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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pbahorich

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That sounds like a great camera. How do you plan to mount it?
 

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.
 

211nProgress

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@plugger, wondering how you wired your lipo to the Runcam. I just picked one up and see that it has a three-pin connector running from the board. Did you simply eliminate the yellow (video) wire and make it a two-pin connector and then plug that directly to the lipo?
 

Dustin Lobner

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I ran into this thread yesterday looking for advice on cameras. I ordered a RunCam Split 4 (like the 3 but does 4K). I asked and it sounds like you can plug a battery straight into them. The concern is with RC cars and drones, if you plug into the main battery you'll get surges from the electrical motors (perhaps some form of flyback energy?)...if you just plug it into a 9V battery, it'll work fine. My plan is to take off the stock red/black/yellow wire thingy and replace with a standard 9V clip thing (or maybe two in parallel if I need the time). At the pad, turning the camera on consists of plugging the battery in and screwing whatever holder I devise shut. There are a couple buttons on the side, will make sure that they are accessible as well.
 

PayLoad

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I ran into this thread yesterday looking for advice on cameras. I ordered a RunCam Split 4 (like the 3 but does 4K). I asked and it sounds like you can plug a battery straight into them. The concern is with RC cars and drones, if you plug into the main battery you'll get surges from the electrical motors (perhaps some form of flyback energy?)...if you just plug it into a 9V battery, it'll work fine. My plan is to take off the stock red/black/yellow wire thingy and replace with a standard 9V clip thing (or maybe two in parallel if I need the time). At the pad, turning the camera on consists of plugging the battery in and screwing whatever holder I devise shut. There are a couple buttons on the side, will make sure that they are accessible as well.
I run TWO duel split cams, running off of 7.4v lipo that runs everything else on board. What I love most is once it has power, it is recording, not 6 different buttons to hit that I can barely see
 

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211nProgress

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@PayLoad, @Dustin Lobner - Thank you both! I, too, picked up the 4K version (split 4). I came across a mini DC adjustable "buck" converter in my box of electronic boards that I was building into the payload tube to keep a steady voltage off a 7.4 lipo. I think I will keep that board out of the mix - one more thing to fail, right?
 

beeblebrox

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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?

Those jobbies seem pretty cool. mounting is definately more complicated. I have a regular runcam self contained unit. It has WIFI to turn it on, but that is finicky to connect. works perfect on the bench but as soon as you put it on the pad, Mr Murphy wont let it connect....What I would like to see is something that just has a simple ON-OFF switch. On =record, Off= finalize file and save to SD. Most of these cameras on the market are difficult to determine if they are recording or not. I used to have a Panasonic camera that was similar to a GO-Pro with all the mounts for helmets, bikes, drones etc. But can't find another one. OOP I guess. It was only 1080 30 fps but still quite good and is had an LCD display, you see the seconds counting so you knew it was running...
Made these crude looking but easy to deal with external mounts, put it at the CG so it makes almost no flight deviation. Sure it is high drag, but I defy you to notice the difference if you made two identical rockets with the same motor one with a low drag mirror hood or equiv. Only drawback is that this mount point does not lend itself very well for panoramic view during decent.
IMG_20200906_111158290.jpg
IMG_20200906_111228528.jpg
 

Dustin Lobner

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The rocket my Split is going up in is going to be 3D printed minus the body tubes, so I'm going to design in the mounting features into the 3D printed parts, and it should be pretty simple that way. Hopefully, lol. Going to put the camera outside, pointing down...I love those videos.
 

strud

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After the great feedback from Plugger I too procured the same camera and mounted it into my 4" av bay.

IMG_0220.jpg

I made up a mounting board from 2.4mm G10 board and then mounting rails using 12 x 12 x 3mm Al angle.

IMG_0258.jpg

I have wired it up to a boost converter set at 8V running off a single 18650 LiIon cell. I intend to control the camera operation in the short term by connecting the ground to a fet output my RocTrak board and in the longer term use the serial interface protocol to perform more interesting functions.

IMG_0262.jpg IMG_0313.jpg

Video quality is great and since I'm running a 64GB sd card there is heaps of file space.

It does pull quite some current though, measured at about 2W when recording.
 

Ravenex

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I am not currently shipping product but I hope to be again in the not so distant future. Take a look they at the link in my signature, I sell a camera mount with a molded carbon fiber ogive shroud. My shrouds use the Mobius Mini camera with the extension cable to point the camera out of the airframe and minimize the protrusion. Maybe they will give you some ideas.
 

Bruce

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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...
Did you ever fly your Insta360 camera in a rocket?

That sounds so cool to be able to add a focus point to a fixed horizon point to remove the rocket's spin.

Has anyone used software like that to remove the rocket's spin?
 

Cl(VII)

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I am Way out of my depth with this stuff, but would love to run one (or two) of these cameras on a rocket project: https://shop.runcam.com/runcam-split-3-micro-and-split-3-nano/

I have two things I’m just not getting because I am basically stupid when it comes to electronics.

1) I know you can’t just wire into a lipo directly, but what off the shelf thing can be put between (again, I am an electronics neophyte, so off the shelf is a must)?

2) How do you start recording? On application of power would be ideal.

Any advice (hopefully in small words) would be greatly appreciated.
 

Dustin Lobner

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You actually can wire a battery directly. I'm running 2 9V in parallel. When used for a drone (like normla) there are inductive spikes that could fry the camera...not so when it's a battery and the camera only. And mine at least (Split 4) starts recording on power application.
 

Cl(VII)

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You actually can wire a battery directly. I'm running 2 9V in parallel. When used for a drone (like normla) there are inductive spikes that could fry the camera...not so when it's a battery and the camera only. And mine at least (Split 4) starts recording on power application.
Thanks for the quick reply. Could I run a low discharge battery like the below linked instead of 9Vs? Would I have to stick to a low C battery?
https://hobbyking.com/en_us/zippy-c...559&indexName=hbk_live_magento_en_us_products
 

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