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Cheapest way to wirelessly transmit video

I asked a similar question a few days ago, but I think I was unclear about my requirements, and they have changed a little since then too.

Here's my proposed setup:

I have a small robot which travels around my room (max 10 ft away from origin). The robot has a small camera fitted into it, and a way to transmit that video to me wirelessly. I am retrieving the live video feed from it, and based on what I see on the screen, I give it further instructions.

So essentially, I need a camera -> transmitter -> receiver setup for a video signal. I would appreciate recommendations for those three components, and what the cheapest way I can achieve that setup is. I am having difficulty finding this info online, perhaps because I don't know what the keywords I should be searching are.

My main requirement is that it has to be cheap (EDIT: in the tens of dollars). I don't care too much about the video quality, frequency, or range (as long as it is roughly 10 feet or more).

Please let me know if more details are required.


marked as duplicate by Toby Jaffey, Brian Carlton, stevenvh, Dave Tweed, W5VO Oct 9 '12 at 1:42

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @TobyJaffey Ya it is my question, but I felt I was too unspecific about what I intended to do in the last question. \$\endgroup\$ – capcom Sep 18 '12 at 10:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can edit the original question \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Jaffey Sep 18 '12 at 11:03

You don't state what "cheap" means to you, but I'm inferring that you mean "something in the tens of dollars". I'd start with a used wireless video baby monitor, and modify to suit your specific design requirements.

They typically include camera, IR illumination, modulator, transmitter, receiver, demodulator, and an LCD screen. Lots of fun donor parts for a project on a budget. You'll need to work out power supplies and getting composite video out of the demodulator, which will be specific to the particular model you obtain.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Awesome suggestion! I'll look into that. And yes, I meant in the tens of dollars. \$\endgroup\$ – capcom Sep 18 '12 at 3:16

You can transmit data optically at well above the required bandwidth using an LED and photodiode. The problems encountered with using visible light (or IR) may make radio more attarctive, but the LED solution is liable to be the cheapesyt.

Here's an example. LED AM Video Link.

One of his circuit diagrams of an optical receiver as an example of what's involved:

enter image description here

Wikipedia - Free space optical communications

Nothing new under the sun - Video of enthusiasts (in 2009) using German WW2 optical communicator LiSpr80, Lichtsprechgerät 80/80

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey that's pretty cool! I'm reading into it now, but wouldn't this not work if the robot goes out of the LOS? \$\endgroup\$ – capcom Sep 18 '12 at 11:00

I found a really cheap wireless security camera on eBay. The added advantage is that the camera is extremely small, perfect for my RC vehicles and robots. Here is a link to the item:

Mini Wireless 1.2Ghz Color CMOS Camera + Receiver

Also, it should be extremely simple to set up. While Russel's answer is interesting, I have a feeling that it will take a lot of my time just to try to get it working, and it will very limited in scope for projects that need to move around all the time.


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