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View Full Version : Pencam SD - Anyone still using one?


buzzbomber
03-21-2006, 02:50 PM
My current AP setup is the family Nikon 3200 bolted to the side of my Mini Telemaster - it takes great pictures, but the flight performance is a little nervewracking at 30oz, even with a 1:1 power:weight ratio. So, in the interest of flying out of smaller areas, I recently picked up a pencam 1.3SD for $20 from 2fidelity.com. It is about 1/3 the weight of the nikon and much slimmer(less drag and counterweight required, the better I say). I have only used it on the ground so far, but results in bright light are pretty good for a $20 camera. I know time may have passed this camera by with higher rez. lighter cameras becoming cheaper by the minute, but I am looking forward to getting this thing in the air anyway. I don't have the knowledge to build a switch for the shutter, so this will be servo actuated for now. Is anyone else still using a pencam SD? If so, any tips for me? I imagine that I should probably enable the prop brake and shut down the motor for best pic quality? How about focus? Right now, it seems like when the focus is set at the infinity stop, objects about 10 yards away are razor-sharp, but objects in the distance are a bit soft--is it worth taking the camera apart and attempting to correct this, or is that normal? Any thoughts from the pencam experienced would be helpful.

Foamaholic
03-21-2006, 03:48 PM
I still use one in my GWS Beaver. It's great in a small plane. I can fit it into the battery compartment on the bottom. I aim the camera about 45 degrees down, thereby avoiding getting the prop in the picture, and I get some ground and sky. The only problem is that all the pictures are upside down, but I can easily fix that on the computer. If I want I can aim it more down, or even turn it to the side or the back. I never messed with the shutter, I use a micro servo, and never took it apart. The pictures aren't perfect but good enough for me. I love taking video too. If I wanted I could use a bigger plane and get a better camera, but am happy with the pencam for now.

Flight Risk
03-21-2006, 07:34 PM
I have a Pencam I used once on a gasser, but the plane vibrated and got wiggly pictures. I'm sure it would do better on an electric. A couple things that bother me about the pencam, are that you need to take a picture every 60 sec or it turns off, also I have waisted batteries by not removing them. Why the heck couldn't they put an on=off switch?

RodS

hlc
03-21-2006, 08:42 PM
I still use a PenCam SD from time to time on a Soarstar mounted forward since the plane is a pusher. I also use it on a Slowstick mounted either sideways or downward. Both work fine. I have tried to upload a couple of pictures that I took from the Slowstick on floats.

Hank47
03-21-2006, 10:33 PM
Hi guys,
Those of you interested in aerial photography go to this web site.
http://www.rc-cam.com/camman.htm There you will find lots of info about wiring your pen cam to work from your R/C receiver. This works just fine, no need to take a picture every 60 seconds as the circuit stays active as long as your system in on. Power is taken from your flight pack so you can leave the batteries out of the camera which saves weight. I have been using this setup for several years and get very good results. I use this setup in an electric glider, the only problem is vibration so I shut the motor off when I want to take a picture this takes care of the problem.

BEC
03-22-2006, 01:14 AM
I am still using one (have two) as I haven't gotten anything better yet (am shopping). I love the light weight, especially as mine are modified for an electronic trigger and are powered via the USB bus in the camera, so no AAA batteries.

In bright light it gives nice results. On overcast days, not so good.

I normally shut the motor down while shooting, yes.

Do some searching in old threads on RC Groups for the lowdown on focusing them.

Steve Nolan (eBird)
03-24-2006, 04:58 AM
Pencams are great. Sure, not the pixel depth of the CCD digicams we're all using now, but can't beat the light weight. Also gets rid of the "pucker factor" while you're flying. :)

Absolutely worth taking the cover off to get better focus. It's easy and many cams do need some tweaking because the focus ring can't be turned far enough to get infinity focus.

Here's a pencam shot I took a couple years back:

buzzbomber
03-24-2006, 02:41 PM
Wow, Steve--that's a really nice shot; hard to believe it came from a pencam. I'm hoping to fly the camera with a servo for shutter control this weekend, and if I'm mostly happy with the results, I'll order a flysoft switch and fine-tune the focus when it's apart to install the switch.

Randy Due
03-26-2006, 03:25 AM
I agree 100% that it's worth taking apart to adjust focus. If you have an old servo layng around, you can also make a shutter switch using the guts from it. I don't have the plans for it but I think a search in RC groups will turn them up. That's waht I did when I was using the pencam and also pocketcam X (another good cheap cam). I doubt that it works as good as a pre-built add on switch, but functional.

Randy

david212
11-12-2006, 11:53 PM
Hi guys,
Those of you interested in aerial photography go to this web site.
http://www.rc-cam.com/camman.htm There you will find lots of info about wiring your pen cam to work from your R/C receiver. This works just fine, no need to take a picture every 60 seconds as the circuit stays active as long as your system in on. Power is taken from your flight pack so you can leave the batteries out of the camera which saves weight. I have been using this setup for several years and get very good results. I use this setup in an electric glider, the only problem is vibration so I shut the motor off when I want to take a picture this takes care of the problem.

hi, i have a really small micro panther plane and i was wondering if there is a camera that is small enough to fit on this plane. it weighs 800 grams, the Wing Span is:30cm
the Length is:29.5cm

Foamaholic
11-13-2006, 12:26 AM
How about an edvr 5 in 1, weighs .8 oz. Takes around 6 minutes of 640-480 30 fps video.
Might be able to get one here.
www.gorillabobsshack.com (http://www.gorillabobsshack.com/)

quailbird
11-15-2006, 03:06 AM
I now have several other, nicer camera's but my first camera was a Nikon 3700 and I broke it in a bad crash. I was so afraid to take a camera up until I found the Aiptek pen camera for $9.00 (refurbished). It took such great pictures that I bought 4 more at that price just for back ups. I now have become a much better flyer and will take up my better camera's, but my heart has a warm place for the little camera. Here is a picture taken by one of my Aipteks.

buzzbomber
11-17-2006, 03:37 PM
Hey, that kinda resembles my main photo flying area. I like to fly from the ballfield and running track at the school around the corner from my house, as I can usually get some good shots of downtown and the surrounding areas if the light is right--I'll have to dig up some of the pencam shots when I get home.

herk_1
11-20-2006, 11:03 PM
Hi all,

I just ordered a couple of Pencam SD's with the 128 meg cards. One question: why do people go to the trouble of rigging a way to snap photos?...can't you just put the camera in video mode and hit the shutter button once before the flight and it will keep shooting at its video frame rate continuously for several minutes (if you have the 128 meg card)?? Or is it an issue of lower picture quality in that mode (640x480 if I understand correctly)?

quailbird
11-20-2006, 11:18 PM
The little Aiptek takes good pictures but the video is clear but jerky. It's almost like a very fast slide show. So the only way to take pictures is to glue a very small servo so you can trigger the shutter. Also, it is very important that you re-focus each camera. It is easy, but needs to be done. I have 5, and everyone needed to be re-focused. If you don't know how, let me know and I will walk you through it.

herk_1
11-20-2006, 11:57 PM
A slideshow sounds OK to me, since with any movie-editing software (such as Windows Movie Maker), I can extract any frame from that video as a still photo. So unless the quality of those individual video frames is not as good as a picture shot as a single still photo, I still don't understand the purpose of triggering pictures manually, one at a time.

Sure I could use help with the focusing, or any other quirks of the Pencam SD...thanks for the offer. Also, any guesses as to whether a Firebird Commander 2 will be able to lift it? I understand that it weights about 2.6 ounces with the 2 AA batteries (I'm definitely not going to hack into my plane's electrics to power it!).

quailbird
11-21-2006, 12:48 AM
A lot of guys use that plane. The Aiptek is so light you won't even know it's on there. I'll send a PM for the re-focus.

radioflyer75
12-26-2006, 05:22 PM
What's the biggest SD card that can be put in the aiptek pencam? I found one that has a 128mb card with it, and it says that's the biggest card it can support. But I found some SD cards that are 512mb and says they are for the aiptek pencam.

Sparky Paul
12-26-2006, 06:27 PM
The video rate with the SD is 7 frames per second.
The image quality is pretty good.
I mounted an SD on top of one of my gliders to see if the spoiler floated up in flight..
And a frame from a video of one of my sweeties..

quailbird
12-26-2006, 11:54 PM
I bought several refurbished ones and I stuck a 1 gig in one and it worked fine. My nephew has one and his wouldn't work with a one gig. I think he was able to use a 256 though. If anyone needs to know how to refocus the Aiptek 1.3 with SD contact me at carl@richhill.net. I learned from someone else but I'll be glad to pass the information on!

quailbird
12-27-2006, 02:51 AM
How to re-focus the Aiptek 1.3 SD camera

First thing open the camera up and you'll find two little "****" or stops that only lets you move the camera lens from long distance to macro. Using a sharp exacto slice those **** off. (Please be careful) Put the back on again. Take a fine sharpie and put dots around the lens at 1/8" intervals starting at macro and going all the way around to macro.
Next, go outside on a clear and sunny day and point the camera at a far away scene or object. Take a picture at each dot starting at the macro and going all the way around, always at the same object.
Next, go inside and put your SD card in your card reader and bring up the pictures. Starting at the first one count to the sharpest one and remember which dot it was associated with. Delete all the pictures.
Next, put new dots in between the other dots. (From the clearest dot, three to the right, and three to the left)
Now go back out side and take a picture at each dot starting with the lowest dot on the left and go to the last dot on the right of the (one original dot).
Now go back inside and bring up the pictures only this time right click on each picture and hit "properties" and read the size. The picture with the highest MP's will be the clearest picture for AP. Set your lens there and put a drop of hot glue on each side of the lens to keep it from moving.
Happy picture taking!

CarreraGTSCS
12-27-2006, 03:52 AM
I have a 512 card in mine and it works great. I mount it on a Slow Stick below the radio gear aimed at about 45 deg to avoid seeing the prop. It takes great video if you keep the flying very smooth and the turns large and sweeping. It's a nice camera for the price. Actually it's a great camera for the price.

quailbird
01-06-2007, 07:41 AM
Added pictures!