RunCam Split 3 Micro

Now that Corona keeps us from taking to the sky, some long harboured ideas of the home-based variety reoccur to mind. Flying Tom has not been too much into FPV so far. But pilot’s view videos are valuable clickbait in the web. RunCam’s Split 3 Micro camera comes in handy for this.

What Is It?

The RunCam Split 3 Micro is a low-latency camera for real-time FPV transmission as well as an HD recorder in one. Videos up to 1080P and 60 fps are recorded to an on-board SD card.

Why „Split“? – That’s because lens module and electronics come in two separated components linked by 50 mm of wiring. The electronics‘ board is installed in the centred controller stack whereas the lens goes to some more exposed position for better view and movability. I’m not using it in a multicopter. But the split feature will help accommodation in a model airplane without to much compromise in terms of aerodynamics.

And just in case you figured that „Micro“ meant „small“. Yes it does. Cross section of the lens module is 19 x 19 mm. But if you are aiming for „smallest“ you should consider RunCam’s Nano version (14 x 14 mm).

First Glimpse

source: Andrew Newton on YouTube

Flying Tom’s Set

This is what I bought:

  • RunCam camera set Split 3 Micro (CHF 86.- *)
  • SanDisk SD card microSDXC 64GB Ultra UHS-I U1 (CHF 16.- *)
  • Hyperion PDB Micro Power Distribution Board with BEC 5V & 12 V HP-FPPDB-MICRO (CHF 8.- *)

*) current CHF exchange rates: EUR = 0.94, USD = 1.01

Please be aware that this set will not provide more than a nice but lifeless dummy. In addition, to operate the camera, you will need appropriate power supply, and some means of sending the video signal to a monitor or an FPV goggle.

Power It Up! – Take 1

There is no such thing as a multicopter in my hangar. So where do I plug it in? I will not get away without soldering this time. The set came with an extension cable which is now modified. The red and black leads (power and ground) are cut from the plug at one end. A red BEC plug is installed instead. The yellow lead conveying the video signal doesn’t go anywhere at the moment.

The camera is then connected to a 2s 7.4 V battery. Although the RunCam would be able to take up to 12V according to the manual, I switched a 6V regulator between battery and camera. The RunCam guys tell you to do so because the surges of an unregulated power-up directly from the battery might burn the camera.

The camera started recording as soon as the battery was plugged in. Here is the result. Yes, I know, it’s not a pretty sight. I pixelated it for you. The setup, however, is validated.

Power It Up! – Take 2

And now for the RunCam in its natural habitat. This is my son’s airworthy E-flite Havox Xe, powered by a 6s „big block“ battery of 22.2 Volts. The camera is connected to the receivers 5V on-board circuit by tapping the power supply of the telemetry module with a splitter cable.

The results are the same as in take 1. Take 2 was to prove that the camera can be run on the 8A BEC (battery eliminator circuit) of the 100A controller.

First Findings

I’m pleased with what I’ve seen so far. However, …

  • … the camera board turns quite hot when powered up. Be sure not to melt down some vital or expensive stuff in your model airplane.
  • … there is no USB port. I presumed there was one. So there is no convenient way of downloading the videos from the board via cable. You need to remove the SD card each time you want to have a look at your videos.

Next Steps

I am able now to record HD videos to view them later on my notebook. But I have no monitor connected to the assembly to view the live FPV video. This is needed urgently to operate the camera’s configuration menu. See next blog entry RunCam Split 3 Micro – Monitored.

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