BetaFPV just released a Runcam split like camera. It can be used as an FPV camera but will simultaneously also record HD footage to a micro SD card. It is intended to be mounted on a whoop, above the all in one flight-controller.
The camera is nano sized and measures - 14mm x 14mm, but it is missing the screw holes that nano sized cameras usually come with. In order to mount it, you will have to use the supplied canopy or find a custom way of mounting it onto your quadcopter.
One of the biggest pros in comparison to its competition is the weight. It comes in at just 6.72g. That is the camera, PCB and the wire connecting both of them - pretty impressive if you ask me.
BetaFPV confirmed that the PCB is made by Caddx (it looks pretty much like the PCB of the baby turtle whoop edition) with some adaptations made by BetaFPV, which seems to mainly be the way the pins are broken out. BetaFPV further states that the camera’s lens (1.8mm) was designed by them but the rest of the camera was manufactured by Caddx.
Usually I am not a big fan of Caddx products since they turned out to be rather unreliable for me. All the cams I ever had from Caddx came with dirt on the sensor. This camera does not, so I am rather impressed by that.
One big oversight is, that the camera does not come with the joystick needed to adjust the settings. I spoke to BetaFPV and they told me that they are considering adding one in the future or at least offer one to buy separately. For now, you have to use the joystick that came with your Caddx cam - if you have one.
Alternatively - also being the recommended solution - you can use the LED pin on your flight controller and configure analog camera control - also called “Joystick Emulation” - from within Betaflight.
The Nano HD camera can be powered from 5V up to 20V.
The PCB has a button to start and stop recording, but since recording is set to start automatically once the camera is powered up, the button is pretty much useless. While recording, there will be blinking REC symbol and the duration of the recording shown via the cameras OSD in the upper right. This can not be disabled - keep this in mind when setting your other OSD elements in Betaflight.
The micro SD card slot does not have a retainer to protect the SD card from ejecting. Personally I never had any of those split style boards eject my SD card, but I have heard from other people that this might happen.
The PCB also comes with a microphone, but I am not very impressed by its quality - at least when it comes to in-flight noise. I have to admit I hate the sound of any split style HD cam. I can basically only tolerate the audio from a GoPro. Everything else makes my ears bleed. When using it under normal conditions (without motor sound) the quality is actually not too bad.
5V, GND and Video signal are broken out to reasonably sized pads, which make soldering a breeze. The cam control is only available through the pin header.
The default settings that the camera ships with are pretty decent, so you might even not need to adjust anything. As mentioned before, the camera starts recording automatically when plugged in, also the on-board OSD is disabled by default.
The aspect ratio for the FPV feed can be set to 16:9 (default) or 4:3 (which I prefer).
The resolution for the HD recording can also be adjusted:
- 1080P @ 30FPS
- 1080P @ 60FPS
- 720P @ 120FPS
The bitrate is unfortunately not specified (after inspecting my recordings it shows 32638kbps so ~32Mbps) but I would recommend staying at 1080P @ 30FPS since 60FPS will still have the same bitrate.
The FOV of the HD recording is a whopping 170°. The FPV view is slightly narrower. You can choose between three different FOV’s for your FPV feed. Although I am pretty sure most of us will prefer the widest one.
Saturation, contrast, sharpness and brightness can also be adjusted to your liking.
A micro SD card of up to 64GB can be used - make sure that it is at least class 10.
In my sample video you can see me go through the camera’s setting, so you can get a feeling for what can be changed:
The sensor is a 800TVL, CMOS sensor. The FPV feed and DVR recording are pretty decent during normal day light or if you are flying in a well lit indoor area. The sensor needs quite some time to adjust between bright and dark. The low light performance is actually not too bad but the grain on the HD recording is definitely noticeable.
The files written by the DVR are a MP4 container with a h264 video stream and the audio is 16 bit PCM.
The recording is also stopped and saved when the battery is unplugged, you might only lose the last couple of seconds.
There is a bit of Jello in my test footage, but by far not as much as I would have expected. The day was extremely windy and I was having a hard time fighting against the wind. Nonetheless, here is the sample footage - I will update the video once I can get some decent footage on a less windy day (I muted th mic, the noise is really unbearable):
This is the first split HD cam that I flew inside my flat and the latency was really giving me a hard time. It is much less noticeable if you are flying in a big open space, but there definitely is noticeable latency. And this is coming from someone who usually is not bothered by latency. In fact, this is the first FPV cam ever where I can personally notice latency.
To confirm this, I built a rig to measure the latency in FPV systems.
I measured a latency of up to 80ms, 42ms on average and 23ms in the best case.
For comparison: on the Runcam Nano 2 I am measuring 10ms on average, 18ms at worst and 4ms in the best case. All those measurements are glass to glass latency, so from the cam to the screens of the goggles.
On average the BetaFPV Nano HD has four times as much latency as the Runcam Nano 2.
I have contacted BetaFPV regarding my latency issues - maybe I simply have an old firmware on mine, unfortunately they did not yet come back to me.
What you get
When buying the BetaFPV Nano HD camera you will get:
- The PCB with the HD DVR
- The camera
- The wire connecting camera and PCB
- Rubber grommets to mount the PCB in your stack
- A Canopy - one of the newer, injection molded, sturdy ones with a 30° camera mount
- A couple of screws to mount the camera to your canopy, the canopy to your frame and some longer screws to mount the PCB and flight controller to your frame. Unfortunately the stack screws are a little bit short - so either you compress your grommets quite a bit or you need to shorten them. Alternatively you have to use a completely different, longer screw. This should be easily mountable on toothpick setups that use a M2 screw to mount the AIO and cam.
As always, no product is perfect - here a couple of things that in my opinion could be improved:
- Joystick: it would be great if BetaFPV would add a Joystick
- Lose some weight: The button and the microphone could be removed in my opinion. If set to auto-record, which I assume everyone has set it to, the button is just dead weight. Since I was complaining about the mic previously, you can guess that I do not need it at all. On my Caddx turtles I even de-soldered it.
- Mounting: Initially I was under the impression that the PCB could be mounted to the canopy itself. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case, it would be pretty cool though. Maybe this is something that could be added at some point.
- Latency: this is my biggest problem. Outdoor it is not such a big problem for me, but indoors (at least in my flat) it is really difficult for me to fly.
Who is it for?
In my opinion this product is a great choice for anyone who wants to have the capability of HD recording on his smaller quads where weight is a factor to consider. Although it is too heavy for a 1S whoop it will work great on 2S whoops, toothpicks and micros of all kind - everything that uses an AIO FC that fits the whoop dimensions.
If you are racing and are looking for maximum performance, this might not be the right cam for you simply due to the weight and latency. Also if you are primarily flying LED tracks, you might not be too thrilled by the FPV feed. The cam definitely performs best in daylight - in dark environments you get quite some grain in the HD recording.
If you are into cruising and are looking for cinematic shots in super tight environments, this will be the perfect cam for you.
Keep in mind, that you are trading HD footage for quite a bit of latency.
You can buy the BetaFPV Nano HD directly from BetaFPV for around $65 which is a fair price for what you get.
Chris is a Vienna based software developer. In his spare time he enjoys reviewing tech gear, ripping quads of all sizes and making stuff.
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