My previous Hero4 projects have all required fitting an interface board in the camera to achieve various functions. This latest is now a plug-on module which uses the 30-pin connector to interface to the camera. The following is a very brief specification.
- Camera: Hero4 Black with firmware version v3.0 and above.
- Functions: Power On/Off, Record On/Off, Default Mode Change.
- Trigger: Opto-isolated input trigger
- Power: 9-24V DC (Internal battery not required)
- Data: RS485 9600 bps
- Remote power and recording control with remote DC power options
- Time lapse intervals longer then 60 seconds possible (requires an intervalometer)
- Camera powered down during long Time lapse intervals reduces power requirement
- Camera can be triggered to switch on and record (seconds time delay to start) via external sensors.
- Operation and recording status can be received/displayed.
- WiFi cannot be enabled via this unit (to the best of my knowledge).
- Requires additional transmission paths to view images and audio.
- Need access to camera to recover recordings.
- Need access to camera to switch on WiFi if camera powers down.
The first PCB sample is currently being manufactured and an enclosure similar in size to the LCD backpac will be ready soon for testing.
A simple handheld button controller will be used to operate the camera over a single RS485 cable pair. The camera can be powered over a second cable pair from a suitable 9-24 Volt power supply or battery. Interfacing RS485 to a PIR movement device or an intervalometer for long interval time lapse use will be easy to enable via the remote unit. A opto-isolated input is provided to trigger programmable functions such as “Turn On – Take a Photo – Switch Off” or “Turn On – Record Video (2 minutes) – Turn Off” as possible options.
RS485 systems can provide control over a distance of 1200 meters. A basic system, using a multicore cable such as CAT5 Ethernet cable or multicore alarm installation cable it is possible to send and receive control data, supply remote power and view a composite video feed and audio channel without using any complex connections or equipment over 50~100 meters. A more complex system might use a fiber-optic or wireless system to transfer HDMI 1080p and the RS485 signaling.
Why do I not use the cameras WiFi to control and view the camera? There are at least two issues to consider. WiFi signal range is challenging in many real-world situations and unfortunately, when remote power is needed, the un-powered camera will not power up with WiFi enabled.
The above circuit’s are used to develop and test the software and hardware.
A paper printout helps focus in on any issues overlooked.
Update 11 April 2017 – PCB’s back from the manufacturer last week.
For more, see ASTRO project above