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Mr.RC-Cam

Aiptek A-HD Pro Camera

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I saw an ad over at rcgroups for a Aiptek A-HD Pro Camera. Looked like a fun item for my GAUI X330-S Quad-Flyer, so I grabbed one. Here is the link:

http://www.rcgroups....d.php?t=1330557

Here's the photo from rc-groups:

a3565360-61-IMG_7270.jpg?d=1288417753

The seller (beladog) takes the stock camera and strips it down to the bare PCB. The zoom lens, monitor, USB, and other gadgetry is removed. All that remains are the bare essentials; it becomes a shrink wrapped PCB with a little slot for a SDHC memory card (I have a spare 4GB I can use). The reward is that the repackaged HD camera is only a couple ounces! Seriously, the entire thing weighs no more than some of the popular FPV metal cased CCD cameras.

Mine arrived yesterday. After I marveled at the clever re-packaging, I stumbled and couldn't figure out how to get the video output to turn on. A couple emails later, I was provided some updated instructions that were more specific to my model. Overall, a pleasant fellow to buy from.

The following are some photos and comments to show what I did with the camera.

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Installing the camera on the Quad-Flyer was quite simple. The camera sits on top of block of foam, which helps to get the view above the front piloting ball. For now I am using it for direct to disk recording. But the video-out feature can be used later to supply the camera signal to a video transmitter.

See Photo.

post-2-001043800 1288922817_thumb.jpg

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The camera needs about 5V / 500mA (2.5W) to operate. I used a little 5.0V DC-DC switcher module that accepts 12V. The Quad's main flight pack (3S LiPO) now powers the camera and it draws about 300mA from the 3S pack. See photo.

post-2-029730000 1288922953_thumb.jpg

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I didn't like the narrow view from the stock lens. I think it is advertised as a 3.6mm, but from my tests it is closer to a 6.0mm. I had a spare 2.8mm lens that had the required IR filter, so it was installed in place of the stock lens. With the new lens the horiz view is about 2.5X wider, but it suffers from a bit of vignetting and right side focus is bit off. But even so, not at all horrible to me.

Note: When I have time I will try out a 3.6mm lens to see how that looks; No hurry -- I actually like the 2.8mm, even if it is a bit fish-eye'ish.

Here's a video from this afternoon. It was recorded in 720P, so be sure to choose the 720P resolution from YouTube.

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Boy Im dizzy, your house seemed to come round very quick. I guess the extra wide view is a help with quads but I prefer a little less distortion. Do you know how it compares to a Sony PM1 ?

Terry

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I think that a 3.6mm lens would remedy the distortion. FWIW, the camera seller told me last night that he will be upgrading the stock lens to a 3.6mm on future orders.

Sorry, I don't have any info on the Sony. Be sure to post a review on it. :)

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Quite interesting RCC,

I do all my FPV flying with 3.6mm so I'm partial to that.

Since there is a video output for FPV, could you measure the delay? Total system video delay is one of our biggest challenges to good FPV flying. Here are some measurements for comparison:

Cameras:

Sony KX171 CCD (my current FPV camera) = 41 ms delay

Panasonic FX-35 HD camera (while recording HD video) = 158 ms delay

Displays:

Headplay = 60 ms

Encore Video to WSXGA Converter driving VGA input of 24" monitor = 70 ms

Sony TV (typical of processing delays in consumer TVs) = 90 ms

Total System

I fly quite a bit with the KX171 CCD watching on the Sony TV so my total system delay is 131 ms. I've tried flying with the FX-35 camera output which brings the total system delay up to 248 ms and found it extremely difficult. Finding an HD camera which has a video output delay of less than 50 ms would be wonderful.

OMM

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If it's not too much trouble I don't mind measuring the throughput delay. What procedure do you want me to follow?

I went through all my 3.6mm lenses this morning and none would fit correctly (focal length prevents reliable thread mounting). So, I haven't been able to try out the 3.6 yet.

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If it's not too much trouble I don't mind measuring the throughput delay. What procedure do you want me to follow? ...

I use the following procedure that Rusty came up with:

1) Download a PC stopwatch program that can display a large digital clock with digits showing milliseconds. This free program can be setup to do that:

http://download.cnet.com/XNote-Stopwatch/3640-2350_4-10049177-1.html?v=1&sb=2

2) Connect the output of the camera under test to a video monitor that can accept a direct video input. You want a monitor that adds no significant delays - not something that is converting the video input to a computer VGA or similar input. Sit this monitor next to the computer screen.

3) Setup the camera under test so that it is recording the computer screen with clock.

4) Now you have two displays: The computer showing a real time running display and the video monitor showing the delayed clock from the camera under test.

5) Use a digital camera to take multiple still pictures of the both displays at the same time. Many images will be blurred but you will find some that show both displays clearly. The difference between the two clock numbers is the delay of the camera.

OMM

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I went into my storage area and pulled out my original field monitor. It's a little B/W TV that is pure analog. No scan conversion delays in those days! Also, I shot several takes to help indicate the sync delay issues (which will taint the processing delay data):

Here are timing shots when ** not recording to disk **

post-2-051909600 1289008104_thumb.jpg

post-2-043856700 1289008105_thumb.jpg

post-2-026601800 1289008106_thumb.jpg

post-2-008673600 1289008107_thumb.jpg

post-2-089296900 1289008107_thumb.jpg

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Very good! I would call that as:

40 ms for non-record mode

60 ms for 720p record mode

Those numbers are good enough for me to probably buy one assuming it will work with a 3.6mm lens.

Thanks,

OMM

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UPDATE: As previously mentioned, none of my 3.6mm lenses would work with the customized A-HD Pro camera. The camera's focal length was slightly different and focus was not possible (ran out of threads on the lens barrel). After a couple of emails to the supplier, he offered to change the lens mount to a different setup that would allow a 2.8 and 3.6mm lens. So it went back for a retrofit.

For those of you that were interested in the camera but were turned off by the Über wide FOV, here's a new demo video that shows a more realistic experience. To summarize, the camera had a 3.6mm lens and was recorded using 720p/60Hz. I was using the "Auto" White Balance (WB) setting, but given the lighting that was available, I think one of the fixed WB modes would have been a better choice. But the point of the video is to show the revised FOV.

Be sure to select 720p resolution once the player starts ...

My Quad was experiencing a motor bearing failure during this flight. I wanted to get the demo video out of the way before a bearing seizure. Fortunately all went well and was glad to get the video completed. So that's it for now -- until I fix or replace the failing motor my little 330X-S will be grounded.

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