Sunday, June 05, 2011

GoPro Hero 3D with LCD/viewfinder

Clearly there is no better 3D camera system for POV shooting than GoPro Hero 3D kit. If you already have a couple of Hero HD cameras, adding $99 for the 3D housing, sync cable and accessories is a no-brainer -- you got to do it. But what about non-POV, hand-held shooting? The 2D GoPro Hero HD allows you to add the LCD BacPac, for simple point and shot image framing, but the connector it uses (the HERO Bus™) is occupied by the sync cable required for the 3D to work. So we need to use the camera's video out drive another display.

I saw someone with a 7" Marshall monitor on a 3D GoPro at NAB, so I knew it could be done. I believed they had modified the camera, and I didn't want to do that, plus I wanted to expend much less on the screen. Also a large screen is not need for focus, everything is in focus on a GoPro. I found the perfect screen on ebay.com that was prompted as a "2.5" LCD WRIST CCTV CAMERA TESTER" with its own battery and NTSC/PAL video input, shipped for under $60.

The technical issue is the video out is in-between the stereo paired cameras, but there is a little bit of room if you modify a cable and trim the 3D housing, the cameras are untouched. The video connectors are tiny, I didn't have any of this size, so I hacked the video cable that comes with the camera, taking connector down to it core by crushing the plastic connector exterior in a vice repeatedly until it basically fell off. Using wire cutters I trimmed off the solder pads for the audio (red and white lines) so only the solder pad of the video (yellow) connection remained. Now only about 3-4mm of the connector will extrude from the camera. I removed the BNC connector from the cable that ships with the 2.5" LCD and soldered the video and ground lines the remaining connector elements.

To make this 3-4mm extrusion and newly attached video cable fit, I trimmed out a 'V' shape from the plastic wall that separates the two cameras using a pair of tin-snips or were they garden shears (whatever was laying around, did the job great.)

To mount the LCD, everything needed comes with camera or 3D housing. I used a flat sticky mount on the back of the LCD (on the lid of the battery compartment) and used the multi-jointed mount from the 3D kit to attach the LCD to the 3D rig. This allowed for nice controlled placement of the LCD.

At this point I've only spent $60 on the LCD and used exclusively parts and accessories that came with the camera/3D housing. To make this one step better, I used a spare magnetic LCDVF mount, so I can share my viewfinder between my Canon 7D and my new 3D rig. This has been so much fun to shoot with.

23 comments:

Go said...

Isn't this camera is the best camera available in market today ?
go pro hero

Dom Wilson said...

Awesome David. I'm off to Electronic City for parts soon. Now we need to come up with fine convergence adjustments on the housing.

David said...

I'm working on building two more myself, unfortunately the LCD shipment from Hong Kong is taken way longer this time. :(

guido said...

Hi David, great idea! HELP
I followed your instructions. But got stock at how much the mini connector should be trimmed ( from the picture it looks like at the fist segment. And how to do "the soldered the video and ground lines the remaining connector elements." Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. txs, Guido
PS would it be possible to chat?

David said...

Ground is the outside metal casing, and the next conductor in is the video signal (the last two are for audio.) In my latest version there is almost nothing sticking out from the camera (barely 2mm.) This is fiddly, not sure how to describe the soldering effort -- it was trial and error until it worked. First test without reducing the size of the connector so you don't need crazy soldering skills -- the lower the connector's profile, the harder the soldering is.

guido said...

Txs David, I'll give a shot... One more thing.... Do I need to swithch any setting other then NTSC/PAL to view the feed out from the AV connector?

David said...

There is a menu setting to enable video monitoring.

guido said...

Blogger guido said...

Hi David, Since you are a wizard at it and I am a novice. Would you be interested in doing for me?

PS. what's the setting code to enable the video? I did once but I can't find it in the micro menu

David said...

You want "Video Live Feed ON." which is 'LFO' (not the default 'LFF'.) Sorry I'm not doing any more soldering.

guido said...

Cool.. Since you wired the lef HERO and your monitor shows the picture up side. I suppose you inverted the up to down setting in the prefs. If so how did you resolve auto inversion with CineForm? I was toldfrom CF tech support it may screw up the 3D mux.

David said...

No, I wired video out to the right camera, which has the correct orientation.

BrigantineBeachnj said...

Interesting. The 3D sync must convert the live video out on the fly. Txs

guido said...

Interesting. The 3D sync must convert the live video out on the fly. Txs

lumo said...

Hello David,

I have some quick questions (as i do not own a gopro yet)
the jack is 3.5"? how much space do you have between the cameras?

do you think this will fit?
http://www.xmediatrade.de/audiovideokabelinline35mm4pinsteckerauf3xcinchfrdigitalkamcorder15m-p-35345.html?language=en&cPath=593_3774

this would save the work of soldering, which would be worth the few bucks ;)

David said...

You will not have enough room for a right angle connector, there is only about 2mm of space (nearly nothing.) As you haven't purchased your GoPros yet, you need to get the GoPro Hero2 instead (even nicer,) it has an HDMI port on the outside of the camera, so it is way easier to connect to -- although the screens aren't nearly as cheap.

lumo said...

it seems the minihdmi out is even on the easy to access side?!

David said...

Yes, that is yet another reason to go with the Hero2. I've made a hole my the left edge of the 3D Housing for the HDMI port, not other modification required.

Anonymous said...

Hi
i'm tring to add a monitor to my 3d kit (hd hero 2) i think the best way to come out from hero 2 i the HDMI, but i can't fint a portable monitor whit HDMI in. does any one know a product like that?
i can only find professional stuff like Lilliput and other.

David said...

I've had the same issue, found a Lilliput or similar monitor for $200, but it didn't work in PAL (I shoot 25p and slow to 23.976 in post.) So while $200 is currently about the cheapest HDMI portable display, it will not work in all situations. I ended up purchasing a SmallHD DP4 -- and amazing display, yet this is nearly the same cost a the whole Hero2-3D rig.

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Extruder Screens said...

Thanks for sharing this, I'll be giving this a try.

Owen said...

Hi David,

I bought a very cheap LCD Backpac off ebay (listed as not working) and I'm trying to fix it. The screen stays white after power up (plugged into an HD Hero with 1.01.01.102 firmware).

If I navigate the menus blind I can get it to playback videos, but the screen remains white while the audio plays. The screen brightness can also be adjusted.

I was wondering if you knew the likely cause of this and could point me in the direction of fixing it? I have electronics engineering experience and have test equipment (oscilloscopes etc.) and am happy to replace any surface mount components that might be the cause.

Any information you could give me would be fantastic, thanks.

David said...

Sorry, I don't know anything about the hardware internals.