Wireless video transmitter connection?

I had the pleasure of meeting both Ralf and Wolfgang on the beach at Fano recently, and seeing their rigs. This inspired me to try and get live video feed from my rig to the ground.

My Nikon Coolpix 4300 has a live video out lead which I can connect to my monitor and see the camera screen in real time.
It has a yellow phono plug on the 'monitor' end.
Is there a way to alter this lead so the output from the camera can be sent via a wireless video transmitter to a video receiver in my hand?
I don't have the wireless kit yet, but didn't see the point of buying a wireless camera as well as the TX board if I don't need to.

Any pointers/guidance/help/advice greatly appreciated.


  • Hi there Kitetraveller!

    As we spoke about on Fano, I am still planning on giving my domestic wireless video RX/TX a try. It is supposed to work at 6V/300mA, so I guess it should be possible to make it work from a LiPo battery, although I have no idea how long it will work before the battery runs out... (Any hints/suggestions in that direction would be greatly appreciated!) Are there any fellow-KAPers out there who have already tried such a setup?

    In the mean time, I discovered a thread on the German kite forum which looks like exactly what you would like to construct: http://www.drachenforum.net/forum/showthread.php?id=46463

    This should be possible to do with other (wireless) domestic video surveillance equipment too; I already have heard some success stories about that particular setup. However, the set that is shown in the forum is not available over here in Holland.

    Best regards,
  • andy,

    what's your question? the yellow A/V plug can connect to any A/V transmitter and can be received on the ground. The only problem we have over here in the netherlands is that the 'legal' maximum transmitter power is too low. So we need to go 'illegal' to have a good reception ;-)

    I use the blackwidow system (200mW) which connects to the standard 4.8 V battery on my rig.

  • In the Netherlands - and pretty much all the rest of the EU - analog (video) signals in the 2.4GHz band are limited to 10mW, which is not enough for our purposes. However, wireless (digital) networking equipment in the same band is allowed to use up to 100mw transmitting power, which should do just fine.
  • Hi kitetraveler,
    yes we met and talked on Fanoe a lot. The yellow plug is for video, yes.
    Something other:
    I worked with European legal 10 mw without any problems for years. Normaly without problems. But many others and me too have big trouble with highpower transmitters on Fanoe last and this year. Some KAPers used this stuff on Fanoe and killed the beach absolutly. Please go to Google Earth and look how big Fanoe is. This year we talked to some KApers in a friendly way. But we can not garantie that we would do this the next year again. With 200 mW you have a distance you can messure in (many) kilometers. 1 kilometer are 1000 meters. Is here a KAPer in this forum KAPing normaly in this high? Did you see for example the video on the RangeVideo page taken with 10 mW? So please do it the legal way. If you have problems with the distance, look for the mistakes and errors and don't change to more power.
    Thank you
    Ralf Beutnagel
  • Thanks for the replies!
    I didn't explain very well....
    I hope to connect the live feed from the camera to a very small wireless TX; both Ralf and Wolfgang had very small, much smaller than the video sender to be used in the house.

    Hi Stephan, that link looks like what I want, but I cannot read it...any chance of a basic translation???

    There are small TX (http://www.active-robots.com/products/radio-solutions/av-modules.shtml) but I would not yet know what to do with one when I got it, so very early days so far!

    I had thought to get a small wireless 'spy' camera and try and connect the video out in place of the actual spy camera, but use the TX.....and then use something like this (http://www.spycameracctv.com/spycamera/lcd-tft-wireless-4-channel-monitor-cctv-spycam-2.5) as the receiver and viewer.
    As you will understand, I have zero knowledge of these subjects yet.

    This would do the job (http://www.blackwidowav.com/bwav240200digiliveUFPbasic.html)but I don't have $280!!...and its pumping out 200mW .....

    Anyway, many thanks for the help so far, all suggestions gratefully received.
  • Andy,

    In the domestic kit I am planning to use there are two RX/TX modules. One for the AV signal and one for the IR signal of the remote control. I am planning to 'repackage' the AV part only into a smaller housing, which should already decrease the size of the device. However, before doing all that work I'll give it a shot to just stick the device to the rig as is, with some velcro. (Got to see if it actually works first...)

    If I roughly translate the thread from the German forum, it comes down to disassembling the camera-part of the kit and connecting the wires that normally go to the camera to a connector that goes straight into the (Canon) camera.

    In the particular set (Typhoon) they are using there the wiring would be like this:

    Red: Ground
    White: +6V

    The other wires are resp. for audio (Pos. and Neg.) and video (Pos. and Neg.)

    This requires some soldering and (of course) knowledge of the connecting wires and will most probably be different for every other set you might decide to use.

    The advantage of what I am about to try is that you just connect the AV cable from the camera to the transmitter and for the receiving end I am planning to use my camcorder (until I find an affordable and small LCD screen with AV input that is). Further advantage is, that the TX-strength is within allowed boundaries and will probably cause no interference with fellow KAPers nearby. The specs of the (Marmitek) set I am planning to use say that it should work up to 100m (line of sight), so that will be quite enough for my purposes. (Any higher than that I will not use my RC rig anyway and switch to the Aurico.)

  • Thanks Stephan!
    Even with that set up, I am struggling with getting a signal from the RX to the video camera, but it works fine on my laptop.

    I was just so impressed with the set up used by Ralf and Wolfgang that I wanted to try and replicate it using bespoke or adapted items. I am sure it is feasible, just not with my non existant levels of electronic knowledge!

    With this you would not need the video camera so long as the TX frequency was one of the 4 listed, and it seems to be a reasonable price.

    More later.
  • edited July 2009
    Kitetraveller, the link for Airwave modules above is very interesting for the very lowcost separate available transmitting modules.

    I will consider that as complement for what I have now (see this discussion), so I don't have to irreversably break my camera (and keep the camera for domestic appliances and testing). Still on planning (but a bit postponed) is to add reasonable antennas with RP-SMA on the transmitter and the handset.
  • It's worth noting that some cameras have video out that ONLY works in playback mode, therefore they are useless for live video feed. You want to be sure that the video out is live during shooting mode.

    Being on Fano and running into both Rolf and Wolfgang sounds like a dream. Did they demonstrate that you can run over their rigs with a truck? :-)
  • I am a radio technician for a Motorola Service Center here in Missouri. 10mW sounds low but since folks say they have gotten it to work, apparently it does work. I do wonder though if they are actually putting out 10mW and not more. In any case the wattage is just one aspect with regards to range. The antenna you use at both ends is going to be a big factor in range. If your antenna is not well suited then 20 times the power isn't going to help. I hardly ever deal with 2.4 Ghz so I'm not an expert on antennas for that spectrum, but you might check into a directional antenna at least for the base receiver if you are having problems picking up the signal. In the lower frequencies, directional antennas such as "Yagi" antennas can boost signal significantly.
  • Hogster on the heli forums gets good results using a 10mw with patch antenna on the receiver.

    Two more links of interest.

    I have a 2.4ghz 500mw from BlackWidow and a 5.8ghz 200mw from futurehobbies.

    I have previously used a cheap 2.4 purchased at Walmart on a yardstik airplane, they are rated for 300' max, but we had it over nearly 1/4 mile away before it started getting really scratchy. The name brand is ASTAK, I have two of an older model, the camera is operated by a 9v battery. I ran the RX from an inverter in my vehicle.
  • Please don't forget that the 2.4 - 2.5 GHz band (13cm wavelength) is not a 'videolink-band' only. You will find a wide range of sources here, of which WiFi in urban areas is the main source of serious interference. You might also receive video from in-house wireless interlinks between the DVD player in the living room and the TV screen in the bedroom (I am talking from experience here :0) )

    So don't forget that when you are doing KAP in urban areas you might lose contact with the rig much sooner than in the country side. And output power will only be of help when you also use proper antennas (indeed, Scott, Yagi-like directional stuff).
  • While using the same setup in town with my mast I picked up a security camera in the local bar's kitchen. It disappeared the second I turned on my transmitter. I can only imagine their thoughts while reviewing the surveillance video if my TX overpowered theirs.
  • I've inquired of Future Hobbies about their very attractive 5.8gHz 200mW system, and as I suspected, an FCC technician's license is required to use it in the USA. I wish these vendors would be up front about that.
  • edited July 2009
    I started the experiment with a domestic wireless AV kit (Marmitek) this weekend, with some slightly disappointing results I have to say.

    The adapters in the set specify to work at 6V/300mA, so I reckoned I could get it to work on a pack of Nimh chargeable batteries but no go on the first try. I decided to measure what was really getting out of the adapters to see if there was any difference between the specs and the actual measurements: The adapters measured a voltage of 9.8 in stead of the specified 6... Now, I'm not an electrical engineer, but that seems to be a bit off specs doesn't it? Is this something that has to do with the fact that I measured the adaptors without any devices connected to them or are the specs just not correct and do I need to enlarge my batterypack for this to work? It seems to become a bit of a load when I need to add so many rechargeable penlights, so I am already considering switching to LiPo at some point. Would that be an option to get this to work or do you recommend to go for another solution?
  • edited July 2009
    It works!!
    Rather crude and basic, but it works as it should!!!

    There is a picture here that shows it in all its glory. Its my first time ever soldering. I got the video chip mentioned above (from Active Robots) and the info with it had a circuit diagram and shopping list, so I got the bits from RS (www.rswww.com) by typing in the info from the circuit and ordering what came up; zero knowledge or skill involved in this project, thats for sure.
    I connected the transmitter to my Nikon Coolpix 4300, plugged in the battery and away it went.
    I don't yet have a hand held receiver so borrowed one from our security team at work, just like the AV receivers you can buy for sending TV around the house.
    I connected it to my monitor and 'YEEHA!!!' there was the live feed straightaway. I am sure it is beginners luck, but I am absolutely over the moon to have achieved this. My buddy Chris Brown explained and showed me how to solder, then lent me the soldering iron and desoldering tool, and I reckon knowing he could sort it out if it all went wrong gave me the confidence to have a go.

    Anyway, I'm sure the technically competent of you will at least raise a smile when you see the lumpy soldering and wandering wiring, but I did it on my own and now I want to learn how to make it much smaller and very much tidier. As it is, I got 400 metres from the house before the signal went; its a 10mW TX (thats a good power, isn't it Ralf?) and will be sufficient for my needs. I may have to build a bigger kite to lift a circuit board that big, but hey, so what?

    Thats all for now, unless anyone has suggestions about how I can get it all smaller?
  • edited July 2009
    Bravo! Good going, Andy! That's a great feeling, isn't it?

    Smaller should be fairly easy. You can do it, now that you're a soldering ace!
  • Very well done Andy!
    The transmitter is performing good!

    Because of the reported distance, the reciever must be very well too. Do you have any specifics on the reciever used now (reciever sensivity, dBm) and antenna (directional/ gain, dBi)?
  • Hi Kitetraveller,
    well done +++.
  • Thanks guys!

    The RX is from a kit by Swann security; it looks pretty old, and the only spec I can see for the RX is:
    Video input/output 1Vp-p/75 ohm
    Antenna 60 degree directional
    Operating power 12v
    Power consumption 180 mA

    I put a picture here, but there is no seperate antenna, and the orientation of the box in relation to the TX did not appear to make any difference to reception.

    Still enthused but now I need to find out how to make things smaller; any thoughts folks???

  • Good job so far on your setup. I guess it depends on budget and how much work or replacing of parts you want to do. DPCAV have some kits for you to assemble yourself and require some soldering although I have not really soldered before and got a little help from a friend and got things together OK. You should be able to swap out the receiver with a DPCAV one no problem. it it quite a bit smaller than yours and mine flies happily on my Brooxes BBKK rig on a 6' Rokkaku in reasonable wind. here's a picture of the setup

    KAP rig
  • Thanks for the link to DPCAV. The video chips they are selling are exactly the same as the one I used, and the test board they are offering is built from the same circuit diagram, so I already have an idea of how to get mine smaller!!!

    Its certainly enthused me even more to get on with it.

  • edited July 2009
    Go Andy!

    Looks like your efforts are really yielding some great results! (In the mean time I have resumed my own experiments with the domestic AV-RX/TX set and a LiPo battery. Until now, no results...)

    From the picture I reckon you used prefab circuit board with copper tracks between every hole in line? I don't know how it's called in English, but it looks the same as the stuff I use for my hobby-soldering most of the time. Anyway, to make it smaller you could start by putting the components closer together and use a jigsaw to cut the print down to a smaller dimension.

    You could also consider having a small PCB etched for your purposes. Although a lot more difficult because then you would have to design a PCB first (Eagle is nice software for that purpose, although I am not sure if the freeware version allows for PCB layout creation...)

    Have a look at the elektor.com site for some links to companies which produce PCB prototypes. If you look around a bit you'll find one that doesn't charge too much for it. (I know there is one in - I think it was - Bulgaria that produces from 1 to as many as you want to for not too much money... just can't remember the name for the moment... I'll look that up for you!). Of course you can also try to find a hobbyist that can help you with etching your own PCBs.

    You could also buy a piece of circuit board (or something similar) without a copper layer on it and drill small holes in it to put your components, then solder everyting together using small pieces of insulated copper wire to create 'bridges' between the components. Just make sure to keep the wire bridges as short as possible to avoid interference.

    I'm going to have a look at the site where you got the transmitter from as this might be a better solution than the one I am struggling with.


    BTW: You reckon the TX will display on the monitor you suggested previously? (http://www.spycameracctv.com/spycamera/lcd-tft-wireless-4-channel-monitor-cctv-spycam-2.5)
    To more or less answer my own question: I suspect it does as the 2.4Ghz frequencies are more or less standard, right? Or am I dreadfully mistaking here?
  • HI Stephan,
    Have a look at the DPCAV website mentioned above ~ they have the same TX (value depends on postage and exchange rates; ours are poo at the moment!) but they have a circuit board on offer for 'testing' and it is identical to the layout described in the .pdf that you can download from DPCAV or Active Robots. Its what I built my circuit from but looks way neater than mine with an etched board.......luckily the son of someone at work has etching facilities and loads of enthusiasm for this project, so I hope to be able to learn that side of things as well. Its amazing who you find out about when you start asking around!

    The TX .pdf gives the 4 frequencies, and so does the detail for the handheld monitor, and they seem to be pretty much standard. I didn't buy one yet as we have a wireless video doorbell at work that no-one can be bothered with as the stairs to the door were moved last year but the doorbell wasn't! The handheld monitor is 2.4gHz and I am going to borrow it this weekend and see if it gets a picture, so I wont be ordering just yet.

    My fabric for the Ralf Kapfoil arrived this week as well, and I should have the prints from the CAD drawings waiting for me when I return to work tomorrow (Friday), so I may be able to make a start on cutting out this weekend.

    It looks like we will go Dover - Dunkerque and drive up to Fanoe next year ~ half the cost and about the same length of journey!!

    Speak later.
    Kind regards
    Andy & Christine
  • edited July 2009
    Hi Andy,

    I looked at the DPCAV website and the evaluation boards look good, although I think they are a bit expensive, especially when adding P&P to it. So, I went back to the Active Robots site and looked at the current exchange rate GBP/EUR and (of course) at the AV modules. After studying the documentation for the TX module (the 651 right?) I decided to stop wasting time on the Marmitek set and ordered the module from Active Robots.

    Yesterday, I took apart the Marmitek set and discovered that there is not much difference between the electronics involved in there and the eval board from DPCAV. However, there is also an 433Mhz TX/RX for the IR controls included in there which I don't need at all. Furthermore, I don't know the specs of the AV module inside (no specs, no name, no nothing printed on the component). I could easily figure out how the pins on the module in the Marmitek set are connected and pull the module out for my own use, but I am not a real champ in electronics so I decided to follow an easier path and will DIY like you did.

    The DPCAV evaluation board looks Ok, but I didn't bother to order it as well because I have all the necessary parts 'in stock' upstairs and together with a small piece of circuit board I'll manage. I will make sure to post some pictures of the work in progress. If you like, we could make this a joined effort? I know of a company over here in NL where I can have PCB's produced so if you want I can gather some information about pricing and have them create one for you as well? That is, if that results in something more priceworthy and workable than ordering the eval board from DPCAV, what do you think?


    --- Off topic zone coming up! (May be better to email from here... ;-))

    What kind of fabric did you get for the KAPFoil? Anything special that you had to order? What colours are you going to use? (Just curious! ;-))

    Let's keep in touch about the journey to Fanoe next year. You're welcome to drop by our place for some refreshments and we could travel along together from there...
  • @Andy: thanx for the collected info and photograph. Seems a pretty ordinary (so ordinary sensivity?), but older household RX, interesting results therefore.

    @Stephan/ Andy: If it would make it more priceworthy and it would help, I am willing to join letting it produced (I am in NL, and e.g. don't need the jacks of the evaluation board).
  • Hi Fabfoto,

    Of course you are welcome to join in! Let's first find out about the costs involved, because I have really no idea what is to be expected. (Anyone?)

    I still have to check pricing and the PCB printing service can only give you that information when you send them a PCB layout in Gerber format. What we'll have to do first is transfer the circuit from the Airwave module reference manual to a circuit drawing program and create a PCB layout for it. Then we can find out the costs involved. If the costs are getting too high there is always 0.5 Euro-sized perforated circuit board (50x80mm) which we could probably cut a bit smaller for our circuit.

    RCA connectors are through-hole components so if you don't need them you can just leave them out and solder a pin through the board where you can then connect (solder) your cable to. I'm going to put at least one connector (for video) on the board because I don't want to cut the cable that comes with my camera.

    BTW: I hope it is possible to use the audio channels for some other purposes than sound so we might be able to put in some OSD circuitry with additional information like altitude and maybe even geological information? I'm not an electrical engineer so maybe someone more knowledgeable can say something about this? (I'm getting a bit ahead of things here but Andy got the circuit working already so I'm assuming we will as well and was thinking of additional gadgets already ;-))
  • Hi Stephan & Fabfoto,

    I have passed the circuit diagram to the keen, interested circuit board maker. He has the software to produce the board, and the etching bath etc. to create the boards ~ I just have to hope he can come up with something suitable ~ I did give him a link to the DPCAV site so he could see what we were talking about.

    I'm pretty sure I have made the case for using this technology at work to add extra wireless cameras for security, so it should not be a problem to get some of these boards made for experimental purposes......

    I would still be interested in your option Stephan; please let me know what sort of costs are involved. Once I have a board layout, I will email it to you.

    The monitor from the video doorbell didn't work, or at least, I could not get it to work on any of the 4 frequencies I have, so I need to find out what the TX frequency of the bell push camera is. I will get the manufacturer details and try and find the answer. In the meantime, I am looking for a 2.5 inch (63mm?) monitor to use with the RX chip that is also available from Active Robots; I'll let you know how I get on.

    Take care.
    Kind regards
  • Hi Andy.
    Well done.
    This is just what I've been look for. Count me in for a printed circuit board if it gets made/in production. (I can already do soldering )
    I've been thinking about a downlink for a while and Bas showed me his rigs, some of which used this method. I've just emailed him for circuits & info then came across your thread.
  • Hi again Sue,
    I ended up making my own boards by etching the copper I bought from Maplin ~ detail on my site at kitetraveller.co.uk ~ so I have some spares if you want a Tx and Rx board?
    I also have a box full of the components that are required to complete the circuits if you fancy assembling them? The only bits that owe me any money are the 2 modules, as I bought 5 of each to experiment with, and the stubby antennas that fit onto the boards.

    If you want just the boards, let me know where to send them and I will put them in the post; if you want a couple of bags of bits, the 634 Rx module costs
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