Wired Remote and Power for the Hero4

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

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Advantages:

  • 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.

Disadvantages:

  • 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.

Backpak breakout board and microprocessor
Breakout board and microprocessor testbed

The above circuit’s are used to develop and test the software and hardware.

PCB Layout
PCB circuit layout design almost complete. Now, how about adding that one extra function….

A paper printout helps focus in on any issues overlooked.

PCB printout
Top copper and silk screen printout
3D PCB
A simple 3D image helps with placement and finding free space.

Update 11 April 2017 – PCB’s back from the manufacturer last week.

ASTRO Hero 4
ASTRO and a GoPro Hero4 (prototype testing)

For more, see ASTRO project above

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2 thoughts on “Wired Remote and Power for the Hero4

  1. I am glad that you continue your work on the hero 4, because there are no or less solutions available on the market respectively there are no informations in the internet how to get this functions.
    I try to get some similar functions with my ordinary 30 pin breakout board.
    I need the functions Power On/Off, Record On/Off, external Power (no Internal battery), Video output and also microphone input would be nice.
    I just started today with power mode and external power and I am not lucky with my results, but i am not an electrician or programmer. I hope you present some detail information about your project.
    best wishes!

    Like

    1. Hi David, There are some very useful project boards and data at https://mewpro.cc/ for the hero 4 which will help with understanding the camera control system. The author has kindly provided open source software based on Arduino. The camera uses I2C communication and a number of bus control lines to get status and send commands. You are never too young or old to learn programming and this website has all the information you need to build a controller and learn. I have built a similar system with the functions you list and it all works very well. My next stage is to have the PCB manufactured to produce some prototypes.
      Best of luck and thanks for your interest.
      F.

      Like

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