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Learning about DVR Camera modules?

tomadom

Jan 18, 2013
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I've been searching some of the china sellers on Aliexpress and Ebay for various mini spy cameras. I ended up buying a few. My aim was to alter them in some way to create a mini camera for outside to watch over some of my equipment I have locked up outside.
The problem with the Chinese cameras is that the small CMOS sensor and lens setup is connected with various ribbon flexi-tape connectors of various pins. Some 18, some 24, some 28pin. That's becoming a real issue. I have some pin-hole lenses I want to use and wanted to attach a sensor to fit to some of these lenses but I can't find a sensor with the pin count which will fit the connectors on these various modules (from the camera's I have bought). With such customization, I can't move forward.

For the reasons above, I'm going to attempt to build my own over the next couple of years as a hobby. The problem is, I know very little about this kind of thing but I would like to change that.
How do I start learning about camera modules and building my own mini cameras? Is there a good book or place to start looking at this kind of thing?
Anything that kick-starts the process would be really helpful.
Thanks in advance.
 

Bluejets

Oct 5, 2014
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One would have to say, why bother when there are plenty already available, cheap-as.
Look at FPV mini cameras for a start.
 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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Not sure why a 'covert' camera is your intention....??? Why not simply use a 'nromal' camera which will not only record any theft but act as a visual deterrent.
 

tomadom

Jan 18, 2013
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Not sure why a 'covert' camera is your intention....??? Why not simply use a 'nromal' camera which will not only record any theft but act as a visual deterrent.
Because that approach has been tried and it doesn't seem to work. I figured this question would draw out some strange answers. All I'm trying to do is learn about the electronics behind these modules so I can work on some customization. I'll be treating it like a hobby and I'm sure it's incredible technical. Security is pretty important nowadays.. If you put up visible security cameras people will just turn up in Balaclavas and hoodies and still your property will go missing.
 
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Bluejets

Oct 5, 2014
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Because that approach has been tried and it doesn't seem to work. I figured this question would draw out some strange answers. All I'm trying to do is learn about the electronics behind these modules so I can work on some customization. I'll be treating it like a hobby and I'm sure it's incredible technical. Security is pretty important nowadays.. If you put up visible security cameras people will just turn up in Balaclavas and hoodies and still your property will go missing.
Don't see anything in your intentions that would circumvent the problems you seem to visualise.

Short of implanting every living individual on the planet with some type of dna probe, I don't see any fix for (again) your perceived problems.

Maybe I missed something but don't think so.
 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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Because that approach has been tried and it doesn't seem to work.
There are different kinds of thieves. Nothing you do will stop a determined thief from stealing your stuff so the best way to prevent it happening is either securely locking the stuff away or not making its presence known in the first place. All a camera will do is record the theft happening and, in many cases, the evidence may not even be allowable/provable (as you mention balaclavas etc) in Court.

That said, there's nothing wrong with experimentation and learning..... but using those modules can involve some serious complications depending on the signals the module delivers. If the output is 'pre-processesed' i.e. in a format that is readily and directly accessible (USB, CVBS etc) then you're good-to-go but if the signal is 'complex' then the additional processing is both complicated and difficult - for the most part you'll end up with a 'box' considerably larger than a commercial fully-made camera with all that stuff in it. Re-inventing the wheel etc...... you'll learn a lot (probably) but nothing that will make your end result any better than starting with the ready-made solution in the first place.

There's a lot to be learned with the application of CCTV as it stands (and could be a useful skillset if you took it further) and there are many different types of systems that require a broad knowledge and understanding - from the 'old' CVBS stuff to the modern hi-def wifi versions and the complications of interfacing them to t'internet and/or networks etc.

I speak from the standpoint of one that had such ambitions myself but soon came to realise that time and money were values I couldn't afford to waste. "Buy cheap, buy twice" comes to mind and the hours I wasted on systems that eventually turned out to be replaced with off-the-shelf stuff and there's nothing you (or I) could develop that isn't already marketed so whatever experimentation you plan probably already has a solution......

My existing system is a combination of wi-fi cameras, CVBS, AHD, PTZ, webcams, DVR's and routers - a total of 16 cameras (of mixed variety), networked (home network only - potentially available on the web) and all this for a 'home' situation covering a garden, pond, astro-imaging, wildlife and a 'cottage shop' - nothing, I would state, is a commercial application nor one covering security as the prime issue.

I still have another 16 cameras and a DVR system to fit (we have a nice plot, middle of a forest and three cats to keep a suspicious eye on as one of them has recently started fishing our pond and the fish are large and expensive!) - all this for 'fun'. It's certainly taught me a lot about CCTV and I reckon I could make a business out of the skills learned over time but since I'm close to retirement I'll leave that for you 'youngesters' to exploit.....

Don't let me put you off though. It's a learning curve and you'll get the the steep parts pretty quickly and then, maybe, come back and tell us that you found out the hard way that commercial stuff takes the pain out of it. :)
 

Delta Prime

Jul 29, 2020
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I ended up buying a few. My aim was to alter them in some way to create a mini camera for outside to watch over some of my equipment I have locked up outside.
Learning from the top down interesting...
https://gadgetsspy.com/mini-camera- instructions-how-to-use-guide/

For outdoor use your camera would have to be "ruggedized" weatherproofed perhaps even noble gases for moisture buildup on the lens. Thermodynamics is your friend.
 
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