Thread Tools
This thread is privately moderated by PeterVRC, who may elect to delete unwanted replies.
Sep 17, 2014, 07:06 PM
Registered User
Thread OP

FPV Cameras & fixed or pan/tilt

For FPV there is quite a large range of options as to what Camera you use. So I will cover all the ones I have tried and what pros and cons each have.

1) 808#16V2 (720p - CMOS)
2) Mobius (1080p - CMOS)
3) FH18C (520tvl - CMOS)
4) CAM5820 (380tvl - CMOS) with 20mW 5.8GHz inbuilt TX
5) Sony SuperHAD (600tvl - CCD) boardcam
6) Sony HADII (600tvl - CCD) minicam

I also have several pan, or pan/tilt setups - plus Headtracking via goggles or separate DIY unit, so I will cover those also.

Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Sep 17, 2014, 07:31 PM
Registered User
Thread OP


This is a "Keychain" camera designed for ability to Record video and pictures, in a small unit. It supports 720p video at 30fps and has an internal battery so that it is a self contained unit you can carry around.
You need the V2 version, or higher, to have Video Out capability, which you will need to FPV use - to feed to the VTX for transmission back to the RX.

It is a very light unit of about 30g, but remember it has a battery in it also. For FPV use you will power a Camera from another source - either the Flight Battery or a dedicated FPV system battery. Remember the VTX also needs power, so a Camera with an internal battery is not going to help that aspect.

The 808 uses a CMOS sensor to capture the image. So far I have found CMOS sensors to be quite lacking in how well they can deal with various lighting conditions, though it seems this is related to the processor chip and its abilities in any given Camera as well as the Firmware (software) that runs it and controls factors/settings in real-time to produce the hopefully best image quality it can.
There are usually also user settings that will be used in that image production process.

The processing 'time' means there is a delay from what the Camera "sees" until it produces its "output" - to record to the memory card, or feed it out the Video Out line. EG If you panned the Camera very quickly the output video will LAG the actual image the Camera is physically pointed at now. It is not a lot of lag, but becomes more and more important as the panning speed is raised. If panning is slow then not a lot of the image changes very quickly, so you will not discern the delay. But model aircraft CAN move quickly! The speed the image 'seen' (pointed at) changes is linked to the Camera direction versus the aircraft movement direction relative to it, and the actual speed of the aircraft.
Muticopters can be slower than Aeroplanes in this respect, so the lag can be less important in them - or if they are flown fast, then it could matter too!

The 808 does a pretty good job, all things considered, and it is certainly usable as an FPV Camera.
Seeing it also RECORDS that is a nice bonus too! It will record in the 720p (or whatever resolution you set it up to do), whilst the video feed to the ground RX will be limited by the display device down there. So often the FPV video seen is way less than the 720p it can record at. Thus people record on-board video at the higher resolution, to get great aerial footage, and if the FPV Camera does not have recording then you need a second 'good' Camera on the aircraft for that. Of course you do not HAVE to record video at all.

The 808 has a USB connector that allows it to connect to a PC, and that port can then use the 5V from the USB port. This means you can run it with a 5V supply in the aircraft, so that the battery won't go flat in flight! But it must be very close to exactly 5V! Voltage from a BEC is ok for that - but it must be 5V not 6V!
You can buy leads that are made up to suit FPV use - with power input pins, and video output - though usually none are really made 'optimally', so it is best to modify one to be exactly what you want/need because otherwise you will have wiring clutter, a rats nest, result in your aircraft!! I use Servo Connectors and their leads for FPV connections and they work very well - keeping things small and light.

So this Camera is definitely usable, but at this "lower end" of the scale of device - with a cheaper Digital Signal processor (DSP) that is not as advanced as more costly cameras use, and also the lower sensor quality - means it is lacking in its ability to deal with 'difficult' lighting situations. Facing the sun... low light... a scene with bright light and also shading/shadows etc.
I found that you often do encounter such things in flight, and thus you suffer from "a lack of decent detail" often enough, and thus your visual result is degraded quite often.

Lenses - Field Of View (FOV)
You can buy the 808 with a few lens types - mainly 90deg FOV (approx) and 120deg FOV (approx). This is a measure of how much the Camera will see - more, or less, in width or height. 120deg FOV being a fair amount more than 90deg.
120deg gives a lot of view, but lenses that 'show more' (higher FOV) do so at a cost of 'fisheye', due to lens factors, so the video seen is more distorted and 'barrel looking'. If the FPV Camera is Fixed and cannot Pan, then you need to see more FOV to have a good view of the world ahead and off to the sides - so you need a higher FOV lens. eg 120deg. You can use 90deg OK in a fixed system, with its cost of less to be seen, but in truer aspect with less fisheye factor. Most people use 90deg on fixed Cameras, and I like that sort of amount too.
A higher FOV also 'amplifies' what you see, because it puts more information onto a screen which is the same screen width/size as per any Camera used - this 'seeing more', of say 120deg, BUT on a screen you look at with your eyes at more like 35deg of FOV, means distances get distorted. Even at 90deg FOV it is something like 3:1.... what looked like 9 feet away on the screen was really 3 feet away. And it is worse for 120deg. So that is another 'cost' of having more FOV.
To see on a screen just what your naked eye would see, you need a lens more in the 35deg FOV region - so it matches the "human eye to display screen" FOV that is formed. If you are 18" away from a 19" screen (say your PC) then the angle formed from your nose, to the edges of the screen is the FOV you are operating at then (YOU, not the Camera). You will see that is about 35deg typically. And if you do not display a Camera FOV content ALSO of 35deg, then there is a disparity of the Camera FOV to your own FOV which will create that 'incorrect' content and distances on the screen - that 'amplification/multiplication'. But using a 35deg FOV Camera so that those both match is impractical because Cameras don't have Peripheral Vision like we also have, thus you MUST trade-off having some extra FOV so you can see more/enough to operate the aircraft safely and successfully.
If you have PANNING on the Camera mount then you can use a lower FOV, because you can then turn the Camera to look at more things that would not be in view if fixed straight ahead. I like either 90deg FOV or 67deg FOV lenses then.

This all means you need to buy the 808 with a Lens to suit what you intend to do. 90deg is a good all round one - viable for Fixed or Panning uses. But you might want 120deg for a fixed Camera.

At approx $45 it is still a usable solution for a Camera and also has that 720p Recording ability.

Last edited by PeterVRC; Sep 17, 2014 at 07:48 PM.
Sep 17, 2014, 07:34 PM
Registered User
Thread OP


The Mobius is a FullHD device so it does 1080p video/recording, as well as low resolutions too.

Sep 17, 2014, 07:53 PM
Registered User
Thread OP

CAM5820 mini camera with built-in 20mW VTX

This Camera SEEMED like a great idea when I got one LONG ago....
A self contained unit of Camera and VTX, very light, so it could be used in very small aircraft!

Too bad 20mW is a bit weak for around the park!
Also it runs from 3.3v but to do that they have a Regulator built into the HEFTY Power/Video lead it comes with - defeating its small size anyway!
They are not made for FPV so it real uses would have just the small Camera mounted somewhere, and the lead etc is of no consequence (in a ground based security setup).
It is also a very low quality Camera, to be that small. Just 380 lines.
It is also CMOS - with poor quality - and 60deg FOV. In a small aircraft you would not have Panning, and 60deg is not much use then really.

I ruined mine when I tried to modify it to be a SMALL total unit with a very small Regulator put onto it...... SIGH!!
But no great loss... bar the MONEY.... it was never going to be much good anyway really!
All in all a useless unit and idea for FPV!!

Oct 29, 2014, 07:18 PM
Registered User
Thread OP

FH18C CMOS mini cam

The FH18C is a very small unit for what it does. Unfortunately it does not do what 'it does' very well at all really! It is a CMOS sensor unit but it does not have an inspiring DSP nor does it have WDR. Basically, if you do not have WDR in an FPV camera you are going to be in trouble! WDR 'adjusts' the picture to lighten up dark area, and darken off bright areas - to form a much clearer picture in total.
eg Note that if a camera 'sees' brightness and adjusts the WHOLE picture area to allow for that, then the darker areas will go to dark grey or even black and thus not show anything of use.

At $30 region, there are far better CCD based cameras - with WDR - around for that sort for price now. So this camera is a waste of money and time!!

Nov 27, 2014, 09:41 PM
Registered User
Thread OP

Sony 1/3" HADII 600TVL CCD cameras

This particular image sensor and DSP combo comes in a few cameras:
  • Nextchip 2040 DSP
The well known PZ2040 Boardcam. (12V)
Or from Surveilzone the CC1333 Boardcam (12V) or the HS1177 Mini Cam (5V to 22V).
The Mini Cam version is awesome! A 25mm "cube" approx, in a rugged plastic case, and can run on 5V to 22V!! So it is the best pick really.

CCD Sensors refresh 'faster' and in a better method than CMOS, and the DSP's in these also give a huge range of adjustments/settings to the processing! This means they can do a fantastic job, either Automatically, or if tweaked by the user to suit the operating lighting environment better.
They are very good down to very low light.... you can keep flying and see totally fine, when the human eye could not see viably at all anymore! You fly into Dusk/Twilight totally fine!

Even though "only" 600 lines (you could say 600 pixels in height), this is more than the typical 480 lines of most FPV goggles. And even for the 800x600 Monitor screens often used. So the video output of these is totally adequate for FPV uses. Though you can also get 700tvl, 800tvl, versions in the 'series' also - but they cost quite a lot more, and don't seem to give any truly useful benefit on the displays we use. They are probably also somewhat limited by the Bandwidth of FPV VTX/VRXes too.

So at US$26 for the Boardcam Version, and US$35 for the Mini Cam version, the best one for most uses is the Mini Cam. But for eg, in 250 Quadcopters, which give a Boardcam mount in the frame anyway, plus generally use 3S (12V), you can use the Boardcam version of course.
NOTE!!! The CC1333 is 12v ONLY (3S lipo is fine). But the HS1177 can run from 5v to 22v !!

These are the best value and best result cameras to use!! At least for now....
So they are a definite "USE THIS" item!

When you buy these Cameras you can Specify to have "IR Sensitive" or "IR Block". IR = Infra-Red.
The best choice is to buy the IR SENSITIVE Camera, but get an IR Block LENS with it. eg Buy the IR Sensitive Camera as it comes - which will have a NON IR Block Lens, but also buy an IR Block lens too. The Lenses are only US$2.99
This allows you to CHANGE the Lens and switch between a result of IR Block or IR Sensitive!!
In Daylight the IR content means the sensor can get 'washed out' and thus colours end up more washed out. So you would fit an IR BLOCK Lens for daylight use.
In low light the IR content is of use to help the sensor 'see' better, so then you use the NON IR BLOCK lens. It is also of good use to switch the Camera into Black and White mode for very low light, night, use. Though in Auto mode (the Default) the Camera changes from Colour to Black and White if the light source is low level. But this means it can chop back and forth between colour and B&W, so it is usually best to force it remain one way or the other.

It can also be worth buying other lenses for the Camera. The main two of use are 2.8mm as it comes, and then 3.6mm (Narrower FOV).
The 2.8mm is a good wide FOV, with minimal fish-eye from that, for uses where the FPV Camera is fixed straight ahead. But of course can also be used if a Panning mount is used.
The 3.6mm is a good 'more true to life, non fish eye' FOV, but you really want it used with a Panning (or Tilt also) setup. Seeing the FOV it has is Narrower. I have flown a fixed 3.6mm and that was still ok really.

Note that "X mm" and the FOV resultant is NOT applicable across all Cameras!! eg 2.8mm on these cameras gives 87deg FOV. 3.6mm gives 67deg FOV.
The Focal Length (X mm) is linked via other physical dimensions of the camera, to give the final FOV it will produce.
So for any given camera type, check the FOV values per lens length!

Last edited by PeterVRC; Nov 27, 2014 at 09:55 PM.

Quick Reply
Thread Tools