Rapid adoption of the CoaXPress (CXP) machine vision standard has opened up applications that go beyond the confines of the factory floor and into a variety of emerging market segments ranging from agriculture to medical science.
One segment that has proven highly receptive to CXP is defense and aerospace. Next generation drones and other unmanned systems can now acquire 4K UHD images by deploying CXP to meet the military's demand for sharper quality and higher frame rates. Older airborne systems are replacing analog technology producing only 11 MB/s with CXP digital cameras and frame grabbers that upgrade bandwidth up to 6 GB/s. Existing coaxial cables in helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, ships, land vehicles and observation towers are re-purposed thus eliminating the cost of new Ethernet or fiber cabling. Camera connectors, installation and maintenance procedures remain unchanged.
Aerospace and defense vision systems were once equipped with film-based cameras. However, lengthy time delays between snapping a photo and delivering it to commanders limited film's usefulness as a reconnaissance tool. Analog cameras overcame this constraint yet shielding was needed to protect them from electromagnetic sources. In addition, analog data still needed to be converted into digital format so it could be applied in a visualization program. A CXP digital camera and frame grabber system provides the needed real-time access to high-resolution imagery while making it easy to overlay sensor data into a single view for observation. A CXP system only requires a single coaxial cable for all functions so it can be reliably integrated into 360° rotating stations with slip rings to allow continuous panning for gun turrets or rotating cameras.
"The timing is right for the military and aerospace industry to transition from analog to digital and there is no better way than CoaXPress," said Donal Waide, Director of Sales for BitFlow, a global innovator in frame grabber technology. "Powerful, larger camera sensors are limited in their ability to acquire and process data when interfaced with current digital video standards such as Camera Link, GigE Vision, USB and FireWire. Only a CXP frame grabber provides the bandwidth and core infrastructure to realize the potential of these new sensors in military applications."
Along with resolution and speed, factors such as distance, latency, power, connectivity and reliability are considered critical by the military in locating targets, providing reconnaissance, search-and-rescue, and protecting forces. CoaXPress excels in each of these factors and combines the best attributes of all current vision interfaces into one simple solution. For example, CoaXPress can handle full HD video at 60 fps, while Camera Link cannot. Also, CoaXPress allows video, camera control for triggering, and up to 13W of power to be transferred without latency on off-the-shelf coaxial cables up to 100 meters in length or approximately three times that of USB3 or GigE Vision.
The latest version of CXP, CoaXPress 2.0, will increase the maximum connection bit rate to 12.5 Gbps. Currently, the maximum data rate over a single connection is 6.25 Gbps (CXP-6). The next revision of the standard will specify two additional data rates, CXP-10 (at 10 Gbps) and CXP-12 (at 12.5 Gbps). With four cables and CXP-12 connections, the maximum data transfer rate will be 50 Gbps, or 5 GByte/s.
BitFlow offers several CXP frame grabbers for military applications. The BitFlow Cyton-CXP4, for example, can be configured to acquire from one quad CXP-6 camera, four single link CXP-6 cameras, or anything in between. When acquiring from multiple cameras, each camera is attached to its own virtual frame grabber to enable independent acquisition and control of each camera.