Question about WIFI cameras on trains

I realize that Lionel has released a caboose and soon will be shipping a theater car featuring a wifi camera camera for streaming using their app.  Some time ago I tried putting my iPhone in a gondola car, linking it to Apple TV, and and running a train around my layout.  I got pretty decent streaming quality, but also had some one to three second gaps and a few short freezes in the images coming to my TV.  Do those of you running the cabooses have any issues like this? Are any of you using streaming to a TV to watch what your train sees?  I will be interested in any comments.  Phil

Original Post

When I flew radio control airplanes it was common to install miniature cameras with transmitters to first person view goggles. These miniature cameras could be installed in the cab of a locomotive to give the view of the engineer. Or in the rear window of the caboose to see where you have been. I have not done it yet in a train but intend to when I get my layout built. I still fly quad copters with first person view though. It's a trip. With image stabilization and even gyros on the camera mount you would get a pretty good image. 

Phil,

I think we have conversed in other threads. I haven't found an HD WiFi camera system that doesn't sacrifice frame rate and/or the pauses you experienced.

Many more affordable systems with operate at an acceptable 24 FPS with a few seconds of latency but when the signal dropped even slightly, the image would freeze and it was anywhere 2 to 6 seconds before the live image would resume. I did come across a system that will do a live HD image with near zero latency and could do this at 30+ FPS. It was over $1,000 in cost and had no way of fitting in an O Gauge model.

It comes down to a simple list of features when considering a live wireless camera.
But you can only pick two:
1) Affordable
2) HD Image output without static
3) Excellent Frame rate with low latency & no choppy output

H1000

A camera has dedicated electronics for catching and streaming video, an iPhone, on the other hand, does not have a dedicated chip for its camera so it needs to use its central processing unit (CPU) and the graphics processing unit (GPU) to handle the camera, and a ton of other tasks, that is why it may be choppy. Another factor could be your wireless network, there are different frequencies you can set for your router to try and eliminate the lag and choppiness but even that might not solve the problem. 

Ever since drones have become more popular small cameras that deliver good quality fps and great video quality have become cheaper and more easily available here is an example of a good, small camera: firecam @ $309.95.  

Here is the approximate size (look at the website ^^ if you want exact dimensions) : 

Firecam

Here is how it looks when enlarged: 

This tiny camera is extremely small and is about as big as a finger, and can definitely fit in most o gauge and even some ho gauge engines. The price is a bot high on this camera since it is 4k but there are many other decent options right now for $50 +.

Not only is a good camera needed to eliminate lag, a good transmitter and a good WiFi connection is crucial. of course you can't change that with an iPhone (unless you know what you are doing), but you definitely can get great video quality on a model train with today's tech. 

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Thanks gentlemen for your kind replies.  

Here is a little more background information.  For many years I have had two TV's mounted on my train room ceiling.  I have a small TV camera in the engine and in the observation car that show what both the engineer and a rear facing passenger would see from a moving train.  The signal from each camera goes to a receiver that is wired to each of the TV's.  This set up has always been a hit; especially with the kids who come to see my layout.  The picture quality in this set up has been pretty good but with some rolling and static here and there.  So I am always looking for improvement and this is why I tried the experiment with my I phone that I mention in my original post.  

I  want my output to somehow show up on a regular TV screen.  And I was able to do this using an iPhone and Apple TV in the same room but with the drop out and freeze problems I noted.  Was this problem caused by the Apple TV interface or my iPhone not having the right kind of camera?   What I am trying to learn here is whether the new Lionel wifi system for cameras (caboose and theater car)  can be set up to stream onto a TV screen without drop out and freeze.   I prefer not to be limited to streaming only onto  a tablet or computer.  

Ameen,

I've seen these firecam's and they won't do nearly what we want them to do for live wireless HD video.

First thing they advertise is the device as 4K but the resolution specs are 1080p up to 60 fps. It doesn't really do 4K.
The device has a WiFi video preview mode. This is low def video output geared to assist you with getting the camera to focus on the image you want. Ultimately this camera is made to record HD video locally to an SD card, not broadcast it wirelessly to an HD display. The included app merely assists the user with starting & stopping the recording among other things but won't stream real time HD video.

If you want a cheaper version, buy the RUNCAM 2 or the RUNCAM mini Split. It is an OEM style package which is much more adaptable for O Gauge use has all of the same features as this camera for just under a $100.  These are pretty popular among the drone crowd, but again the FPV video preview is not HD. It does however record very nice video to an SD card mounted on the camera.

What a lot of this boils down to is that WiFi is not the answer for achieving wireless HD video to a HDTV.  The protocols used in WiFi also have overhead and a lot of digital encapsulation of the information being sent needs to occur which causes more latency. WiFi in itself is many of the problems with stuttering images, signal loss, and a less than desirable HD experience.

High quality wireless HD Video  is not achieved cheaply, the cheap products will shine though and eventually disappoint. Dumping WiFi for dedicated HD Transmitters and Receivers (preferably operating in the 5.8 GHz spectrum) is the first expensive step.

If you want real time video output with zero latency at an affordable price, you're pretty much stuck going analog with dedicated transmitters & receivers and living without HD. You can get some nice 700TVL drone FPV equipment that will get you close to 720p.

H1000

Phil, I think I've shown you this before. This is a link to my homemade camera car with some preview video: https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...35#72805549098596735

The car has since gone through some updates with a better camera made by Foxeer. I built this for under a $100 and the live image is pretty good. the key with analog video is having good quality antennas on the transmitters and receivers.

H1000

phil klopp posted:

Thanks gentlemen for your kind replies.  

Your welcome!

I  want my output to somehow show up on a regular TV screen.  And I was able to do this using an iPhone and Apple TV in the same room but with the drop out and freeze problems I noted.

See below.

Was this problem caused by the Apple TV interface or my iPhone not having the right kind of camera?  

Neither, the Iphone was just not designed for "model railroad" use. Your Iphone has the right camera for what it was designed for which is normal photography. 

What I am trying to learn here is whether the new Lionel wifi system for cameras (caboose and theater car)  can be set up to stream onto a TV screen without drop out and freeze.

You can do that with the Lionel system, you would just need to hook up your tv to your computer like any other monitor, that is if you have a tv with HDMI. The real question is will the Lionel system not have any glithches?

  I prefer not to be limited to streaming only onto  a tablet or computer.  

Thanks again for replies.  As noted earlier I already have had  two "pretty good"  analog cameras in use.  And the cause of the picture fluttering I have been putting up is my train rooms unusual contours that make it difficult to get the antenna exactly in the right place.  Hence my enthusiasm when I saw that Lionel is coming out with Wifi camera equipment.  Are any readers of this post using the caboose camera?  How does it work for you?  What do you use to view the video?  Is anyone using a regular television for viewing?  If you are watching on a TV, how are you getting the video to the TV?  Phil

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