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Mr.RC-Cam

Hack Worthy Toy Car

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I've been following the hacks to Wild Planet's Spy Video Car. This $99 toy is sold in the USA at discount stores such as Target and Walmart. I suspect it is available in other countries too. The cool thing is that it has a RF video link and a B/W monocular head-mounted display. The video Tx/Rx can support color too (but the provided camera and display is strictly B/W).

wpt70133.jpg

If you are thinking like me, this thing is begging to be hacked. Although it would never become a high-end wireless video solution, there are plenty of good opportunities for it.

If a R/C spy car does not get you excited, then maybe this will. Wild Planet sells the head mounted display as a spare part for $20 USD. Feed it composite video and power and it will work with other video sources. Sadly, the hacking community found out about this and so they are sold out for now. But, they will allow you to put your name on a waiting list.

svc_headset.jpg

To get your hacking juices flowing, start with this: http://jakeofalltrades.wordpress.com/2007/...ounted-display/

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I bought one today from Target for $99. Here are my findings:

Nicely made toy. Hardest part about using it is getting it out of the box.

As the jakeofalltrades link mentioned, the camera and goggles are definitely set to PAL. For NTSC goggle use, that site shows the required mod (I did not try it).

According to the FCC filing, the Video link is set to 2414GHz. I saw jumpers on the A/V module PCBs that suggested four frequencies were possible. I did not try hacking the A/V system to see if the other RF channels were actually available. I did not experience any multipathing while driving around the room. The video link was very reliable. The camera's video quality was not too exciting.

The R/C Rx is a SuperRegen design on 49Mhz. It is not possible to operate more than one car at a time. The encoder/decoder is the popular TX2/RX2 chip set found in many dirt cheap Hong Kong R/C models. It has left/right, fwd/rev/stop.

Despite being made for kids, the headset fit me just fine. It will work with other video sources if you apply 4.5VDC to it, per the jakeofalltrades site. The monochrome goggle's image has reasonable resolution and I could clearly read the OSD text from my digital camera. However, I had a hard time maintaining eye focus over the entire image, especially over time.

More info is found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spy_video_car

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