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Old Apr 04, 2012, 12:37 PM
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Tom Frank's Avatar
United States, MA, Walpole
Joined Dec 2003
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The New #18 HD Keychain Camera with AV Out (READ POSTS #1-#5 First)

This thread is dedicated to the #18 HD keychain camera, an improved version of the #11 HD camera discussed in this thread. There are four main differences:

1: AV Out function - this camera can record 720p video while simultaneously outputting a composite video signal in a 4:3 aspect ratio frame. Audio out does NOT function concurrently with live video out, however (so is NOT available during FPV flying!). It only works when playing back a recorded video using the camera's internal composite video out playback function!
2: AVI File Format - the HD video is output in a more widely accepted AVI format, but the AVI structure is non-standard. The files will play fine, but many video editors cannot edit the files easily.
3: More Stable Colors - The colors are still over-saturated, but are more stable and do not "shift" as they did in the #11 camera.
4: Loop recording - the camera saves individual 20 min. clips until the memory card fills up. Loop recording is also possible (yet to be tested).

The only verified sellers of the #18 camera are:

power-gps beetleonline eletech086

hxelepro360 powerdigital898 internet-shop365

HETAI Digital Technology (note: with this not being an Ebay store, slight discounts may be offered compared to eBay stores - check the listings)

NOTE: Some of the sellers list this as the "#11 Upgraded" version. The very early regular #11 cameras could install the #18 firmware, but this functionality was removed around April 2012. The #11 cameras running #18 firmware could NOT produce AV out, however.

Basic Specifications:

Video: 1280x720 H.264 30fps .AVI
Pictures: JPEG; 2048*1536
USB 2.0, AV-OUT (Composite Video, Single Channel Audio)
External power supply,you can replace the battery if the old battery is bad.
Webcam Mode: 640x480 VGA (1280x720 if PC has the necessary speed [most don't])
Recording Media: MicroSDHC (up to 32GB). Class IV or higher is highly recommended.
Built-in rechargeable high volume Lithium-ion Battery 250mA (50*20*30mm).
Dimension(mm): 50 (L) x 32 (W) x13 (H)
CE and FCC certification

Pictures of the camera details are attached below.
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Last edited by Tom Frank; Dec 30, 2012 at 03:12 PM. Reason: Changed comments about audio out NOT being available during live video out.
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 12:38 PM
Dance the skies...
Tom Frank's Avatar
United States, MA, Walpole
Joined Dec 2003
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Functional Differences From the #11

This will give more details on how this camera differs from the #11:

AV Out function

The best way to describe this function is to show a demo video showing sending video out while recording and another demo of the playback mode.

AVI File Format

The first thought is AVI format will be more universal for use in most all players and editors, and it should be. The codecs used are still H.264 for video and PCM for audio, and the data rate is good at a nominal 7000 kbps in detailed scenes, comparable to the other small keychain case HD cameras. So what's not to like? The AVI structure is fractured in a way that will not allow random access for decoding the video. If the file is played from the very first frame, it plays fine, but editing the file is a different matter. Most of the common free editors, like Avidemux, Virtual Dub, and WLMM will either struggle to make clean cuts, will not decode anything that does not have access to the very first frame of data, or will simply lock up and crash. Some commercial editors can handle this format, but the ones that won't will need to have the file re-encoded before editing. The re-encoding can use the same codecs and be output into an another AVI container if desired, but a "direct copy" will not solve the problem. To see if your editor will work, download one of native, unedited, demo files I linked above and see if you can edit the file. Making a simple cut and removal of a small piece off the front should tell the tale. If the rest of the file can be edited and play back normally, you are good to go!

More Stable Colors

The colors are still over-saturated to my eye like the #11, and get more saturated as the light level decreases. And there is a slight but distinct "warm" hue that adds a red-to yellow tint to the scenes. The tint is especially noticable on large gray areas, like concrete, clouds, etc. But some people prefer this look, and the colors seem STABLE in my limited testing. I didn't notice the sudden color shifts back and forth like the #11 camera does in certain light situations. So that is a big plus and allows the colors to be tuned to one's liking with tweeks applied once to the entire video during post processing with an editor.

Loop recording

The camera does the typical stop/save/continue (S/S/C) sequence to save individual clips, but the clips are 20:01 minutes long, not exactly 20:00 min. This is similar to the #16 AVI file sequence which buffers the last one second of video and starts a new clip with the same second of buffered video. In other words, there is NO lost video between clips like the #11! I've now tested this and find the one second adjacent clip overlap does, in fact, exist. But due to the AVI format editing anomaly, joining the clips together into one seamless video can be a taxing experience, depending on what editor you have. Of course, each individual clip can be first re-encoded, then editing is a breeze, though the extra decoding/encoding adds a bit of quality degradation and would not be needed with a proper AVI implementation.

I also noted an unusual file naming convention used by the camera when it is doing a S/S/C sequence. When manually starting a file, the clip will be named "PTDCxxxx.AVI, where the "xxxx" is a numerical extension from the last numbered video on the flash card. Once the recording is in the S/S/C sequence, the camera shifts to a different naming convention that uses a totally numerical naming convention in an "hhmmssxx.AVI" format, where hh=hours (24 hour clock), mm=minutes, ss=seconds (camera clock time when the file was opened), and xx=the next number of the clip in the sequence on the card! So you might see the list of files names on your PC look something like this!:

12120011.AVI
12320012.AVI
12520013.AVI
13120014.AVI
13320015.AVI
16470017.AVI
PTDC0016.AVI

Whew! This shows the first 5 files were recorded automatically by the camera's S/S/C sequence (#10 file was originally the latest file on the card, but was deleted and over-written with #11), with the 13320015.AVI file stopped manually. Then a new recording was started manually with the PTDC0016.AVI naming convention, which then rolled into a camera controlled #17 file S/S/C sequence at 16:47:00 on the clock! The PC lists them alphabetically in the directory display in this example, so file #16 and #17 are reversed in the list compared to the time the were actually recorded! Confused yet? Me too! Don't blame me folks... I just report the facts. Study it for a while and it might make sense!

<update> This strange file naming anomaly has been eliminate in a more recent firmware release. <update>.

Note: The loop recording is hard coded into the firmware and can only be turned off by the user by flashing in different firmware (see post #3).

Other Revelations

The audio volume is set too high on my test camera, over-modulating my voice when speaking near the camera, causing it to sound "garbled". But, if picking up sound at a distance is desired, this may be better for some users.

An unexpected issue with the camera is a file corruption bug that occurs with a sudden change in the camera scene and lighting, such as when panning from ground scenes to bright sky! I have been able to intentionally duplicate this outside, but also indoors in low light! This is reminiscent of a similar bug during the #16 firmware development which required several firmware tweaks to eradicate. I suspect this will also be the case with the #18! Here is a sample video of what I am talking about (WARNING: Turn down your sound volume... the buzz when the corruption occurs is quite LOUD!).

<EDIT June 4, 2012> New firmware just released has fixed this file corruption bug. If you are getting corrupted files when the camera is panned from the ground up to nothing but sky, you need to install updated firmware. <EDIT>
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Last edited by Tom Frank; Dec 07, 2012 at 10:08 AM.
Old Apr 04, 2012, 12:39 PM
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Firmware and Camera Configuration Setting

Firmware

<MOV and AVI FW and GUI Update 10/09/2013>
Another user has posted a new FW update here that reportedly came from the developer. I cannot confirm this nor have I tested it. The linked post describes the change... use it at you own risk.

<MOV and AVI FW and GUI Update 03/01/2013>
Fixes a bug which prevented the loop recording function from looping when the memory card filled if Motion Detection was also set to trigger the video. The archive contains both MOV and AVI FW as well as the latest GUI program for setting the function toggles.<End Update>

Installing the firmware is a simple matter of copying the firmware file to the camera flash memory card root directory (first one that appears when card contents is viewed), then, with the camera disconnected from the PC, turn it on to upload the firmware. The yellow LED will blink rapidly for several seconds, then turn on solid when done (wait another 10 seconds or so just to be sure). The firmware file must then be removed from the card before it is useable in the camera. You can do that by plugging in the camera immediately after the FW update BEFORE turning it off, or in an external card reader, OR use this method:

1. Disconnect the camera from the computer
2. Remove the card from the camera
3. Turn on the camera
4. When the yellow LED starts to blink, insert the card into the camera.
5. When the LED stops blinking and turns solid yellow, plug the camera into the PC USB port
6. When the PC acknowledges the camera as a USB removable drive, open the card's directory and delete the firmware file.
7. You're DONE! The camera can now use the card again.
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Last edited by Tom Frank; Nov 07, 2013 at 08:02 AM. Reason: posted link to user-post with new FW and GUI Tool
Old Apr 04, 2012, 12:40 PM
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Last edited by Tom Frank; Apr 06, 2012 at 06:53 PM.
Old Apr 04, 2012, 01:42 PM
Registered User
Cumbria in the U.K
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Thanks for the new thread.
I would appreciate the information on how to upgrade the No11 firmware with that for the No18.

I guess you will put this in one of the reserved posts ?
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklet View Post
Thanks for the new thread.
I would appreciate the information on how to upgrade the No11 firmware with that for the No18.

I guess you will put this in one of the reserved posts ?
Yes, once I have tried it to confirm it works. I'm hoping for a new firmware bug-fixing release also before posting firmware.
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 03:06 PM
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ABLomas's Avatar
Lietuva, Vilnius
Joined Jul 2011
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Tom, could You test this cam against #16 and check lens angle?
I had one of older (IIRC they we're upgraded about 2012.03 to another lens) #16, and main problem was too narrow view.
#18 has the same narrow angle lens? If so, not so usefull for flying - too sensitive to vibrations... Would wait for ful HD cam with 120 lens ;-)
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 03:25 PM
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Tom Frank's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ABLomas View Post
Tom, could You test this cam against #16 and check lens angle?
I had one of older (IIRC they we're upgraded about 2012.03 to another lens) #16, and main problem was too narrow view.
#18 has the same narrow angle lens? If so, not so usefull for flying - too sensitive to vibrations... Would wait for ful HD cam with 120 lens ;-)
I'll have to test, but I think it's the same 70 deg. AOV of the #16, which as you say might make it unusable for many FPV fliers. I haven't had any input from the developers that a wider angle lens is even being investigated.
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 04:07 PM
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wow 11 to a 18 Sweet.

Are you saying that the cam can have an AV output. so you can plug a monitor to' WIshed you said AV input? more important
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishycomics View Post
wow 11 to a 18 Sweet.

Are you saying that the cam can have an AV output. so you can plug a monitor to' WIshed you said AV input? more important
No, the #11 can't be given AV Out capability... that takes a different circuit board. But the firmware can (reportedly) be run in either #11 or #18. You'd only get any video quality changes and maybe the loop recording function in the #11 (needs confirmation).
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 04:21 PM
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Thanks for starting the #18 thread tom...mine should arrive tomarrow...
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 04:39 PM
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Michigan
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Tom-

Have you tested different sd cards in the #18 yet to see if it has the same problems as the #16 where some cards dont work?
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 06:06 PM
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Lol read wrong. the 18 gets a choice of video res? I am contented but hey thanks guys for making another cam
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finster View Post
Tom-

Have you tested different sd cards in the #18 yet to see if it has the same problems as the #16 where some cards dont work?
No, and I won't be able to either, because all the cards I have work in the #16.
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