Hong Kong based Christian Listl and Conrad Electronics have created a stabilized HD camera in a box solution that monitors some flight parameters and the position at which images are taken onboard. They plan real time HD transmission and gyro stabilization at a later date.
Its a tidy,quick and light way to add GPS referenced images to UAS projects.
sUAS News asked Christian about the RCLogger
Q: What made you decide to design a device that stores video and position data in one box. Who is your device targeted at?
A: Well, its a very long story and started way back in 2008. Being a RC pilot myself and not satisfied with what the internet has to offer to the RC community, the basic idea
was to create a community for RC enthusiasts to be able to share what we love most about our common hobby. There are many web portals out there for hiking, biking to just name two, where users can share hiking tracks, bike routes and others allowing to share GPS and image data (e.g. GPSed.Com).
This triggered the whole idea, why not also bring the data-logging and gps technology closer to the RC community allowing to share the hobby experience on-line.
This requires us to develop a complete new product family which is based around a HD camera solution which meets the specific requirements for, lets say, an RC helicopter pilot. It should be small, very robust, but most importantly able to take care of vibrations caused by the RC model plane or helicopter. But it should stay affordable and allow easy additional data collection via quick and simple module based add-on’s which can be connected to the main unit quickly and easily without needing to engage in rocket science.
Not all RC hobby enthusiasts are engineers, hence we wanted to keep is technically as simple as possible to use and operate
Is the camera truly HD, what are its specs?
A: Yes, the video frame size is 1280×720 pixel without the aid of interpolarization by software which makes it a HD camera. The still image frame size is 1600 x 1200 pixel. The frame rate is 25 fps and video is recorded in MPEG4 format and saved as .AVI file onto an SD card. Besides recording video the camera is capable of taking still images fully automatic or by manual triggering through the RC’s receiver.
The unit can auto trigger at an minimum interval of 2 seconds. The user can choose and set the trigger interval by PC software setting. The camera will record video or still image and store synchronized telemetric data depending on which additional modules are attached to the main unit. This makes it very easier for the user to analyze the data via the included RC Logger Viewer PC software.
There is no need to spend valuable time to manually synchronize the various data collected. This is a new approach which has not been done in the past. In terms of sensor accuracy we do not compromise and aim to measure accurately. We had to find a compromise between weight, size, robustness, features and price which I believe we did.
What are you planning next?
A: We have already launched a phase II development which will be the “RC Logger LC”. It will have the camera removed and will be a pure logging solution whereby the
data can be transferred in real-time to an ground station via an interference free 2.4 GHz RF-Module. Phase I sensor modules are fully compatible with the phase II system. The plan is to release this solution still within 2010. It is aimed at those users who do not need video / still image capturing but are looking for a simple yet very accurate and robust system to log important telemetric data.
Phase III development has been defined as well and it will bring back the camera into the system, whereby this time the camera is designed as an module itself and will be connected to a completely new main unit, the “RC Logger 2”. Again, all modules from phase I and phase II can be used with phase III development. Phase III development has a clear focus on the camera itself and will introduce an wireless high bandwidth video transmitting module allowing to transfer video to an ground station in HD quality as well as the data collected by the sensor modules, again fully synchronized. The user will also be able to control the camera with his head movement. An OSD system will be integrated into a FPV glasses allowing the user to see the video in real-time as well as the data on the OSD screen directly in-front of his eyes. This system will make use of a higher frequency above 2.4 GHz. A gyroscopic camera control (stabilization) will be introduced as well which users may enable or disable based on requirements. Phase III development should be completed by end of 2011.
These are just some aspects from the hardware development roadmap which has already started. Besides the hardware development we will put an huge effort on introducing a “RC Logger Community Web Portal” allowing RC Logger users to share projects online with other users or friends or the public. Projects may include video material and data sets and can be shared privately or public. This development, which adds to our RC Logger Viewer PC software will bring the complete solution onto the internet. Users will be able to “stream data” in real time (requires the new phase III main unit and phase III mobile network module) onto the internet portal while the helicopter or airplane is flying. To achieve this we will introduce a module which transfers data via mobile network operators, please allow me to apologize that I can’t release details about this module at this point of time. The development of the RC Logger Viewer PC Software will continue in parallel.