BOB-4 Video OSD / On Screen Display Modules

BOB-4H Video Character Generator & Graphics Overlay Module; OSD Module

  BOB-4S Video Character Generator & Graphics Overlay Module; OSD Module

BOB-4 is Decade's fourth-generation low-cost video information overlay module, now available in a rugged 2x20 header connector format with industrial temperature specs as well as the original 30-pin SIMM format. BOB-4 lets your microcontroller or PC display text and vector graphics on standard TV monitors. With large user-definable character sets, BOB-4 also supports bitmap graphics and multiple languages. BOB-4 generates background video on-board, or automatically genlocks to your video source and superimposes characters over the image. Printable characters and commands drive BOB-4 through fast SPI or RS-232 style data links, much like a serial terminal or printer. BOB-4 links directly to most microcontroller chips and modules. NTSC and PAL video standards are supported in a single hardware version.

Simulated BOB-4 Video Data Display Application

Here's a screen grab showing some of BOB-4's display capabilities. And one from a customer UAV application: DragonOSD
Video clips from real-life customer applications: [Datsun 240Z] [DragonOSD Autopilot] [GPS in Antarctica] [On-Screen Compass]
Also see SIS, a low-cost Demo/Developer board for BOB-4H.
Visit our Order page for small-quantity price information on all versions. Manufacturing quantities (10 or more) qualify for discount pricing. Inquire for details.
Key Features:

The start-up display (boot script) memory can be loaded with commands as well as printable data, which allows BOB-4's operating modes to be semi-permanently configured for special applications. In some cases, this feature eliminates the need for a host computer or smart interface device. Read the BOB-4 Application Guide for additional details, or contact Decade Engineering to discuss your requirements.

The BOB-4 Conscriptor PC program is provided without charge to assist customers with BOB-4 configuration. See download link below. The BOB-4 Conscriptor runs on Windows XP machines and offers these conveniences:

Design News magazine selected Decade Engineering's BOB-4HGI module as "best in category" and a Finalist in their 2008 Best Products contest! BOB-4HGI is the only video overlay module to combine such rugged mechanical characteristics with a full -40 to +85C industrial operating temperature specification.

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Suggested Applications
  • Remote Video Inspection
  • Industrial Process Monitor
  • Black Screen Generator
  • Home Automation
  • RPV ~ Remotely Piloted Vehicles
  • Robotics & Teleoperated Mechanisms
  • GPS Data Overlay
  • MATV ~ Cable TV ~ Pay TV
  • CCTV Security & Surveillance
  • Electronic Signs & Information Displays
  • ROV ~ Underwater Video
  • ATV ~ Amateur TV
  • Dumb Serial Terminal
  • Athletic Events & Motor Racing
  • UAV and R/C Aircraft
  • Law Enforcement

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BOB-4 Information Resources

BOB-4 Quick-Start Guide (PDF):  Gets you up and running quickly. Also see our SIS developer board.

BOB-4 Application Guide & Specifications (PDF):  This is the primary source for BOB-4 technical information!

BOB-4 Power Supply Application Note (PDF): How to satisfy BOB-4's power supply requirements, in detail.

BOB-4 Conscriptor (EXE):  PC program to manage BOB-4 fonts, configuration, boot scripts, and firmware upgrades. Includes a simple terminal emulator. Run the installer twice to replace an older version.

UTF-8 Encoder (EXE):  A simple PC utility program that converts hex or decimal character codes into UTF-8 codes.

C Code Example (TXT):  Includes a couple of hints on writing C programs to control BOB-4.

Solar Car Example (TXT): Fragments of the PIC18F C program from the University of Michigan's 2007 Solar Car project.

PBASIC Fonts Example (TXT): For Parallax BASIC Stamp II (BS2). Thanks to John Smith at Milford Instruments (UK dealer).

PBASIC Graphics Example (TXT): Also for Parallax BS2. Thanks again to John Smith at Milford Instruments!

ASCII Demo File (TXT):  This file was used to create the demo display linked near the top of this page. Transmit to BOB-4 with a terminal program, or store it in a boot script. Your browser might have trouble displaying this file due to embedded control codes.

Smart Encoder Interface (PDF):  SEI implements a quadrature distance encoder to video interface for BOB-4 in an Atmel AVR series microcontroller. Operator controls are provided. Demonstrates BOB-4 control through the SPI port. Here's the AVR-GCC Source Code (ZIP) and Object Code (ZIP) for SEI.

DragonOSD is an advanced First-Person-View (FPV) video information overlay system for radio-controlled aircraft that takes full advantage of GPS technology and controls BOB-4 through the SPI port. This is an open-source project; here's the DragonOSD source code (ZIP).

Additional hardware design and application programming examples were published for BUD, which is no longer manufactured.


Where can I get the latest firmware upgrade file?

You must email a request to Decade Engineering for this item. Please use the feedback link below.

Will BOB-4 work with my data source?

BOB-4 modules behave much like printers or dumb serial terminals. They can often be configured to work with the data stream from devices that were intended to drive basic dot-matrix printers. BOB-4 is configured via RS-232 commands, a bootscript, and custom fonts, all saved in flash memory. It's entirely practical to configure BOB-4 through a common PC terminal emulation program. The XBOB-4 Quick-Start Guide & POS Tutorial offers a lot of useful information on this topic. Just ignore the material that's unique to XBOB-4. The free BOB-4 Conscriptor program manages custom fonts and offers simplified configuration tools.

If display formatting requirements are complex, then it may be necessary to insert a smart interface between the data source and BOB-4. The smart interface could be a microcontroller module such as the popular Arduino, Raspberry PI, or Parallax BASIC Stamp, for example. The choice of interface hardware is often determined by the programmer's preference. Many other factors can influence the decision, including cost, serial communication support, CPU speed, development tools, package size & weight, power requirements, etc.

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Prices and Ordering Information