Pictured: AXIOM Beta Developer Kit with 1 x HDMI Plugin Module engaged.
Modularity is key.
The general approach for designing the AXIOM Beta PCB stack was to give every board a clear, core purpose and not just pack as many things as possible onto each one. This way individual PCBs can be replaced without affecting the rest of the stack - for example, as the interfaces between the boards are predefined, a new image sensor can be installed simply by changing the Sensor Board PCB. Likewise, as individual printed circuit boards ultimately become more complex and offer richer features, the user can upgrade any of the camera's boards as and when they're ready to do so. Unlike with existing manufacturers, who typically use the shelf-life of a camera's individual components as a way to ensure that a customer purchases a whole new camera, this approach also enables users to perform minor repairs in the event that, for example, one of the PCBs needs to be replaced. Aside from this there are four other ways that the camera has been made extensible:
High speed Plugin Modules
Low-speed and mid-speed Shields
Lens Mount and Optical Filter
Pictured: AXIOM Beta printed circuit board stack.
Main PCBs in Detail
CMV12000 ZIF Sensor Board
Beta CMV12K ZIF Sensor Board hosts the CMV12000 image sensor. The ZIF (Zero insertion force) socket is useful for developers as it allows for the sensors removal at the turn of a lever (zero force). For this reason this sensor board is best suited to the AXIOM Beta Developer Kit version of the camera, as it can be expected that sensors may be swapped on a regular basis.
The CMV12000 THT (Through-hole technology) Sensor Board is suited to applications where the sensor-front-end won't be being removed on a regular basis. Through-hole technology (THT), also spelled "thru-hole", refers to the mounting scheme used for electronic components that involves the use of leads on the components that are inserted into holes drilled in printed circuit boards (PCB) and soldered to pads on the opposite side either by manual assembly (hand placement) or by the use of automated insertion mount machines.
The Beta Interface Dummy Board acts as a bridge between the image sensor board and the rest of the camera. It converts communication between the aforementioned components to a standard protocol so that almost any image sensor that becomes available in the future can be used with the AXIOM Beta without changing the rest of the hardware. If AXIOM users felt that 8K was in demand they would simply swap the sensor board for one capable of capturing images in the desired resolution.
The Beta Main Board hosts two shield slots and two high-speed plugin module slot connectors. The Mainboard itself acts as a central switch for defining where data captured by the sensor and other interfaces gets routed to inside the hardware. In this regard, all specifics can be dynamically reconfigured in software opening up a lot of new possibilities such as adding shields for audio recording, genlock, timecode, remote control protocols or integrating new codecs and image processing inside the FPGA.
The Beta Power Board PCB is the last board in the stack before the MicroZed™. It generates all the different supply voltages for the chips and logic on the other PCB’s inside the camera. It also monitors currents so that it can estimate remaining power based on the recorded consumption. In the current revision of the camera a predefined set of supply voltages matching the current application with the rest of the camera have been generated, in the future however, it will be possible for users to dynamically reconfigure voltages according to their needs through the camera’s software. .
The AES-Z7MB-7Z020-SOM-G MicroZed™ is a development board based on the Xilinx Zynq®-7000 All Programmable SoC (System-on-a-Chip). It can be used as both a stand-alone development board for SoC experimentation or in a product like the AXIOM Beta.
Pictured: AXIOM Beta Main Board CSO PCB V1 bottom populated.
Some of the floor space in the centre of the AXIOM Beta Main Board has been left clear so that a CSO (centre solder-on) board can been incorporated. This will host chips capable of measuring and controlling compensation processes via the camera's software, i.e. for orientation and acceleration (the same chips used to stabilise quadcopters and track movement in VR headsets), magnetic field related data, and three dimensional motion sensing. Being situated directly behind the image sensor centre means that these sensors are ideally positioned to supply data for image stabilisation or metadata about the camera’s orientation and movements during a shot.
Pictured: AXIOM Beta Developer Kit.
AXIOM Beta features two shield-slots with space for additional connectors going to both east and west sides of the camera. One shield has a slow-speed (200Mb/s) interface and one medium-speed (1Gbit/s) interface connecting to the main processing FPGA. Therefore these shields are perfect for additional future interfaces like: Trigger in/out, Genlock in/out, Timecode in/out, Sync in/out or connecting external sensors or buttons, small LCDs, etc. The name "shields" was inspired by the Arduino plugin boards - also called "shields".
AXIOM Beta PCB stack front
The AXIOM Beta Debug Shield features 2x10 GPIO banks with LED indicators and two power LEDs. 4 LVDS pairs are routed to external connectors JP1/JP2 (plus one GND).
The AXIOM Beta has two high speed module slots with PCIe connectors (these are not really PCIe cards, we just utilize PCIe for the connectors). Each module has a total bandwidth to/from the main processing FPGA of at least 6 Gbit/s. This makes the modules perfect for dealing with high bandwidth video outputs like HDMI/Displayport/SDI.
Pictured: AXIOM Beta PCB stack with two 1x HDMI Plugin Modules engaged
1 x HDMI Plugin Module
This module provides one 1080p60 HDMI output stream via 4 LVDS channels directly from the Zynq on the Microzed.
1x PMOD (Peripheral Module interface) Plugin Module hosts inputs/outputs for connecting a wide range of external PMOD devices - mainly intended for development and testing when General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) is required.
Triple PMOD debug inputs/outputs are used for connecting a wide range of external PMOD devices - mainly intended for development and testing when General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) is required.
The AXIOM Beta Compact enclosure lens mount (currently a passive e-mount) is attached securely with four screws and can be swapped out and changed easily. Mounts can also contain optical filter trays to allow for changing infrared/ultraviolet (IR/UV) cut-off behaviors or Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF) on demand. The image sensor is situated just 6.75mm below the enclosure surface and therefore provides plenty of room to accommodate the flange-focal-distance (FFD) of any lens system in the future. More technical details on lens mounts and enclosures can be found in the Project Wiki.
For links to documentation and code repos see camera Overview.
AXIOM Beta is available/planned in the following enclosures/versions:
AXIOM Beta Developer Kit
This version of the camera is suitable for anyone who’d like to work on development, reconfigure its software and or core components, or build their own enclosures etc… Developer Kits are supported by a custom CNC-milled skeleton framework and provide easy access to the camera’s printed circuit boards - With this in mind associated design files, board layouts, BOMs, CAD models, software source code repositories, etc. are all made freely available.
For insight into how AXIOM Beta Developer Kits have been configured by members of the community see Case Studies.
This enclosure option provides a solid but lightweight aluminum layer around the camera's electronics and incorporates several mount points and future expansion slots. Individual modules are swappable (eg. lens mount, plugin modules) and extra care has been taken to use screws instead of glue so that customisation, and, should the need arise, simple repairs are made easy.
AXIOM Beta Compact is purpose-built for rig integration and general in-the-field protection, making it ideally suited to most photo and video production environments.
Price: €5,990.00 (excl. VAT + Shipping)
Status: In development
Currently in a state of early development, and inspired by the 35mm film camera magazines of yesteryear's golden age of analog film cameras, this enclosure is ideal for any film production scenario and rests well on the DOP's shoulders.
With ergonomics in mind and providing space for a more sophisticated airflow system, AXIOM Beta Extended is a camera and integrated AXIOM Recorder combination that plans to incorporate an INTEL NUC and 2.5" SSD(s). And of course, the AXIOM Recorder module can be attached in various locations around the enclosure and at different angles.Learn more about the AXIOM Beta Extended from Team Talk 13.2.