Camera that can do everything - call for suggestions

I need your suggestions and recommendations.

What if I were to buy a fancy camera for a robot? I want it to be able to do pretty much everything. And still fit on my robot.

Let's see first what "everything" means. This list can grow as you make suggestions in the comments.

  1. shoot video at nice resolutions
  2. store video locally on digital media
  3. send live video over a cable to a computer
  4. send live video over a wireless link to a user far away (up to, say, 250 meter)
  5. visible light only
  6. daylight conditions
  7. survive a rain shower
  8. be light weight (not sure how light it must be exactly)
  9. shoot stills at nice resolutions
  10. store stills locally on digital media
  11. local media are accessible over cable to computer
  12. camera can be operated by micro controller or proper computer over a cable
  13. create time lapsed series of stills or videos
  14. <your suggestion here>

Some of these requirements are ridiculous, I know. But for a hacker, all or most of them should be makable. I could take a standard device and throw a micro controller at it. Or a mini computer. Or a RC receiver. Or a video transmitter. Or a combination of those.

How would I connect all those extras to a camera? All suggestions are welcome: cameras, web shops, howtos, examples, cool videos, first hand experiences and anecdotes.

I would personally use a

I would personally use a single board linux computer (SBC) running on an ARM processor paired with a USB webcamera.  You’ll have to create an IR filter and water-resistant case, but you can easily store all your videos and still shots locally and upload to a computer via wifi or ethernet, not to mention a live video feed over wifi.  For some good SBCs that can run Debian Linux you can check out, which aren’t too large or heavy and have host USB and ethernet connections, among many other features (WiFi can be accomplished on these using a dongle).

Maybe this is not the road you want to take, but if not an ARM then what kind of microcontroller, an  8-bit?

A system with a camera can

A system with a camera can become expensive quickly. I wanted to do such a thing and to make it less expensive, I’ve bought a Chumby One (was on sale for $69 in the States, I asked a firend to buy one and ship it to me) then I got a small driver free (more like commonly already OS embeded driver) webcam to mount on a pan/tilt system that will be controled by a uBotino controller. The Chumby uses the built in serial port to talk to the uBotino to drive the robot, read the distance sensors and move the servos. The cost of the whole robot is about $180-200. It is the same thing Rogue is talking about. Now my problem is that I have almost no experience with Linux stuff and is hard to even comprehend what others have done to use vision on a Chumby. It will take time, but eventually I’ll get there. If you’re thinking to get such a system, you also have the option to use an Insignia 8 device (from Best Buy - on sale for $99) that offers a bigger touch screen and more USB ports, same OS easily hackable as the new Chumby 8. 

What you are asking for…

What you are asking for…

Is just a regular Android phone … like a Samsung Galaxy S or HTC Desire or the like… (wrapped in a transparent condom to make it waterproof [the condoms must be without lube])

Unthinkable robot camera day dreams

I know, I know. My list is way too demanding. But it will take the hobby community only a year or two to surprise us. Again. So, I decided this time I want to ride the wave. Perhaps not on the very crest, but trailing behind the pioneers.

So again: what items should I drop to get near-possible setups? Without (re-)inventing everything myself? What platforms (camera, CPU, software) do you consider “most hackable”?


My experience has been with the wii-camera (very specialized hardware usage) and webcams (cheap) plugged into computers (getting cheaper).  My criteria has just to make sure the webcam works on Linux.   Some of this depends on the minimal amount of brain you intend to use.  I have not seen great success in re-broadcasting a remote video.

Chumby seemed like a nice brain which I think is webcam compatible.  Chumby runs a modified Linux kernel, and its open source…

Looks like it runs Java too … hmmmm… a little spendy though…

writing about it here makes me one to get one… 



If you get one, I would love

If you get one, I would love to know how to install MyRobotLab on it! Also, a Cumby One has built in touch screen, wireless, accelerometer, uSD card, etc. Search for sales! They are out of it at Costco, but you may find it on ebay. Much cheaper and better than a CHB. Also look for Insignia Infocast (there are 2 versions, 3.5" (same as Chumby One and 8", same as Chumby 8 - newer and more powerfull).

Dynaspy seem to have a nice

Dynaspy seem to have a nice collection. I’m planning on buying a camera from them and we already have an LMRian who has bought from them and is happy. The site does seem sketchy though, but it’s okay (I guess). Just take a glimpse, you might find something you’ll like ;).

Wow,I’d like to see that


I’d like to see that too.  Thanks for the info. hmmm, maybe Santa will come early this year.

We were talking about this

We were talking about this the other day! If you can find one on sale, I’d snag it. The local shop I had seen it at no longer has it apparently…  :confused:

Most underrated comment so

Most underrated comment so far…

Mobile phones are powerful, can shoot HD video and stills, are light, have wireless and wired connection to access data, have an open dev framework, and can be controlled via the internet fairly easily.  I think you can aslo get some nice waterproof cases for them.