Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mobius Cam ... the GoPro killer ?


Introduction

Have you have seen on Planet Soaring, I'm a fan of on-board cam, and also aerial pictures. I have started years ago with a basic 640x480 resolution cam. Then I purchased the GOPRo1, and more recently the GoPro Hero 3 to benefit of the progress in term of resolution and features. But the problem of the GoPro series is that it is not suitable for mounting it on a small to medium glider because of the size and the weight. Therefore, I gave a try to the Keycam 808#16 V2 Lens D which provide 720p video with fish eye effect, in a very small size and weight of 20g, in brief the ideal cam to mount everywhere on a glider without impacting the flight too much. To be honest, I like very much the view from the wing tip where you can see the entire plane, and of course the scenery behind. This year appeared on the market a new cam which is the result of the collaboration between the designer/manufacturer of the keycam 808#16, and several aero-modellers. This is a superb and efficient cam, highly configurable but also firmware upgradeable that I propose to present you today.



Overview

The Mobius has a modern and square case design made of precision molded of rugged high-density plastic. On the top, it has 3 buttons (power, mode, shutter) and a multicolor LED that allow to know in which mode you are (1 color per mode), and the state of the cam (flashing = recording). Two large exposed metal heat sink surfaces protruding through the case heat dissipation from the DSP and memory chips. On the rear side of the case, we find the Mini USB port, used for charging the battery and communicate with the cam (GUI, or external USB disk), and 2 tiny holes for the reset button, and the recording LED. The front side host the lenes (hopefully) that is provided with a cap, and the microphone hole. On the bottom side, we find only the access holes to the 2 case screws. The camera weighs approximately 40 grams (without the lens cap) and dimensions are the following: 61mm (Length) x 35mm (Wide) x18mm (Height).

The lens mounted on the Mobius is a medium FOV (110°) lens that provides some fish-eye effect at 1080p resolution, but less that the Keycam 808#16 V2 Lens D or the GoPro. I found it to be a good compromise.

The Mobius come with a cable (USB, mini-USB), a tiny Allen wrench to open the case if needed, a piece of Velcro tape, and an interesting mount equipped with a standard 1/4-20 photo tripod thread.

Let's have a look to the features and functions of this Mobius, and this is where things are becoming interesting:

The mobius has two user selectable video modes (configurable), and one photo mode, configurable too. So on the field you can switch easily from one mode to another depending of your needs.

Video mode proposes the following settings:

  •     3 resolution / fps settings  : 1080p-30fps or 720p-60fps or 720p-30fps (MOV  H.264 compression video format with )
  •     3 quality settings (Super, Standard, and Low) that affect the bit rates (from 18,000 kbps down to 5,800 kbps)
  •     high dynamic range function
  •     5 recording times :3, 5, 10, and 15 min. plus "Max" which correspond to the record until reaching 4 Gb (depending of the micro SD card)
  •     Loop recording, which means that once the micro SD card is full of clips, the mobius will overwrite the oldest file and continue to record
  •     movie orientation (180 deg. rotation) to record when the mobius is mounted upside down
  •     sound on/off
  •     Movie time stamp toggle

Photo settings are:

  •     Photo resolution: 2304x1536 , 1920x1080, or 1280x720 pixels
  •     Time Lapse delays .25s or .5s (at 1920x1080 resolution max), and 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60 second intervals
  •     Photo time stamp toggle

Cam settings

  •     Power on button delay (to prevent premature activation while handling)
  •     auto power off (inactivity)
  •     Auto-record when power to the camera is applied (useful for car recorder use - no button presses needed.)
  •     Charging on/off toggle when plugged into a USB data port (useful for some external USB devices)
  •     TV out (PAL or NTSC), which includes a playback mode with audio.
  •     TV display ratio (4:3 or 16:9)


There are two ways to configure the mobius and both are very easy. The first one that we will call "manual" consist in writing the current config on the SD card, then modify the text config file, and then reload it. The smart things is that the cam remove the conf file from the SD after reading it, so you are sure that the configuration has been taken into account. Below is an example of the config file, so you can see exactly all parameters, current alues used by the camera are shown in bold in the square brackets, and the rest of the line describe possible values and their meaning:

    Date time=[2013/06/28-21:33:34];date time setting,format yyyy/mm/dd hh:mm:ss

    Video Mode 1 resolution=[0];Movie resolution setting,0:1080p,1:720p
    Video Mode 1 Frame Rate=[2];Movie frame rate setting,1:60fps (only for 720p), 2:30fps
    Video Mode 2 resolution=[1];Movie resolution setting,0:1080p,1:720p
    Video Mode 2 Frame Rate=[1];Movie frame rate setting,1:60fps (only for 720p),2:30fps

    Photo Mode Capture Size=[0];set photo size,0:2304x1536,1:1920x1080,2:1280x720
    Set Time Lapse Shooting=[0],0:off,1:0.25s,2:0.5s,3:1s,4:2s,5:5s,6:10s,7:30s,8:60s

    Movie cycle time=[2];movie cycle time,0:3 minutes,1:5 minutes,2:10 minutes,3:15 minutes,4:max to 4G byte,
    Movie Loop Recording=[0];set loop recording on or off,0:off,1:on,
    Time stamp=[1];set date/time stamp on or off,0:off,1:on,
    Movie sound=[1];set movie sound,0:mute,1:on,
    Movie Flip=[0];set movie rotate,0:off,1:on,
    Movie quality=[1];set movie quality, set movie data rate,0:Super,1:Standard,2:Low,
    Movie high dynamic range=[0];set movie high dynamic range,0:off,1:on,

    Power on=[1];set system power on time,0:delay,1:fast
    Power off=[1];set system auto power off time when system pending,0:off,1:30 seconds,2:1 minutes,3:2 minutes,
    Auto Record=[0];set connect or disconnect with power to start or stop video recording automatically,,0:off,1:on,
    LED=[1];set LED flicker when recording,0:off,1:on,
    Charge from USB Host=[0]; when connecting with USB host, charge camera or not,0:on,1:off

    TV out=[0];set Tv out,0:NTSC,1:PAL,
    TV Display Ratio=[0];set display ratio,0:4*3,1:16*9

    {TLCAM MOV:2013/06/25 v0.32}
    {LDTLCAM,v001}


The second way is using the Windows or Android GUI connected to the Mobius and select various options/features on the GUI, then apply. I haven't checked the Android GUI yet because I have an old Galaxy S2 with an old version of Android on it. But clearly, the possibility to configured your cam with your smart-phone is really a great plus.
Both ways are also applicable to upgrade the firmware of the cam to benefit of the latest version/bug fixes/features. I flashed mine manually, and it worked great.

At the field: First of all, I found the Mobius format and size ideal for our needs. You can bring it everywhere because of it's tiny size, you can wear it on a cap because it is light, where it is preferable to have an helmet for the Go Pro. But the primary use of the Mobius is obviously on-board, On the front of the fuselage, for FPV thanks to it's video output, in the wing tip to obtain spectacular view angles, etc ... or simply  mounted on a compact/light/cheap quadricopter. In brief, this is the perfect on-board cam. Operating the Mobius at the field is pretty easy. Leds are well visible, buttons works well and are clearly identified. For aerial pictures, I selected the timelapse feature with 1 pitcure every 2 seconds. This is a good compromise, especially if you have a large storage 16 or 32 Gb Micro SD. In other words, I'm impressed !

In conclusion, this little cam is, from my point of view, more adapted to our hobby than the expensive GoPro Hero 3. The Mobius is well designed, well thought and provide high quality pictures and video comparable with a 6 times more expensive cam. I definitively recommend it. Personally, I will keep my GoPro 3 on my helmet, sell the GoPro 1 that I still have, and use from now the Mobius at the smallest occasion.

Below are some examples both in video and picture mode, taken on-board to give you an idea of the quality. In addition, there are many video sample on the web. I will publish more video and pictures as soon as Mr Sun shines again (Summer is obviously finished).

The first picture is from Gérard (http://www.geeby22.fr/) who uses the Mobius for few weeks already.

Courtesy of  Geeby22

The second  picture is from me using my Easystar2. This is the original file, not resize or touched.


And finally here an onboard video at 1080p 30fps. This is Joel Marin Mobius mounted at the wing tip of my Pike Precision.


The Mobius can be purchased in Europe at Flash-RC.

As soon as I take more aerial pictures and video, I will share them with you of course !

2 comments:

  1. Salut Pierre,
    C'est sympa de juxtaposer mer et montagne, liquide et minéral... deux magnifiques paysages.
    Article complet, j'ai mis un lien dans mon blog.
    Amitiés, Gérard.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very nice topic about this little and great camera for all sorts of uses! It's now also available at our store (based in The Netherlands): http://www.mobius-cam.com .

    We ship to all countries within Europe and also stock all the original accessories!

    ReplyDelete