Driving your heavily-modded RC cars out on the parking lot or across different terrains is super fun. And a super-easy way to take it from a ‘kids hobby’ to a ‘grown up’ one, is to look into getting cameras for RC cars!
Once upon a time, this would have been something as simple as strapping a GoPro to the top of your kit, and re-watching the footage once you got home!
But that’s not the case these days! These days, you can get what’s known as FPV or First Person View cameras, that stream the footage directly to a table or a VR kit, that lets you feel like you’re sitting in the driver’s seat.
What to look for when buying a camera for your RC car
You’ll find all kinds of RC car cameras on the market today, and they come at all sizes and prices. But that doesn’t mean you can randomly pick one that you like the look of and mount it to your RC car. There are a few different things you need to keep in mind when buying
The first thing to consider is the size of the RC camera. Obviously, you need to consider whether it’s even going to fit onto your RC car or not! Buying something that overhangs your RC car might not seem like the end of the world until it clips a branch or a corner and totally wipes out your RC car. You should also consider that the bigger, and heavier, that the camera is, the slower your car has the potential to go.
You also don’t want to go for too small of an RC car camera because the feedback quality and range have the potential to decrease with size.
Choose an RC car camera that is not too big for your RC car model. You will find many options. You can reduce the candidate list by looking at the other criteria below.
Most FPV RC cameras use a tiny amount of power, anywhere from 0.25w to about 2w if it’s a big one. Usually, the battery in an RC car will put out at least 5V power minimum, so unless you’re getting a really good camera, your standard battery should be enough to run it, but just double check your current RC car specifications before purchasing.
Some cameras come with separate batteries. They’re not the worst, but it is just one more thing to have to charge up or replace at the end of the day, so your camera directly into your RC car is the better option.
Video Feedback Quality
Now comes the video feedback quality. The higher the quality, the pricier the camera unit will be, which usually goes without saying. So if you’re not looking for the FPV experience, then just getting any old camera that’s small enough to fit onto your RC car will do the trick. But, if you’re looking for an FPV camera, you should consider a couple of things:
You will need to consider the resolution and broadcasting range of the RC car camera, and we wouldn’t recommend going with anything less than a streaming quality of less than 700p HD.
A lot of the cameras are also going to be measured in something called TVL (TV-Lines) and are an older, uglier format used for small cameras. You want at minimum, 700-1000TVL if you’re going to be buying a camera that uses it, otherwise your quality will be blurry and hard to use.
Mounting is another thing to consider while buying an RC car camera. Some cameras come with screw attachments for mounting, while others come with nothing; they need to be mounted with tape or even hot glue.
There is no right or wrong choice with this criteria and it’s definitely more of a personal preference for your own RC chassis type. If you want to mount the camera sturdily, then go for those with screw attachments
The price is something you should consider too. You should keep things within the budget. After all, the camera is not the only thing to consider here. You will need to buy feedback equipment (display/ goggles).
So try to keep things under your budget, especially if you are a beginner.
How do you hook up a camera to a remote control car?
Hooking up/ mounting a camera in an RC car involves two steps. Mounting the camera and connecting it with the power source.
You will need a servo extension wire and a soldering iron. So let us start with the electronics. Of course, you will have to take out the plastic shell of the RC car. You may hold a small drill in the plastic shell for the wires.
Now take the servo extension wire. Cut the end that does not go into the receivers. Solder the wires (red and black) with the FPV camera. Now connect the other ends of the wire with your RC car’s extra auxiliary connectors. If there aren’t any, then you will have to retrofit your way in.
You can skip this all and connect the camera to a separate battery.
Now place the plastic shell back and mount the camera. You may use double-sided tape, or you can use screw attachments. That is one way of hooking up a camera to remote control car.
What does FPV mean for RC cars?
FPV for RC cars means “first-person view”. The FPV cameras give you a real-life-like experience while driving the RC car. The camera is mounted in the car (inside the body or on top of the shell). It sends video feedback to an LCD or goggles the driver is wearing.
FPV is not limited to RC cars. RC planes and boats also have FPV applications.
How do you add FPV to an RC car?
To add FPV to an RC car, you must mount an FPV camera to your RC car. The camera also has to be mounted on the front with a clear view of what you are seeing while driving.
You also need to have a video feedback display/ goggles for enjoying the FPV experience. That is basically how you FPV an RC car.
Top 3 cameras for RC cars reviews
Here are the top 3 cameras for RC cars if you are interested in adding FPV to your RC car.
AKK Micro FPV AIO Camera
- AIO FPV video camera+transmitter+antenna rolled 3 functions into one
- Output power 25mW/50mW/200mW switchable, compatible with 5.8GHz googles and monitor.
- 120 ° FOV horizontal viewing angle and 150 ° DFOV diagonal perspective.
- Nickel-plated 4 Leaf Antenna
- Requires 1S LiPo battery
The AKK Micro FPV AIO Camera is an all-in-one FPV camera that features a transmitter and an antenna. It is the best deal in the market. But the issue is its resolution.
AKK BA3 AIO FPV Camera
- AIO FPV camera+transmitter+brass dipole atnenna
- Output power 25mW/50mW/200mW Switchable, Compatible with 5.8GHz goggles and monitor.
- Upgraded low-light condition for use in dimmer light.
- Requires 1S LiPo battery - Power level switchable
The AKK BA3 AIO FPV Camera is another best budget FPV camera for RC cars. This camera also has a built-in antenna and transmitter. It is small and weighs only 4.7 grams.
Crazepony Spotter V2 Micro FPV AIO Camera
- This is a micro 2 in 1 FPV camera and video transmitter w/ a Cloverleaf antenna
- Operating Voltage: 7-20V; Output Power: 20-200MW; Frequency: 5.8GHz 5-band 40ch; Video System: NTSC; Mini Lighting: 0.5 Lux; Camera: 170°Ultra Wide Angle; Resolution: 1280 x 960; Resolution: 700 TVL; Focal Length: 1.8mm.
- Has a 170-degree super wide-angle with a microphone, 700 TVL resolution camera
- The video transmitter has adjustable power 20MW~200MW, operate on 40 different channels
This one features a strong exterior shell. Meaning it is perfect for offroading and can take a beating.
So that was all about RC car cameras. We hope that you have got a better understanding of what they are and how you can install one.
Peter has been building model trains for longer than he can remember. An avid fan of HO and O scale this blog is a creative outlet to allow him to dive further into other scales and aspects of the model train community and hobby.