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Old 07-28-2020, 10:41 PM
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Default New Astrocam: First Look

The new Astrocam from Estes has arrived on the shelves of Target Department Stores, and I picked one up tonight in Kennesaw, GA for $59 bucks.

The kit comes with a Porta Pad II and Electron Beam controller, a fairly standard E2X kit with a longish, pre-colored BT50 body tube, and a couiple of motors: B6-4 and C6-5. A coupon is included for a free pack of B6-4s in exchange for you entering info on the Estes website.
The kit comes with a special nose cone to receive the camera, and some rubber bands to assist in holding the camera on the nose cone.

Then there's a wad of bubble wrap, with a label saying "DON'T THROW THIS OUT!!" (well, words to that effect) Inside is the camera.

The camera appears to be an off-the-shelf device (i.e. made for general use, not specifically for the rocket). It's a nice ovaloid shape. There is a button on one of the flat sides. There is a slot in one of the long edges which has a 16GB Micro SD card. Press in to unlatch it and pop it out, press in again to lock it in. On one of the ends is a tiny hole where the lens (and probably microphone) is. The other end slides off, revealing a standard USB 2.0 connector. The first thing you do is plug the camera into a usb port with power in order to charge the 3.7v LiPo battery. It takes two-three hours to charge. It discharges in 40 minutes.

The camera shoots video at 1080p, 30 frames per second. Saves video files as .AVI. You can shoot stills 2560x1440 on .JPG files. You can access the files with your computer just by plugging the camera into a USB port. Or you can take the SD card and put it into your computer. 16GB is enough fro 90 minutes of video. The camera will accept up to a 128GB card.

My camera is charging at this moment and I'll update this thread later.
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Old 07-28-2020, 11:11 PM
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Well, I can't complain any: from "I wish Estes had a new camera" to "Roy bought one and has given his first-hand review of the contents, with video tests coming", all in about a five hours span!

As they say, ask and ye shall receive! Thanks for the fast info Roy!


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Old 07-29-2020, 12:40 AM
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The important thing to note is that this camera is NOT married to this nosecone. You can use this camera on any rocket you want to mount it to. I would expect the companies that make shrouds for the 808 cameras to have new mounts available for the Astrocam fairly quickly, and there will probably be 3d printing files available within a few days. The camera by itself (without the end cap) weighs between 7 and 8 grams. The end cap adds maybe a gram if that. Compare that to the one 808 camera I have handy, which comes in at 15 grams.

That segues into commenting that this camera definitely in the 808 camera lineage. Date Time stamp is in the lower left corrner, and is set by editing a Time.txt file in the root folder of the SD card, then turning the camera on and off to set the internal clock.

It is a daylight-balanced camera. It doesn't really perform well indoors. I won't waste your time or space with a video here until I can get out in the yard tomorrow. Sound is ok, with a little baseline pink noise. not bad.

I do notice some wave patterns running top to bottom. This may be because I tested it within three feet of my desktop computer, or it may be an artifact of its problem in low light. Or maybe I'm seeing 60hz from one of the light bulbs.
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Old 07-29-2020, 12:52 AM
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here's a still photo from it.
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Old 07-29-2020, 01:23 AM
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Great teaser, Roy. Now you really ARE going to make me go looking for one of these tomorrow.

This camera sounds like its a long way (in the right direction) from a camera Mike Fritz had me testing a few years ago.

Looking forward to more.
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Old 07-29-2020, 01:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BEC
Great teaser, Roy. Now you really ARE going to make me go looking for one of these tomorrow.

This camera sounds like its a long way (in the right direction) from a camera Mike Fritz had me testing a few years ago.

Looking forward to more.


was it a better camera than the Astrovision?
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Old 07-29-2020, 08:43 AM
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Good writeup. The only thing left to find out is the shutter speed and how well it will keep blur and stretch distortion at bay. It tends to only get bad when the 808's are under canopy, so I'd expect this little gem to be at least as good or hopefully better than them.

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to hurry up and fly it! An overcast day is fine, as it will let us know how good the lens and sensor are at gathering light.
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Old 07-29-2020, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbzep
Good writeup. The only thing left to find out is the shutter speed and how well it will keep blur and stretch distortion at bay. It tends to only get bad when the 808's are under canopy, so I'd expect this little gem to be at least as good or hopefully better than them.

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to hurry up and fly it! An overcast day is fine, as it will let us know how good the lens and sensor are at gathering light.


flying fields are far away at the moment. a couple of people on facebook are planning to fly it today.

Mike Hellmund has already been flying it in beta test, and suggests either not using the pearl tube included in the kit, or dulling it down
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Old 07-29-2020, 11:49 AM
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Pearl tube. Hmmmm.....sounds like the same one used in the Ghost Chaser (and made from the same stock as the Alpha VI).

At some point today I will go looking for one of these.
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Old 07-29-2020, 05:43 PM
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My local Target said "limited availability" on target.com for the Astrocam. As it turned out they had two (and now they have one).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Royatl
Then there's a wad of bubble wrap, with a label saying "DON'T THROW THIS OUT!!" (well, words to that effect) Inside is the camera.


I wonder how many cameras had already been discarded....seeing as there is both the label on the bubble wrap and a separate sheet in mine. See attached image.

Other first impressions:

• The pearly white body tube is in fact the same as the one on the Ghost Chaser.
• The string attached to the point of the nose cone, so that the camera will be looking down during descent, is a good idea.
• The 'chute is a 15 inches rather than the usual 12 in a model this size.


I hope the fin can holds up better than on the Ghost Chaser. I have one with ~15 flights on it and the short length above the top of the motor is pretty melted by now and I've never put any Aerotech D10s or D21s in it. It has seen several Q-jet B4-4s but the way the ejection charge well is arranged in those, it would be discharging above the plastic.

To answer your question about the free motors coupon from the other thread—Neither example of the RSSS in the black box that I have had any coupon/web survey thing in it. But the way the survey web page reads somebody may have gotten confused. But this could apply to the new version of the RSSS as well. There was one at my local Target but I didn't buy it.

Camera is on to charge now.
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Last edited by BEC : 07-29-2020 at 10:36 PM. Reason: punctuation
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