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Mr.RC-Cam

Micro Sized 5.8GHz Camera Hack

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I took the bait on one of those 5.8GHz 10mW wireless micro sized nanny cams that are sold on eBay. When it arrived I was impressed by how incredible small the integrated Tx/Cam was and it weighed just a few grams, which is something I wanted. Even the Rx was tiny and had two A/V outputs (a nice touch). My goal was to have something that could be used to FPV a small Quad-Flyer at the local park.

The camera is offered as a complete package (with receiver & cables) and there are 2.4GHz or 5.8GHz variants of it, both of which have 8 channels. The CMOS camera was suppose to be switchable from NTSC to PAL, but I discovered that mine only does PAL. That said, it's very common to have the China devices claim features that don't exist, so this was not a surprise. {EDIT: The PAL/NTSC Switch is working now, not sure why it didn't when it was first tested. }

Here's what the system looks like (hard to recognize its small size, but it is indeed very tiny).

post-2-073592600 1286829079_thumb.jpg

I was expecting range of about 400 feet with a nice patch antenna, but all I could get out of it was about 10 feet, even outdoors in a clear area. So, right out of the box things were not going well. Not ready to give up, I decided to fix the short range and then just try it out in the Quad to see if the video quality would be tolerable.

So, on to the troubleshooting ...

Edited by Mr.RC-Cam
PAL/NTSC Switch Works

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After a bit of troubleshooting, the problem with the short range is due to the way they routed the Tx's antenna. At 5.8GHz, a 1/4 wave element is just few millimeters long, so position is critical. For convenience, they routed the antenna element with a right angle bend and much of it was too close to the PCB board and other wiring. I removed the stock wire and cut a 1/4 wave length element and soldered it perpendicular to the PCB. This required cutting a new hole in the Tx/Cam case.

After antenna mod, it looks like this:

post-2-082779300 1286830447_thumb.jpg

By the way, at the front your can see the micro sized 330 line CMOS camera. I tried to optimize the focus on mine, but they glued it so the lens's threads would not budge. Too bad.

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Because the Tx/Cam operates on 5V, I wanted to plug it into a spare R/C Rx channel. After inspecting the existing DC plug, I convinced myself that it was too small to be one of those buggers that has a voltage regulator buried in it. So, the DC barrel plug was cut off in preparation of adding a R/C servo style cable.

Yikes, looking at the severed cable I saw there was four wires in it! So, that meant that there was probably a Voltage Regulator in the DC connector I cut off.

After careful rubber plug dissection I uncovered a tiny two-sided PCB that had SOT-23 Vreg IC's on BOTH sides. Each was 3.2VDC; one for the Tx and one for the Camera. With a bit of rework I had it rewired in a format that was perfect for the Quad.

Here is what it looked like after hacking the cable (now ready to plug into the R/C system):

post-2-033561700 1286830542_thumb.jpg

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The Tx/Cam went on the Quad's piloting ball with a bit of Velcro. Power comes from the R/C system (5V).

Ready to fly:

post-2-017567600 1286830982_thumb.jpg

Next, let's try it out in the backyard ...

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Unfortunately, the camera has the jello problem that is caused by model vibrations. This is common to the CMOS designs and narrow FOV. A model with less vibration is needed. Here's a backyard video, which will not impress anyone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL_HLI3Bl7E

BTW, YouTube has messed up the aspect ratio, so everything has a squeezed look to it.

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I've tried some vibration remedies, but I don't expect I will ever get what I want from that CMOS camera. Although it is a wireless system that others would no doubt enjoy using, I've decided to use another one of my A/V system's in the Quad.

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Especially as it looks like your quad really doesn't need so light a system.

I'm "impressed" by the quality of that CMOS cam though, the comparably sized ones I've had were all signifigantly worse image-wise.

BTW I can only find 2.4GHz versions on eBay, seems the 5.8 ones are rare...

Edited by Kilrah

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Especially as it looks like your quad really doesn't need so light a system.

Typical installations end up as ten pounds of camera crud in a five pound bag. Mine are no different and I usually end up wishing for something micro sized. So, you can't blame me for trying! :)

BTW I can only find 2.4GHz versions on eBay, seems the 5.8 ones are rare

The 5.8GHz systems in this package style are very new and I may be one of the first on the planet to get a hold of one. But I suspect that eBay will be buried in them soon. Be prepared to fix the antenna. :)

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Very interesting....

I had been working on one of these cam/Tx (2.4) units and recently got it working on my Vapor.

I did the same with the antenna. Unsoldered it and brought it out vertical from the bottom of the case.

You can see the results here....

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1321850

Edited by galaxiex

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Typical installations end up as ten pounds of camera crud in a five pound bag. Mine are no different and I usually end up wishing for something micro sized. So, you can't blame me for trying! :)

The 5.8GHz systems in this package style are very new and I may be one of the first on the planet to get a hold of one. But I suspect that eBay will be buried in them soon. Be prepared to fix the antenna. :)

FPVHobby has some of the 5.8 units....

http://fpvhobby.com/94-8ghz-10mw-camera.html

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Yup, that's the same one I have, less the case. I wonder why they don't include the nice plastic shell.

I had been working on one of these cam/Tx (2.4) units and recently got it working on my Vapor.

Very nice work. If you find a wider lens please let me know.

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Yup, that's the same one I have, less the case. I wonder why they don't include the nice plastic shell.

Very nice work. If you find a wider lens please let me know.

I was wondering about the case too. Maybe they leave it off for weight? but it's not much weight saving?

Thanks! If I get something to work for a wider FOV I'll post here.

I notice the FPVHobby cams look like they have the power going straight to the board?

They modded the V-Reg somehow?

I tried to get my cam to work with a single power source to both Tx and cam...

It didn't work, picture was all weird.

There is another thread in RCG where someone else also tried that, and found the Tx and cam seemed to need separate power sources.

I wonder how FPVHobby is doing that?

Cheers!

PS. link to other thread.....

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1299428

Talk about the lines/interference due to single power source, at post #44 on....

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I notice the FPVHobby cams look like they have the power going straight to the board?

They modded the V-Reg somehow?

There is a chance that they are not aware that the little plug had a VReg in it.

I tried to get my cam to work with a single power source to both Tx and cam...

It didn't work, picture was all weird.

When I originally soldered the hacked 4-wire cable to the Vreg PCB I installed the two ground wires on the main copper trace near the plug side, instead of the little pads on the cable side. The camera's colors were wild. So, I moved the two ground wires to their original place and colors went back to normal. So I can confirm that the Cam/Tx is a very picky design when it comes to how you provide power to it.

Some new comments:

The NTSC/PAL switch is actually working. I'm not sure why mine didn't switch to NTSC before, but that issue has gone away. So, the advertised feature is real (my apologies for saying otherwise).

Also, I forgot to mention that two identical looking Rx's are sold, but one is 12V and the other is 5V. So be sure to read the voltage label before connecting a battery. The Rx that came with mine was the 5V version, but the PCB has a nice place for a VReg. So I installed a LM2940T-5.0 VReg IC and now I can use 6-12V to power the Rx.

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I ordered one 5.8ghz camera last week from fpvhobby because it was b/o at Foxtech. I begin to think they have remove the case and cut the regulator to save weight .

http://www.foxtechfpv.com/58g-20mw-mini-wireless-tx-with-300000-pixel-cam-palntsc-p-210.html

Thomas I`m sad to tell you had lost your time with the Oracle, this connector do the same: http://fpvhobby.com/91-multi-antennas-connector.html

(Just for laugh!)

They are stupid!

if mine do not work weel from 3.3V to 5.5V, I will return them immediatly

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I ordered one 5.8ghz camera last week from fpvhobby

You guys are blowing my mind. I had no idea there was real interest in this camera. I think I should put aside my personal opinion about the low image performance and stock them in the store. You know what they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. :)

I`m sad to tell you had lost your time with the Oracle, this connector do the same ...

That is fabulous. An entire RF diversity system built into a SMA T-connector. Must be very small components in it.:)

If mine do not work weel from 3.3V to 5.5V, I will return them immediatly

If the VReg board is not needed with a 1S LiPO cell then that would be cool. But my gut feeling is that without the expected 3.2VDC regulator board the long term reliability will be in jeopardy.So, if they do not provide the VReg PCB then be careful. Most importantly, please report back on how it works out.

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I had no idea there was real interest in this camera.

5.8GHz mini cam + Blade mCX2 = fun indoor FPV. I know many who'd get that.

Only problem is the lens angle...

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Only problem is the lens angle...

I agree. It would be very nice to have a wider lens on it. I'll check with the factory to see what they can do.

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I agree. It would be very nice to have a wider lens on it. I'll check with the factory to see what they can do.

That would be awesome!

I have often had products that would be better suited for a particular purpose with just one little modification.

As a hobbiest/consumer I just don't have the "horsepower" to contact the factory and request such a change.

It's very nice that you will ask about this for us.

Even if nothing comes of it, it's great that you have offered to be a voice for us! :)

Much appreciated!

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It's very nice that you will ask about this for us.

I've sent in a message to the rep, so cross your fingers.

Do you have any idea what your camera's current FOV (horiz) is at the moment?

What would you prefer instead? For example, I'd like 80 degrees, but I don't know if that is practical on a sub-micro sensor type pinhole lens.

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I think the current FOV is about 60 degrees.

I don't know if it would be possible, but 120 degrees would be nice.

That may be asking far too much though, from such a small sensor and lens.

Actually, anything wider than it is now. Maybe 90 degrees? I guess even 75 degrees would help....

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I already received an answer. No other lens is available.

So hopefully someone finds a easy DiY fix. For example, if the glued pinhole lens can be re-focused, then there's a chance an external lens could be added. Just to get the ball rolling, I looked through Edmond Scientific's optics and their endless choices are all too expensive. Hopefully someone with more spare time will come up with a brainless wide view hack.

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I have an add-on wide lens like this one....

http://cgi.ebay.com/0-67x-Wide-Angle-Macro-Lens-Phone-Camera-/400162515132?pt=PDA_Accessories&hash=item5d2b8b68bc

In fact mine looks exactly the same. I don't remember the vendor, but I did get mine from ebay.

I can confirm that it works to increase the FOV somewhat, and no re-focusing of the camera required.

Trouble is.... it is still too big and heavy for a micro FPV application.

I'll keep looking.....

Edit; there is a 0.45X and 0.67X version of this lens. Which would be wider? I'm guessing the 0.45X

Edited by galaxiex

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Awesome! -- There's a zillion stick-on camera phone lenses for sale on eBay, thanks for the tip. Hopefully there's a good candidate for micro FPV.

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