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Low Cost HD-Zoom-Tilt Project

(Etienne Demers) #1

Hello All,

As part of a survey requirement, I have to build an HD zoom camera with tilt capabilities.

I wanted a cheap setup that would interface easily with BR2 using as many components readily available from BR’s website.

This is what I have done so far and I must admit I am getting pretty happy with the results.

First, I purchased an IP HD camera: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Low-Light-H-265-H-264-Sony-Sensor-IMX291-Hi3516CV300-2MP-1080P-Audio-IP-Camera-Module/32833041970.html?

Note that only one board on the picture but there are in fact 2.

I also purchased the following from BR website:

https://www.bluerobotics.com/store/watertight-enclosures/4-series/camera-tilt-mount/ (mount for analog camera)

If you will be building this I am sure BR can sell you only the parts you need. They even sell custom size tube to suit. I will be cutting mine in 3 equal pieces.

First I had to cut a hole in the tray plate to mount the tilt motor:

With a little help from Mr Dremel and an exacto knife:

I then made some holes in the Analog mounting kit and solidified with hot glue:

Mounted the Camera:

I am pretty happy with the result so far.

Tomorrow I will be getting the tube cut in 3 and design a bracket to mount it and wire it all up.

I will use a section of tether to keep things simple.

More to come later.


Hi Im Christian ..Pro ROV pilot and Diver.. 100 questions.. anyone up for it?;)
Blue ROV to the next level
(undersearobotics.com) #2

Nicely done!

(Etienne Demers) #3

Made some drawings up. I am a bit concerned that water refraction will cause the camera to see the brackets when zoomed out.

For the brackets, I am planning on using: https://www.bluerobotics.com/store/watertight-enclosures/enclosure-clamp-4-series/

These really give a lot of flexibility for mounting the camera.

My Wiring is going as follow:

1 - Network 1
2 - Network 2
3 - Network 3
4 - Network 4
5 - GND
6 - Power (12VDC)
7 - Power (5VDC
8 - Tilt Signal

I am using a piece of tether at the moment which is being potted but a cable with more conductors would be nice.

I also realized that I got 3inch end plates so I will need to buy 4 inch plates and the bracket before I can complete this project.

I used a terminal strip on the motor side for wiring and another idea came to me.

The camera could be used as a network hub for other cameras or peripherals using this network hub in the other side:

I could use wire 7 for a second Tilt Signal and use a 5V regulator hooked on the 12V line. Nothing stoppng you from connecting more than one tilt on the same tilt signal. EX: you are making boom cameras for inspection or you are pairing one with the an aft camera for tether monitoring.

This would allow to use only 1 penetrator on the main BR2 pod for several camera.

You can also apply the same technique on a smaller tube if you are using smaller cameras.

Here are some planned usage for the new camera housing:

A 3 inch housing version would probably sit in nicely as a manip camera.

(undersearobotics.com) #4

Great project. I’ll be interested to see how this works.

(Rusty) #5


This is very cool. Thanks for sharing and keep it up!


(Etienne Demers) #6

Thanks guys. I’ll keep posting as I move along.

I am having a lot of fun with these BR2 projects but I have more critical work to finish. We are building a 2.5T LARS in the shop for a client in France at the moment so BR2 projects are for spare time.

Playing around with the BR2 gave me the perfect excuse to purchase a 3d Printer so you can expect a lot more mods in 2018…



Etienne, I will be interested to see how you get on with this project - primarily because I have been down this road before! Here are some notes from my experience…

  1. I bought a very similar camera from Alibaba about a year ago and it arrived (6 weeks late) with no connection diagrams. We talked to a security cam expert about the wiring and he said that the motor control board was missing and the sensor was definitely fake.

  2. We managed to get the camera running but the quality was appalling - probably about 50% as good as an IP camera that I ripped out of an old bug-eye security camera. Eventually we removed the lens assembly and attached it to a real Sony sensor and the quality was a lot better - but we still couldn’t run the zoom motors.

  3. The refraction through acrylic is not your friend; this is not a problem at full zoom but at wide-angle you will get increasing distortion from the centre of the picture outwards. We built a sled which could vary the distance between the lens and the inside face of the acrylic dome to fix this issue. The problem is, the lenses in these cameras are aspherical therefore there is no ‘sweet spot’ - so some of the picture will always be distorted.

All the same, don’t give up! You may find that the problems described above are acceptable - especially when the ‘pro’ subsea cameras cost 100x the price of your camera. There are also glass tube products that have significantly better refraction, they will always cost more than acrylic but the borosilicates which can now be purchased from China have impressive data sheets and are not too expensive.


(Etienne Demers) #8

Hello SROV,

Thank you for your input.

China is a big hit and miss that is for sure.

The camera I got was shipped and received very quickly.

I got it up and running in no time via internet explorer and its ONVIF compatible.

The camera even does HVEC although I got it set to H.264 for compatibility with my web server.

Is the sensor a rip off? I don’t know, but I find the video quality quite acceptable.

I’ll post screenshots later.

Refraction will be an issue for sure but its the price to pay for a cheap tilt functionality.

There is always the option of installing the camera in a more classic cylinder housing with a proper lens. But this it not essential for me at this point.

The zoom is on plastic gears which are flimsy but for 80USD it is acceptable.

The only issue I had with it so far is the MJPEG has gibberish at the top of the picture. But I don’t use MJPEG.



There is a corrective lens filter (for want of a better term) that is available that corrects for the acrylic tube - I will find the details tomorrow and post them.

(Christian) #10

Niiice…ive just in the process of ordering a complete lit and parts for this but i qwant low light usb and Analog in the same;).i wirked for Argus remote system and they had cameras like thie;) nice for aft camera too;)


Found it - Lens

(Etienne Demers) #12

Parts should get here soon so I will be able to update later this week.

I also ordered a couple more cameras, low light and UHD. This time I chose a fish eye lens.

I’ll let you know when they turn up.

I think I will also be adding a piece of plastic to isolate the lens from other light sources. I’ll need the 3d printer for that.

I guess the idea here was just to show how to build a cost effective camera with what was readily available from BR2 but going through the motions made me realize, with a few extra tweaks, this could be a very sensible product.

In the meantime, we went ahead and added the ethernet switch to the BR 4in enclosure.

This is the ethernet switch we used. 8USD with delivery: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/White-Case-mini-ethernet-switch-4-port-desktop-network-SOHO-RJ45-LAN-HUB-Small-switch-for/32822278658.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.afXLBY

I have put the wire assignments 1,2,3, 6 on the board where you need to solder.

We had to enlarge the fathom-x mounting holes to 2.5mm to put our 3mm threaded spacers.

We also build a bracket to fit the ethernet board on top of the fathom-x board.

We also opted to get rid of the female bulkhead and solder network cables directly on the ethernet board. We crimped RJ45 connectors for the fathom-X board and R-Pi and finally spliced cables to tap onto the 5v regulator power.

Works perfectly.

(undersearobotics.com) #13

Nice work @etienne.

(Etienne Demers) #14

I have to come clean on that one, I asked one of my guys to do it :slight_smile:

(Etienne Demers) #15

Hello All,

Finally got the parts and did some tests. I do see the brackets as suspected but if I zoom in a little bit they go away.

I still have some space in between the lens and the dome so there is a chance I can improve on this with a different bracket.

In the meantime, here are some screen shots.

First one is the BR2 camera outside its dome.

Second one is my camera inside its dome.

I find that my camera gives better results in general especially if the BR2 camera is inside its dome.

Also, the good news is, I’ve applied the fix from my thread Get video in Videolan and latency is as good as the BR2 camrea so you can fly with it.

I’ll be cutting the tube today or tomorrow and will post the pictures of the build.

That will conclude this initial goal then I will need to make a bracket that will bring the lens closer to the dome and protect it from surrounding light.

I also bought a couple of cameras I want to tests with fish eye lenses.


(Etienne Demers) #16

I just realized I posted the wrong pictures for comparing the cameras.

Here they are:

You can see the brackets on each side. But if you zoom in enough they go away.

As promised here is the final setup.

Just need to finish the aluminium bracket and tidy up the tether.

(undersearobotics.com) #17

Nicely done. Looks like the color saturation and light sensitivity of the new camera is ever better than the original.

(Etienne Demers) #18

Yeah, the web interface allows you to adjust the image settings but the factory defaults are already good. Its a bit on the yellow side but very close to the colors in the office.

Overall the image is sharper and the focus can be adjusted manually.

(Rusty) #19

@etienne - Very nice. I agree that the colors looks good! I’m wondering if you can achieve similar color results by changing any of the settings on the camera page at The focus and clarity seem to be relatively similar between the two.

(Etienne Demers) #20

Hi Rusty,

I haven’t had the chance play with the settings but the camera I have has superior optics which is likely where the difference is.

Its more apparent live.