The new Blackmagic 3G-SDI Arduino Shield lets customers build their own custom controllers for cameras and other SDI devices.
Building custom solutions for controlling cameras via SDI connections is difficult and requires high speed digital design skills. This means it’s quite difficult for broadcast engineers who want to integrate Blackmagic Design’s cameras into their own custom systems because they would need to build SDI based hardware to do remote control of those cameras using the Blackmagic Camera SDI Control Protocol. To solve this problem Blackmagic Design has created a new SDI expansion board for Arduino micro controllers called the Blackmagic 3G-SDI Arduino Shield to make it easier for broadcast engineers and technicians to create custom control solutions for Blackmagic Design cameras.
Arduino is a popular open-source electronics prototyping platform based on easy to use hardware and software. Similar to Raspberry Pi, which is more targeted at software engineers, Arduino is often the choice for hardware developers and is designed as a simpler, more flexible and lower cost way to build all kinds of custom projects.
Expansion boards are called “shields” in the Arduino world and Blackmagic Design decided to take advantage of this standardized expansion capability to build its Blackmagic 3G-SDI Arduino Shield interface card. Blackmagic Design has also written some sample code that shows how the Arduino communicates with the Blackmagic 3G-SDI Arduino Shield, and how the shield will then send the camera control commands to the camera.
The Blackmagic 3G-SDI Arduino Shield is a simple expansion board or “shield” that includes 1 SDI input and 1 SDI output. The SDI input allows any video source to be connected, and the SDI output is connected to the camera and has camera control protocol commands embedded into it. The Blackmagic 3G-SDI Arduino Shield is very easy to use by a software developer, as they just look up the camera control commands they want to use in the instruction manual and then add them to Arduino software code that sends them to the Blackmagic 3G-SDI Arduino Shield to be inserted into the SDI link.
The Blackmagic SDI Control Protocol uses the blanking space in an SDI data stream to send commands for things such as camera and lens control, color correction, program return, tally, talkback and more over SDI cables so customers don't have to deploy additional, expensive equipment and run extra cables. The protocol is well documented by Blackmagic Design in product manuals and is now also being supported by third party manufacturers. The Blackmagic SDI Control Protocol is built into Blackmagic cameras, ATEM switchers, DeckLink cards, Video Assist, and viewfinder products.
For example, customers could build a simple controller with a joystick on top of the SDI shield that sends camera control commands to adjust things like focus or iris. The possibilities are endless and customers now have an easy way to create completely customized solutions for use with Blackmagic cameras, switchers, cards and more.
The Blackmagic 3G-SDI Arduino Shield comes as a simple double sided SDI board, which also provides power to the Arduino. It also features a USB connector for updating the software as Blackmagic Design releases new features in the future. It uses the I2C bus, which means you can even connect it via a cable to the shield if you need to fit into a custom enclosure.
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