Make anything a Drone: a first person video camera rig.

TinyCamera_13 Radio control flying is traditionally done “line of sight.”  That is, you stand in one place, and watch your toy fly around.  Modern electronics means we can get little cameras, that hobby size aircraft can easily lift.  For example, that little camera package you see there, is 17.5 grams.

My previous camera package fried when I hooked the wrong power supply up to it a few weeks ago.  For the record, putting 12.6v from a LiPo battery pack, doesn’t do good things for the health of a 3.3v video transmitter.

TinyCamera_01Here were my ingredients.  Not quite mise en place but definitely close enough for hackerspace work.

We have some protoboard, my new transmitter, my old transmitter, the video camera, some pin headers, a JST style battery connector, a set of dip switches, and most importantly, a voltage regulator.  That last bit is to stop me from frying the camera or transmitter on accident again.

TinyCamera_06When doing protoboard assemblies, it’s always a good idea to dry fit everything.

In a fit of bad practice, I have no decoupling (capacitors) to support my voltage regulator.  As with many things in electronics.. sometimes it works even if you do it a bit wrong.  If the video signal ends up being poor, I can always add more power filtering later.

TinyCamera_14When I first fried the video transmitter, I thought it had shorted out against my quadcopters chassis.  It’s not a good idea to leave power rails exposed, so there’s a good bit of hot glue on the bottom of the board.
Once that was done, I powered it up, and made sure I could change channels using the DIP switches, and that the video was clear in my goggles.

TinyCamera_11Antennas are a funny thing.  Most people doing FPV use circularly polarized antennas.  I didn’t have any small coax handy when I built this the first time, so I just reused my conventional antenna.  That little black wire, is a full wave antenna at 5.8ghz!

Other than being twice the weight of the previous camera rig I was running, I’m quite happy with how this turned out.

Keep making stuff!

PS: If you’d like more detail on the build:

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