Hobby-level microcontrollers are finally getting big and powerful enough to start handling camera modules that historically would have required a full computer or FPGA to handle. The RP2040 and ESP32-Sx series of chips, for example, have enough pins to communicate with the 8-bit data output, DMA to quickly grab a frame, and the necessary RAM to buffer a raw snapshot. Now all we need is a nice camera module to make interfacing easy!
This Adafruit OV5640 Camera Breakout with 160 Degree Lens has a nice quality OV5640 camera with a 5 Megapixel sensor element, 160-degree very-wide angle fish-eye lens, and all the support circuitry you need. This version has a 160-degree focal angle for a very wide/distorted fisheye effect that's great for security systems or watching a big swath of the living room or roadway. We looked at existing camera modules and while this breakout board is backwards compatible, we made some improvements:
- Standard 2 x 9 header if you want it, but also a duplicated header strip 0.3" apart so you can plug it into a breadboard or perfboard
- Selectable external or internal 24MHz "XCLK" clock generation - save one GPIO pin, or just have a nice stable 24 MHz signal even if your microcontroller can't generate it for you.
- Heat-sinking camera area with exposed ground pad, with lots of vias for good thermal transfer. Helpful when doing continuous encoding and reducing thermal image drift.
- Optional VMotor 3.3V power jumper on DATA1, for auto-focusing camera modules
- 3.3V power-good LED on the back that can be disabled
- Dimensions: 35.7mm x 23.0mm x 17.5mm