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Chapter III: Carnage and Mayhem

My original goal was to leave the XCam2 camera-transmitter unit as stock as possible. I had hoped that a simple Tx antenna upgrade would suffice. As you know, I had nothing good to say about the original XCam CMOS color camera (for details to my complaints, see the RC-CAM3 project details). However, I had my fingers crossed that they had eventually improved it. I did suspect that the goofy articulated arm mount would invite vibration issues, so I assumed that I would have to deal with that possibility.

Sadly, I soon found that the latest CMOS camera was exactly the same as my 1999 model. Actually, it seemed to be worse. And the articulated arm could not be tamed -- it was a terrible source of vibration induced camera movement. I quickly decided that some serious hacking would be needed.

This is what is removed from the XCam2So, some demolition work soon took place. I removed the CMOS camera, articulated arm, patch antenna, and DC power cord. This effort is quite simple and it will be obvious to you when you get yours. The photo on the right shows the carnage from my attack.

I think that it would be wise to save these parts since one day you may wish to restore your XCam2 to its former glory. Given the frequency of my upgrades, I suspect that I will be doing that within a few short months.

While you unsolder the wired connections you MUST take good notes (draw pictures and write down the wires' colors). If you do not pay attention to where EVERYTHING goes then you will soon find that you are in deep trouble. Do not expect me to hold your hand.

The Panasonic camera is very tinyThe first thing I did was to transfer over my Panasonic GP-CX161-53P CCD color camera from my old video system. This is a tiny but very high quality board camera and it is available for about $100. As you may recall, the RC-CAM3 project introduced this little gem. I reused the Pactec camera enclosure from the old system too.

For a short time I used two battery packs. One provided 4.8VDC for the CCD camera and the other provided 9.6VDC for the XCam2 transmitter. I did this to help reduce the required electronic modifications since several readers seemed to be baffled by the use of the DC-DC convertor that I implemented in my two earlier RC-CAM projects. But I soon grew tired of charging two packs and decided to return to my preferred electronic solution. Yes, a DC-DC supply has been used once again.

You can use the power supply circuitry that was implemented in RC-CAM3. The PT5041N is a very nifty DC-DC step-up (5V to 12V) supply. Since its introduction on RC-CAM3, an unbelievable number of hobbyists, and on-line R/C camera retailers, have adopted it for use on their video transmitters (I'm flattered, of course).

But I wanted to install the DC-DC component inside the XCam2 transmitter rather than inside the camera's enclosure. This arrangement was a little more logical {to me} since my battery pack would be located near the transmitter. However, I soon discovered that the PT5041 component was a tad too big to fit inside the XCam2's plastic case.

Bare XCam2 Tx with DC-DC moduleI ended up with a VERY tiny DC-DC convertor module that fits perfectly. I used the NME0512S from C&D Technologies. It is sold by Mouser Electronics as part number 580-NME0512S . It steps-up a four cell 4.8V R/C type battery pack to the required 12VDC. It has sufficient output current to operate the transmitter (but nothing else). The output voltage is not regulated but that is not an issue with the XCam2 transmitter.

The photo on the right shows the module mounted at an ideal location on the transmitter board. Everything fits inside the XCam2 enclosure.

Please be aware that the Panasonic CCD camera must be supplied with 4.7V to 5.4V (@150mA). Do NOT connect it to a higher voltage or it will be destroyed! I repeat, it goes directly to a 4.8V NiCd or NiMH rechargeable battery pack.

I used a 4.8V, 720mAH, NiMH flat pack. It is very tiny and is composed of four AAA size cells. It provides about two hours of operation. Total weight is 1.8 ounces. It was purchased from Radical RC, a mail order vendor that specializes in R/C batteries. I also bought the "servo style" battery connector from them. The nice thing about this setup is that I get to use my R/C system's charger to recharge the camera pack.

4.8V 720mAH Pack on custom bracket. Only 2 ounces!

Transmitter-Battery-Bracket Assembly I fabricated a metal bracket that has two standoffs that mate with the XCam2's base mounting holes. The battery is is held by 3M brand double-sided tape. It is sandwiched in between the transmitter and the bracket (see photo at left). The bracket has two slots that accommodate the lower frame screws on my Century Hawk helicopter; Installation takes about one minute.

CAUTION: Do NOT share your R/C receiver's battery with the camera system. The additional current draw is about 260mA and will accelerate the discharge of your receiver's battery pack.

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