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Today I put my iPhone in a gondola car and activated the camera.  The floor above my layout has a TV equipped with Apple TV's box.  The iPhone was set up to using the mirroring  feature that this set top device supports.  Using my Legacy controller, and while sitting on my couch, I ran the train.  Results were pretty impressive.  But a few times the video that showed up on my TV lagged a little as my train went around the layout downstairs.  Apple TV,  I believe uses my home wifi network to make this happen.  But I am not really sure how it works.  Bluetooth maybe ???

Anyone flying a drone can see real time video on their tablet or phone!!! 

I see that Lionel is going to offer a rear facing WIFI TV setup in an executive car.  On train TV cameras really delight kids coming to see my layout so I am always looking to make improvements  in picture quality.  Any comments on this would be appreciated.  How about using some of the small cameras for home security, baby monitors, etc with our trains using wifi???   Phil

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This is my home-brew camera car.

After buying some cheap $20 wireless camera and receivers on eBay over the last few years, I finally decided to invest a little more time and $$ into a camera car. I went with equipment typically found on drones used for FPV.  I love the picture quality that Digital wireless camera can output, but absolutely can't stand the Lag & Latency they have.  Also when the signal dropped the image didn't just get a little fuzzy, it was gone all together.  My requirement is a real time image with as little latency as possible and found the using an analog FPV camera fit the bill nicely.

Below are a couple of pictures of my camera car which has been built and rebuilt several times over the last 5 years.  I hope this is the last time I have to rebuild this thing and this version is in it for the long haul. 

Right away I know what a lot of people are thinking, why are you using batteries!?!! Two reasons:
1) Consistent, clean power without fluctuation or any possible interference to the TMCC or DCS signal. The car can also be placed off track to grab stationary shots without any need for track power.
2) WEIGHT!!! I found that pushing the car without weight caused frequent derailments on curves and switches. Also, the Weight keeps this thing well grounded and it doesn't bounce around a lot, the image stays pretty stable.

I also wanted the camera to turn with the curves so I rigged the mount to the truck to allow it to turn with the truck. When the camera is mounted stationary to the flat car, you tend to get dizzy when the track goes in and out of the picture.  Now the center rail stays in the center of the screen... for the most part.

I can post video of the car in operation if you want or a parts list if anyone is interested.IMG_20170511_220432IMG_20170511_220805


Images (2)
  • IMG_20170511_220432
  • IMG_20170511_220805


Yes my receiver connects directly to a TV via a Composite video cable This is not a FULL HD signal, but when conversing with some drone aviators, they have mentioned that my camera is 700TVL which close to a 720 HD output.  Still this signal is analog and doesn't have the same clarity that a digital signal offer, but HD wasn't my goal with this project.

The transmitter and receiver run in the 5.8GHz band and are dedicated to each other. No Wi-FI, no digital signal processors, very little latency in the image and I get 30 frames per second for a nice fluid video output.  One drawback is fuzzy output when the signal is degraded or encounters interference.

Below is a picture of my receiver, nothing too special and there are much better options out there with built in DVR if you want one.

Below, also is a video of the camera car in action. My phone doesn't quite do the video quality the justice it deserves but I want to show how fluid the video is without any frame rate loss. At the end, I have crude method to show the minimal amount of latency this system has.  Again, the video quality on the screen is better than shown in this video clip, and "4K SUHD" output isn't my objective here. 

This is my (small) home layout (the boss won't let me take out any walls or make holes for tunnels). The camera car is running on O-42 track and the center rail stays pretty close to the middle of the screen. 

I too am curious about Lionel's Wi-Fi video. I did pose the question to Dave Olsen in another thread about the frame rate and latency of the video. If memory serves me, he said the frame rate was almost 30 FPS and the latency was pretty low. He showed a video of the camera in operation, but there is no way to determine the latency from the video he posted. The Framerate looked pretty good for what he was doing, but his video didn't have any high speed operations going on either.


Images (1)
  • IMG_20170512_200635: 5.8GHz FPV Reciever
Videos (1)
Last edited by H1000

I have had a some requests about the camera equipment used in this project. 

The camera is an AOMWAY WDR 700 TVL with a 2.8mm Wide angle IR Blocked lens
I later changed the Lens to a FOXEER 2.5mm Wide angle IR Blocked lens

The transmitter is a FOXEER TM25 Switcher which allows for three power out put settings (25mw, 200mw & 600mw)
        Originally, I used the included AOMWAY 200mw transmitter included with the camera, which produces slightly better video quality.
        It was piggy-back mounted to the camera and generated so much heat that it was causing the CMOS in the camera to distort the image.
        Removing it from the camera also allow for the FOXEER transmitter to mounted out of sight and gave a cleaner look to the project.

I also used a FOXEER 5.8 GHZ circular polarized antenna in place of the include "stick" antenna.

The video receiver is a BOSCAM RX5822. This is pretty basic unit and does a decent job. There are much better units that allow for diversity antennas and also have built-in DVR that allow for saving the video to and SD card.  I also used a generic circular polarized 5.8 GHz antenna in place of the included "stick" antenna.

I am using (8) Panasonic ENELOOP Pro batteries that have a 2450 mah rating and they last about 12 - 14 hours between charges when the FOXEER transmitter is set to 25mw output.  I have found that 200 mw is overkill when your camera really never goes beyond 100 ft from the video receiver. As I mentioned in the earlier post the batteries add weight, the whole unit weighs in at just under 1 pound with these batteries.

Lastly, I had few people notice that my image was on a Dell computer monitor which they didn't think had a composite input connector. They were exact;y right as I am using a generic Composite to VGA converter box I picked off of eBay for not a lot money. I received 4 of these 15" Dell monitors for free and I'm testing out a VGA splitter from Trippite to send the video signal to 4 screens at the same time for the club layout. 

Any and all other questions, comments or suggestions are welcome!

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