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Old Jun 27, 2012, 08:58 PM
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United States, IN, Indianapolis
Joined Oct 2010
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Mini-HowTo
Convert the F8000 HD camera in to a Horyzon Style FPV cam

The F8000 is an Ambarella based HD camera capable of 1920x1080 @ 30fps and a fair bitrate. It is a fairly priced (~$70) HD cam that records in true H.264 and has good light handling capabilities. The video quality is very good for such a cheap camera. Plus, it has live video out!!! Not quite Go-Pro quality, but VERY CLOSE, and reasonable for the cost, plus it weighs MUCH less, especially after the conversion. Total weight without battery is 44g, and 62g with stock battery.

I bought mine here http://www.aliexpress.com/product-gs...olesalers.html

After buying several different "Car DVR's" I determined the F8000 to be the best in terms of quality of video, and light handling capabilities. There may be a better one out there, but short of buying 30 different ones to find out, the F8000 takes the cake.

This thread will show you how to de-case the F8000 and turn it in to an FPV friendly camera similar to the Horyzon HD from Foxtech.

You can choose to omit some of the things I have done, like removing tabs from PCB's etc. You can use different cables etc. You could choose to do it a 100 different ways. The guide is not extremely detailed. There are some things you will figure out on the way yourself. Just use the guide merely as a "guide". The main thing to note being the wiring connections.


Here we go!!

You will need:
1. 30pin .5mm pitch FFC extension cable. Used to extend the reach of the cam head. Get a 5 pack on ebay or amazon for $5 You can use the stock cable if you dont need the reach.
2. Clear battery heat shrink, for holding it all together.

The cam and Extension cable


Remove the 2 screws noted and carefully pry the rear case off.


Once rear case is off Disconnect cam head by gently releasing cable lock, and sliding out the cable. The head will lift out of the case. Remove the 5 screws at the arrow positions.


Gently remove the main board from front casing. The ports retain the board in the case. Start on the USB port side, and gently pry the case out to get the USB port to allow the board to be lifted out.


Gently release the LCD cable lock and disconnect cable.


Once board is out, carefully clip off the 2 led leads, ad the speaker leads from the main PCB. These are not needed for our application. You can choose to leave the speaker if you like, but you will have to figure out a way to position/mount it.

Remove the screws noted to remove the LCD panel


Once LCD panel is off, remove the 2 screw noted here and gently pry the rear cover off.


Gently release the cable, and remove the screws noted to remove the LCD from the front frame.


LCD removed from frame.


I chose to remove the tabs from the LCD board, you can leave them if you want.


Using small pieces of tape, tape the LCD board to the LCD to secure it in place. Set the LCD aside for now.


Pry open the cm head and gently remove the cam, and cable.


Attach the new, longer cable to cam head and reassemble casing around cam.

Cam head complete. Set aside for now!!



Remove LCD cable from mount. Getting out the LCD cable requires you to carefully cut the mount apart with a pair of cutters, or however you can get it out without damaging the cable.



Main Board Wiring:

5V power. The pic below shows connection for powering from a BEC (5V). I used servo type leads/connectors for this. This pic shows the USB port, and the points to solder your positive and negative wires to.


Live feed wiring. This pic shows the 3.5mm jack, with the connections for live video and audio feed. I chose to use a servo type lead/connector for this as well.


Single Cell Li-Po connection. I chose to remove the battery connector block from the board. I would advise against this for most as it needs to be cut off and its easy to accidentally lift the solder pads. This shows the pads to connect the Li-Po wires to. It also shows the tabs I chose to remove from the main board. You do not have to remove them if you dont want to.


I used a servo type connector for the Li-Po as well. If you choose to leave the battery connector block on, just solder wires to the tabs on the block.


Wires routed to back end and taped in place.



Attach LCD and Cam head cables, ensuring you secure the lock mechanisms for the cables. You will need to gently fold the cam cable back away from the LCD. Position the LCD as shown. You can use some thin double sided tape to hold the LCD in place until you get the shrink on if you wish.



Ready for heat shrink


Heat shrink added!! I positioned the shrink so as to cover the LCD, but keep the buttons exposed. Took 2 tries to get it right!!



Compete, and running off 5V power from a BEC.


Dont forget to trim the shrink from the USB port. You may need to trim it around the buttons on the side as well. Mine was OK with it untrimmed, but they were hard to push, so I chose to trim them out.

I just soldered a cable on to the stock battery to use it for power when needed.

There you have it. A very light weight, 44g , Horyzon style FPV cam that records in 1920x1280 @30fps in H.264, with live feed, EXCELLENT video quality, and great light handling for half the cost of a Horyzon.

Not to mention some of the things they advertise for the Horyzon actually DO work on the F8000.

As long as you feel you can do this project, its a win win. Better cam, for half the cost!! It wont burn up powering off 5V. It has auto on and record so when you power on your system, it automagically starts recording. You have the option of powering it with a battery, or BEC, or BOTH. The battery can be charged from BEC power. And many other features!!
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Last edited by KKUSA; Jun 28, 2012 at 01:11 AM.
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Old Jun 27, 2012, 09:15 PM
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Illinois, USA
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Very nice write up. Going to have to give it a try. Have you noticed it spewing and rf in the 433mhz band?
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Old Jun 27, 2012, 09:20 PM
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United States, IN, Indianapolis
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Originally Posted by vertcnc View Post
Very nice write up. Going to have to give it a try. Have you noticed it spewing and rf in the 433mhz band?
It most certainly will. Some sort of shielding technique must be employed on the camera cable.

You could wrap it with metal foil tape, and ground it on both ends to the main PCB, and the cam board grounds.
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Old Jun 27, 2012, 09:31 PM
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Australia, NSW, Sydney
Joined Apr 2006
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Thanks KKUSA, that's a great guide. I'll give it a go.
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Old Jun 27, 2012, 10:50 PM
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Subscribed ,
thanks KKUSA been waiting for someone to have the balls to do this.

Regards Pete
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Old Jun 27, 2012, 11:40 PM
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If I understand correctly this camera will accept a MicroSD card to record and store on the SD card also.
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Old Jun 27, 2012, 11:58 PM
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Romania, Dolj, Craiova
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Did I understood well you bought 30 different car DVRs before deciding this is best ?
In this case would be equal useful also to list them, each with the weaknesses that make you to avoid it, for us to have a more complete vision of what worth and what to avoid...
Asking this because, there are other two $50-60 cameras worth an evaluation, imo, one of them being the F900LHD, recommended by fmkit and others.

Anyway, I advise all those eager to jump buying the above camera to wait a bit, I have another one equally promising in customs right now, and will post a review this weekend.
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Old Jun 28, 2012, 01:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RENATOA View Post
Did I understood well you bought 30 different car DVRs before deciding this is best ?
In this case would be equal useful also to list them, each with the weaknesses that make you to avoid it, for us to have a more complete vision of what worth and what to avoid...
Asking this because, there are other two $50-60 cameras worth an evaluation, imo, one of them being the F900LHD, recommended by fmkit and others.

Anyway, I advise all those eager to jump buying the above camera to wait a bit, I have another one equally promising in customs right now, and will post a review this weekend.
No, I didnt buy 30!!! I was just saying short of doing that, the F8000 was the best out of the ones I did buy.

The only ones I have modded so far is the F8000 and the K2000. The others are lower res cams. They are all equally useable as an FPV cam however. The only major difference being max resolution and frame rate. They will all mod essentially the same as well.

The F8000 has a BIG advantage over most all the others. I has a full 1/2" image sensor as opposed to 1/3" which leads to much better light handling, and lower light capability.


Please do post whatever findings on other cams you come up with. Lets find the absolute best one we can for less than $100.
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Old Jun 28, 2012, 01:07 AM
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Originally Posted by dc9guy View Post
If I understand correctly this camera will accept a MicroSD card to record and store on the SD card also.
Yes, all the Car DVR type cams do.
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Old Jun 28, 2012, 01:32 AM
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The sensor judgement by size is tricky...
For example if you see now a camera with 1/3.2" sensor, there are great chances to be VisionOptic VO56xx type, using a new technology called BSI, and used also in iPhone4, for example. This sensor is at least equal, if not better than the 1/2.5" used in GoPro, due to 4 years difference in technology between them.
VO are a leading company in imaging sensors, the issued recently a 16M video sensor, not 16M photo !!! but video !!! will be the first sensor able to offer 2.5k video on cell phones and mobile devices !
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Old Jun 28, 2012, 01:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RENATOA View Post
The sensor judgement by size is tricky...
For example if you see now a camera with 1/3.2" sensor, there are great chances to be VisionOptic VO56xx type, using a new technology called BSI, and used also in iPhone4, for example. This sensor is at least equal, if not better than the 1/2.5" used in GoPro, due to 4 years difference in technology between them.
VO are a leading company in imaging sensors, the issued recently a 16M video sensor, not 16M photo !!! but video !!! will be the first sensor able to offer 2.5k video on cell phones and mobile devices !
I agree its tricky, however I disagree that there is a good chance they are OV BSI sensors. Most image sensors nowadays are 1/3. The chance of them being OV BSI sensors is more like 1 in 10,000, probably less. I would rather take my chances on a larger sensor than hope to get a BSI chip. While they may be OV chips, they likely are not using BSI. Actually, its more likely the 1/2" sensor is BSI.

For those wondering, BSI stands for Back Side Illumination. Its basically a technology that moves the wires on the surface of an image sensor to the back side, allowing more light to reach the sensor elements. It doesnt have to travel through the wire layer, making a more sensitive sensor.
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Last edited by KKUSA; Jun 28, 2012 at 02:21 AM.
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Old Jun 28, 2012, 01:58 AM
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Excellent tutorial, thanks for sharing.
Will it do 60fps in any mode?
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Old Jun 28, 2012, 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by SebastianJ View Post
Excellent tutorial, thanks for sharing.
Will it do 60fps in any mode?
It will do 60fps @ 848x480
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Old Jun 28, 2012, 04:13 AM
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United Kingdom, England
Joined Nov 2011
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Great tutorial KKUSA.

I was planning on getting a Horyzon HD but now you've got me thinking twice.
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Old Jun 28, 2012, 04:21 AM
DS state of origin NSW Vs QLD
Forrest12's Avatar
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All we need is some clever fella like Renato to write up some custom firmware and were off!!!
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