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RCPlaneCams Onboard Video Camera Review

Get Real gives a bird's eye view of this nicely priced camera for AP and video.

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3DHobbyShops New 53'' Trainer (Great for AP).
3DHobbyShops New 53'' Trainer (Great for AP).
Dimensions:3.9" x 1.7" x 1.4"
Weight:1.7 oz
Price: $65.00 Shipped
Available From:RcPlaneCams.com

Introduction

I was really excited to try out this video and AP camera from RCPlaneCams.com! Packed full of features yet inexpensive, this camera is an affordable way to try aerial photos or video with your aircraft or use it as a stand alone camera.

Contents and requirements

Everything you need to get started is included!

Camera with 16MB of built-in memory and the following accessories:

  • Adjustable tripod.
  • SD memory card 128MB
  • Software CD
  • USB adapter cable
  • Instructions for set up and tips for use

The camera arrived in a small box with all parts well packaged and protected.

RCPlaneCams has updated us with this information: there is a compatability issue with Windows Vista and the included USB cable.

Requires:

  • Computer
  • An RC vehicle or
  • 2 AAA batteries if used as a stand alone camera
  • 12'' servo extension is helpful depending on where it’s mounted

Setting Things Up

To get started I looked over the manual and software. The instructions are straightforward and easy to understand and the software is fairly simple to use to transfer video and pics.

Next, I set up the camera. I followed the suggested tips to set the manual focus. (It took some trial and error to get the best results at first.)

Finally, I mounted the camera to the plane. The camera is light enough to use in many park flyers and helis. I tried it on a few of my planes and my T-Rex 450SE helicopter, but preferred a more stable trainer aircraft for AP and video duty. Mounting techniques vary depending on the vehicle used.

The Plane Used for this Review

I used the new 3DHobbyShop Trainer ARF and it made an excellent AP ship. It has plenty of room to mount cameras inside and out and is a really quick build - about two hours to assemble the airframe. During my AP flights, I found it very stable and forgiving. It even made shooting usable video from a plane in high winds possible. The trainer uses the same power system and gear as 3DHobbyShop’s other planes so it has plenty of power. It’s a high quality plane all around.

Camera Perfomance

This is a bargain camera that performs very well.

Versatility is its biggest virtue. It can be used as a stand alone camera, pull AP and video duties on an RC aircraft and installed via USB to your computer, be used as a webcam.

The camera’s weight and size worked well with both the mid-size electrics I fly as well as my 450 size heli.

The picture quality is fair for both photos and video. None of the photos or video in this review have been digitally enhanced, but the included software does give you photo enhancing options.

In the RC plane, I preferred the camera’s AP capabilities over its video capabilities. Since it’s difficult to judge what kind of shot you’re going to get from hundreds of feet up, I started shooting pictures or video on the ground, shooting as I took off and flew. The camera snaps one picture per second and it worked better to get lots of shots and delete the ones I didn’t need later. During a flight, the camera takes and stores hundreds of pics easily with the included 128MB SD card.

Onboard Video !

Downloads

Pics From The Plane

There are also some wonderful unretouched aerial photos from customers here on RCPlaneCams.com.

Conclusion

Value, good performance and versatility make this entry level AP and video recording setup for RC aircraft an attractive starter package. This camera doesn’t compete with expensive high-end cameras, but gives you good performance for the price. I look forward to flying more AP and video duties; it’s a lot of fun and very interesting to see things from your aircraft’s vantage point.

Plusses :

  • Affordable
  • Versatile
  • Easy to use
  • Fair quality photos

Minuses :

  • Video rate is a little slow for in-flight video
Last edited by Get Real; Apr 23, 2007 at 01:00 PM..

Discussion

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Old May 09, 2007, 04:05 PM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
Joined Aug 2006
1,551 Posts
This is an Aiptek camera. Looking at your images you need to focus the lens a bit. There are lots of instructions on RC Groups to help with this. Most of these need to be adjusted from the start and it may involve taking the camera apart as the marking on the camera case are inaccurate. But once done picture quality is better.

I've had fun with my Aiptek, but overall the quality is rather low and anyone but a beginner may get tired of the results rather quickly. The video is too jerky and the stills are a better bet. It's a great starter though.
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Last edited by Fokker Ace; May 09, 2007 at 04:12 PM.
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Old May 09, 2007, 05:15 PM
Registered User
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Joined Dec 2005
293 Posts
Anyone would be much better off using a $30 CVS camera that can capture 30 fps and fairly good quality for the price. The only drawback is that you have to make some mods to it in order for it to work with your PC but its worth the half hour it takes to do this.
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Old May 09, 2007, 05:42 PM
Flippin Multirotors
Get Real's Avatar
Illinois
Joined Feb 2006
4,978 Posts
Updated Picture And Video Area !

I'll be using this post for future picture and video updates.

Pictures have gotten much better after further focus adjustments for dedicated AP flying. Most will probally use this camera for ap only type pictures.. i used it for many types of picture and video capture.. im keeping it set up exclusivley for ap now. The 1 gig SD memory Card i upgraded for $13.00 has potential for 1000s of pics and about an hours worth of video recording.

Picture Show:Flying Over Lake And Park !

Video from Katana.. in 20-25mph winds.. trim flight
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Last edited by Get Real; May 14, 2007 at 08:43 AM. Reason: Using this post for future pic and video updates.
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Old May 09, 2007, 05:45 PM
RC Dans
Round Rock, Tx
Joined Jun 2005
383 Posts
Yea the focus on the camera does seem a bit off. Checking the samples link off rcplanecams.com shows much better photos.

For video there are better cameras with faster FPS but its hard to beat the quality of pics you can get from these cameras for the price. Also hacking CVS cameras isn't for everyone.
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Last edited by Noto; May 09, 2007 at 05:51 PM.
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Old May 09, 2007, 06:06 PM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
Joined Aug 2006
1,551 Posts
Get Real, your review was a good one and yes I agree the Aiptek is a great intro camera or a great camera for people who want something lightweight and doesn't cost a fortune when that unexpected early landing occurs.

But looking at your still photos it seems the tail of your plane is in focus but the background is not. Certainly bad weather will affect quality, but focus won't have much to do with altitude. You want to try to focus these things for infinity which will mean anything from a few feet away to the moon should be "in focus".

The reason I say this is I have one of these too and until I focused it my photos were similar to yours no matter the weather.

They are great for what they are and with a big card you can take photos all day!
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Old May 09, 2007, 08:31 PM
scb28
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Rocklin, CA
Joined Jan 2006
424 Posts
Taking Pictures?

GetReal,
I see that a servo type cable has been added to the camera. Does this power the camera? Can you control the actaul taking of pictures with your transmitter? If not, how are is the camera actuated?

Thanks, scb28
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Old May 09, 2007, 08:38 PM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
Joined Aug 2006
1,551 Posts
scb28, yes you can trigger the camera via your Tx. I hook mine to channel 5, the gear switch, and can use it to take a photo. It also provides power to the camera so you don't need batteries in it.
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Old May 09, 2007, 09:12 PM
Flippin Multirotors
Get Real's Avatar
Illinois
Joined Feb 2006
4,978 Posts
Scb28.. theres several ways to acitivate camera in manual. i used it like stand alone cam with batterys as well as activated by extra channel and using reciever power for it(it works fine using reciever power and starting pic taking or video manually on ground then flying without channel activation to). Heres a video of it indoors with batteries in cam taking video with my heli.

Video:Indoor Video On Trex
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Old May 10, 2007, 12:45 AM
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Joined Jul 2006
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Hi Get Real,

I followed the link you provided to take another look at the plane you say you used from 3DHobby, but I could not locate it. Could you provide a name for this plane?

Thank you,

Chuck
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Old May 10, 2007, 12:47 AM
blucor basher's Avatar
United States, PA, Lancaster
Joined Jun 2003
24,141 Posts
The plane is new, not available yet. Go to www.3DHobbyShop.com and follow the "Hot Stuff" link on the homepage for info about our new aircraft.
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Old May 10, 2007, 12:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blucor basher
The plane is new, not available yet. Go to www.3DHobbyShop.com and follow the "Hot Stuff" link on the homepage for info about our new aircraft.
Thank you,

And you've got some great looking planes there!

Chuck
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Old May 10, 2007, 02:32 AM
Flippin Multirotors
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Illinois
Joined Feb 2006
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NoFlyZone,heres some video i shot in a local park once i had my video and ap flights in for article.. the plane really floats and is docile and handled the typical high winds out here well . Btw i was using a 12x6e and punch out from hover is much better with the 13x6.5e.

Some Park Flying !
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Old May 10, 2007, 02:36 AM
Registered User
Bradenton FL.
Joined Jan 2007
108 Posts
Nice review. For the price the picture quality isn't that bad at all.
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Old May 10, 2007, 02:48 AM
Flippin Multirotors
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Illinois
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F2A2Fan,thanks for the kind words .
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Last edited by Get Real; May 13, 2007 at 08:06 PM.
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