Introduction: Installing a CVS/ RiteAid Camcorder in a Zagi 400

Picture of Installing a CVS/ RiteAid Camcorder in a Zagi 400
I have had a hacked CVS/RiteAid disposable camcorder laying around for a while now but have not really found much of a use for it as of yet, until now. I was poking around on YouTube about a month ago looking for RC airplane videos and came across a video of a GWS SlowStick with a CVS camcorder attached to it, all the sudden I know what to do with my camera.

Another video with the forward facing mirror installed.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

- As the name implies you well need a Zagi 400, should work with other RC flying wings as well.
- You well also need a hacked CVS or RiteAid disposable camcorder. Haking a CVS / RiteAid camcorder Here is a link on hacking the camera. $30
1 - two AAA battery holder from Radio Ripoff. $1
- A long bladed hobby knife or sharp pocket knife to modify the Zagi.
- Velcro to hold the camera in place $1
- USB extension cable for down loading the video.
- Tape to reinstall the battery tray, either strapping tape or electrical tape. I use electrical tape because it is easier to get off and I have a bunch of it. If you use electrical tape make sure to wrap it around the leading and trailing edge a bit so it well not try to peel off all the time.

Additional Materials to make the camera forward viewing:
1 - 1" round mirror, these are available at craft stores. $2
- some styrofoam to make a support for the mirror.
- Video editing software to mirror the video as it well be inverted because of the mirror.

This conversion only cost me $34 to do, which is about the cheapest I have seen for an onboard video camera.

Step 2: Modifing the Camera

Picture of Modifing the Camera

- First go to this site and modify your camera following the directions there. Hacking a CVS / RiteAid Camcorder
- Also to reduce the weight and size of the camera do not reinstall the camera back into its case. Since it is no longer in its case you well need to supply power to the camera some how, this is where the two AAA battery holder comes in. Unsolder the power wires from the cameras circuit board and solder the leads from the battery holder in there place.
- Also to make is easier to mount the camera I removed the onboard speaker as well.

Step 3: Modifing and Mounting the Camera on the Zagi

Picture of Modifing and Mounting the Camera on the Zagi

- Now that you have the camera ready you can modify the plane to hold the camera.
- The first thing to do is to remove the motor tray from the airplane. Pretty simple, just pull up the tape holding it down. Now would also be a good time to replace the canopy and motor tray if it is worn out.
- With the tray off cut a hole in the bottom of the wing for the lens to poke through. In my case I cut out the square section between the receiver and the motor mount.
- Set the camera on the airplane with the lens poking through the hole you just made in the wing, positioning the camera so that the board is centered on the wing as much as possible. Once you have it where you want it trace around the board with a Sharpe and remove the camera.
- With the knife make a shallow cut all the way around the line that you just made, about an eighth of an inch deep.
- Now take and cut out the foam inside of where you cut leaving a recess for the camera to set in, I my case I had to cut it out a bit more to clear a carbon spar that I installed the last time I recovered the plane.
- Once you are pleased with the way the way the camera sits in the hole use a small square of Velcro on the front of the board to hold it down.
- Re-Install the motor tray and trim it as nesassery so that you can reach the buttons of the camera.
- Charge up a battery and take it for a spin. :)

Step 4: The Mirror

Picture of The Mirror

Here is the mirror I have cooked up to allow me to shoot forward facing videos.

It is simply a 1" round mirror that you can get in a pack of 20 at a craft store for about $2.50, glued to a wedge shaped piece of scrap styrofoam. The mirror assembly is attached to the bottom of the wing with Velcro to allow it to be taken off for when the camera is not being used and also to help prevent damage on hard landings, it well simply pop off.


wenpherd (author)2009-01-01

with a little movie magic you cauld make it look like you are in a fighter plane

emdarcher (author)2008-11-18

that looks awesome but I don't know if I could build it.

IX Smith XI (author)2008-09-25

That what im thinking about going to my glider but real time video.

All Damsel, No Distress (author)2008-09-14

I've seen a "hack" on You Tube on how to turn that CVS single use camcorder into a multi downloadable one.

finnster (author)2008-04-13

how much does it cost???

Ohm (author)finnster2008-04-13

How much does what cost, the camera or the plane? The camera is $30, the plane is long out production but you could do it with a newer one which I think are going for around $200 for the complete kit. Also Rite-Aid and CVS have caught onto the fact that people are not returning their cameras and have made it harder to crack the protection on the camera it can be done though, you just have to search around the web for the programs to do it.

aceLED (author)2008-02-29

could u do this with a usb cam and like add some sort of way to store memory on it if so plzz some one get back to me

GreenAce92 (author)2007-11-23

Quick question too can you hear sound if you remove that speaker and how did the camera turn out?

Cyberscann54 (author)GreenAce922008-01-28

the camera still has a mic the speaker was there so you could hear the sound when you play your video back on the camera

GreenAce92 (author)2007-11-23

you can buy a FlyCamone designed specifically for Rc planes you can buy 1 or greater gb memory cards for it and get more than an hour's worth of recording. It weighs almost 1oz and its only 1cm tall. Its really nice it has a forward facing mirror. Although its 80bucks but its reusable and you dont need to hack.

Mr. Rig It (author)2007-09-25

SWEET! A true hack and modification! Great idea and great job.

xboxteen01 (author)2007-09-23

just an FYI. walmart sells a $100 2.4 ghz wifi NV camera. it is a wicked good investment and i use it on an RC car(i have no plane). it transmits wirelessly to a receiver and into your computer/ tv / w/e. its live and its pretty clear with a 300 ft line of sight transmission range( im looking into a way to extend this, any help or advice is much appreciated.) but anyways that is a really sweet video as i stated earlier

Ohm (author)xboxteen012007-09-23

Cool I well have to check that out, 300 feet would probably be more than enough since the thing starts to turn into an undistinguishable speck at that other end of the football field that I fly at. Could probably just get an amplified Wifi antenna to extend the range, or make a cantenna and just have someone to track with it.

Toulouse (author)2007-09-02

great video ! i love it

dboyfly (author)2007-08-15

Nathan, you rock! I love the forward facing video best. I think this would be a great camera outfit for a motor-glider, something with a very low wing loading. One fellow made a good comment that greater eleveation could improve picture quality too. All in all, I think you put together a great project. Help me do one!

xboxteen01 (author)2007-08-09

how much was the flying wing, this is an amazing instructable. i think a small camera like that on an RC helicopter would be awesome though to. 10 out of 10

Ohm (author)2007-08-03

Actually it was pretty cheap, the camera only costs $30 from RiteAid and the rest is mainly just time, and even that was not much, only about an hour and a half.

zach911 (author)2007-08-03

this shit is expensive but still cool. GOOD JOB. BEST INSTRUCTABLE I"VE SEEN.

Ohm (author)2007-08-02

Thanks for all the feedback. I think I need to do another short instructable on replacing the motor though because I think the LiPo battery is burning up the old motor, 10 - 12 mins. of constant full power flying and the can is scorching hot.

LasVegas (author)2007-08-02

Great job! Both videos are incredible! The installation looks professional.

dchall8 (author)2007-08-02

Nice job. I think the video shows pretty well why, at lower altitudes, a flying wing with the camera looking straight down is not all that cool. If you can fly at a thousand feet or more, then you've got something. At low altitudes a stable fuselaged plane, with the camera looking to the side, can give you some very nice pictures. Also for about $75-80, you can go to Ritz Camera and get a reusable video camera that loads the video onto a standard 1 gig SD chip. Picture quality is about the same as you're getting with this. The advantage is you don't have to hack the camera and you can replace the chips in the field when they full up.

crapflinger (author)2007-08-02

NICE! i used to have a Team Associated RC10GT (best $500 i ever spent)...and we put a disposable camera (long before the disposable video or digital ones) inside the body so it would look out the windshield as if you were the driver...put in a 6 channel reciever and a 6 channel remote and added two to move the camera left and right and one to press the shutter was nifty...not exactly a spy cam being a nitro engine...but you could get some crazy pics of people scared shitless by a car driving up next to them while they were sleeping in the park or something like that i like the mirror idea! deffinitelyl less puke inducing to be able to see the actual POV of the flight

rc jedi (author)2007-08-02

The zagi can do aerobatics with the camera on, and is tougher than the slow stick platform. but the stick is slower and allows cam mounting options like on top of wing or sideways view. It's a brave thing to risk a camera and anyone who actually recovers video gets a Homer Simpson"Whoo Hoo!" aerobatic video..hmmm........

rc jedi (author)2007-08-02

I fly a slowstick with a vcam on the left wing looking forward. The cameras are cheap and light enough. slowstick vcam

Ohm (author)2007-08-01

Actually there is a guy with videos on YouTube, I think, that has a live camera positioned in a forward facing manner and it is mounted on a set of servos that pan it left and right and up and down based on how he points his head with his helmet! As I mentioned I am working on positioning a mirror behind the lens at an angle so that it gets a more forward view, that well hopefully be less dizzing to watch.

ongissim (author)2007-08-01

Now you should try to get live video streaming to get a cockpit point-of-view!

Dorkfish92 (author)2007-08-01

Wow, i've been meening to do the same thing to a Zagi 400! My dad has a like six kits and I decided that i'd put a cam on one. Hurray ZAGI!

Ohm (author)2007-08-01

I normally fly a bit smoother, with more loops and rolls :D, but the wind was up a bit and it was getting thrown around.

Tool Using Animal (author)2007-08-01

The video makes me want to hurl ;-) But awesome project...

Ohm (author)2007-08-01

I got the video uploaded, still working on the forward view mirror still so this is just from it pointing strait down. I well update with the mirror instructions once I get that all nailed down.

Ohm (author)2007-08-01

I am uploading a video to YouTube right now and yes it still flies :D I am flying it with a 2100 mAh LiPo which is light enough to offset the added weight of the camera and still gives me 12min. plus flights.

MerleCorey (author)2007-08-01

does it still fly?{{{


ewilhelm (author)2007-08-01

Video! I have now twice tied my ATC Helmet cam to my kitesurfing kite and both times managed not to capture any video. I'll investigate the CVS camera; thanks.

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