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TB15,

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: https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...35#72805549098596735

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

Rich,

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.

So first off Professor Chaos did a WAYYYYYY better job than I did so I am not trying to even compare that system to mine.

I work in the CCTV industry and know that it is extremely difficult, and borderline impossible, to get a LIVE 1080P stream without any lag.

I first designed this system using a Raspberry Pi Zero and the 8MP camera @ 1080P and the delay to my tablet was almost 3-5 seconds at times. I have a Linksys MU-MIMO router in the next room over from my layout so I know it is not my WiFi.

I have seen $500+ AXIS cameras hardwired to a switch give similar lag, its part of the encoding/decoding process and bad WiFi can make the issue even worse. With that said, I decided to go for good-ole analog 960H and a cheap FPV system to cure my latency issues.

Here is what I designed:

IMG_20190122_092455IMG_20190122_092555IMG_20190122_092604IMG_20190122_092620IMG_20190122_092627

I still need to wire the leads to the powered trucks I added to the Husky Stack. I had not thought about the loss of power so I didn't add a huge Capacitor but Prof. Chaos does make a great point and if I see it becomes an issue I will address it as he did with a super cap.

My plan is to wire the receiver to my homes CCTV system (its HD-Over Coax/Analog compatible) and Live View it on the Display/Phone APP.

I think so far in parts I am less that $35 in as I asked the manufacture of the camera for a "DEMO UNIT" lol (Perks of my job) and I had the powered trucks from an old Caboose I picked up at a garage sale.

I will post a video when I finally finish this project up.

P.s. I have seen these recently on eBay and Amazon, might also be another option:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07G...909791_t3_B0762MB2TD

Thanks!

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Professor Chaos posted:

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.

I a few years back produced a 5.8GHz cam system for our Kids run trains group. I posed my adventure here: https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...driving-a-real-train
This has been updated to now be a track powered version and operates quite well.

Just please keep in mind that ANY usage of drone FPV equipment requires you to hold a HAM Technician license. Many places now will NOT sell you the gear if they find out you are in the US. Apparently many are not getting the FCC certification and the companies are being fined for distribution.

Wifi based systems seem the way to go until the FCC puts the kibosh on that too.

Wow.. lots of info. Got tied up at work this week.  I have a mobius mini 1080 that records to SD card. I use it on a car for various shots. I do not have go pro, or any apple products.

I think my TV still has at least one composite cable input. I bought an Ebay kit many years ago, and it was useless.  Thought stuff would plug into an HDMI port. Doesn't have to be 1080..

But since I will not have clear line of sight  on r/x to t/x at all times.. I would need to run multiple antennae for clean signal, or something lower than the 5.8ghz... My furthest point from base would be 20ft, and 2 walls.

 

 

 

Just a heads up, the RX units tend to run a non-spec signal. I have an older plasma tv that doesnt seem to care about the composite, but some of the newer tv's I connect to seem to have a problem.

Again, I would like to advise everyone that the 5.8GHz Rx/Tx kits are NOT FCC certified.

For the sake of information:

I have a 25mW and 650mW units. I find the 650mW punches through a lot of scenery, but because it is analog it bounces and reflects everywhere. 5.8GHz is more likely to reflect off a surface than to penetrate. If you have the option, use a lower wattage first. 

I ran into some of the same problems with the Receivers not working on some TV's. Some would scramble the signal, others would work but the image seemed slightly distorted. My best luck as been with an old school 32" CRT (it was one of the last CRT's that you could buy) that my brother gave me.

For public displays, I am using a converter that will convert composite & SVHS to VGA. This converter is then feed to a Tripp-Lite VGA four way splitter that feeds up to four computer screens of my choice.

H1000 posted:

I ran into some of the same problems with the Receivers not working on some TV's. Some would scramble the signal, others would work but the image seemed slightly distorted. My best luck as been with an old school 32" CRT (it was one of the last CRT's that you could buy) that my brother gave me.

For public displays, I am using a converter that will convert composite & SVHS to VGA. This converter is then feed to a Tripp-Lite VGA four way splitter that feeds up to four computer screens of my choice.

You can find Composite to HDMI converters all over ebay. I remembered I used one of these to get around the incompatibility for my Atari 2600 (*cough*).

A second option is using an older PC LCD Screen. Composite/S-Video to VGA adapters are also quite reliable but more expensive.

Atari 2600 (*cough*) 

I work in IT and older 19 & 20 inch 4:3 screens surround me (Everyone wants 24 inch wide screens now), some even have a composite port right on them. Those worked okay with mixed results. I wanted to be able to split the image to multiple locations because one screen was getting too crowded. The VGA adapter was around $20 online and the Tripp-Lite splitter was bought at online auction used for about the same. It works pretty good, but I haven't tried it with a wide screen monitor yet. It should work but most people don't like having their normal body shape at 4:3 stretched to 16:9 on screen...

 

H1000,

Your video you recorded from your unit was practically flawless on the other thread. I've switched to higher power, diversity receivers, better antenna, and even isolated power. Mine looks like I'm trying to induce a seizure.

At 600mW, the image discolors and rolls horribly in a relatively open layout. Trying to figure out the difference between your setup and mine.

Since that I post I've upgraded the camera and now use a Foxeer camera, it gives slightly better clarity with better light to dark transition response. it also features and OSD system that can display other information like voltage and time.

The transmitter board is also by Foxeer, a TM25 Switcher. It allows me to choose between 25 / 200 / 600 mw broadcast power.  I've only used the 25 mw setting as I have found that more than sufficient for distances up to 100 feet.  I dumped the cheesy stick antenna almost immediately and went to omni direction antennas which make a huge difference in reception quality.

I've added another receiver and both have worked very well.  The second receiver (not pictured in my post) has an OLED display that indicated the Channel, voltage input, and signal reception strength. Neither are diversity receivers. 

I'll upload some new photos of the setup later tonight.

 

RJR posted:

While slightly off subject, I could use some stationary cameras around the layout to depict areas not quite visible, like to see if my turntable's tracks are perfectly aligned where I can't see them through the loco.

Here is a system that I currently use, it supports up to four cameras. This one has outdoor cameras but smaller indoor models are also available. The video quality is okay when in 4 screen mode but clearer in single screen mode. The out door cameras have night vision which may be useful if you run your trains in the dark.  The monitor is rechargeable and portable or it can be mounted stationary and includes a kickstand.  Latency is usually about 2 to three seconds which is good for your purposes but not great for live video. Oh, it also has a video out port so the small display can be output to a much larger display with a composite video in port.

Uniden camera

Also, many of the cheapo wifi camera systems available from Amazon will also work. They'll come with a nice app that will allow you to monitor a single feed (some will allow multiple feeds) at a time.  They might be a little harder to setup but they are cheap, usually anywhere from $20 to $50 per camera.

Last edited by H1000
H1000 posted:

650 mW is a lot of power! My Foxeer unit can be switched between 25 / 200 / 600 mW. I find that 25 mW is more than enough for the short distances that my TX has to reach my RX.

I went with the 650mW because it had a better camera, but realized afterwards that the two camera's I have are not compatible with each other.

Also the logic behind the 650mW is that dealing with 5.8GHz WiFi equipment at work, it has poor penetration of walls. After two walls and only 45ft of distance, the 5.8GHz drops in bandwidth dramatically compared to the same equipment running 2.4GHz.

TheDude23112 posted:
Big_Boy_4005 posted:

I shoot all my videos with a GoPro mounted to a special car. You can monitor and control the recording from a phone or tablet.

I haven't tried my theater car yet, but I don't think the picture quality will beat the GoPro. The cabooses will be the same.

Which gopro, please?

 

This video was shot with a Hero5. Earlier versions were shot with a Hero2.

Stone Rhino,

I mention earlier that I had purchased a newer receiver that gives me more detail about my connection, that unit is the Quanum 5.8GHz Auto Scan (non Diversity model) picture below. It gives me a signal strength readout in the top left corner of the OLED display which is very handy.

I did some testing with my FPV system this evening at different power levels. I place the FPV car about 75 feet from my receiver. The signal needed to pass through the floor, two walls and a closet door. Here were my signal readout for each power level along with what I observed on the screen.

25 mW - Signal was 25% - 30% - image was slightly better than poor with vertical white lines being fairly noticable and some static.

200 mW - Signal increased to 30% - 40% - image didn't improve much from the previous setting, fewer lines but the same amount static.

600 mW - Signal improved to 55% - 60% - Image improved greatly, an occasional white lines and slight static but the image is good quality.

I also did test at 600 mw in close proximity to the receiver (about 6 feet) and the image was crystal clear with a signal at 79%. Only when I placed the FPV car within 2 feet or less from receiver did the image begin to go crazy.

In my normal operating conditions I run at 25 mW and the receiver is usually no further than 45 feet away at any time with the occasional scenery obstruction. The signal ranges from 68% - 77% during these sessions.

While I do agree that 5.8 GHz doesn't have the penetrating power of lower frequencies, an unit running at 25 mW still has a fair amount of power to get the job done. Consider this, my home WiFi router has a 5.8 GHz transceiver that operates at 75 mW and it has more than enough power to reach about 125 feet just outside of my garage door when it is closed. Two walls may present an issue, but a 200 mW transmitter should be able to get the job done quite well.

A couple more ideas. Depending on the placement of your receiver, if the camera unit is always going to be operating on one side (the receiver is not centrally located to your layout), you may want to consider a directional dish antenna. Or placing the receiver at the most central location of where the camers car will operate and running a long video cable back to your screen (this maybe less than idea in most cases though).

I hope you get it working, I really want see a nice video of that engineer view!

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Last edited by H1000

So here is our layout. The first is via drone before the event started. It had to be grounded before customers came in for safety concerns.

Yes! Those are LCCA Modulars.

IMG_0753

The display you see just to the left of the yellow and black storage bin, is the view.

IMG_0351

A slightly less busy view of the screen. On most occasions, it behaves quite nicely.

VCJJ4056

The equipment is attached to the back of the screen. Running a longer video cable is probably a better idea but location of power is not to my advantage. These large, open events have much better signals than say a meeting/community room.

I will see about some video of its operation.

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