8 Nov 2001 EdwardRupp   » (Journeyer)

I now have a crude video system for my robots. Found a color CMOS video camera at Best-Buy for $50. It's meant to be a kids toy, however a little hacking and now I can watch what my bots looking at. The nice thing about this design is it has a built in transmitter. The toy has a plastic shell to make it look like a camcorder. Upon opining it up, only 4 Phillips head screws. I found a single board camera similar to those advertised for around $30 to $100. A separate board has a small RF transmitter. The transmitter board is about 2 X 2.125'', the camera is 1.125 X 1.5''. Also the camera has a adjustable lens. The camera has a part number on the board, TJ-194VO. The camera comes with a little receiver that can be switched for 2.4 or 2.4835 Ghz signal from the camera. The receiver has a VF signal and audio RCA jacks for hooking up to a VCR.

I made up a blank SIMM style card to hold the transmitter and camera, this way I can simply pop it on to a buss board on my bots. The board material was the normal epoxy fiber glass for PC boards, only this stock had no copper on it. Drew up a simple layout that has a cutout in the center to accommodate the transmitters RF shielding box. This way the combined boards are thin enough to allow other boards to sit next to it on the SIMM bus. The camera is mounted on top with thin sheet aluminum to allow the mount to be bent, changing the view angle.

The video quality is definitely not as good as the manufacture suggests on the box, however its not too bad for a tiny camera and transmitter combo for the money. Its been very entraining watching this video. In this case the camera was mounted on a walking robot. This definitely can induce motion sickness! A wheeled robot would be a better choose. Also fun to hear the broadcast foot steps!

Here some data from the instruction sheet: Sensor = CMOS 250K pixel Lens View angle = 45 degrees RF transmitter and receiver frequency 2.4 - 2.4835 Ghz Free space operation distance 15 meters Transmitter power 9v

I found it works ok up to 50 feet, even with several walls and machinery in-between the transmitter and receiver. But it definitely varied as the bot moved. As long as you don't expect too much its probably worth the money.

Fun simple and quick project. Now I have to figure out how to have a PC munch on the video data. Then send some hints to the bot about what to do next!

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