Mini video cams

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by Woodie, May 15, 2004.

  1. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    There was a thread in here (I think), that may have gone to God in the Great Gauge Apocolypse :eek: That gave an Ebay site to get them.

    The US one was here

    Another one (Australian Ebay) here

    Well, I hunted around Australia Ebay and have now got one. Exactly the same for $41 AUS ($32 US approx).

    They are just brilliant. Highly recommended. Focus ability to less than 1 inch. (manually screw in/out the lens) with quite a good sharp colour video picture. The camera is about the size of a sugar cube. Will fit superbly into just about anything!! Intention is to put one inside a passenger coach, with seating and people in the frame of view as well. But a driver's cab view comes first. :):)

    One of the best value "accessories" I've ever got. Very impressed. :cool: :cool: :cool: :D
  2. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    HI Woodie
    Another shot to try is from the inside of an empty boxcar through the open door. Gives you that hobo perspective of ridin' the rails.
  3. racedirector

    racedirector Member

    Hi Woody

    How do you reckon one of these would go for watching trains in a hidden staging situation? I have been thinking about getting cameras for that purpose instead of infrared sensors and lights on a board....

  4. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I own and sell a similar system and can say that it would work rather well as a surveilence camera on a hidden yard. There are also 2 and 4 camera systems available so that you can pan different areas using the same monitor. The one I have comes with an audio feature option that, when used with a sound equiped loco, is almost surreal.

    In practice, I've found that the practical range is about 300 feet, the battery life in the camera before the picture quality is affected is about 4 hours and the AC power pack for the receiver is an absolute necessity. You should have clean track and your pusher loco should have clean wheels and a good can motor. While the system is battery operated and independant of track power, dirty track and a poor motor can generate some interference in the picture.

    We had a blast at the West Florida Railroad Museum's layout. We would drag it at the end of a train for a very effective brakeman's view while being followed by another loco, ala "Von Ryan's Express". We placed it within the train with 2-3 empty flatcars between the camera and the loco. The effect was startling as the cars weebled and wobbled side to side indepently of each other, much like you would see if you were riding the flat yourself. And yes :rolleyes: , I placed a car across a grade crossing and you could just see the LPB screaming as the train struck the car. A bit juvenile but, when you get one, you're gonna do it too :p. Trackside shots were very good, the camera eye being about a scale meter off the ground in HO scale made you feel like a 7 year old standing trackside. Options I'll be trying in the future will be mounting one inside of a Vista-dome passenger car and viewing out and down the side of a bay window caboose. Just too cool.

    Just be careful where you buy, not all systems can ride the rails because of their wiring needs and configurations. It looks like the one Woodie found is a good one.
  5. boppa

    boppa Member

    one thought
    instead of a 9v battery-use a 9v nicad battery (be carefull-not all the 9v rectangular bats are 9v in the nicads) tricklecharged from the rails using a lighting pickup truck
    and if the big lense offends your protypical sensiblities-use the pinhole version instead(1mm hole is all that is required)

    (edit to add)
    use a bridge rectifier to drop the trackvoltage to 9v and takes care of dc reversing and dcc pulses-and the battery smooths the voltage for the camera to boot
  6. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    This little investment I made just get's better and better. :):)

    It ain't much ,but I took a pic of the video off the tele (yeah, digital pic, off the tele, a bit wonky)( but I assure you the pic is stable, not the wonky lines, like in the pic). I put that down to the digital cam "scan" rate difference between it and the tele.

    And yep. Just a litle mock up I made trackside for a few pics and video, but you do need to have the track really clean, and the camera probabaly at least two flat car lengths away from the loco because of static and interference. The cleaner the track, the better, and I assure you, the actual pic does not have that "wonky bits" in it.

    This is a pic off the tele, of a trackside shot. Not much, and the light was not that good, just the hallway floor, but still getting the hang of it. Adequate light is another essential, even though you still get a good pic in low light.

    Attached Files:

  7. Vic

    Vic Active Member


    Guys, Be aware that a 9V Rechargable battery is not 9 V. Its actually 7.5 volts and charges at 10 -10.5v. They are made up of 6 1.25v cells. (6 x 1.25 = 7.5) Most 9v devices will operate at the lower voltage.

    Since nic-cads normally charge at 2.5 - 3.0 volts above rating you must compensate for this should you design any kind of track powered recharging system for your cameras otherwise you will be charging your battery at around 12v which will cause the battery to degrade and possibly damage your camera. 9v. battery makers don't give you this information and most people think that they are a true 9v.

    However, 9v. carbon-zinc or alkeline batteries are a true 9v. as they are made up of 6 1.5 volt cells. (6 x 1.5 = 9)
  8. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    the "blurb" with mine says I should get at least 8 hours camera use from a 9 volt battery. (the clock radio type).

    The specs/instructions for the camera say: Power Supply DC+6~12V and the power transformer (mains) says: Output DC 8V 200mA

    I'm not game enough (yet), to try to power the camera direct from the tracks.
  9. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Use a LM7809 voltage regulator between the batteries and camera. Use 8 NiMH batteries and charge them through a full wave bridge off the track. Hard part remains building workable pickus, but something like this could be built on loco trucks as it's not being built for proto looks. I want one, but I would most likely just use 9v dollar store batteries. I don't think the price/complexity would justify the use of a rechargeable batteries. Just my opinion. FRED
  10. boppa

    boppa Member

    use a 9v nicad battery (be carefull-not all the 9v rectangular bats are 9v in the nicads)

    there are true 9v nicads available but not all of the `9v nicads' are 9v-hence my warning as posted

    use a bridge rectifier to drop the trackvoltage to 9v and takes care of dc reversing and dcc pulses-and the battery smooths the voltage for the camera to boot
  11. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Cool beans, Woodie. Aren't they a blast? I would not recommend using a rechargable Ni-cad, at least not in the systems I've seen and sell. The battery has to be fresh and at full power for the best picture. While the camera's battery power will last 8 hours, it is also true that you start losing picture and color quality at 4-5 hours. I just toss them at 4. Doesn't help sales to have them blinkin' out in front of an audience. Soldering a .1 capacitor across the leads in the push/pull loco also helps with picture interference caused by motor "noise".
  12. boppa

    boppa Member


    Cool beans, Woodie. Aren't they a blast? I would not recommend using a rechargable Ni-cad, at least not in the systems I've seen and sell. The battery has to be fresh and at full power for the best picture.
    hence using nicads!!
    the voltage using `standard' batts-either zinc or alkiline drops as a fairly linear line -the more the battery is depleted the lower the battery voltage drops
    whereas nicads (the 9v true cells-7x1.2v-not the pretend 6x1.2v 7.2v ones) have a fairly constant voltage over almost the entire discharge cycle
    the only problem is that you do not get much warning with nicads that they are almost flat-they work (still at their 1.2v) right up to when they are 99% flat(but if they are being charged by a powered truck no problems-esp on dc layouts the camera will continue to work when the throttle is off)
  13. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    OK, OK, I'll have to try them out at the club next run night, at $4 a pop for good alkalines, I do need a more practical source of power at train shows. But...if my camera goes up in a puff of magic blue smoke, I'm gonna make my way down under and serenade you every morning for a month playin' Iron Butterfly's "Innagaddadavida" on a didgeridoo ;) :p
  14. boppa

    boppa Member

    i seriously doubt that the magic smoke will escape lol
    just remember-powered truck-bridge rectifier(gives you 1.2v drop across it)-true 9v nicad(7 x 1.2v cells)-camera

    wish geocities still let you link :-( id draw a quick schematic

    the old board i could upload a pic from my hdd-doesnt seem to be an option anymore???
  15. boppa

    boppa Member

    hey can still do it :thumb:

    edit-put a switch between the battery and the camera btw-saves running the battery flat when there is no power to track

    Attached Files:

  16. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    I would still put a 50 cent LM7809 between the battery and camera, but you guys do as you wish. It's your magic smoke. :) FRED
  17. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Thanks, Boppa, I'll be experimenting with that setup. I'd love to eventually market a ready-to-run loco with the camera and sound already installed with a price aimed at everyday working folks. I don't plan on making a living at it but I do love seeing little kids faces when their little noggins realize that the train they're watching is the one they're looking out of on TV. Just too cool.
  18. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Don't Feed The Pink Bunny

    Feeding that Enegizer Bunny will put you in the poor house real quick :D :D

    If you have a Big Lots in your area they have Fuji (same as the camera company) 9 volts...2 for $1.49. Have the highest rating of any on the market. :) :wave:
  19. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    They say 4 hours per battery, 2 batteries $1.49. So 8 hour of entertainment for $1.49. Even in US Dollars that's cheap entertaiment. :thumb: FRED
  20. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    True, true...and I don't risk the warranty either. I still would like to tweek the rechargable thought thru because I am finding alot of folks want that option. That and the ability to control the camera thru DCC chips which my supplier is currently working on. I'd love to see or develop a miniature panning device for the added ability to "look" from side to side like an engineer.

    One thing I do with crowds is to slowy creep up the throttle 'til I feel they're really into it, then throw the brakes. Everyone watching kinda jolts forward a bit from the unexpected stop :rolleyes: :D

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