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Old Oct 15, 2005, 8:28 PM   #1
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This topic was copied from digijim wrote:
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I bought a mini spycam and mounted it to my bike helmet for some action shots with the V! in my back pocket. Works fine. The unit is tiny and the lens is not much more then a pinhole and I think this is why the videos are not as good as with the native lens. I may get a better spycam with a better lens. The spycam is a Swann DIY (do it yourself) and pretty common. I got it for about $40 and the nice feature is it runs off of a 9V battery.
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DJ
Thanks for the tip on the remote lens head. I think I'll get one since you've shown the way. My idea is to report, with video, motorists who hassle or endanger me when I'm riding my bicycle to work. Plus cycling, canoeing and skiing action. Does this setup give you an audio track?

When I had my Aiptek DV4500, I found out how important it was to let the camera finish processing before changing modes or shutting it off. It didn't like being rushed.

Edit: After posting this, I did some research and found the Swann DIY Security Camera at (url in other topic)
It has audio, and comes with a normal and wide angle lenses. I'm interested in how it plugs into the V1. Does it have a compatible jack, or did you have to make a custom cable?

Right now there are some of these on eBay
(url in other topic)


digijim wrote: Re: The Swann DYI. There appear to be 2 versions. Mine did not have a mic and did not have 2 lenses. I think mine is the newer version and it is rated at a whopping 480 lines, but the optics are so limited it looks more like about 200 lines. I got mine off EBAY so look carefully, the version with the mic may be a better choice.

My Swann DYI version has a 3ft cable ending with a female RCA plug for video and a power jack that receives a short cable with a 9V battery adapter. The V1 comes with a cable - mini-plug one one side and maile RCA's on the other. Just plug the V1 video RCA into the RCA on the spycam cable. Ironically you will have more weight and volume in the cables then in the V1 itself, so I made a streamline version of the V1 cable.

I'll try to post a clip shot through the DYI on You Tube and post here when done

digijim wrote: sgspirit: I am thinking of something like this: (url in other topic)

The lens on this unit is larger then the virtual pinhole on the Swann. I think it is a generic size "microlens" and different focal lengths can be purchased at that site for about $15. This unit is a true CCD. There are 2 other units that look interesting. I think the lines of resolution number may not be very meaningfull and the fact it is a CCD has me leaning toward it.

My idea is to mount it on the front of the helmet and have connectors at the back of the helmet. Also maybe a mic which will be almost non functional at speed due to wind noise, but clever placement and a screen may help.

My rig right now is mounted on the included frame on top of the helmet and the cable hangs down into my pocket.

Do let me know if you get the DYI with the Mic. I would have to say that I don't really recommend the unit I got due to poor image quality which I suspect is a function of the pinhole lens.

DJ


sgspirit wrote:
Ok, here's what I did. A look at the Yellow Pages revealed that the best "spy" gear store in the city is just a few blocks away, so I visited them. They had about 10 similar camera units, ranging up to $200 for a Sony color CCD with audio. They didn't have any Swann products. They were quite interested in the V1 and the idea of connecting the external camera to it.

I ended up buying a "JMK" CE JK-309B, which looks just like the Swann DIY Security Camera. It has a metal body, surprisingly heavy. Like the Swann, it is 380 tv lines. Don't know what type of sensor it uses, but the video playback on the camera's monitor looks just fine. The automatic brightness gain works fine, with no flickering. The colors look fine, and so does the focus. In fact, just looking at it on the camera's screen, it looks just as good as what the camera's own lens does. The lens has a treaded body, so you can adjust the focus. It has a microphone, and was $40cdn. Far simpler than buying over the Internet, and I don't have to wait for two weeks and deal with all the hassles. I also bought a wide-angle lens for $5.

It cables up just as you suggested. The camera hung a few times while I was playing around with it. I haven't figured out yet just how this happens. The microphone is quite sensitive, but does have a very audible background buzzing noise. I don't know if this is coming from the camera, the mic, or the cable picking up interference.

I'm thinking of rigging up either some sort of a clip, or a baseball cap with snap fasteners. I'd also need to make brackets for the 9v battery and camera with the other half of the snaps.
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Old Oct 15, 2005, 10:41 PM   #2
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I did some research and found that OmniVision's OV7910 "camera on a chip" is being used in these spy cams. That's similar to what's used in the Digilife cmos hybrids.

Seems to me Digilife could easily offer a remote lens/sensor combination, using the video-in port. Rather than adopt the clumsy 9v battery pack, they'd have to provide power to it somehow, so it wouldn't be totally easy. But then their cameras would take some sales from the much more expensive Miniket Sport.
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Old Oct 16, 2005, 11:07 AM   #3
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I'd like to get some idea of the difference of these units. Mine is about 3/4 inch or 20mm square. Lens is also threaded but miniscule. POtential problem with the CCD I mentioned is it needs 12V. Not sure what small battery can provide this - needs less then 200 mah so I certainly don't want to lug around an 8-pack of AAA. I will try to post a jpeg of my rig. My DIY clips are too big to post - I think I need to get on the editor to cut it down.

DJ
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Old Oct 16, 2005, 1:25 PM   #4
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Without including the bracket, mine measures 1" square, and just over 1" from the back of the case to the end of the lens. I think you have the DIY "mini" camera, which does not have a microphone. Mine seems to be the equivalent of Swann's DIY "security" camera.

While playing around last evening, it was clear the spycam sensor has far better dim light performance than my V1's own sensor. I suspect this is because it uses a much larger lens. So here's a partial solution to the low light limitations.

Another thing I found involves macros. The lenses on the spycams screw on, and there is a lot of travel available. By unscrewing it as far as I could without the lens falling off, I found I could focus down to a distance of .5cm. That's right, 1/4". This is close enough to start to see the fibers in paper, and would allow making full-screen videos of ants.

The bracket is mounted crooked on mine, so it has to go back. Easy with the store a few blocks away. When I get another one, I'm going to seal the seams and screw holes in it with silicone grease. I also found a lot of metal filings in it from the holes being drilled, so it would be good to remove those before they short something out.

As for the power supply, I noticed the specs for my spycam say it can use anywhere from 8-12v. The OmniVision specsheet for the 7910 says it uses 5v. So I suspect you might be able to use 9v after all. Maybe do some research on what goes into the Swann cameras, or email them about this.

I'm still trying to sort out how to attach the camera and battery. So far I've thought of making aluminum brackets, which use snaps to snap the camera unit to the top of the brim of a baseball cap, and another snap to attach a battery bracket to the back of the hat. Not sure what to do for cycling yet. I don't want to make holes in my helmet Maybe something that uses velcro.
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Old Oct 16, 2005, 5:49 PM   #5
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Here's a brief clip of my Helmet Cam rig (shot on the V1 of course). I used the included bracket and attached it to the helmet with adhesive-backed velcro, and then I tie-wrapped it for extra security.

I don't think you could see the image quality loss of this cam on YouTube because the site cuts back the quality more then the minicam does.

http://www.youtube.com/?v=sr2lWbTFgKc

DJ




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Old Oct 16, 2005, 10:12 PM   #6
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I don't download video since I'm stuck in the dark ages with a dial-up connection. The stick-on velcro is a good idea. What did you do with the battery? I think I'll add a switch for the battery, so I don't have to unplug it from the camera when it's not in use.

I haven't played back on the tv or computer any video shot with the spycam, but judging from what I can see on the camera's screen, I can't see anything wrong with it. I like being able to set the focus exactly, and that one feature may allow sharper videos than with the camera's own lens and sensor.
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Old Oct 17, 2005, 6:39 PM   #7
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My mini DYI cable is 3 ft long so it terminates in my jersey pocket and that's where the battery winds up - seems way better then on the helmet.

I will try a JPEJ of the rig.

DJ
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Old Oct 17, 2005, 9:31 PM   #8
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Ah, I "see". Thanks for the picture.

My spycam has a wire a few inches long coming out of it. It splits into three connectors, one each for the battery, audio, and video. The battery clip has a short cable, so unless I rewire something, the battery ends up about 6" from the spycam. My a/v cable to the camera is about 4-5' long, so that's more than plenty.

I was thinking I could jam the camera, connectors and batttery into a section of bicycle inner tube, but that might be unspeakably ugly.
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Old Oct 18, 2005, 10:33 AM   #9
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I'm looking to upgrade to the same camera - so what I think I would do is just make up an extension cord for the battery power so the battery winds up near the V1.

Please let me know how the mic hum issue goes.

DJ
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Old Oct 18, 2005, 8:52 PM   #10
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I was taking some video outdoors tonight with the V1 by itself, and with the spycam. I'll comment on the comparative video quality when I have a chance to look at it.

The V1 already has a very sensitive microphone. But the spycam is probably 5x as sensitive. So although the spycam has the background hum, and the camera's mic does not, if you turn the volume down to make it the same, the spycam's background hum is reduced to an acceptable level. Still there, but not obtrusive.

I think I'm going to have to muffle the spycam's microphone just so the audio volume is closer to the same with videos mixed in with videos taken with the camera.

I was at the surveillance gear store again today and they mentioned some people are using the spycams for reading. They can feed a picture of a book page into their tv, with it blown up to full-screen size. You can also get a telephoto lens for the spycam, which might help overcome the lack of an optical zoom on the hybrid. Now, how could I adapt the telephoto to the hybrid itself?
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