Vision Show: Lights, Cameras, Automation

Source:EE Times
2018/04/16
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The Vision Show took place this week. It was, you might say, rather "visual" with all those colorful LEDs and lasers, plus lots of motion and cameras to catch it all. 

The exhibit hall at the Hynes Convention Center was roughly divided into components — lighting, embedded computers, cameras, and frame grabbers — and systems for visual inspection and automation. There's nothing dull here, what with all the colorful lights and motion. Here's some of what we saw. 

Advanced Illumination, a company with a long history of LED lighting, had enough LEDs to light up the entire hall. As bright as they looked, the lights were turned down quite low to keep from blinding those who passed by. 

Vistion Show Advanced Illumination

The lights were bright at The Vision Show 2018. Photo by Martin Rowe.

Technical Sales and Product Specialist Daryl Martin explained how the LEDs are configured and driven. In most cases, the LED arrays consist of parallel-serial circuits driven by current sources. Typically, each serial string consists of six LEDs. Then the strings are connected in parallel, all powered by a current source. But each string will develop a unique forward voltage. "How do you compensate for those differences?" I asked. Martin wouldn't say exactly how that's done other than to say that the best way is to have a separate current source for each six-LED serial string. A circuit such as the one in LED strings driven by current source/mirror shows a simple circuit that compensates for those differences in forward voltage. 

U.K.-based Gardasoft Vison manufactures controllers that drive LEDs with current. The company demonstrated a vision system in which some cereal boxes were illuminated by LEDs driven by the company's controllers. 

In addition to LEDs for lighting, The Vision Show also had exhibits of lasers in assorted colors such as these from New Hampshire-based Laser Components

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Lasers from Laser Components. Photo by Martin Rowe.

Sometimes you need LEDs to illuminate large areas, or you need backlighting for signs. This 5-second video shows LED backlighting from TPL Vision that looked even brighter in person, but it's plenty bright here. 

Industrial cameras are the front end of any machine vision system. Connected to desktop, laptop, or embedded computers, cameras capture video where software is then used to look for specific characteristics in an image such as barcodes. But systems can identify almost anything. You can see that in action on some system videos on the next page. Here's a sampling of some of the equipment on display in Boston. 

ixCameras manufactures high-speed, high-resolution cameras. Camera control can be from a PC or tablet. The company's latest 7-Series cameras have CCD sensors capable of 2,048 x 1,536-pixel images. 

ixCameras iSPEED 7

An iSPEED 7-Series camera from ixCameras of Woburn, Massachusetts. Photo by Martin Rowe.

Back-Bone's Ribcage H6PRO camera is attached to a lens and provides connectivity to a computer or tablet, producing mp4 video through a USB-C cable. In the photo below, the camera is attached to a telephoto lens, but the company also exhibited a fish-eye lens.
Back Bone camera

Cameras from Back Bone attach to lenses and provide a link to a PC. Photo by Martin Rowe.

Neosys Technology was one of several Taiwanese companies exhibiting embedded computers. Machine-vision systems often use these industrial computers for image processing and mechanical control.

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Photo by Martin Rowe.

Lucid Vision Labs of Richmond, BC, used flowers to show off its latest Phoenix series of GigE cameras. The image below shows the system and flowers above a photo of a monitor screen containing an image of the flowers. 

Vision Show Lucid Vision Labs

Camera maker Imaging Development Systems (IDS) uses a mechanical "bug" in a tube to demonstrate its cameras and software. In the 1-min. video below, you can follow it through the tube and see it on a monitor screen. IDS cameras use GigE and USB interfaces to transfer video. 

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