On Board Video

How-to Article ...by Rudy Hilado
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See what it's like from onboard your RC boat!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever wanted to experience the thrill of riding in a boat at moving at several hundred miles per hour? To feel the adrenaline rush as the water and the world around you rips by in a blur? Well you can come close to experiencing the ultimate extreme boat ride by capturing video from the deck of your model boat!

 

Capturing video from radio control models isn't necessarily new, but with the introduction of light, inexpensive wireless cameras and transmitters, it is easier now than ever before. In the past, capturing video from a model boat would require mounting an entire video camcorder on the boat and set it to record before launching the boat. You could then review the video when the boat returned to shore. Of course this was a little risky as water could easily damage expensive video equipment if not properly waterproofed and protected.

 

Now it's possible to use miniature wireless cameras with integrated transmitters which run on 9 voltImage batteries. These devices allows live viewing of the video as the boat is running, which can be easily captured by a VCR or camcorder that is safely on shore.

 

ImageI wanted to experience the first person perspective from my model boats so I purchased a small wireless camera/transmitter and receiver from Ebay where it was shipped to me from Hong Kong. It was an amazing deal as it only cost $48 total, shipped! The wireless camera operated on a single 9V battery. It transmitted the video signal on the 1.2GHz band and had a range of about 1000 feet. The receiver was a simple unit that was also powered by a 9V battery. It had a standard RCA jack video out and a knob to "tune" it to the video signal. I hooked the video out to my camcorder video in port so I could watch and record the video coming from the boat.

 

To keep the camera protected from the water, I mounted it inside an airtight food storage container. I then used Velcro to fasten the the container to the deck of my TeamStrike mono.

 

I turned on the camera, receiver, and camcorder and tuned it until the picture came through. It wasImage remarkable how clear the video was from such a small camera, and with proper placement on the deck of the boat, the viewing area gave a perfect "in-cockpit" perspective.

 

I operated the camera and receiver and let someone else drive the boat. I wouldn't recommend driving and working the camera receiver/recorder at the same time. While you do get a great view from the boat, the peripheral vision is limited and it could prove to be very dangerous.

 

The view from the boat is amazing. The water, shoreline and sky were zooming by the boat. The world was moving so fast it seemed like the video was running in fast forward speed! At first I was worried that the vibration of the motor or the rough water would cause a very jittery image, but the video was remarkably stable. The video put you right into the boat and when the boat turned, you almost felt like leaning to match the lean of the hull.

 

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To make things more interesting, I even mounted the camera backwards on the boat so it pointed at the roostertail. I was able to capture some bonus footage as Doug Anderson was driving the boat and managed to hit a buoy and made the boat do a barrel roll 3 feet off the water. It produced some very unique video!

 

Unfortunately the video camera system that I purchased did not have the ability to transmit audio, so the one aspect of the on-board experience was missing. In the future, I may upgrade to a system that transmits both audio and video. Also it is important to use fresh 9V batteries. If the batteries get weak, the signal greatly degrades.

 

I highly recommend trying this out on your own boats. It's very fun and it can produce some very memorable video footage!

 

 

Wireless cameras can be found on Ebay by searching for "wireless video".

 

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