Hobby-level microcontrollers are finally getting 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 that is needed is a nice camera module to make interfacing easy!

This Adafruit OV5640 Camera Breakout with 120 Degree Lens has a nice quality OV5640 camera with a 5 Megapixel sensor element, 120-degree wide angle lens, and all the support circuitry you need. Adafruit looked at existing camera modules and while this breakout board is backwards compatible, they made some improvements:

  • Standard 2x9 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 for 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 back that can be disabled

The module comes with header pins so you can solder it for use on a breadboard or on the standard 2x9 header—It's up to you.

This guide was first published on Feb 21, 2023. It was last updated on Jul 13, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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