2.4 GHz On Board Video Transmitter

So you have been sending rockets into the sky for a while now. Every wonder what the view is like from up there. I am going to explain how to set up a low cost 2.4 GHz transmitter for your rocket. The first step is to get a little 2.4 GHz security camera/ transmitter/ receivers. There are a lot of different manufactures out there the one I am using in this example is made by Swann. The camera is a little 1-inch square cube that has a color pinhole camera, and a transmitter on the back.

The best thing about this camera is it can be powered off a single 9-volt battery. Normally this 10-milly watt setup has only a 50 to 100 foot range. So the next step in the process is to improve on the range of that tiny transmitter. What I am using is a 2.4 GHz WiFi dish antenna that is commonly called a Bar-Q grill antenna since it is made up of an open metal grid. The dish gathers more of the radio waves from the tiny transmitter so that it can reach out to 3,000 ~ 4,000 foot range.

Since I have bought my antenna another type of antenna is getting very popular, it is called a Patch Antenna, which looks like a small while box. One nice thing about a patch antenna is that it has a wider reception angle, which means you don't have to aim as closely as I have to do with the dish antenna. The signal gain is pretty good also, so if I were going to build my system today I would use a patch antenna.

To make it easier to carry around the antenna I found an old junk metal detector, which I cut its handle off to mount my antenna to. Behind the antenna I mounted the receiver box to handle, this keeps the signal lost down since at 2.4 GHz signals don't like coax cables very much. I found a 24-foot long A/V cable to transfer the video signal back to my recorder. Since I am only recording video I use the audio side to transfer 12 volts up the cable to power the receiver. Back on the table I have one of those 12-volt portable battery pack powering my setup, and a recorder to save the flight video.

Today you have a lot of different type of recorders to choice from; you can use a VCR being powered by a power inverter. Or what I am using is a video capture device plug into my laptop to record the video directly to my hard drive. You can even use a DVR {Digital Video Recorder} that can be found as small as a pack of cards to record the video. My setup cost was under $200 dollars for the camera setup & dish antenna. But with the small size of this camera you can fit it in a rocket that only 2 inches in diameter. In my next article I will tell you how to setup the wattage to increase your range to over 5 miles high.

P.S. Now if I can find a sunny launch site to shoot some video!

Video from Dragon Fire Old Launch site located at Jonesburg, PA

Video from a very cloudy Springfest Launch in Las Vegas
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