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Heronblade

multiple camera system

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My team is building a remote operated vehicle for an obstacle course. We wish to set it up so that the vehicle has three mounted cameras streaming their feed back to a laptop in front of the driver for the sake of navigation.

Cameras need to be relatively small and light (call it less than 5 cm on any dimension as a rough guideline). The receiver needs to be able to handle the three video feeds simultaneously, rather than just switching in between. We can handle a fair degree of assembly, wiring, and programming, we just need the right parts to work with. We are also hoping to spend less than $150 on this portion of the project, but can stretch this value if need be.

We've been looking at a number of wireless video camera systems, but thus far, all of the suitable "candidates" have been either well over our budget, or have been...vague about handling more than one camera feed at a time.

In any event, what I'm hoping to get here are a few suggestions on components to pick up, or at least a better understanding of what to search for/where to look.

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I thought it might be.

We can raise more money if it is reasonably necessary. Regardless, we could still use some perspective.

If it helps, we do not need stunningly detailed resolution on this thing, just enough to navigate our way through a well lit course.

Edited by Heronblade

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I have not seen any published DiY projects that are similar to yours. Basically, there's no easy solution given your requirements and budget. A basic analog setup that could combine three camera views into one PC image will require three complete video links, a security system quad video combiner, and a PC composite video adapter. Ignoring the technical issues, this is impossible on a $150 budget.

If you create this with analog wireless video systems then it would be best if each video link was on a different RF band (for example: 900MHz + 1.3GHz + 2.4GHz). On the other hand, if you use digital video links then you will still need three of them, but there is a chance that they could all be on the same RF band (depends on the product's performance). Most digital system require a decent PC to decompress the video stream.

In case you are interested, this is what we would consider a "low cost" digital video solution (and you would need three of them):

http://www.nghobbies.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=144_147&products_id=589

If your video performance requirements are low, then I saw a $200 digital camera security system with two cameras at Costco about a year ago. Range was advertised to be about 100 feet, image resolution was low, and video latency was quite noticeable. Plus, the wireless cameras were much larger than you want, but maybe they could be reduced in size with some DiY effort. If that sort of thing is acceptable then check the security camera vendors for something like it.

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Yeah, that is more than we are looking for here by a full order of magnitude. We only need it to operate at low resolution, and at relatively short range (shouldn't be more than 50 meters) with little transmission interference

Just as an example, three of this $40 kit would have been perfect, but it does not appear they can be operated in parallel.

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but it does not appear they can be operated in parallel.

That is correct. You will have RF channel bleed if they are all operated within the same area. Completely different RF bands for each camera is recommended. Good luck!

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If you are prepared to drop to 2 cameras then it may be possible to do it on your budget, maybe you could pan a camera or switch cameras on the vehicle?

I have had success with using channels 1 and 4 in the past on cheap Airwave modules.

The only other thing you could try would be to use Circular Polarised aerials to limit interference between channels. Maybe RH on channels 1 & 4 then LH on channel 2. I have not tried this but I dont see why it would not work...

Terry

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We wanted three simultaneous camera feeds because this is a speed task based run through a randomized obstacle course, and the only visual information on said course will come from these cameras. Giving the operator at least a 180 degree field of view without having to stop and mess with camera angles is pretty much required.

With that said, I believe we may be able to get away with swapping between the two side mounted feeds. Were there any particular modules you found useful?

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The only other thing you could try would be to use Circular Polarised aerials to limit interference between channels. Maybe RH on channels 1 & 4 then LH on channel 2. I have not tried this but I dont see why it would not work...

I agree, that kind of CP solution will allow two wireless video links to reliably share a similar RF band. But from my experience I don't expect that adding a third camera at an extreme channel setting will give good results if it is sharing the same RF band. But in the end, it all depends on the user's expectations, the installation, environment, and a bit of luck.

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