First Wireless Camera Payload Video

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ChrisVG

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I recently modified my Estes Blue Ninja with a payload section so that it could carry a wireless video camera that I picked up on eBAY. I was hoping for a decent downlink from the camera, but I didn't get my hopes up too high.

The pictures below show the Blue Ninja (note that the Blue wrapping is missing) with the payload section. I mounted a 35mm film container on the side to hold the camera. These pictures show the rocket with a dummy payload that weighed the same as the actual camera. I used the dummy for flight stability testing.





The payload section has its own parachute, which attaches via a screw eye at the top of the nose cone. This allows the camera to capture a view of the ground for most of the flight (except for apogee and ejection, of course.)

The eBay vendor claims that the camera uses the 2.4GHz frequency range, but I am not convinced that this is the case. For one, the small included antenna barely provides more than 200 feet of line of sight range. In addition, the antenna uses a standard TV coaxial cable connector.

To receive video, you have to manually turn a dial on the receiver to find the signal from the camera transmitter. This is not typical for 2.4GHz devices such as phones and wireless network cards. I have done some searching on the Internet, and it appears that the camera might be using a frequency of either 400Mhz or 900MHz.

I launched the rocket this week using both the stock antenna and an amplified set of "rabbit ears" from radio shack. The stock antenna barely captured ignition before cutting out. The amplified antenna offered little improvement. Next I plan to try a ham radio antenna from radio shack that has a wide frequency range.

You can download a 9MB ZIP file containing the Windows Media video of the camera footage here. I hope you enjoy it!
 

ChrisVG

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For some reason, my RoadRunner Web server is giving me problems. Here is the first picture.
 

ChrisVG

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Try right-clicking here and choosing Save As for the video.
 

Prowler901

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Thanks for all the extra info here Chris. I have the same camera. I haven't had a chance to use it yet. But, it is good to learn from your experiences. Let us know what other enhancements you come up with.

Regards,
Todd
 

rbeckey

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Nicely produced video, Chris! Let us know if you improve the reception any.
 

eugenefl

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I must say that the excellent editing certainly makes for an entertaining video. It would have otherwise been a poor onboard video experience. I imagine you're not going to give up on this one. :)
 

rkt2k1

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Chris,

Check out this site for some good wireless video information:

Video Rocketry

They also have a Yahoo message board with lots of great info.
 

Justy

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I'd start looking at the transmitter antenna. What is that, a little strand of wire?

You might consider asking your local amateur radio club for help. They may have a tool called a frequency counter, which they can stick near the camera and tell you what frequency it transmits on. From that, they can tell you how to build a proper antenna for it (even if it's just a strand of wire, it should still be cut to the right length for the frequency), and a matching antenna for your ground station.

I'm pretty new to this radio stuff, but from what I've heard, the quality of the antenna is WAY more important in most cases than the power of the transmitter.

The video you posted was VERY cool. What software did you use to put it together?

--VE7RKT
 

ChrisVG

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Originally posted by Prowler901
Thanks for all the extra info here Chris. I have the same camera. I haven't had a chance to use it yet. But, it is good to learn from your experiences. Let us know what other enhancements you come up with.

Regards,
Todd
You are welcome! Let me know if I can offer any assistance on your project!
 

ChrisVG

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Originally posted by rkt2k1
Chris,

Check out this site for some good wireless video information:

Video Rocketry

They also have a Yahoo message board with lots of great info.
I have been a regular visitor to that site! They are the masters! I was not aware of their Yahoo group, but I did subscribe after reading your post.

I love the Merecury Joe video! That inspired me to put some effort into my minor effort!
 

ChrisVG

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Originally posted by rbeckey
Nicely produced video, Chris! Let us know if you improve the reception any.
Thanks Bob! I will be posting updates. Stay tuned! :D
 

ChrisVG

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Originally posted by Justy
I'd start looking at the transmitter antenna. What is that, a little strand of wire?

Yes it is. I tried adding more wire, but as you mention, the length is key.

You might consider asking your local amateur radio club for help. They may have a tool called a frequency counter, which they can stick near the camera and tell you what frequency it transmits on. From that, they can tell you how to build a proper antenna for it (even if it's just a strand of wire, it should still be cut to the right length for the frequency), and a matching antenna for your ground station.?

That is a great idea! You would think that the guys at Radio Shack would have made that suggestion. I had a question, but they had no answers! ;) I actually tried using a scanner with a stubby antenna to see if I could pick up the signal. I didn't hit it, but that may be because the scanner's frequency range is limited.

I'm pretty new to this radio stuff, but from what I've heard, the quality of the antenna is WAY more important in most cases than the power of the transmitter.

Yes, that is what I have found as well. Once I find the frequency, I will be able to boost the signal with the right modifications.

The video you posted was VERY cool. What software did you use to put it together?

Thanks! It was fun putting it together. I actually used Windows Movie Maker 2.0, which can be downloaded free for Windows XP. It is really easy to use, although it does have some limitations. My main requirement for any software I use is simplicity!

Thanks again to all for your replies!!
 

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