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Camera Cars

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Camera Cars
Posted by oldline1 on Thursday, January 03, 2019 5:42 PM

The recent article by Don Ball on building the HO camera car was reaaly interesting. I'm told the camera he used is either not made now or very hard to find. My minimal search found none. 

Another modeler commented he used a GoPro. It seems to be out of my reach right now.

I saw something on TV and at WallyWorld called a CopCam. It's $40 and very small and is self-contained. Has anyone seen these or tried to use one for our purposes? The size, weight and price all seem to be right but who knows.

Anyone tried one?

Thanks,

oldline1

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, January 03, 2019 5:53 PM

I bought one maybe two years ago just to play with. I have two other cameras that are better than this little one.

 IMG_7956 by Edmund, on Flickr

It is a toy, basically. Controls are awkward, image is OK but not great. On a limited budget it might be good for some limited layout use.

Here is a screen capture of the video taken by the camera:

 cube_cam1 by Edmund, on Flickr

For its size it does an OK job. I bought it from Amazon, not the TV con-artists. I bought it two years ago when the price was $16.

https://tinyurl.com/y9psea74

 

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by oldline1 on Thursday, January 03, 2019 6:23 PM

Thanks, Ed, I appreciate the info.

That's certainly small enough and priced right. The image is ok to me. Maybe not as clear as some I've seen on youtube but for the price I think it's more than adequate.

oldline1

 

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, January 03, 2019 6:48 PM

I didn’t have a hard time building up my camera car but it took 7 cameras before I found one that would work.  Two were DOA another one the WiFi didn’t work the other three crapped out before I got the car finished.  I just kept sending them back.
 
I wanted to be able to pan the camera remotely while watching live video with the train moving.  I finally got it working with the seventh camera.
 
I found out the hard way they left out a lot of info on the camera specs.  With the WiFi on the battery life is about 15 minutes and WiFi off and in record mode the battery life is about 35 minutes, no where near the 90 minutes as advertised.
 
This is my camera car.
 
 
The servo is controlled with a Bluetooth Arduino Nano and the camera is controlled by WiFi from my Laptop and the power is from the rails, DC or DCC.
 
I used a pair of 600mah Lithium cells with a charger so that I can run the camera for long periods.  The servo specs of 180° are not correct either, it can only pan 120°.  I bought 10 Tower SG90 servos and only one would do 180°.
 
I had a blast with my camera car until we had a breakin, the thieves stole my 7” RCA Tablet that was my remote viewfinder for the camera.  I haven’t gotten around to replacing it yet.
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
 
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Posted by oldline1 on Thursday, January 03, 2019 6:54 PM

Thanks, Mel.

Sounds like a fairly hi-tech camera car way beyond my talents.

Sorry about the break in and theft. Makes you long for more intense punishments for the low life folks that make it a habit.

oldline1

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, January 03, 2019 7:34 PM

When I was having problems finding a working camera I bought one like Ed’s above, it works flawlessly.  I had already built the mechanism and had it working great, I didn’t want to have to do a rebuild so I kept trying to get a working MD80S.  I didn’t cry over the bad cameras, you can’t expect much for under $15.
 
I have more in the Depressed flat car than the goodies on it.  I bought everything off eBay including the flatcar for less than $50.  A pair of Arduinos were about $12, the batteries & charger, gears and servo another $10.  OH, I forgot the Tablet that was $40.  It will work without the Tablet but it sure looks good with the 7” viewfinder on my control panel.
 
Until I buy a new tablet all I have to show is my CAD drawing of my control panel.
 
This is my drawing.
 
 
This is the way it looks after the breakin.
 
 
I'm sure glad I had the tablet anchored with Velcro or I would have to replace my control panel.
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by Harrison on Thursday, January 03, 2019 8:12 PM

To create a "loco view" video on our club layout, I just put my small camera sideways on a flatcar, and pushed it along with my hand.

Harrison

Homeschooler living In upstate NY a.k.a Northern NY.

Modeling the D&H in 1978.

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, January 03, 2019 9:48 PM

Like Mel, I tried several cameras as the technology shrunk their respective sizes. I have a nice Sony Handicam that takes fantastic video and it "just" barely fits on a flat car.

Then I got this Contour Roam "Sport" camera. Along the lines of a GoPro but maybe a bit smaller. It also takes very good HD video and as you see, the size is just right to sit in a well car. That's a piece of foam under the camera and a chunk of tungsten for ballast:

 IMG_2456 by Edmund, on Flickr

The Contour camera has a very wide field or view. OK for some things but I would  have liked more of a "normal" view.

This was shot with the Contour Roam camera over four years ago:

 

I don't have a photo of it handy but I have a fourth camera that is quite ideal. I also use it for my dashcam on my car. Called a Mobius Action Cam

 

https://tinyurl.com/y77ggnsw

 

I bought it exactly four years ago and mostly it sits on the dash of my truck through 100° temps to -20°F temps. Still works like a champ. Recording time with a 32 meg card in it is somewhere near 100 hours of video. The size is perfect for model RR use, too. C&O Fan here used to have some discussions about it. Haven't heard from him in a while (TerryInTexas?)

While Mel desires panning and live view, these features aren't anything I would need. If I want a side view I simply angle the camera, make another lap and edit the results in Adobe Premiere.

A fun aspect of the hobby, for sure.

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, January 03, 2019 10:36 PM

I really like the MD80 when it works right.  The camera it’s self works pretty good most of the time.  The WiFi software is somewhat generic to several cameras.  It’s flaky at best.  Several of the MD80 cameras worked pretty good by local control with the buttons on the camera but a no go with the software over the WiFi.  The same software works on the SQ7 camera but more flaky than the MD80.  The SQ7 is a much better camera than the MD80.  The SQ7 is a bit longer and won’t fit in the mount in my depressed flat car, it catches on my tunnel portals.  The MD80 clears the tunnels by a ¼”.
 
I got an order off to Amazon for a new tablet this evening.  That won’t help much because my layout is still not operational.  I need to get with it and finish my control panel overhaul so I can run my trains.  Even if I was 100% healthy I’m looking at three to four weeks of rewiring.  When I tear things up I really tear things up.
 

I’m scheduled for Cataract surgery the first week in February so more delays.  
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, January 03, 2019 11:02 PM

The camera car I posted here is my third.  I have two older wireless pinhole cameras, my second in a dummy Proto E8A and my first in a Athearn PA1 dummy.  The camera in the PA1 had a problem with glitching from the Athearn motor, it was powered from the rails.  The second worked pretty good, it was my first attempt using battery power and a slug of super bright LEDs out the windshield to light up my tunnels.
 
 
 
 
There are six super bright LEDspointed out the windshield, the camera on/off and the windshield LEDs are controlled from the E7B decoder.  Both runoff a pair of 5000mah batteries in series.
 
 
The pinhole camera didn't see the door when it was open.
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
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I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Friday, January 04, 2019 6:09 PM

    I tried using my GoPro camera on a flatcar but the camera is a little too wide for HO scale. It bumps into oncoming trains and also into scenery and buildings which are close to the track. It works ok sitting at an angle for 'out of the side window' shots.

http://trainweb.org/lonewolfsantafe/gopro.jpg

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by BATMAN on Friday, January 04, 2019 8:09 PM

Go big or go home I always say!

  

I used this little baby to film Unstoppable II.

  

An epic where once again Captain Kirk returns to the past and engages a steam locomotive to chase down a runaway train with two escaping Klingons on board.Pirate

I just grabbed a $30.00 cheapo drone at Costco before Christmas to put in the kids Christmas stocking. (every kid needs at least one toy at Christmas)WhistlingLaugh We have been flying it all over the house using the camera on it hooked up to the I-Phones. Super good picture from it. The only complaint is the lens fogs up when you fly it into the bathroom when Meryl is in the shower.Mischief I will be harvesting the camera for the layout once the drone passes its best before date.

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by gmpullman on Friday, January 04, 2019 10:36 PM

BATMAN
The only complaint is the lens fogs up when you fly it into the bathroom when Meryl is in the shower.

Um, In the long run, Brent, that might be a good thing Whistling

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by mlehman on Saturday, January 05, 2019 1:50 AM

My first camera was like the one Ed showed in the second post of the thread. I exprimented by putting a pinhole lens on it, which sort of worked better. Then I thought I could imporve on that - and I didn't. I bought another, but was also getting into drones some, so went a different route by acquiring a DVR diversity receiver (in this case an Eachines LCD5820D). This lets you record wirelessly while viewing the imagery live. To feed it, I acquired a comparably small camera/transmitter, powered it, and mounted it on a HOn3 Blackstone flatcar.

Here's a couple video's I've made on it. Oh yeah, turn your sound down before you hit play. I  haven't yet figured out a mic for it, so all you get for a soundtrack is some nasty white noise.

Cascade Extension, Part I; Silverton To Black Cat Junction from Mike Lehman on Vimeo.

Cascade Extension, Part II: Black Cat Junction To Snowden from Mike Lehman on Vimeo.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Saturday, January 05, 2019 6:22 AM

Brent, those curtains don't do much for the layout. 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, January 05, 2019 11:49 AM

 I have one of the iCar kits from MinuteMan. Only I no longer have the iPhone 4 it was designed for, so now it's kind of useless. And as they made the phone bigger, this isn;t really possible any more. But it did work well when I used it. I still have to edit and upload the video from when a piece of wood in a grade crossing caught part of the car and dumped it all in a river on the layout. It's only been 6 years, I do still have all the raw footage. This one is a captioned trip around the RCT&HS Modular as it was 6 years ago. There are some new sections added since, making it even bigger. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wL8uLUodLFQ&t=1s

                                      --Randy

 


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Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, January 07, 2019 12:40 PM

Years ago, I installed a camera in the front of a subway car.  I put the powered car at the other end of the train and ran the train by pushing rather than pulling.  These are the old Life-Like cars, now made by Walthers.

The camera is one of the old ones that transmits an RF signal directly rather than recording it for later playback.  So, I can watch in real time.   I bought a DCC power supply for it, which also fits in the subway car, so I never need direct access to the car or the camera.

My original intention was to use the camera as the "motorman" in the cab.  Fine, but it's just a short loop, and mostly I just let it run unattended.  I made a couple of videos, but other than that, I don't use the camera at all.

My point is that the camera is a gimmick.  It's a toy, kind of neat, but not something I would invest a lot of time or money on.

Does anyone actually use a camera car routinely, either while running trains or for things like inspections? we

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, January 07, 2019 12:47 PM

MisterBeasley
My point is that the camera is a gimmick.  It's a toy, kind of neat, but not something I would invest a lot of time or money on.

Thats the way I see it too.  Kind of a gimmick, neat toy for a temporary jolly.

 

Does anyone actually use a camera car routinely, either while running trains or for things like inspections? we

Good question.

The icar things seems to be good for layout tours; I enjoyed watching Rob's tour.

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Silly Aspie's, I have NT syndrome

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Posted by RR_Mel on Monday, January 07, 2019 12:59 PM

For the most of it my camera cars are just for kicks and to show off a bit but because we have so many spider mites here I use my E8 camera for looking for webs in my tunnels.  It has six super bright LEDs looking out the windshield that really light up my tunnels.  Now if I could just come up with a spray can car I wouldn’t have to do it by hand.
 
Actually a pair of Hot Shot No Mess Foggers do a real good job on the spider mites.  About every two months I have to seal the garage and do the Hot Shot thing to get rid of our varmints.
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
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I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by mlehman on Monday, January 07, 2019 6:36 PM

MisterBeasley
Does anyone actually use a camera car routinely, either while running trains or for things like inspections? we Add

I bought mine originally specifically for inspection use. Lost the nose door on my PA and hoped I could find it. Never did, but at least I was satisfied I'd done everything I could. I've used it for other. inspections, too. I have more hidden track than I should, but it's often where it's close to other, visible track or my many liftouts where conflicts and intrusions might occur and need resolved where it really shines.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by garya on Monday, January 07, 2019 9:14 PM

Depending on quality, and whether you want to view the picture live on a phone/tablet or record on microd SD, there are lots of options. Moebius makes a decent camera:  Moebius

Then there are the cheapo spy cameras: Spy Cam or https://www.amazon.com/808-Keychain-Camera-HD-Products/dp/B019EJ78NE

The video tends to be in .avi format, so it isn't particularly good, but if you want to inspect your layout and check for problems they may work. I've never used one on a layout, though, but maybe I'll give it a try.

Gary
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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, January 10, 2019 8:48 AM

garya

Depending on quality, and whether you want to view the picture live on a phone/tablet or record on microd SD, there are lots of options. Moebius makes a decent camera:  Moebius

I have a Mobius, and it is terrific. I highly recommend it.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by bing&kathy on Thursday, January 10, 2019 5:11 PM

Mel.

Please don't sweat the cataract surgery too much. I had mine done. both eyes a week apart, and it was nothing. Wound up not even needing glasses afterwards. Had a wonderful surgeon and talked to her all the way through the operations. The worst art was all the eye drops and such before the surgery.

   Hope all goes well for you in February and are back on track for more work on the rails. Take care. do what the Doc. says and God bless you. 

God's Best & Happy Rails to You!

Bing  (RIPRR The Route of the Buzzards)

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Posted by bing&kathy on Thursday, January 10, 2019 5:21 PM

   Our LHS owner told me a good one, maybe bad, depends on your point of view. He was following a train around his layout and flew into the tunnel. Bad news was it didn't fly out. Now it needs rebuilding. I never would have even thought of doing that. Kind of like the roach motel, they check in but never check out.

God's Best & Happy Rails to You!

Bing  (RIPRR The Route of the Buzzards)

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, January 10, 2019 6:44 PM

bing&kathy

Mel.

Please don't sweat the cataract surgery too much. I had mine done. both eyes a week apart, and it was nothing. Wound up not even needing glasses afterwards. Had a wonderful surgeon and talked to her all the way through the operations. The worst art was all the eye drops and such before the surgery.

   Hope all goes well for you in February and are back on track for more work on the rails. Take care. do what the Doc. says and God bless you. 

 

Thanks for the encouragement!  I’ll be a nervous wreck until it’s over.  A long time friend had both eyes done six months ago about a week apart and a couple of days later he had a stroke in his right eye and it’s a goner.
 
My right eye is almost worthless as is so if it works I’ll be back in business on my railroad.  Loosing depth perception is the pits working on tiny stuff.  It’s been getting worse for the last three years but it has been getting much faster for the last few months.  
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 

 

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