battle of the rocket cameras: 808 vs. U8 vs. lighter vs. pen

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Feb 10, 2017
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I've been having fun with an 808 camera on my rockets and wanted to try some others. The keychain 808 looks so non-aerodynamic it seemed there must be a better alternative. I ordered a U8, lighter, and pen, see pics below, and plan to fly all of them next weekend. I've ground tested them and the videos they produce all seem similar in quality.

What the 808 lacks in aerodynamics it makes up in weight. It is just 12 grams. The others are 15-18 grams. As even the 808 can knock a smaller rocket off course, this weight difference may be important.

The pen is larger and heavier than I expected, and unlike the others its lens is on the side, not the bottom. So I'll get an elevator view of the flight and will not see the liftoff. I'll probably remove the shirt clip holder.

The U8 looks more solidly built than the others. The lighter looks flimsier, and the top does not have a good shape for flying. I may replace it with the top from a flash drive (both the U8 and the lighter have a USB plug so it can be plugged directly into a computer. The 808 and the pen connect to the computer with a cable.

Here's the tale of the tape:
808 - 12g - 50x32x12mm
U8 - 18g - 75x25x13mm
pen - 18g - 91x12x12mm
lighter - 16g - 80x24x10mm

I'll report the flight results next week. In the meantime, any comments welcome.

4 rockets 2.jpg

4 cameras 1.jpg
:pop: subscribed - I really appreciate your upcoming comparisons, as I've used the 808 a few times, wondering what other options there are on the economical side of things, rather than pushing upwards in the price range via Mobius, GoPro, etc...
Today's camera battle turned out to be a bit of a dud. It was windy so launch options were limited, did not get to try the lighter camera at all. My trusty 808 flew and worked flawlessly and made a nice (although rather boring) video, see
Big disappointments of the day were the U8 and the pen, which both made nice videos of the rocket sitting on the pad but died before liftoff, not sure why. I'm not ready to write them off as unreliable junk, it could be operator error, it took me a couple of tries before I got the 808 working properly. But it is weird that they both died while just sitting untouched. The SD card on the U8 does not appear to have been seated properly, that may be why the U8 stopped recording before ignition. I'll fiddle with the cameras during the week and try flying them again next weekend.

The rocket flights were stable with each of the 3 cameras, as I used motors with ample power. One thing I learned the hard way is that the camera pulls the rocket sideways if the motor does not supply plenty of power.
Billdz - thanks for the report, I know one of the biggest challenges is 'learning your equipment' before you're able to make an accurate assessment. I just finished replacing the lipo battery in my 808 (found a suitable replacement on Amazon, unsoldered the old, soldered in the new) as it would only run a few seconds before shutting down. Once I had finished the work getting the new battery in, I started it up only to find it did the exact same thing. Only later did I realize that there was no SD card inserted, and the camera realized that it couldn't do anything without a card....doh! I went to a lot of unnecessary work and risked damaging my camera simply because I didn't know what I was doing. Good luck with your continued efforts and looking forward to future reports!
Today I was going to take the L2 flight test at Labelle but they canceled the launch due to dry weather, fire hazard. So we went down to Homestead and joined them, only up to G motors allowed. My 81" LOC Tweed B was a bit underpowered with the U8 camera but it made this video. Video quality about the same as the 808. The 808 is lighter, but the U8 was light enough not to alter the Tweed's course. If trying to decide between U8 and 808, a significant difference is that the U8 has the USB plug attached, while the 808 connects to the computer with a cable. So the 808 can remain connected to the rocket permanently, while the U8 must be untaped every time you want to download. Although I suppose you could keep the U8 permanently on a rocket if you use a USB extension cable with a female connector on one end, if you don't put tape over the cover of the U8's USB plug. Here's the U8 video:

Still having trouble with the pen and lighter cameras, they may be defective. Also can't get the time and date stamp to show correctly on any of the cameras. I set the time, it sticks for a few days, then reverts to an incorrect time and date.
I got one of the U8's for about $4 on eBay. It sure ain't gonna work for aerial photography, but for checking your deployments (and staging, which is what I intend to use it for) it's fine.
I've use U8s for several years. Buy them off eBay for ~$10 free shipping from seller in Sacramento.

I found 808 hard to tape on and not touch controls, u8 easier to tape on and not bother controls and more aerodynamic.

If using for over K motor... need to make sure to wrap electrical tape all the way around to prevent stripping tape off during flight.

There is motion detect button on the U8, don't want to press that... will turn off after few mins of no movement setting on pad.

Use a large miniSD card ~16GB (there is a max size) and most important make sure U8 is charged.... I thought I was charging them and found USB charge was bad and they're stop recording just after taping on.

Last and most important tip is practice starting, stopping, etc on ground and you'll get use to buttons to press, that battery is fully charged, and miniSD sufficient.

You can see examples of U8 videos on my website videos link below my signature.
Thanks for the info, nice vids. I used electrical tape the first time I tried a camera but it peeled paint off the rocket when I removed it, so since then I've used masking tape, which does not seem to bother the paint. Have not launched a K yet but need to remember your advice. Do you untape to download or do you use a USB extension?
I have a U8 (claimed to be a U10 by the seller, it was clearly a U8 when I got it, but for the few bucks it cost I just gave up on it). Also have one of the cigarette lighter cameras (I want to say they called it something like a T5), it worked for some simple testing around the house when I got it, though it's been sitting around for the past 2 years or so, so I don't know if it's battery is OK at this point. I was looking for something more compact than the Mobius I'd flown up to then (something better-suited to be strapped to a 38mm airframe), but after flying the U8 once I realized how spoiled I had become by the Mobius's quality. You really do get what you pay for.

I wound up flying my U8 once, shortly after a crash that destroyed my first Mobius while waiting for a second one to arrive in the mail, after comparing the quality of the video the U8 went back into my range box and hasn't come out since. :)

I realize this thread is focused on the very-low-cost cameras, I will just note that there are higher-quality alternatives to the Mobius that aren't quite as expensive. My personal favorite is the Hawkeye Firefly Q6, which does 1080p/60 like the Mobius Mini, but costs less (I ordered one for just under $50). While I liked the size of the Mobius Mini, that also means it has a much smaller battery, and I wasn't thrilled with the advertised battery life vs. how long my flights can sit on the pad at the places I fly. The Q6 is roughly the same dimensions as the Mobius (as a plus IMO the lens is centered rather than off to one side), the battery life seems to be in the same ballpark also. I've flown it 3 times so far, most recent was onboard a J1520 VMax flight, they're on my videos page in my signature. I also like the fact that you can configure all of its options directly via the camera's buttons & screen (screen is only for configuration/status, not preview), I've had mixed success with the Mobius software, last time I tried I couldn't even get it to see my Mobius. :p

Getting back on-topic, my one U8 flight video is here. I flew the U8 inside a Mobius Shroud (the length was basically the same, I just needed to carve-out a notch for the USB plug in the shroud's 'lid'), unfortunately it was an RMS-EZ early-eject flight, and the jolt of the early ejection shifted the U8 in the shroud such that its view was blocked, the landing (on a rock, which crimped the slimline retainer requiring the retainer to be hacksawed to get the motor casing out, :facepalm:) knocked it back in-line with the opening. But as a result of my mounting there were only a few seconds of usable video in that flight.