MiniDV

Started 18th April 2016

I got this small camera in the hope of using it for time lapse photo sequences. Described on ebay as "Digital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DV Video Recorder". It takes both still photos and video. Video results were not too bad. Still photos were OK indoors but even modest light outside resulted in a hugely overexposed image that was useless.

It has two switches - power and mode. Unfortunately there's a bit of long press versus short press involved. There is what appears to be a single LED which can show red or blue. A longish press of the power button turns the camera on, and the LED shows red. This means it is in video mode waiting to start. A short press of the power button gives a flashing red and commences recording. Pressing the mode button gives a blue LED and means the camera is ready to take still photos, a short press of the power button acting as shutter release.

Powering up without a memory card gives a few flashes of red and blue and a power off.

Still photos have a resolution of 1280 x 960 but are heavily compressed JPEGs. Video is 720 x 480. Sound is recorded. Perhaps one can multiply 1280 x 960 x 4 (assuming RGGB pixels as is common for cameras) and get around 5 million. Then again maybe the vendors thought of a number and doubled it and the photos are being up sampled.

Supposedly the camera will act as a webcam or a mass storage device. Windows 10 told me (at 10 second intervals until it got fed up) the last USB device had crashed. I never had a successful USB connection.

Photos and videos have a real time clock superimposed, there's a devious way of setting this with a file on the flash memory card. I did not discover if the clock runs when the camera is turned off - there is what looks like a watch crystal on the PCB.

The viewfinder is an outbreak of whimsy, a hole would be more useful as it is there's some translucent plastic which hinders.

Taking a clue from the Amazon reviews as to the location of the screw holding the case together I pulled it to bits (teardown?). No doubt the contents, processor and camera/sensor would be a lot of fun if documented, but I can't find any references to them. The grid in the photos is 10 mm.

Digital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DVDigital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DVDigital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DVDigital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DVDigital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DVDigital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DV

The red/blue LED turns out to be two separate LEDs as shown in the last photo and what the LEDs indicate is a lot clearer with the case removed.

Digital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DVDigital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DVDigital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DVDigital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DVDigital Camera 5MP HD Smallest Mini DV

The mode switch snapped off the board due to not being soldered correctly, it had started to fail before disassembly.

As ever it's surprising how small things can be made and how much one gets for little cost. But poor construction and software render it scrap. If it worked it would be easy to drive from a micro controller.

Probably another unit from a different batch would behave differently.

Amazon.com reviews

808 Car Keys Cameras - technical information about similar cameras

http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=159557.0

http://www.ovt.com/products/

http://embeddedprogrammer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/hacking-ov7670-camera-module-sccb-cheat.html

http://www.electroschematics.com/11140/arduino-raspberry-pi-camera-interface/

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Page last modified on October 17, 2016, at 11:48 AM
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