Runcam recently released the Split 3 camera in both Micro and Nano form factors. I am particularly interested in the Spilit 3 Nano because it looks like a perfect camera for “toothpick” micro quads.
Update (July 2020): Runcam has released a new version, the Split 4!
Where to Buy
The Runcam Split 3 comes in two versions, one with a micro camera module (19x19mm), and the other with a nano camera (14x14mm). That seems to be the only difference as the processing module boards are the same.
- Runcam Split 3 Nano: http://bit.ly/split-nano (price:$59.49, coupon: BGSplit3)
- Runcam Split 3 Micro: http://bit.ly/2YlNst7
It comes with the following accessories:
- M2 nylon standoffs, bolts and nuts
- plastic SD card cover (prevents ejection)
- Nano to Micro adapter (14x14mm to 19x19mm)
- 3-pin silicone cable
Here is a break down of the Split 3 specs.
|Runcam Split 3 Micro||Runcam Split 3 Nano|
|FOV||HD 165°; FPV 165° (16:9), 130° (4:3)|
|Resolution||1080p60fps / 1080p50fps / 1080p30fps|
|Format||NTSC / PAL switchable|
|Max SD Card||Up to 64GB|
|Mounting Holes||M2, 20x20mm|
|Power Input||5V – 20V|
|Current||650mA @ 5V, 270mA @12V|
RunCam also added “power-off protection” to this camera, when the camera loses power, maybe the LiPo is unplugged, the camera will automatically save the video. You might still lose the last few seconds of recording, but it’s better than nothing.
It has SD card protector to prevent ejection in a crash. It also supports camera control so you can change camera settings using your transmitter (requires connection to the flight controller and setup via Betaflight, see manual for detail).
As for SD card choices, see my recommendations for 1080p recording.
Closer Look at the Split 3
Apart from the new camera form factor and lower weight, the Split 3 has a few improvements from the previous Split 2S. Here is a side by side comparison with the Runcam Split 2S.
Runcam upgraded the ribbon cable between the camera module and processing board.
They also upgraded filtering to reduce interference in the FPV feed from power noise. However they didn’t seem to have done anything to audio, so it still suffers and i can’t say it’s usable for FPV flights.
The processing board is 29x29mm with M2 20x20mm mounting hole pattern. But because the board is slightly wider/longer than a typical 20x20mm FC so you should check if your frame has enough room for it.
Interestingly, the PCB has the same dimension as a typical tiny whoop flight controller, i.e. 29x29mm. Maybe you could just stick the board on top of the FC with double sided foam tape?
It has a UART (RX and TX pins) you can connect directly to a UART on the flight controller. With configuration you can start and stop recording using a switch on your radio.
There are two versions, the Nano and Micro. The only difference is just the camera module. The Nano has a smaller camera module, but the Micro offers slightly better image quality because of the bigger lens.
Both versions have mounting holes on the camera housing, so they can be mounted directly in the drone frames. They also come with mounting adapter for converting 19mm (micro) to 28mm (full size), or 14mm (nano) to 19mm (micro). This makes it extremely flexible and compatible with a wide range of frames and 3D printed mounts.
The new Split 3 Nano camera is probably the lightest and most compact HD camera for tiny whoops and “toothpicks” (ultralight 2.5″/3″ micro quads). The camera is so small compared to a full size FPV camera.
Runcam managed to reduce the overall weight by over 2 grams with the Split 3 Nano (10.5g) from the Split 2 Mini (12.9g), which might not sound a lot, but it’s significant for micro quads that typically weigh below 50g.
However the Micro version is 1 gram heavier (14g) than the original due to the larger lens, but hopefully you do get better image quality from it too.
Testing Split 3 Nano
I couldn’t wait any longer, so I just mounted the Split 3 Nano in my TurboBee 136RS. There is some jello in the video, because the quad’s PID/filtering is not optimized, and it was a windy day – 12mph gusts.
While doing it, I realized there is a small problem with this camera. A lot of FC stacks in these micro quads are 20x20mm, so the Split 3 is a perfect fit. However there are more and more 16x16mm stacks too, so mounting the 20x20mm Split 3 PCB might be a little tricky.
And this is exactly the problem I found here. As a work around, I just “raised” the canopy with standoffs, creating more room for me to fit the Split 3 PCB under the canopy. I could definitely do a more elegant job, but I just couldn’t wait to test this camera :)
I am powering the Split 3 directly from the FC’s 5V, since it has a 5V 3A BEC which should be enough.
The weight increase is only 7 grams by replacing the Caddx EOS2 camera (awful cam by the way) with the Split 3 Nano.
The lack of marketing tells me that the Runcam Split 3 is probably not something revolutionary, most likely just an improved Split 2 that is catered for more specific builds – micro quads in this case.
If you’ve already got the Split 2, I don’t think there is a need to upgrade, the image quality is more or less the same. Unless you prefer to have the new nano camera form factor.
Still, audio is unusable – just put music over it, you are fine :)
it’s pretty amazing how they managed to make a 10-gram camera that can record 1080p 60fps video while being used for low latency FPV. Can’t wait to see what they bring out next.
- Jul 2019 – preview posted
- Sep 2019 – updated post with my review