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RC Surveillance Vehicles

Combining Cameras and RC Vehicles for Work and Play


The government, business, and scientists use cameras and RC airplanes and helicopters for aerial photography, surveillance, and other noble pursuits. But there are ways for individuals to combine cameras and RCs for both practical and entertaining uses around the home.

RC With Camera at Work at Home

You could send a camera-equipped car under the house to look at pipes or search for the source of that dead animal odor. Get a birds-eye view of your property with a helicopter-mounted camera to aid in landscape planning. If you own many acres of land and you're an RC geek, fly a camera-equipped helicopter or airplane over the far reaches of your domain. Check for fence breaks, lost cattle, and interlopers. Give kids a fascinating and educational view of the world with a night-vision RC sent to explore the wilds of the backyard after dark.

RC With Camera at Play at Home

But for most of us, an RC equipped with a still or video camera is entertainment -- a novelty for spy games and sneeking up on unsuspecting friends and pets. It might be a cool way to capture video to send in to America's Funniest Home Videos. One of the top RC toys of the 2006 holiday season was the Wild Planet Spy Video RC Car. It was also named Boy Toy of the Year at Toy Fair.

Shop for RC Surveillance Equipment

You can purchase little spy cams to mount on your own RC car, truck, or aircraft. Or, buy an RC that's already equipped for RC surveillance and photography. There's a camera to fit most needs and budgets.

The Spy Video Car makes a geeky fashion statement with its Heads Up Display (HUD) visor that receives the black and white images from the low-profile, mostly black RC car. It has a 75 foot range. A kid-friendly RC that adults can have fun with as well.

Compare Prices Wild Planet Toys Spy Video Car

Radio Control Spy Video Car at eToys.com (Buy Direct

When you need to traverse rough terrain, like sculptured carpet or the computer cables criss-crossing the floor, turn to the SRV-1, a Mars Rover-style robotic tracked vehicle. It's more for the geeky teens and adults. You wirelessly control this mini robot with your computer up to 300 feet away. It has a mini video camera on-board and proximity sensors that aid manual navigation and allow it to explore on its own.

SRV-1 Mobile Surveillance Robot at Think Geek

These Draganfly Helicopters are best handled by experienced RC pilots. Some of the Draganflyer helicopters are used by the government and military. The V Ti Pro is used by MIT in its Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Swarm Health Management Project. If you've got the money to invest and the skill to fly it, you can put this same helicopter to work at home. In addition to being a top-notch RC it features a high resolution color video camera system and comes with the Draganflyer Flight Simulator for Windows.

Mount a wireless camera on your own RC to create your own radio controlled surveillance vehicle. Look for lightweight cameras for mounting on airplanes, helicopters, and blimps, such as the Mini-Wireless Micro-Spy Video Camera.

Putting a Camera in the Air

Putting a wireless camera atop an RC car or truck isn't a particularly formidable task. Putting a camera on an RC airplane or helicopter -- and making sure it flies -- is a little trickier. You want to put the camera where you'll get a good view. But it needs to be placed where it won't interfere with moving parts and won't throw the aircraft out of balance. Helicopters are especially tricky to fly in their original configuration. Add even a tiny camera and you can throw off that delicate balance. These tutorials and discussions can help you with putting an RC Eye in the Sky.
  • R/C Aerial Photography
    Glenn Anderson and Bill Dickerson share details of their approach to aerial photography and the planes and cameras they use. See examples of photos they've taken.
  • Aerial Photography for Beginners
    This selection of discussions from the RC Groups.com Aerial Photography forum are focused on beginners with tips on where to start and cameras to use.
  • How to Make Aerial Videos
    DadsFunPage describes the equipment they used and has tips and tricks on camera mounting, reception, recording, and quality when doing RC aerial photography.

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