I recently purchased a few items from Hobbypartz.com and while browsing the site I came across the FPV Camera section. I took a look and they have a variety of micro cameras for sale that can be used for onboard video recording. They had this one on sale for $13 so I thought I’d give it a try. The order was promptly packaged and shipped the next day and it arrived within 5 business days. The camera and other items were packaged in a good cardboard box (not the cheap chinese cardboard) and the items wrapped in bubble pack as needed. I was quite happy about the ease of the order and delivery process.
The first thing I noticed was that the camera was in a nice retail style box. I have ordered other “spy camera” type gadgets and they often arrive in a small ziplock style bag with hardly any markings on it. So I was happy to see some effort put into this product. Upon opening the box I was happy to find not only a camera but a number of extras as well. There was a neoprene sleeve, a couple clip on mounts, a USB cable, an instruction manual that’s written in decent english and even an AC power adaptor to charge the camera with. The only item needed that was not included was a micro SD card. I have a number of them lying around so I plugged it in and let the camera charge. The instructions say to let the camera charge for 2 hours. I plugged it into the included AC adaptor and let it sit. After a couple hours I checked the camera and it looked to be still charging. I didn’t want to overcharge the battery in the camera so I unplugged it at this point. I don’t believe there is any charge monitoring circuit in the adaptor or camera so it’s best to monitor the cameras charge time.
The manual states that it should have a 250 hour standby time. I charged up the camera and didn’t use it much for a day or two. When I went to use it later the camera had held a good charge and I was able to record a number of test videos without any problem. The operation of the camera is easy. There is a power button on one side, a mode button on the other side and a start stop button on top. There are small blue and red LED’s on the top to give some indication of the status of the camera. When you turn it on the blue LED will light up on top. When you start recording the red LED with flash.
The camera was designed to be used more as a “spy” or “surveillance” camera and not specifically designed for RC airplane use. The lens is on the front tall part of the camera so mounting the camera to your plane may take a little ingenuity. You may find some of the included mounts to be of help here. I used it on my Easy Star so I just cut a slot in the battery hatch for the camera to sit in. The camera does not weigh more then 16g or 5/8oz which is the same as the popular key chain cameras out there. This should allow most any plane or heli above the micro size to be able to carry it into the air. Mounting the camera to your airframe will just take a little figuring.
The camera has a slightly larger lens then the keychain style cameras. This allows more light to get to the sensor and more light is always good for image quality. I found the quality to be better then the keychain cameras. It was smooth and not too grainy. The sound was decent as well. It was a little muted but clear. A nice thing I found was that the mic did not pickup the high pitch whistle sound when flying in the air like many other cameras I have tried do. While we generally take the audio out of these videos and overly a nice music track to avoid the scream and scratching of rushing air you could leave it in and not completely annoy your audience.
The video comes out in 30fps at 640 x 480 and in an AVI format. My only complaint is that it has the annoying date and time stamp that is never correct unless you remember to update the tag.txt file with the proper information. Since the video records in a standard definition format this is not an issue when you process the video in a HD format. The 780p aspect ratio will cut off the top and bottom just enough to remove the date and time stamp from view.
For the $13-$20 this camera is offered at , I think it is a good value for some fun videos to share with your friends. However It would be of little use for any production work. Overall I’m happy with the purchase and will have fun using it for general flying or maybe as a “gun” camera during combat events!
Check out my video for some additional thoughts and some sample footage from the Easy Star and on the ground as a handheld.