Camcorder Collection & Older Cameras

I have been collecting camcorders for ATV use that will be modified for remote control operation of focus, zoom and other functions. Most were eBay purchases for between $0.99 and $20.00 that were listed as 'non-working' which almost always means that the tape deck is all that's damaged and non-working and that the camera and viewfinder are fine. The cost is much less then any of the small CCD board cameras and one gets a nice motorized zoom and auto/manual focus lens for remote controlled operation rather than simply a fixed or pin-hole lens.

Keep in mind that most camcorders are not that easy to modify and that some require modification to even simply get them to power on when power is applied and make them useful for remote use. Schematics and service info is almost impossible to find so mod's require a lot of investigative detective type work, in addition to the expertise and skill required when working with SMT circuitry and miniature lens assemblies, but all part of the fun of modifying, adding features and creating something new which is a challenge and something I enjoy. One must be prepared for the fact that they will not always be successful however, as I have found several camcorders that simply weren't worth the effort to modify and, for one reason or another, things sometimes simply don't alway's turn out as planned.

Viewfinders make it easier to check camera operation initially, but they are not really required for surveillance use and are usually removed to reduce operating power or occasionally an on/off switch is simply provided when there is little size and weight reduction.

Non-working tape decks are removed to provide space for a 2.4 GHz video transmitter, or whatever, and cameras are modified for remote control operation of the focus, zoom and other functions. To make modifications easier, a universal interface is being designed to provide DTMF control of camera functions and keep the operation of each camera the same. DTMF control makes remote control operation possible by simply connecting modified cameras to the external speaker jack of a receiver. It also elliminates the problems associated with long serial data circuits for tower mounted and other cameras without RF links and 1:1 audio isolation transformers can simply be used for increased lightning protection of equipment and to prevent problems with RF from nearby antennas.


& Older Cameras

These are some older color cameras with vidicon tube image sensors. Vidicons require more lighting than newer CCD cameras, however they still provide good video quality for outdoor day time use or indoors with good lighting. I wouldn't use one for long term monitoring applications however as their tube life is limited and performance deteriorates with time, unlike CCD sensors.