Black Widow wireless video - how good? - Page 8 - RC Groups
Thread Tools
Jul 10, 2003, 06:05 PM
Frequent User
yb2normal's Avatar
I am pleased to say that I've received a shipment of Spidermite's with audio. I now have all versions of the Spidermite in stock.

I expect to have the 50, 200, and 600mw units by early next week, and RTF systems soon after.

I've seen the newly designed receiver that goes with the 50/200/600mw units, it's about half the size of my standard receiver (which wasn't all that big!) and appears very well designed. It has provisions for 8 channels, but the transmitters are all only 4 channels. The factory tells me they will be releasing new products in the future that take advantage of the additional channels. Pretty exciting!

Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Jul 10, 2003, 08:31 PM
Electric Addict
downeym's Avatar
awesome! let us know when the 200mw systems are ready to sell.. I bet they wont last long!
Jul 10, 2003, 11:47 PM
Real Men Fly Pink Planes...
kepople's Avatar
Let me know too Bill

Jul 11, 2003, 04:21 AM
Registered User
Bill, I would appreciate a message when they are available too!


Jul 11, 2003, 07:39 PM
Frequent User
yb2normal's Avatar
I got my shipment a bit earlier than I expected (yeah!)

The 200mw video transmitter/receiver sets are now released and available here:

I need to write up the documentation for the 50mw and 600mw units, so they will be released a little later, but I've started a comparison page so you can see all the transmitters side by side:

Jul 11, 2003, 09:13 PM
Flying Free
erashby's Avatar

Must have the new stuff!!!

I "need" (My wife has determined that my "obsession" with R/C planes and video is an illness and an addiction. ) the new 50mW and the 200mW systems. Ok, I don't really "need" them. My 6 month old 50mW system with whip Tx antenna and Patch Rx antenna and panasonic CX-161 CCD camera work fine. But in order to get the new stuff, I need to sell the old stuff. I'll post in the ForSale/Wanted Forum.
Jul 12, 2003, 11:06 PM
Registered User

Wich camera

Witch camera is the best for less money. i want to put it in my wingo. with the camera that is the best for its money how often will it be hit if at all. i am really thinking about this, and what power suply do i need?

Thank You
Jul 13, 2003, 02:00 AM
Flying Free
erashby's Avatar

Re: Which camera?

Originally posted by RickNick
Which camera is the best for less money. I want to put it in my wingo....
Thank You
If you do a search, you will find all the information that you need. I have found that the answer is, "It depends".

I know that this is a lame answer, but it is true. It depends on what quality of video you want and how far away from the Rx you are going to fly. It also depends on what airframe and power system you will be using. And of course, it depends on your budget.

Everything is a trade off. The more you are willing to spend the better output you will get at a further distance and a lesser weight.

A summary of what I have found and why I bought the Blackwidow 50mW RTF system follows: (Others chime in and correct me where needed please.)

The CMOS camera/Tx systems
The CMOS camera/Tx systems can be found for less than $100. There are many that transmit on UHF or VHF TV frequencies, so you don't need to get a HAM radio license. The weight is usually less than an ounce without the 9volt battery (that most of them require). The distance is poor, reportedly less than 50-100 yards line of sight (LOS). The picture quality is poor, often due to fewer lines of resolution and poorer and slower aajustment for changes in light (more bright-out). you have to have a portable TV with video outputs in order to record. Most people get a small TV/VCR combo, which is bulky, and run it off a 12 volt battery.

The X-10 conversion
The X-10 conversion gives you 2.4MHz without the need of a HAM license, but it requires alot of "hacking" to get a system with decent distance. Image quality is that of a CMOS camera(see above).

BlackWidow RTF systems
BlackWidow RTF systems are generally what people here on the RCGroups site go with. They are the best compromise between price and quality. They are developed by Bill, who is an electric R/C plane enthusiast and HAM operator and wireless AV expert. He is constantly looking for the "better" setup. He provides instructions and a place to order parts for the DIYer. And he provides Ready To Fly systems as well. His prices are about as good as you will find anywhere on the parts. And his prices for a RTF system are better than any I've seen for the high quality system that you get. He is also a really nice guy. and no I'm not related and never have even met him. I've just e-mail and spoke on the phone with him a couple of times. Why do I think that he is a nice guy? Well, I had promised my kid last Chrismas that I was going to get a wireless AV system for our planes for Christmas. Well, I waited too late and actually Bill had stopped producing the 50mW system that we needed. (Weight wise it was the best for the size of planes that we were flying.) So, when I found that it was sold out and that he was not going to produce anymore until June (The new system that he just got in. No RTF systems yet.) I explained my situation to him and he sold me his very own setup, which he had even put a better whip antenna on.

If you look above in this thread you will find more info about the various systems. I will likely be gettin the new 200 mW system for my speed 400 planes and the Spidermite (or new 50mW )for the in close parkfliers(but they really need to be in close).

You are flying a Wingo so you have enough motor power to lift any of the Tx -spidermite, new50mW, old50mW, old100mW, new200mW systems.

The power supply that you need on the ground will probably be a 12 volt sealled acid lead battery. They are about $20.

I am selling my 6 month old 50mW RTF system. If price matters then you can save atleast $60 off of a new system. Check the for sale forum. I might sweaten the deal by throwing in the 12 volt battery.
Last edited by erashby; Jul 13, 2003 at 02:04 AM.
Jul 13, 2003, 10:42 AM
Frequent User
yb2normal's Avatar
I think erashby does a great job of summing up the situation about cost versus performance. I'll clarify a couple of points.

1) A wireless video system can be operated license free if it has been issued a FCC ID under part 15 rules. Look at the back or bottom of your transmitter. If it does not have an FCC ID clearly stated, then it is NOT legal to operate without a HAM license, not even the ones that operate on TV frequencies.

2) A stock x10 system is legal to operate but a hacked x10 system requires a license. The main reason for this is that hacking in the better antenna on the transmitter actually increases the radiated power.

Regarding power for the system, you can learn a lot about a video system based on what a manufacturer says about the batteries you can use. If they are selling a system that will run on 9v for 'hours', then you can be sure the RF power output is going to be low. Another way to think of this is if you buy an electric airplane motor and the seller tells you it will run for 2 hours on a single 9v battery, do you think it will lift much airplane?

There is so much hype over these systems, and even price does not necessarily give you a good indicator of quality or range. You really need to see the output of each system to make an honest evaluation.

Jul 14, 2003, 02:20 AM
Blue Foam & a Happy Home
bradm's Avatar

What to do?

OK, so I've been using the Eyecam from Checking out the specs vs. Black Widow looks like the Panasonic cam has much better resolution, though I'm not sure if the transmitter is any different. Also, since Black Widow is a seperate unit I could position the transmitter for reception and the camera for view and safety.

I've been happy with the Eyecam and made some videos at: , but boy that Black Widow setup is looking good.

What to do?

Oh yeah, I could get audio too!

I guess it's time to pull out the credit card. Don't tell my wife -
Last edited by bradm; Jul 14, 2003 at 02:23 AM.
Jul 14, 2003, 10:10 AM
Frequent User
yb2normal's Avatar
Very cool videos!

I especially like the first one on the page, veeery smooth flying.

Regarding the transmitters, my Spidermite is the same transmitter found on the eyecam, so in terms of reception quality (the number of 'hits' you get and the range), you can expect the same from my equipment.

The difference, as you point out, would be in the camera. Image quality from CCD cameras is still well ahead of CMOS technology, but they continue to improve all the time. CMOS has the distinct advantage in current draw, so if you absolutely have to get the maximum run time possible, CMOS can't be beat. You simply trade image quality for run time.

Have you poked into your eyecam at all? I'm wondering how hard it would be to do a little surgery and hack in the CX161 CCD camera. That would be the cheapest route since you already have the eyecam.

Jul 14, 2003, 01:18 PM
Blue Foam & a Happy Home
bradm's Avatar
Bill - I'm glad you liked the videos. It's a total blast making them - best fun I've had in years. As for the smooth flying you might gulp when you find out it was taken from a Firebird-XL. I'm looking for a more trustworthy platform, but for now the Firebird-XL is working quite well.

Funny you should mention the hack. I've already done a little hacking on the power supply and my observations during this make me think it would be easy to put on a new camera as far as power goes. I'm not sure about connecting the camera output to the transmitter, but if I recall it's only one wire.

I've done some misc other hacking so I'm think I should be able to do that. If it doesn't work, I know you can supply me with the transmitter later.

I'll be over to your web page to order the camera. Your videos sold me .

I use two Li-Poly cells - 145 mAh. Will these last me a while or will I need to use a larger pack such as a 560 mAh?
Jul 14, 2003, 01:32 PM
Registered User
Mr.RC-CAM's Avatar
I agree, an upgrade to the CX-161 would do wonders.

Don't forget that the Panasonic camera will require a 5V LDO VReg. Even if your video Tx has a Vreg in it, do not share it (the CCD camera current is much higher than the stock CMOS).

For a Vreg I recommend the old LM2940T-5.0 (not a LM7805). Adjunct it with a heatsink; ~0.5 watts must be accommodated. Or better yet, use a PT5041 DC-DC switcher Vreg (about $15 at Digi-Key) and decouple it with the caps indicated on the data sheet.

Last edited by Mr.RC-CAM; Jul 14, 2003 at 01:42 PM.
Jul 14, 2003, 01:54 PM
Blue Foam & a Happy Home
bradm's Avatar

Thanks for the advice. I have a couple on the way. I'll probably be perusing your site as well.

This may be an odd question, but is it possible that the power connector with the Eyecam has some type of regulator in it? When I was hacking, I originally wanted to bypass this bulky connector and put in my own. The camera would not work without it.

I put the old connector back in line (with my own as well) and everything worked fine.

The connector feels heavy like it weighs almost as much as the camera/tx together.

Jul 14, 2003, 01:56 PM
Registered User
Mr.RC-CAM's Avatar
...but is it possible that the power connector with the Eyecam has some type of regulator in it?
Yes. Some of the imported cameras have a pregnant cable that contains a VReg.