Digital camera control using Arduino USB Host Shield. Part 2 – Canon EOS Cameras.

New version of PTP Library for Arduino USB Host Shield has been posted on GitHub. In this version, PTP::Task() has been completely rewritten to provide for non-blocking state machine-type execution. Another major addition is comprehensive support for Canon EOS cameras – many camera functions including changes of shooting parameters, Live View, focus move, are now well understood and supported. The library is released under GNU General Public License version 2.

In addition to the code library, a manual page has been created outlining EOS-specific extensions to PTP protocol, a code example, and library reference. Similar page for basic PTP functions is planned also.

The code is stable (more or less) and no application interface changes are planned at this moment. It is, however, incompatible with an old version, which is preserved in “legacy” branch of GitHub repo. The camera interface has not changed much and migration of old projects should be easy. If you have issues with migration, comment below and I will try to help.


Digital camera control using Arduino USB Host Shield. Part 1 – basics.

Arduino taking picture of itself

Arduino taking picture of itself

I’m starting new series of articles describing exciting field of digital camera control. In modern cameras, USB port can be used not only for transferring images to a PC, but also for sending control commands to the camera. It is often possible to send commands which “press” the shutter button, modify shutter and aperture values, some cameras are even capable of doing focus control. At the same time, new shooting techniques, such as HDR and stacked focus, require that a photographer makes several shots, slightly modifying one or several shooting parameters from shot to shot. Even age-old time lapse technique could use some automation. Since camera manufacturers are, as always slow to implement there cool features, Arduino comes to the rescue.

I am announcing new code developed for Arduino USB Host shield which implements digital camera control functions via PTP. Alex Glushchenko, a developer from my native Russia, recently joined camera control project and code shown here and in the future articles is mainly his. He did most of reverse engineering and code development and my contributions to this project were mainly code testing, camera borrowing, and blogging. Code is hosted on github separately from USB Host library. Be warned – this source is preliminary and will be changed many times before it becomes stable! It is also expected to grow quite a bit – different cameras use different commands and developing universal code supporting all manufacturers (or even every camera from one manufacturer) is not possible due to the modest resources of Arduino platform. Therefore, several libraries have been developed, each covering specific set of cameras. The cameras supporting functions of a certain library are listed in library’s header file. The list of cameras is currently quite small but I’m hoping to get more cameras supported in the future.

Digital camera as USB peripheral is much more complex and less standard than a keyboard. The complexity starts at the very first level – device configuration. Very often , several different configurations are supported on a device and the default configuration is not the one we need. Therefore, the first step would naturally be learning how to recognize configuration which supports camera control commands.

There are 3 specifications describing USB digital camera works. Still Image Device specifies USB requests, descriptors and endpoints. The protocol structure is described in Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), which is better known by its previous name, “Picture Transfer Protocol” (PTP). The most interesting document, which actually lists commands supported by camera class, is known as “PIMA 15740-2000”. It is available for a fee from I3A, however, second-hand pdf copy can be obtained for free after some googling. Camera manufacturers implement their own functions, expanding PIMA definitions. In addition to that, some older cameras use their proprietary protocols instead of PTP; support for such cameras will be added eventually.

Continue reading Digital camera control using Arduino USB Host Shield. Part 1 – basics.

Hook up PS3 controller to USB Host shield

PS3 controller connected to Arduino USB Host Shield

PS3 controller connected to Arduino USB Host Shield

Another HID example has been added to Github repository of USB Host Shield for Arduino (which you can purchase in my store) . Richard Ibbotson sent me this nice piece of code along with some pictures. He also posted a short description of his sketch in comments section:

I wrote a sketch for the interface of the PS3 controller over USB. I have two controllers, one Sony and one Madcatz wireless with a USB dongle. Both of these work fine to the USB host shield. I only made one minor change to the library to increase the NAK count. The sketch tests all the function, buttons, joysticks, accelerometer/gyro, leds and rumble. This is not yet under bluetooth just USB. I can set the host bluetooth adddress on the controller though which is needed for bluetooth pairing.

Did not make much attempt to reduce code or data size, so only have about 4K of program space and 240 bytes of data space left, but sketch is pretty long. The actual PS3 part is very small and could be made to a small library.

Next is to move to the bluetooth part, from what I have found on the direct USB, I am pretty confident this will fit even on the 168.

PS3 controller support opens some very interesting possibilities. Not only can it be used as a normal “joystick plus buttons” type of control, but you can also utilize it’s accelerometer/gyro. With wireless variant of the controller all kinds of very powerful radio control are possible. Who is going to be the first to make a mechanical dog, which follows you around and brings back the controller when you throw it away?

If you want to try the sketch, make sure you have the latest library code as well – there are some small but important changes made recently in NAK handling.

MadCatz wireless controller to USB Host Shield

MadCatz wireless controller to USB Host Shield

Wireless mini keyboard connected to USB Host Shield

Wireless mini keyboard connected to USB Host Shield

USB Host breakout at work

Here is an interesting project which uses MAX3421E breakout board to connect XBox360 wireless controller to old Nintendo Entertainment System. Francois Gervais used Cortex-M3 as an interface between Nintendo and a game controller. There are two other videos showing the details of the setup – check them out as well.

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How to drive USB keyboard from Arduino

USB Host Shield driving a keyboard

USB Host Shield driving a keyboard

I am continuing on topic of using USB Host shield to drive USB peripherals started in the previous article. The code presented here performs keyboard polls, character translation and management of “LOCK” keys – NumLock, CAPSlock and ScrollLock.

A keyboard is hard to use if results of typing can’t bee seen, so my first step was to add an output device. Even though HD44780-compatible character LCD can be driven with Arduino pins, I wrote a little library which uses GPOUT port of MAX3421E for LCD control. This library is now a part of USB Host Shield repo on github. I used LCD high-level routines from official Arduino distro and developed low-level functions specific to MAX3421E hardware, as well as LCD initialization. Since function syntax and behaviour (and source code ) is identical to official LCD functions, the user manual is already written and can be found in the library reference by title LiquidCrystal. The only difference is in the constructor; since only 4-bit mode is possible and only one pinout is supported, Max_LCD constructor is not accepting any parameters. The pinout of LCD connections to GPOUT is given in the Max_LCD.h file; see also title image of this article.

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USB Host Shield in store.

Four configurations in Arduino blue

Four configurations in Arduino blue

[EDIT] This post is about legacy product which is no longer supported. Visit USB Host Shield project page for up-to-date information[/EDIT]

Arduino USB Host Shields are in the store. If you are not yet familiar with the project, please browse “USB Shield” category of the site and read the articles. In short, the purpose of this shield is to add USB Host interface capability to Arduino. The software libraries for this shield currently support control and bulk-in transfers, while bulk-out transfer is in the works. Access to GPIO pins of MAX3421E is also supported. Sketch examples, demonstrating USB device control queries and polling USB keyboard, are published. More code will be developed in the future.

At present, four configurations of the shield are available. The first one, called “Minimal”, contains USB core components only. It is compatible with 3.3V Arduinos, such as Arduino Pro from Sparkfun. Also, since no 5V is available, only communication with self-powered devices is possible. Moreover, not every self-powered device would work in this configuration. For unknown reasons, some external hard drives refused to answer until VBUS voltage was raised to 5V. On the other hand, all printers and digital cameras that I and several beta-testers tried worked fine as well as other people’s external hard drives. “Minimal” configuration is the best one for battery-powered projects since 3.3V Arduinos consume less electricity.

Continue reading USB Host Shield in store.

Arduino USB Host – Peripherals.

USB constructor

USB constructor

The time has come to start using the code to communicate to peripheral devices. There are many devices which work well with microcontrollers. HID devices, such as keyboards, joysticks, and Radio Controller look-a-likes are useful and not too difficult to implement. Another good application of embedded USB host is digital camera control. Communication using Bluetooth and WiFi peripherals are also a possibility.

Today I’m going to show how to communicate with USB keyboard. Standard USB keyboard belongs to a class of devices, called HID (Human Interface Device). The format of data generated by HID device is quite flexible and each device stores it’s data definitions in structures called Report descriptor and Physical descriptor. Generally, to work with the device, report descriptor has to be retrieved and parsed. Because of HID flexibility, a universal HID driver will take many many lines of code. Luckily for us, if all we need is to talk to the keyboard, there is an easier way.

Continue reading Arduino USB Host – Peripherals.

Arduino USB Host – USB Descriptors.

Get device descriptor trace

Get device descriptor trace

I finished porting USB transfers from PIC C to Arduino C++. There is now a USB class in the repository. Two main types of USB transfers – control and bulk, are implemented. If you want to know more about USB transfer mechanics, take a look at this article. The code was written to work on Microchip PIC, however, the Arduino code is almost identical.

Since we now have tools to talk to USB device, let’s start using them by looking at USB descriptors. In order for sketches from this article to work you need to copy current repository contents ( *.cpp and *.h files ) to a sub directory in your Arduino hardware libraries directory. In addition, don’t forget to supply 5V to Vbus and connect a USB device, such as flash drive or mouse to USB connector of a breakout board.

First sketch demonstrates access to device descriptor. Device descriptor is the first descriptor that the host retrieves from the device during enumeration. The information which host needs is device endpoint zero maximum packet size. In this example, maximum packet size is already set by a function in USB class, called “Task”. In addition to maximum packet size device descriptor contains other information, used during device configuration.

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