A New High Quality Underwater USB Camera

unfortunately I have problems with the 4-pin cobalt watertight connector, I have the electronics tube completely watertight up to 300 meters with all cobalt connectors to be able to disassemble the electronics tube in 5 minutes, so if I put a cable gland it becomes a problem. Using the cobalt connector unfortunately lost the video signal, which I saw very delicate, not only with your camera, but also with the official hd one. I did some dry tests, putting visual references 1.5 meters away from the rov to see the differences in detail between the original hd camera, the hd explore camera, and my gopro hero 7 black. In terms of brightness the explore hd is the best, but in the water I use 2 bluerobotics spotlights and 2 spotlights with 17 white and 6 red LEDs of 6000 lumens each, so I’m interested in the sharpness of the image and in this the hero7 black, like I repeat out of the water, it is the best. While in terms of sharpness between the hd explore and the hd bluerobotics camera I didn’t find a big difference, the sensor is the same, the resolution is the same, I mounted a 150 ° wide angle on the hd bluerobotics camera and the results are very similar.

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Interesting observations! In bright light situation both camera would produce the same sharpness. The differences comes when in low light situation, where our newer image processor will produce a sharper and more accurate color. Anyhow, our main selling point would be of course the color accuracy. The original camera even above water tends to have a blue tint and the colors seem to be washed out. Anyhow, I would love to see some comparison of it in low light as well and in colors.

Here are comparisons of our own in low light! Left being HDCam, and right being Low Light HDCam. Both using same lens to match.

The most important part, of course, is in water :slight_smile:
I remember you were explaining how the colors would be yellow with those rocks. I would be interested in seeing how the exploreHD does in that situation!

Thanks again!

Marco, I don’t know the details of the cable you used on the camera, but if you used one of the Blue Trail Engineering 4-pin Cobalt cables, it probably didn’t work with the camera because the wires inside those cables are not twisted. Usually for USB applications we use a 6-pin cable with the wires inside twisted. We can also make Cobalt cables with true USB cable inside (twisted pairs, shielded).

-Damon (Blue Trail Engineering)

thanks Damon, as you say, the problem is the cable inside the Rov which, not being shielded, absorbs the noise and causes the signal loss. No problem, I bought the explore hd camera because I didn’t realize that the improvement was in the sensitivity to light, where it is really good, while I was looking for an improvement in sharpness, as I have plenty of light with my headlights.

Yeah, let me explain the technical aspects :slight_smile:

Our camera would be sharper in low light situation since our image processor is more modern and better at dealing with noise/grain. When we said sharper image in the previous comment, it was just an easier way of explaining that. Because of this, we are also able to increase the ISO, thus increasing the light through the sensor while still providing great colors. The gain circuitry on our image processor uses a similar technology found on dual native ISO cameras.

I am excited to see how your test goes in water where I figure you will see the biggest difference is color reproduction. :slight_smile: Hopefully you figure out a way to connect the camera soon!

exploreHD 2.0 Update

Hello, we are proud to announce the update made to our exploreHD camera line!

The housing has been improved significantly! :slight_smile:

Instead of having 4 separate machined parts, it is now reduced to only 2! This improves the reliability of the product and reduces the overall footprint of the camera. Additionally, the new glass mounting design on the front reduces vignetting and other lens artifacts even when used above water compared to previous design. :slight_smile:

The mounting has also been improved in strength significantly! It can now survive a 120lb force directly on the camera without the hinge breaking. :astonished:


We are also now introducing new 2 firmware for the exploreHD/HDcam. These 2 firmware can be chosen depending on your application. The first firmware will remove all H264 compression for the sharpest image while the other one will use standard H264 compression at 10Mb/s bitrate, recommended if you plan on having more than 1 camera.

This firmware loader also works with exploreHD 1.0!

Learn more here:

Thanks and let us know if you have any questions :slight_smile:


We were doing more testing with our cameras and here is our finding!

The sharpness would still be noticeable when in an acrylic enclosure compared to glass on the exploreHD. I assumed when you tested the stock camera, you didn’t take into consideration the acrylic. Also water would add different optical characteristics on glass vs acrylic. Thicker acrylic tends to cause haze and blurriness when in water compared to glass from our testing.

Additionally, in your testing were you using the entire Pi setup and everything or just plugged into PC by itself (MJPEG compression). Plugging it into the Pi would have more of a difference in sharpness than directly because of MJPEG vs H264 compression. We offer 2 version of the firmware for H264 when streaming on the Pi, one for highest quality (sharpest image) and one for lower bandwidth (not as sharp but good for streaming multiple cameras). You can experiment with those, the default firmware on the exploreHD would be the higher quality one. You also mentioned before the horrible tint on video. I believe the exploreHD should be able to remove that. I suggest doing more testing and comparisons once you have it setup on the ROV :slight_smile:

As for the connector, USB 2.0 is not differential and does not need twister pair. Shielding is recommended but not required. We will be testing the Blue Trail Connectors soon and reporting our results here.

Thanks! :slight_smile:

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Is it not possible to have a third intermediate firmware as video compression? Or it would be even better the possibility of being able to regulate it with us.

We are currently working on a WebUI based driver (that will install on the Pi) for our cameras that allows you to precisely control the bitrate and other settings. You can also turn off H264 compression and just use VBR for the best quality. It will work alongside with ArduSub Companion :slight_smile:

We will let you know when its ready to be used!


Sorry for the delayed response, been very busy here at DWE. We finally had the chance to test the Cobalt cable and connectors with the 6 pin using non shielded cables. Had no issues once the length is carefully controlled.

Additionally, when testing sharpness against GoPro, were you using MJPEG or the standard H264?
MJPEG is known to be much sharper and less chroma subsampling compression.

Although not supported by default QGroundControl, we are working on being able to stream the exploreHD using MJPEG rather than H264 through ethernet for users who wants the best quality. With that you will have to use RPi 4 to support gigabit and for ethernet longer than 100 meters, you may need fiber for multiple camera to support the much larger bandwidth.

Try plugging the camera directly to the computer using USB and use software like OBS or Windows standard camera app to record.

Let us know,


Hi Joseph,
If I use two cameras with Pi, can I set it up so they both use the higher quality firmware? Jim

Hello Jim!

Yes, you could have both in higher quality firmware. However, we recently developed a new software that can adjust bitrate and compression and that only works with the lower bandwidth firmware. From there, you can adjust it to be higher quality. For that reason, from now on, we ship our exploreHD camera with the lower bandwidth firmware. :slight_smile:

The software installs on the Pi and other Linux based computer and can also automatically start stream. If you are not using Pixhawk or other functions and just want camera streams, you can use this software for streaming instead of ArduSub Companion. However, if you are using ArduSub Companion, this software can be installed alongside it. :slight_smile:

Here is the connection diagram we recommend if you are interested!

Streaming Latency

Streaming Method: UDP H.264 via Gstreamer

Streaming Device: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 2GB RAM

Streamed Devices: 3 exploreHDs

Recieving Software: Open Broadcaster Software

Latency: 35ms ± 20

If anyone is interested I have now fitted one of these cameras to my sub. Designed and 3D printed a similar mount to the BR GoPro mount. Stl below

CamMount rev2.stl (421.2 KB)


Very cool mount! We didn’t think of mounting it on the battery container, we just expect people to drill into the frame!

We will put it on our docs site.


Wanted to share some recent some cool footage from the USS Midway testing with BlueOS and QGroundControl.



We made a mount that allows our new HDCam 2.0 to attach easily onto a BlueROV2.

BlueROV2_HDC_Bracket_v5 (2).stl (799.7 KB)


Hi everyone!

Wanted to provide some exciting updates on our cameras :slight_smile:

We are now offering the option to choose between a regular potted penetrator or WetLink straight from our site.

Additionally, all new orders will now come with a aluminum bracket as oppose to the usual 3D printed ABS bracket.

For those of you that already have an exploreHD and want the metal bracket, it is available to order from our site linked below.

Thanks, and let us know if you have any questions :slight_smile:


Hi everyone!

Wanted to provide some exciting updates with our cameras. :slight_smile:

We recently uploaded 2 video guides that goes through our hardware and software installation of our cameras.

These should help in installing our cameras to BlueROV systems.

We also introduced a multiplexer board that can easily install on the back of a Raspberry Pi or a BlueROV Electronic Stack.

This allows users to connect up to 7 of our cameras and stream it with UDP using either BlueOS or our streaming software. It also eliminates the need for soldering as the JST connectors can fit through a cable penetrator.

These new product will reduce the barrier to entry to multi-cam ROV setup and allow for easier piloting and more tooling options on your ROV :slight_smile: