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Old Feb 07, 2011, 08:56 PM
Must not buy more planes!
mclarkson's Avatar
USA, KS, Wichita
Joined Jul 2010
2,264 Posts
Here is a blow-up from two frames, taken less than one second apart, showing the same chunk of Kansas scenery. In first image, the scene was near the bottom edge, in the center of the frame. In the second image, from several frames later, the scenery has drifted to the right edge of the frame and up somewhat.

You can see that the second is darker, bluer/less red, and less sharp.
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Old Feb 07, 2011, 09:33 PM
Dance the skies...
Tom Frank's Avatar
United States, MA, Walpole
Joined Dec 2003
17,138 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclarkson View Post
Some footage from a quick flight with mine:
http://vimeo.com/19651185

I am getting a big difference in color balance between the center of the image and the border, as well as some visible vignetting. I'm attaching a screen grab of what should be a fairly homogeneous landscape. It was a mostly cloudly/overcast day, so the lighting is pretty even.

When you look at samples from different areas in the frame, however, there's a big difference. I'm also seeing a difference is sharpness between the center and the rest of the frame.
What you are getting is pretty much the name of the game with this inexpensive camera, but if you look at the latest FlyCamOneHD, it has the same problems, is much bigger, much heavier, and costs $170. Yes, it is also more versatile, but in terms of picture quality, I can't see any difference from our HD key cam. So here's the deal...

The lens is cheap, it has vignetting on the right/left edges and all four corners. Also the focal plane is not flat, so the right/left edges and all four corners, which are much further from the lens axis, have a slightly different focus from the center. If you focus the center perfectly, the edges and corners will be slightly out. If you focus the edges and corners perfectly, the center will be slightly out. A few of the cameras seem to also have the CMOS sensor array not bottomed out flat in the lens module, so it is not perpendicular to the lens axis like it should be, and the focus in not consistently the same across the entire frame for that reason as well. I had one and just exchanged it, but fortunately there seem to be few with that issue.

<EDIT> Much/most of the edge and corner color change and darkening due to lens vignetting can be corrected by post-processing with certain editors,
such as shown here. Also more discussion of color issues here and here. Also, the camera case could be blocking some light entering the lens causing increased vignetting, such as discussed here.
<EDIT>

Also, the cameras CMOS sensor is very sensitive to light level, and it seems to not hold the color saturation and/or white balance the same as light level changes. This can result in very noticeable changes in color as you pan the camera, getting more or less sky in the picture, or more/less sun.

SO it is what it is... a $40 HD camera with some drawbacks that might be expected at that price point.

As an aside, I just got a second camera (v2) which has what appears to be the first change in a key circuit component with this camera... the CMOS sensor. Is it any better? Yes and no. It seems to have much less "color hunting" as light level changes, but less sensitivity in low light conditions (more video "noise"). And the vignetting and color changes along the edges is still there.
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Last edited by Tom Frank; Sep 20, 2011 at 10:33 PM. Reason: revised info on the version 2 camera
Old Feb 07, 2011, 09:47 PM
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AleG's Avatar
Bangkok
Joined Oct 2007
1,628 Posts
I've bought a couple 3.6mm CCD camera lenses a few months ago with the idea of replacing the stock lens of a keychain camera (or a similar camera sensor on an FPV setup), but I haven't got the time to do much about it. Disassembling a cheap web cam to test the idea yielded an adapter for the 3.6mm lens so that would make things easier. Now I just need to get a keychain camera, remove the lens support (at least partially), and see how the thing works.
I would expect having actual glass for the lens should make a good improvement in image quality, of course the penalty is that the 3.6mm lens has a metal frame so it's relatively heavy (4 or 5 grams if I remember correctly) compared with an uncased keychain camera.
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Old Feb 07, 2011, 10:18 PM
Dance the skies...
Tom Frank's Avatar
United States, MA, Walpole
Joined Dec 2003
17,138 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by AleG View Post
I've bought a couple 3.6mm CCD camera lenses a few months ago with the idea of replacing the stock lens of a keychain camera (or a similar camera sensor on an FPV setup), but I haven't got the time to do much about it. Disassembling a cheap web cam to test the idea yielded an adapter for the 3.6mm lens so that would make things easier. Now I just need to get a keychain camera, remove the lens support (at least partially), and see how the thing works.
I would expect having actual glass for the lens should make a good improvement in image quality, of course the penalty is that the 3.6mm lens has a metal frame so it's relatively heavy (4 or 5 grams if I remember correctly) compared with an uncased keychain camera.
Another user is also pursuing this approach.

FWIW, I have located a lens with glass, asperical lenses that has a 7mm thread which, I think, should screw right into the existing lens mount. It appears to have the same AOV of the stock lens, but has no IR filter on the rear surface like the stock lens. Downside is it costs about the same as the acmera, and still would need to have an appropriate IR filter added.
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Old Feb 07, 2011, 11:27 PM
Dance the skies...
Tom Frank's Avatar
United States, MA, Walpole
Joined Dec 2003
17,138 Posts
HD KeyCam v2, v3, and Jumbo?

I just got my replacement HD key cam to replace the one with the out of alignment CMOs sensor, and I find it's not the same as the original. I may not be the first one to get this one, but I'll take the time to document what is different about it... some things small... some not so small.

Differences:

1. It did not have the small "QC" stick on the side (and focus was not very good either).

2. I did the date removal firmware swap, and the yellow light did not come on to signal it was finished. Also the, non of the buttons then did anything... appeared bricked (this has been reported before). I connected to a PC USB port, the red LED lit, and I pushed the power button and it went into flash drive mode. I could access the SD card, removed the date off firmware, disconnecte the camera, turned it off and back on... Voila!... everything back to normal with no date stamp. Hmmmm... what's up wit dat?




3. I opened the camera to have a look inside (see pics of #1 and new #2 attached)"
  • The circuit board looked to have the same traces, but they were much finer defined, with some ID of various components on the board, like for LEDs, switches, etc. No date on the newer board, though.
  • The same big IC chips (memory and Video processor) on the processor side are identical, but they don't have the potting compound on the corners of the chips.
  • On the opposite "USB side, the 8 pin chip that was identified as replaceable to unbrick a camera now has an ID number on it.
  • But the biggest difference is the CMOS array. The ribbon cable is has a much different pin-out geometry on it, and the circuitboard terminations are different. And it has an ID number on it (C971P) So what is this newer CMOS, and how does it differ? More testing will be done, and I'll see if MyCameraGal can find out more.
Similarities

1. I check the video bit rate.. it was 7 Mbps like my old one, both before and after the firmware replacement. And it won't toggle into a 10Mbps mode by toggling the still pic mode before taking video.

2. I checked the battery failure file saving... it does not save the file, like my old one.

3. It still has the stop/save/continue function.

4. Webcam mode still works the same.

5. The lens appears to have the same vignetting issues

6. The colors appear to have the same low light level white balance shift. Color saturation change with light level and sensitivity to light intensity ("hunting" issue) needs to be checked.

So other than the different CMOS ribbon cable (and presumed different CMOS array), I see no other differences.

<EDIT 02/19/11> After shooting some video and comparing with my original camera, my subjective opinion is this newer version has better color white balance and is less sensitive to rapidly changing color saturation and contrast as the light level changes, which is good. On the minus side, it appears the low light sensitivity is not as good, so there's more color "noise" in indoor shots. My vendor contact has said this newer version will be all that's sold soon. <EDIT>

<EDIT 6/7/2011> Version #3 of the original #11 key cam was just inroduced, which has some revisions on the circuit board (see attached pic). Based on user feedback, the changes only affect the way the external power cable charges the camera and lights the red LED indicating charging status. Refer to the FAQs in Post #3 for more external power info.

In addition to v3, a new "Jumbo" model was introduced which is functionally identical to v3, but just has a larger internal battery for extended recording time (about 90-120 min.) and comes in three slightly different case designs (pic attached).

<EDIT 1/25/2012> A totally new design 1280x720 HD camera (named the #16) is now available. It has added many user configurable options without having to flash in new firmware. The camera's colors are also more natural looking and stable as well. See this thread dedicated to the #16 for more information.
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Last edited by Tom Frank; Jan 27, 2012 at 12:12 AM. Reason: added pics I forgot the first time
Old Feb 07, 2011, 11:56 PM
Must not buy more planes!
mclarkson's Avatar
USA, KS, Wichita
Joined Jul 2010
2,264 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Frank View Post
What you are getting is pretty much the name of the game with this inexpensive camera
I wasn't bitchin', just reporting what I'm seeing with my particular camera.
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 12:58 AM
Registered User
finster's Avatar
Michigan
Joined Feb 2006
502 Posts
Tom-

I did circuit board comparrison and looks exactly the same but the last numbers on my chip are 720A and yours was 707A...remember on my first cam they soldered power wire to a resistor? in your pic it looks like they tampered with same resistor...atleast it looks that way in pic...yes the array does look a bit different...


My last 2 cams I didnt need usb to remove date/time...I used SD adapter...

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Last edited by finster; Feb 08, 2011 at 01:05 AM.
Old Feb 08, 2011, 01:12 AM
Dance the skies...
Tom Frank's Avatar
United States, MA, Walpole
Joined Dec 2003
17,138 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by finster View Post
Tom-

I did circuit board comparrison and looks exactly the same but the last numbers on my chip are 720A and yours was 707A...remember on my first cam they soldered power wire to a resistor? in your pic it looks like they tampered with same resistor...atleast it looks that way in pic...yes the array does look a bit different...


My last 2 cams I didnt need usb to remove date/time...I used SD adapter...

Yes, my first camera looked like it might have once had a wire soldered to it, but was removed. But the other wire connection point on the first camera had no such indication. Both cameras have the power connections in the same spots side by side as shown in the pics.

I don't think the numbers you mentioned have any significance other than possibly different production lot numbers. The real difference is in the CMOS ribbon cable. I have sent email to MyCameraGuy and to Omnivision (CMOS manufacturer for Camera number one) to see if they can provide any info. I hope to get some decent focusing lighting weather and video clips tomorrow.

It doesn't matter how you copy the firmware to the SDHC card (via adaptor into your PC card reader, or via USB cable). I did the upgrade with the camera disconnected from the PC as the instructions say, just like I di on the first camera, but the first one came back to life on its' own... the second one did not, until I reconnected the USB cable to access the card (to delete the firmware file). After that it has worked normally.
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 01:58 AM
Registered User
AleG's Avatar
Bangkok
Joined Oct 2007
1,628 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Frank View Post
Another user is also pursuing this approach.

FWIW, I have located a lens with glass, asperical lenses that has a 7mm thread which, I think, should screw right into the existing lens mount. It appears to have the same AOV of the stock lens, but has no IR filter on the rear surface like the stock lens. Downside is it costs about the same as the acmera, and still would need to have an appropriate IR filter added.
If I remember correctly, the IR filter on this cameras is a small square or disc of film/glass on the rear of the lens, it's not part of the lens itself. Or at least that's how I remember the one I opened up (I was checking if there was water inside after a splasdown )

In any case it's possible to get IR blocking filters, the easiest way would be to use one meant for SLR camera lenses, cutting it to size.
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 03:05 AM
Registered User
finster's Avatar
Michigan
Joined Feb 2006
502 Posts
Tom-

My 2 newer cams have the same (C971P) on ribbon cable yet the arrays are different on them too...pic...I also noticed the auto chargers have a red light now where my first one had a green light...seems little things change from month to month...
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 04:21 AM
Registered User
Australia, QLD, Redland Bay
Joined Oct 2006
51 Posts
I just got my camera today, and ran into a bit of a hitch on the firmware change to turn off timestamps. I got it figured out eventually

Anyway, to share it in case anyone else runs into it:

If running Linux on the system used to copy the file to the camera, you will need to rename the firmware file from FW96630A.bin to FW96630A.BIN - the case is sensitive on the extension and the camera will not load it without that change.
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 05:02 AM
Fidler & twidler
empeabee's Avatar
Cranfield U.K.
Joined Mar 2004
3,956 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof100 View Post
I think back a few years and all you had was one of these with something like 320 by 280 resolution and it cost $75. We certainly want a lot out of a $40 HD camera the size of key fob:
+1 such is progress
Mike
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 09:47 AM
Just thumbing through...
victapilot's Avatar
Sunny (mostly) SC, home of the Joe Nall
Joined Feb 2009
4,325 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Frank View Post
One of the color filters in AviDemux has an auto-white level toggle. I tried it on one clip, and it looked like it might have helped a small amount, but I didn't combine before/after images side by side to compare. It certainly did not eliminate the "hunting" this camera does. But I also did not first output to MJPEG... don't know if that would make a difference... I thought each frame was fully reconstructed before any of the filter action was applied. WHen I get my replacement camera, I will experiment with this more. I also want to try that vignetting correction filter that VDub has.
Here's a test with "basic color correction" filter in Ulead. It seems to help a little for #3 cam.
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Old Feb 08, 2011, 10:03 AM
Registered User
Teckos's Avatar
Joined Jan 2009
484 Posts
After further testing, both my cams make an error when auto saving the file after 20 min. The file does exist on the SD (0.98 go) but when I try to read it, Windows display a -2002 error It seems to happen only with auto saved files.
Is that issue SDcard related or camera firmware?
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Last edited by Teckos; Feb 08, 2011 at 10:12 AM.
Old Feb 08, 2011, 10:31 AM
Aka: Tom Jenkins
ApexAero's Avatar
Palm Beach County, Fl.
Joined Aug 2008
4,378 Posts
My new one does the same thing as my old one before I bricked it. It does it to three files if I leave it on continous until it dies. (4gig class 6 sd) No problems with shorter clips, only the auto made files.
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