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A few thoughts:

Most wifi cameras transmit to a phone/tablet, etc. so the HDMI hookup is the hard part. 

Does your TV also have a composite input? If so, there are lots of radio transmitting cameras (not necessarily wifi) that have a receiver that has a composite video output.

If it has to be HDMI, you can get a composite-to-HDMI converter for under $25 (amazon).

If you can live without "live" video, you can also get lots of small, inexpensive video cameras that take a microSD card, and will record a much better (in most cases ) video that radio transmitting cameras... why?... our layouts have lots of noise generating circuits in the area.  Recorded video will be a perfect picture (with sound), but will not be live!

Just a few cents' worth!

This is probably the most expensive option, but if you have an Apple device and an Apple TV, you could buy a GoPro (the 1080p HD Hero3s is about $115 or thereabouts nowadays), and stream the camera feed to your TV using Airplay Mirroring and the GoPro app (using the camera's built-in Wifi). Aside from expense and a small degree of complexity, the only downside is that the GoPro has about a 2-3 second lag in showing the live feed. Probably not worth it, unless you already have the Apple TV and want to use the GoPro in other applications. 

Last edited by pittsburghrailfan

Recording HD video and displaying a live HD feed on a nearby screen are at different ends of the complexity spectrum. As GRJ posted earlier, there are plenty of compact devices that do a great job of recording an HD video to an SD card for an affordable price.

Broadcasting a "reliable" full frame HD image will prove to be a more expensive venture. Lionel's new theater care will do about 20 FPS with an excellent Wi-Fi signal. That FPS drops off quickly as the signal drops and minor freeze frames with image blemishes also occur. Generally, the car works perfectly within 30 feet of the device that receives the signal. 

Also as mentioned above, broadcasting that to a large TV also becomes a hurdle.  HD broadcasts take considerable data bandwidth, and for an iPad to receive one HD broadcast and then re-transmit it to another HD display would probable produce less than desirable results. Lionel also has software that can be installed on a PC which would be the better way to rebroadcast for their camera to a large TV display. 

I have a scratch built wireless FPV analog camera car that I built using widely available drone equipment:

I have also tried many of the cheapo wifi backup camera systems that are used as and add for your car with mediocre results. The Wi-Fi video broadcast abilities of the go-pro is also underwhelming.


When it comes to live HD broadcast on a TV it boils down to these three features, but you can only pick two:

1) Great Frames per second (FPS) with low latency
2) Reliable & easy to use / setup
3) Affordable

Last edited by H1000


My home brew camera system that I posted a link to above is an FPV designed for use on drone. A high definition FPV system (that is affordable) has yet to be made for use on a drones (which makes it small enough for use in O gauge).

I have since upgraded the camera on that camera car to respond better in low light situations. The newer camera is rated for 700 TVL which is close to a 720p feed. The video I shot later in that thread is done in reduced resolution to reduce the upload size of the video. The goal was to demonstrate the low latency, and minimal amount video blemishes that occur during operation, not the clarity of video feed.

My stumbling block is a quality camera that can do WiFi, the computer and network is covered.

I have the heavy duty computing covered for rebroadcast, my computer is next to the train layout.  I also have really strong WiFi as I'm sitting next to the router and WiFi AP as well.  My computer is hard-wired to the network, but here's the WiFi speed for the phone.

The computer certainly shouldn't have any bandwidth issues.


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Another idea to consider (although slightly off this thread's track) is to set up stationary video feeds at various locations around the layout.

At our club (BMRS in Stratford Ct), we are installing a 4 camera system the feeds a 55" TV.  So far we only have 1 camera set up but will be adding 3 more soon.  We will put them at high action locations on the layout.

We're using (under $20) 12VDC car backup cameras (1080p) and they will connect to an under $100 video switcher that allows us to set an auto rotation with the cameras... like a surveillance system.  So visitors get to see trains coming and going  at different locations around the layout.  Even with one camera, we've received lots of positive comments on the great picture on the big screen.  It's only using composite video wiring, but the quality is very clear with the cameras we are using.

I have a few cameras on my home layout with a TV mounted on the wall directly behind the layout.  Everyone loves to see a train headed straight for them, only to turn at the last minute!

Here's a project that I just completed:  my own version of the upcoming Lionel caboose camera. I use a camera system designed for FPV drones, the Runcam Split 2s.

The neat thing about the Runcam Split is it simultaneously transmits a live tv signal and records HD on an SD card. The live feed isn't HD, but looks pretty good.  I watch it with a pair of FPV goggles, so you get live caboose virtual reality!  You can see a sample of the recorded video here.

The system is entirely self-contained and track powered. I used a 1F supercapacitor and boost regulator for the power supply.  It can sustain the system for 3 or 4 seconds, so momentary interruptions in track power are no problem.

You can configure and control the RunCam over wifi with a dedicated app, although downloading the videos can take quite some time.



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Last edited by Professor Chaos

The RunCam Split was by far the best wi-fi system that I had tried. The FPS was good, and the system was able to compensate well between light and dark.  The drawbacks that I found were the 480p live image and the difficulty you have getting that live image from your tablet to a large TV. The live image from the RunCam is designed for calibrating the image vs providing a 1080p live feed. The live feed from the app has a slight delay (latency) but it's better than any other wifi camera I've seen yet. Again it's designed for drone use which makes it small, lightweight and also ideal for O Gauge. I just wish the WI-fi live feed would be a higher resolution than 480p.

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