to the multiple cables required for Camera Link.  These customers are building innovative new OEM equipment for complex measurement methods in machine vision.  A single or twin flexible coax cable also reduces the overall system cost.

An example customer has a system using more than 15, 4 Megapixel cameras with CoaXPress to maximize speed and minimize cabling over 10 meters. At these speeds and cable length this would mean 15 x 4 = 60 Camera Link cables. Now they can suffice with simple, more flexible coax cables, which is a huge space and cost saver. 

We have compiled cost information for a variety of machine vision interfaces to offer a quick overview and comparison.  Camera prices vary based on quality and can influence the ability to achieve maximum frame rates.  With multi-camera systems, CPU loads and subsequent costs must also be considered.

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CoaXPress also has appeal for customers who are upgrading existing, often analog, systems with coax cable already installed. These are typically outdoor applications where the signal travels over larger distances such as defense, surveillance and security applications or traffic applications such as license plate recognition.

An alternative approach is the new USB3 Vision interface based on the USB 3.0 standard which is in progress to become a machine vision standard. We’ll have to wait and see how reliable this interface will be for high-end machine vision applications. Current feedback from end-users is that it is not ready yet for inspection and metrology equipment but we are sure that it will be within the foreseeable future.


Both CoaXPress and USB3 Vision solve the costs problem for high-speed machine vision systems. Which one is the most interesting for you?

Machine Vision Interface Comparison

Topics: Interface Technology

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