Webcam to TV

Hi all,

First post. Don’t have a board yet, looking for help with selection.

First, I want to say that I have several things in mind for one of these boards, most of which I know will work. But this post is about what might not work, and it’s definitely the most urgent project.

What I want is an electronic magnifying glass. I want a camera, like a webcam, to go directly to an HDMI input on a TV. It’s a visual aid for my parents, who can’t see to read anymore. I want the full resolution of their TV, which is 1920x1080. Ideally, I clamp it to the top of the TV pointing down, and the device puts what happens in front of the TV onto the TV.

So this post is enquiring about a board which can handle a webcam, and possibly the webcam, and the output of the board being 1920x1080 on HDMI.

There are constraints:

  1. The TV is 1920x1080, and I want output to match. Not reduced resolution.

  2. It should be somewhat real-time. Doesn’t have to be full speed 1080p or anything, but not talking about still pictures. When you move your hand under the camera, you should see it not-too-choppy.

  3. It would be ideal if this thing can be powered by USB, both board and camera.

  4. I need to have the board boot up and go straight into video mode, no fiddling by the user.

  5. I need the board to be tolerant of power failures, meaning when they turn the TV off the board/camera powers down without harm.

  6. I do NOT need to save the pictures.

  7. I do NOT need sound.

From searching the forum, it seems that 1920x1080 output is problematic. I’m also not sure if the camera sends continuous images or if you have to trigger it.

I’m looking for a board to use. Price is an object. I prefer something Linux-based since I’m very familiar with that, but right now I just want something to work well enough that doesn’t cost as much as a laptop.

I’ve tried these commercial solutions:

  1. A digital camera. As soon as you hook up hdmi or usb the camera part shuts off and it turns into a picture storage device.
  2. A smartphone. Samsung Galaxy S3. Works fine, except it takes a bunch of steps to turn the camera on, and it turns off after awhile on its own.
  3. A webcam hooked into the TV: Doesn’t work at all. The TV doesn’t know about webcam drivers.
  4. A security camera: Way too low resolution. As expensive as a laptop in some cases.
  5. A webcam hooked to a Linux box with an i7, 12g ram, 256g ssd+3t raid1+dual monitors: Great! A bit overkill. And I’m a bit attached to it at the moment.

Thanks in advance.

This is Allwinner A20 based,
Search for EU3000 and there are bundles with mice/keyboard.

It is difficult to do 1080P video with a USB camera. USB is too slow
at 480Mb/s. You need a camera directly attached to the CPU.
Shouldn't be too hard to make a magnifier app that loads on boot. Then
switch the HDMI input on the TV to use it.

So you’re saying that I should abandon the BeagleBoard approach? I admit that would be a lot easier.

OK Thanks.

So you're saying that I should abandon the BeagleBoard approach? I admit
that would be a lot easier.

You can build it with a BeagleBoard but it won't be in a nice case and
it is going to cost a lot more. Using an Allwinner based system makes
it easy to get everything in a nice case, but the software is more of
a mess.

The Allwinner system runs Android. I haven't tried looking, but you
can probably find something in the app store that will do pretty close
to what you want. If not, write yourself a small Android app.

You should be able to use the Allwinner system for video chat too.

OK I’ll look into that. The nerd in me wants the BeagleBoard or similar, and I’ll certainly get to that sometime soon. My parents don’t so much care for the nerd idea so probably this thing is a good plan. Thanks!

The Allwinner nerd site is here: