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Frame Grabber FAQ

Imagenation provides the answers to commonly asked questions about frame grabbers, supported cameras and software compatibility.

We are constantly adding questions and answers to our Frame Grabber FAQ section. If you don't find your related question/answer, email us at CSinfo@cyberoptics.com.

Frame Grabber Questions
1. Is it possible to display real-time video in a window?
2. Is it possible to display overlay graphics in real time?
3. Can the CPU do other things while grabbing frames?
4. Can I put more than one frame grabber in my system?
5. Do your boards have a video output connector?
6. What is the warranty for Imagenation frame grabbers?
7. What is the "Optional Control Package" for the Imagenation PXC200A frame grabber?
8. What is included with an Imagenation frame grabber?
9. Are sample programs with source code included with Imagenation frame grabbers?
10. Are there any complete applications available to be used with Imagenation frame grabbers?
11. Are Imagenation frame grabbers equipped with triggers, strobes, and/or general purpose I/O lines?
 
Camera Support / Video Formats
1. Do you support digital camera output?
2. Do Imagenation frame grabbers work with resettable cameras?
3. Do you support progressive scan cameras?
4. What video formats can be used as inputs to Imagenation frame grabbers?
5. Is there a risk of losing frames or images while switching cameras?
6. If my digital camera is not listed as a supported digital camera for the Imagenation PXD1000, will it still work with the PXD1000?
7. Is there a list of cameras that are compatible with Imagenation frame grabbers?
8. Can Imagenation frame grabbers accept a pixel clock input from a camera?
9. What is the switching time between cameras with Imagenation frame grabbers?
10. What is the maximum number of cameras per Imagenation frame grabber?
11. What analog frequencies can be used as inputs by Imagenation frame grabbers?
12. What is the maximum image size I can capture with an Imagenation analog frame grabber?
13. If I have a digital camera, is there an easy way for me to configure my camera with an Imagenation frame grabber?
 
Software Support and Compatibility
1. Do Imagenation frame grabbers support third party image processing packages and libraries?
2. Do Imagenation frame grabbers work with LabView?
3. Is Delphi support available for Imagenation frame grabbers?
4. Is Visual Basic support available for Imagenation frame grabbers?
5. Does CyberOptics Semiconductor provide C++ or Microsoft Foundation Class (MFC) support for Imagenation frame grabbers?
6. What programming languages can be used with Imagenation frame grabbers?
 
Operating Systems, Machines & Motherboards
1. Is QNX support available for Imagenation frame grabbers?
2. Are your PCI products compatible with docking stations?
3. Do Imagenation frame grabbers work under Linux?
 
Cables & Cabling
1. How do I interface a camera to a digital frame grabber?
 
Specific Application Areas
1. What types of applications are Imagenation frame grabbers used for?
 
Is it possible to display real-time video in a window?
Yes. Video display is achieved though a software technique. Each of our frame grabbers comes with sample software that illustrates this technique. You can run our code on your system and check the speed, and you can also feel free to use our code as a starting point for your own application.

Whether the display is real-time or not depends on your processor speed, VGA card, and operating system. In general an 8-bit monochrome image will usually display in real-time on most modern computers. However, in the case of very large images or 24-bit color images, the answer is not quite as simple since the amount of data is much greater.

 
Is it possible to display overlay graphics in real time?
The CX100 can be purchased with optional OVERLAY RAM. In that case, displaying real time graphics depends on the amount of graphics you want to display and the frequency. If you want to store a graphic design in overlay once and display it often, then it can be displayed in real time. Data being written to overlay RAM is moving across the ISA bus at one megabyte per second. If the amount of graphics is very small, then you can probably achieve real time. The graphics overlay on the CX100 is only available on the video output connector for display on an external monitor.
 
Can the CPU do other things while grabbing frames?
Yes. It is possible to grab frames in the background with all of our frame grabbers. Our PCI products (PXR, PXC and PXD) implement a feature that we call queuing. You can queue up a command such as a grab and it will execute while your program is doing other processing.

The CX100, being an older design, does not offer queuing, but you can achieve the same effect by using the hardware grab feature.

 
Can I put more than one frame grabber in my system?
Yes. You can use multiple copies of all of our products in the same computer. When there are several boards, your software will identify each one by a number: 0, 1, 2, 3, etc.

The limit for CX100s is eight. Each board can be set to one of eight different port addresses.

The limit for PCI products (PXR, PXC and PXD) is the number of PCI slots in your computer.

 
Do your boards have a video output connector?
The CX100 has a BNC connector for connecting analog video to an external monitor. The CX100 is an ISA frame grabber and will display either incoming video or the contents of memory in real time on an external monitor. You can also purchase the CX100 and CX104 with overlay RAM for drawing graphics or writing text on an external monitor. 

The CX104 (for PC/104 systems) also has video output capabilities on one of its pins, but it does not use BNC connectors.

None of our PCI boards (PX, PXC, or PXD) have video output connectors. The PCI boards pipe the video directly into PC memory in real time without the ability to display it on an external monitor.

 
What is the warranty for Imagenation frame grabbers?
Imagenation frame grabbers have a one year warranty limited to parts and labor.
 
What is the "Optional Control Package" for the Imagenation PXC200A frame grabber?
The "Optional Control Package" or "F" version of the Imagenation PXC200A provides more performance characteristics for multiple camera applications. The F version should be selected over the L version for applications that require very fast switching between cameras and/or more camera control.

PXC200AF features:
-Eight separate I/O's, four triggers and four strobes.
-Vertical and horizontal sync out for genlocking a video source.
-Strobe inhibit during CCD transfer time for reliable capture with strobes.
-Multiple S-video input capability.
-DC restore on all inputs for fast multiplexing.

 
What is included with an Imagenation frame grabber?
Your Imagenation frame grabber purchase comes complete with the frame grabber card of choice, driver and library software required to use the frame grabber and an operation manual. Technical support and service is available at no extra cost. Image processing software compatibility can be found on the tech support page.
 
Are sample programs with source code included with Imagenation frame grabbers?
Yes. Every Imagenation frame grabber comes with several source code examples designed to illustrate important features of the board. The features covered include initialization, triggering and real time control of I/O lines. The samples are always written in the C programming language and are sometimes also written in Visual Basic. Many of our customers begin their application development by directly copying code from our samples. You can download and investigate any sample for any Imagenation frame grabber regardless of whether you currently own the frame grabber. Please feel free to do that to get a "feel for the board."
 
Are there any complete applications available to be used with Imagenation frame grabbers?
CyberOptics Semiconductor does not provide complete applications or image processing software for use with Imagenation frame grabbers. Most customers who use Imagenation frame grabbers develop their own image processing applications and/or take advantage of the driver support available for some of the more popular image processing packages. Imagenation frame grabbers include a software development kit (SDK), sample applications and source code examples to demonstrate basic board functionality. This information may also be used as a starting point in developing custom applications.

For the most up-to-date information on third-party drivers and image processing package support, please click here.

 
Are Imagenation frame grabbers equipped with triggers, strobes, and/or general purpose I/O lines?
Yes. Please see table below.
Product Triggers Strobes GP I/O
CX 1 1 -----
PXC-AL 1 1 -----
PXC-AF 4 4 8 (four inputs, four outputs)
PXD 1 2 4 (two inputs, two outputs)
PXR 4 3 8 (four inputs, four outputs)

The PXD also has three RS422 outputs.

 
Do you support digital camera output?
Yes, Imagenation now has a new digital frame grabber, the PXD1000.

The PXD1000 digital frame grabber is a low-cost, PCI-compliant video capture board suitable for machine vision systems using RS422- and EIA-644-based digital cameras. The PXD1000 is characterized by its high input data rates, reliable data transfers, large onboard FIFOs, high speed, efficient PCI performance and "on the fly" reformatting. The PXD1000 family includes a comprehensive SDK for the major operating systems. The PXD1000 library allows frame grab operations to be queued in the background, freeing the host processor for applications processing. An easy-to-use Camera Configuration Application and customizable cable assemblies simplify camera and frame grabber setup.

 
Do Imagenation frame grabbers work with resettable cameras?
Yes. The PXR800 and the CX100 can both acquire sync in less than one horizontal line time which makes them ideal for use with asynchronous cameras for capturing fast moving objects.

In the digital world, the PXD1000 digital frame grabber can be used with resettable digital cameras.

 

Do you support progressive scan cameras?
Yes. The PXR800 is designed to be used with cameras that produce either a non-interlaced or an interlaced output. Most progressive scan cameras produce a non-interlaced output and will work quite well with the PXR800 providing the output occurs at a rate of 30 frames per second (NTSC) or 25 frames per second (CCIR).

"Frame store" cameras take a progressive scan picture, but produce the output as two interlaced fields and these cameras do not require a progressive scan frame grabber.  A frame store camera that produces an interlaced output will work with the CX100, the PXC200A, or the PXR800.

 
What video formats can be used as inputs to Imagenation frame grabbers?
There are two basic types of Imagenation frame grabbers; standard analog and digital. Standard analog frame grabbers include the PXC and PXR series which support NTSC (RS-170), CCIR (PAL), SECAM, and S-video (PXC only) formats while the PXD1000 digital frame grabber supports RS422 and EIA-644(LDVS) formats.

The PXC can accept up to four composites and one S-video input for the PXC200AL or four composites and four S-video inputs for the PXC200AF. The PXR can accept up to four composites for use with interlace, progressive scan and resettable cameras.

The PXD can be used with cameras that provide a single channel for up to 32 bits/pixel and pixel rates to 40M pixels/sec for EIA-644 (LVDS) signals; a dual channel for up to 16 bits/pixel and up to 80M pixel/sec rates; or a four channel camera at 8 bits/pixel and up to 160M pixels/sec rates.

 
Is there a risk of losing frames or images while switching cameras?
All of CyberOptics' analog PCI frame grabbers have a four to one multiplexer before the video input. That means you can connect up to four cameras and select any single camera to be the input at any time. When you switch from one camera to another, you will always lose data unless your cameras are genlocked.

Switching always occurs at the end of a field of video. If the cameras are not genlocked, then the fields of video from the four cameras will end at different times. When you switch from one camera to the next, you switch from the end of a field into the middle of another field. You will always lose the rest of that field plus the next complete field.The frame grabber resynchronizes during the full field.

The average loss is 1 to 1 fields on each camera switch. The Imagenation PXC200AL is an exception and will lose up to two complete frames. If you like the features and price of the PXC200A and you require camera switching, then you need the Imagenation PXC200AF with the option package. The PXC200AF has an average loss of only 1 to 1 fields per camera switch as does the Imagenation PXR800.

 
If my digital camera is not listed as a supported digital camera for the Imagenation PXD1000, will it still work with the PXD1000?
The Imagenation PXD1000 is compatible with most commercially available digital cameras. CyberOptics provides pre-configured files for several operating modes of popular cameras enabling them to work quickly with the PXD1000. For other models, CyberOptics provides a Windows-based Camera Configuration Application. It allows you to create, modify and test configuration files.
 
Is there a list of cameras that are compatible with Imagenation frame grabbers?
Imagenation analog frame grabbers (PXR, PXC) are compatible with most analog cameras. The Imagenation PXD1000 is our digital frame grabber and will work with most digital cameras with a frequency less than 40MHz. CyberOptics provides configuration files for many digital cameras. Please click here for a list of currently tested digital cameras. If your camera is not listed, please call our technical support department for further information on how to obtain the camera configuration files.
 
Can Imagenation frame grabbers accept a pixel clock input from a camera?
Yes. CyberOptics offers two frame grabbers that accept pixel clock input from a camera: the PXR800 and PXD1000. The PXR800 lets you select either the rising or falling edge of the pixel clock as a trigger for sampling while the PXD1000 always uses the rising edge.
 
What is the switching time between cameras with Imagenation frame grabbers?
The actual switching time is immediate. However, the time required to resynchronize to the incoming video and grab a good image is an extra field on all products except the PXC200AL which requires two complete frames.

Immediate switching means zero data loss if your cameras are genlocked. In other words, you could switch cameras during the vertical sync period when there is no data and grab the next field or frame.

In the normal (non-genlocked) mode you typically switch into the middle of a video field when you switch cameras. The frame grabber will "be confused" for the rest of that partial field of video and will require one full field to resynchronize. On average the time required to switch and resynchronize is 1 to 1 fields.

The PXC200AL is not suited for rapid camera switching. If you like its feature set and price you should look at the PXC200AF with the optional control package. It has a normal resynchronization time of 1 to 1 fields.

 
What is the maximum number of cameras per Imagenation frame grabber?
The table below explains the maximum number and type of cameras that may be used with each Imagenation frame grabber.

 

CX100 One Analog Camera
PX610A Four Analog Cameras
PXC200AL Four Analog Cameras (One S-video maximum)
PXC200AF Four Analog Cameras (All four can be S-video)
PXR800 Two Analog Cameras (Plus additional two with PXR801)
PXD1000 One Digital Camera
 
What analog frequencies can be used as inputs by Imagenation frame grabbers?
Imagenation analog frame grabbers are standard analog products, which means they accept standard analog frequencies as inputs i.e. 12.27 MHz for an RS170/NTSC signal and 14.75MHz for a CCIR/PAL signal.
 
What is the maximum image size I can capture with an Imagenation analog frame grabber?
Imagenation analog frame grabbers accept only standard analog inputs of NTSC/RS170 (640 x 480) or CCIR/PAL (768 x 576). Therefore the maximum image size that can be captured is 768 x 576.
 
If I have a digital camera, is there an easy way for me to configure my camera with an Imagenation frame grabber?
The Imagenation PXD1000 digital frame grabber is compatible with most commercially available digital cameras that operate at 40Mhz and below. CyberOptics Semiconductor offers compatible cables, cable wiring diagrams, configuration instructions and configuration files (.CAM files) for many of the more popular digital cameras. A list of digital cameras with this support may be found at http://www.imagenation.com/dnpages/pxd_files.html .

If the digital camera you plan to use is not listed, a cable will need to be built along with a configuration file. This is very easy, using the configuration utility PXDConfig. that is included with every PXD1000. If you have questions about how to use PXDConfig. or digital camera compatibility please contact tech support at 800.366.9131 or via e-mail at CSinfo@cyberoptics.com.

 
Do Imagenation frame grabbers support third party image processing packages and libraries?
For most Imagenation frame grabbers, CyberOptics Semiconductor offers third party image processing support, including Common Vision Blox (CVB), Halcon & Activ Vision Tools, and Xcaliper. For the most up-to-date information on specific supported image processing package versions or to download these drivers, visit the Imagenation frame grabber website at   http://www.imagenation.com/dnpages/ip_files.html.

Another option that many of CyberOptics Semiconductor's customers choose is to develop their own image processing applications using the extensive, powerful SDK that ships with all Imagenation frame grabbers.

 
Do Imagenation frame grabbers work with LabVIEW?
LabVIEW does not require any special support or drivers. Most of our products can be used with LabVIEW 4.0 or greater.

Beginning with version 4.0, LabVIEW is capable of making calls to a standard Windows DLL. All of our PCI products (PXR800, PXC200A and PXD1000) come with standard Windows DLLs that are directly compatible with LabVIEW. In the case of the CX100, the special Visual Basic DLL is compatible with LabVIEW.

 
Is Delphi support available for Imagenation frame grabbers?
CyberOptics Semiconductor does not offer formal support for Delphi for use with Imagenation frame grabbers. We can provide interface files and sample programs for Delphi that have been built and donated by customers. Click here to locate these files.

If you encounter problems during your development, please call or email our support team at CSsupport@cyberoptics.com and we will do our best to assist you.

 
Is Visual Basic support available for Imagenation frame grabbers?
CyberOptics Semiconductor provides support for Visual Basic, including example programs, for use with most Imagenation frame grabbers. Sample code for Visual Basic is currently available for the Imagenation PXD, PXC and CX.

We are in the process of adding formal Visual Basic support for the PXR.

 
Does CyberOptics Semiconductor provide C++ or Microsoft Foundation Class (MFC) support for Imagenation frame grabbers?
Imagenation frame grabber API's are in ANSI C, however, the frame grabber libraries will work with standard MFC programs. Please contact the CyberOptics Semiconductor technical support group for further details and programming examples for using an Imagenation frame grabber API in C++ or MFC development environment.
 
What programming languages can be used with Imagenation frame grabbers?
Imagenation frame grabbers from CyberOptics Semiconductor come with a software development kit (SDK) for custom application development in C, C++ or Visual Basic. Complete support for Visual Basic for use with the PXR800 will be available soon. Be sure to check the   http://www.imagenation.com/dnpages/pxr_files.html for the most up-to-date information. Sample programs, complete with source code, are also included. These samples quickly demonstrate how to get started with your application development using an Imagenation frame grabber.

If you have more questions about applications using specific programming languages with a particular Imagenation frame grabber, please contact our technical support team at 800.366.9131 or via email at CSsupport@cyberoptics.com.

 
Is QNX support available for Imagenation frame grabbers?
Please contact us if you plan to use the QNX operating system with the Imagenation PXC200AL or PXC200AF. Although we do not have formal support for QNX at the moment, we have a number of options at our disposal and would like the opportunity to select exactly the right one for your needs. Such support would be in the form of linkable libraries for QNX4, QNX6 and Photon.
 
Are your PCI products compatible with docking stations?
We have not done any testing with docking stations, but some of our customers have reported mixed results. For example, the Toshiba 740CDT laptop in conjunction with the Desk Station 5+ docking station seems to work quite well.
 
Do Imagenation frame grabbers work under Linux?
Although CyberOptics Semiconductor does not formally support the Linux operating system, we can provide links to other sites where drivers for some Imagenation frame grabbers can be found. Click here for links to Linux sites.

If the above links do not satisfy your requirements, please contact our technical support team at 800.366.9131 or via email at CSsupport@cyberoptics.com. We are always interested in learning more about our customers' requirements.

 
How do I interface a camera to a digital frame grabber?
CyberOptics Semiconductor offers open-ended cables for use with digital cameras and the Imagenation PXD1000. For more information about these open-ended cables and how to build your own cable, see the Detailed Cable Construction Guide.
 
What types of applications are Imagenation frame grabbers used for?
Imagenation frame grabbers from CyberOptics Semiconductor are used in a variety of industries and applications. They have been the frame grabber of choice within industries including semiconductor, manufacturing automation, medical/scientific, security and traffic. The features and flexibility of Imagenation frame grabbers make them appropriate for use in image processing, inspection, optical character recognition (OCR), product quality control and many more applications.

CyberOptics Semiconductor offers a free white paper "Choosing a Frame Grabber for Performance & Profitability" that provides basic information about selecting the appropriate frame grabber for an application.

If you have questions about which Imagenation frame grabber is the best match for your specific application please call or email us at   CSsupport@cyberoptics.com.

 
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