Split Cameras

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plugger

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Lately I've been looking into small/compact cameras to fly on-board smaller rockets. Basically vehicles in the 2.1" diameter range and smaller. I've got a GoPro Hero Session 4 which just fits but I think we could do better. Plus the Hero Session line has been OOP for some time now so moving forward it's not the most viable option.
While I was looking at cameras my eyes wandered to the splits used in RC/FPV circles. These seem borderline ideal for our use case from a "flying camera inside av bay" perspective. I don't want a bulky case around the camera and board ideally, and having the two split gives a smaller footprint when compared to all in one units. Most of the splits and FPV cameras don't write out video data to microSD. But there is a subset that does and look quite useful imo. And while some (like the RunCam Split 3) state you shouldn't run them directly off a LiPo it does work in that manner. Apparently you can put a BEC in-line between a LiPo and board and it automagically solves everything but that's something I've read, not something I know.

Anyway, here's a few of the "split" cameras with on-board HD video recording.

Runcam Split 3
https://shop.runcam.com/runcam-split-3-micro-and-split-3-nano/

Caddx Baby Turtle
https://caddxfpv.com/collections/fpv-hd-equipment/products/caddx-baby-turtle

HawkEye Firefly Split Mini 4k
https://www.fireflycameras.com/prod...c-low-latency-tv-output-for-rc-drone-airplane

I was thinking an epoxy conformal coating on the board would be a value add, especially on the join between the board and lens train. Any comments on that? Anyone got any experience with split cameras from a RC or rocketry perspective?
 

BryRocket

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I’ll observe this discussion as I’m real interested in going this route in the future so I can have a little more flexibility with battery capacity and mounting. I don’t have any experience with split camera systems though and haven’t researched it enough yet. I’ve always used “packaged” cameras and then use an extension cord for the lens module. Here is my most recent design. It allows the lens module to move in and out so the eBay can be slid into the rocket and then the lens extended outward in the airframe.
 

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BryRocket

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Fwiw that is for a 3” rocket but it could be done w a 2.1”.
 

BryRocket

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Those work but are kind of crude and need some modeling and printing custom sleds. I think the split systems are going to offer more possibilities. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up.
 

ChuckH

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It was on my to-do list to start a similar thread, so I'll be following with great interest as well. Does anyone know if any of these cameras can be configured to start recording at power-up?
 

Bruce

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I looked at the specs for those 3 cameras you mentioned and the Hawkeye Firefly Mini Split looked good to me since it had higher frame rates of 120 and 240 frames per second.

Is it available from any sellers in the US?
 

plugger

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Thanks for the responses @BryRocket, I didn't realise you could rotate the mobius mini camera lens that way! That's really helpful and something I'd not considered. I don't have a 3D printer so I won't be going down the custom sled path. My expectation is that I'll mount the board with standoffs on a G10 sled and affix the lens with double sided tape and maybe a epoxied "shelf" for it to rest against during boost.

@ChuckH, I'm fairly certain the RunCam Split 3 starts writing out to microSD pretty much immediately after power on. These units are FPV devices with the added feature of writing out high def video onboard. They seem to be the "top models" in their respective product lines for lack of a better descriptor. But at their heart they're still FPV cams. Thinking about that use case I'd expect most flyers power on their FPV units, confirm they're working, and then start flying. I don't think they'd want to have to execute a process to make the camera start recording. Power on and off you go. At least that's how it "seems" to work in the few youtube videos i've looked at regarding them.

@Bruce, I'm not sure. You can get them on Ali and Banggood as well, but that's out of China. TBH though I suspect no matter where you purchase them they would have been made in China.
 

Bruce

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The Tarsier might be better for rockets than the Baby Turtle,

https://caddxfpv.com/products/caddx-tarsier

1080p @ 90fps, 720p @ 120fps, 18gm weight, image stabilization, WiFi app, available from US sellers...

minuses are the unnecessary second lens on the camera, no 240fps and the higher cost
 

plugger

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I just ordered the RunCam Split 3 Nano. Fingers crossed it arrives sometime in the next few months...
 

OverTheTop

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I was thinking an epoxy conformal coating on the board would be a value add, especially on the join between the board and lens train. Any comments on that?
Maybe consider one of the more flexible type of conformal coats, rather than epoxy. Epoxy is stiff. There are some urethane-based, and other types, that protect but are not ultra stiff. Even a layer of neutral-cure silicone RTV would likely be effective.
 

plugger

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Maybe consider one of the more flexible type of conformal coats, rather than epoxy. Epoxy is stiff. There are some urethane-based, and other types, that protect but are not ultra stiff. Even a layer of neutral-cure silicone RTV would likely be effective.
Thanks OTT. I seem to recall reading that you do a bit of this at work or have done it on a project in the past? Either way, it's good to get advice from someone with first hand experience so I really appreciate it.

I hope you and yours are keeping well.
 

OverTheTop

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No worries. I normally use something like Electrolube HPA, which is an acrylic coating. Not particularly thick but keeps the moisture out. If you are looking to strain relieve your FFC cable it will likely need a different product ;).

This Electrolube page gives a decent synopsis of the types available: https://www.electrolube.com.au/products/conformal-coating-types.html
 

kentsarff

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Ever look at the Insta360 cameras? I've got a spare OneX that I'l like to separate and mount in an av-bay. Twin lenses offer a spherical coverage

Two features make a huge difference - automatic stitching, and stabilization. With their app, you can add a focus point to a fixed horizon point, and the resultant video has no spin, rotation, etc. Very cool stuff to play with.

 

plugger

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@kentsarff, no, I've never looked at the Insta360 cams. Holy cow are those neat! Unfortunately the price point is a bit much for my liking. Thanks for the share though!

As to the Runcam, it arrived earlier in the week. Last night I took some time to get a feel for it and I've got to admit that it exceeds expectation.
When you plug the lipo in (350mAh 2s in my case) it immediately powers up (solid blue LED) and starts recording (blinking blue LED). You can then power it down with the power button (long press) and the LED goes dark. Then a long power button press again, maybe a second, and it'll start up again and go through the same process. From startup to recording takes maybe 10 seconds. MicroSD disk consumption over three short videos were roughly 4.1-4.5MB/s.

File format is .mov which is quicktime. Video properties attached below. Also below is a shot of the Split cam, a GoPro Hero 4 Session camera, and a Xiaomi Yi camera.



All considered I'm really looking forward to flying the thing!
 

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plugger

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That sounds like a great camera. How do you plan to mount it?
It comes with a small threaded post on the underside of the lens as well as a plastic 1x19 to 28 bracket that could be used. Personally, I'll probably use a combination of double sided tape with a small zip tie to provide positive retention.
 
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