Review: THine Cable Extension Kit

By Lucy Hattersley. Posted

THine Cable Extension (£51 / $59) is a kit for Raspberry Pi that swaps out the CSI cable (Camera Serial Interface) for a LAN/Ethernet cable. This enables you to dramatically increase the length of the cable that can be used, positioning a Camera Module up to 20 metres away from Raspberry Pi.

The kit comes in two parts: the Transmitter Board attaches to your Raspberry Pi Camera Module / HQ Camera; the Receiver Board connects to Raspberry Pi via the GPIO pin header.

Each board features a CSI socket and RJ45 (Ethernet) socket and the two are connected via a CAT5e or higher LAN/Ethernet cable. The system is designed to be ‘plug and play’, so all you need to do is hook everything up and use the Camera Module as normal.

Japanese company THine’s V-by-One HS Serializer / Deserializer technology provides a “high speed data link solution for MIPI CSI‑2, camera serial interface”. Learn more on THine’s website.

THine Cable Extender is ideal for running a Raspberry Pi HQ Camera outdoors while Raspberry Pi remains safely out of the elements

The Cable Extension kit comes supplied with the two boards, a 2-metre LAN cable and the ribbon flex cables, along with mounting screws. Our test kit also came with a Raspberry Pi 4, HQ Camera, and a 5 m Elecom CAT6 Ethernet cable.

We took everything apart and set it back up with a fresh installation of Raspberry Pi OS, then followed the quick-start guide.

Snap happy

Setup was hassle free and it ‘plugged and played’ as outlined by THine. There was no need for any additional software installation. One thing of note: this is not a network-enabled solution. Instead, the LAN/Ethernet cable is designed to run directly from Raspberry Pi to Camera Module. We tested it around the house and ran the cable out into our garden where we kept an eye on a bird feeder from afar.

And 20 metres is a massive upgrade from the 20 cm CSI cable included with the Camera Module. We checked with Raspberry Pi, and there is a limit with CSI before you lose signal integrity. There’s no guarantee that a CSI cable longer than the 20 cm one supplied will work.

So this is a big upgrade in effective distance. The Cable Extension Datasheet has more info on cables tested up to 20 m with this kit.

It can be a mild trouble to fine-tune the HQ Camera Module’s adjustment rings with the Raspberry Pi screen so far away. Apart from that, we struggle to find any downside. Cable Extension Kit works exactly as outlined and performs a useful function admirably well.

There are many use cases where it is beneficial to keep the camera and Raspberry Pi some distance apart, especially when filming in a hostile environment. THine outlines a project where they set up an outdoor PiKon 3D-printed telescope and used it at night during a freezing Chicago winter.

THine Cable Extension Kit is a niche product for a niche use case. But the technology is clever and it works exactly as outlined with no fuss. If you have a desire to place your Camera Module some distance away from Raspberry Pi, then this is the way to do it.

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