Review: Runcam Split Mini FPV/HD Camera

by Oscar
Published: Last Updated on

The Runcam Split Mini camera is a smaller version of the Split V2. The mini uses a smaller camera and a smaller 2-layer PCB with a 20x20mm mounting pattern. It can be used as an FPV camera as well as recording 1080p HD footage at 60FPS.

Update (27 Aug 2018): Runcam has released a new version – the Split Mini 2 Camera!

You can purchase the Split Mini from

What’s Special about the Split Mini Camera?

If you haven’t seen what the Runcam Split is capable of, you should check out our review first. The Runcam Split Mini camera is basically the Split V2, “split” into 2 smaller PCB’s.

Split Mini vs. Split 2 - Size Comparison

Split Mini vs. Split 2 – Size Comparison

Smaller frames (90mm – 150mm) that run 3″, 2.5″ or even 2″ propellers don’t normally carry an HD action cameras due to the lack of power. The Runcam Split Mini could be the solution to allow these tiny micro quads to capture HD footage, as long as they support boards with a 20mm x 20mm mounting pattern.

The Split Mini might just be the answer for HD recording on sub-250g multirotors – which is the legal weight limit for drones without registration in many countries.

Further Reading:

What’s Included?

  • Split Mini Camera
  • Mounting bracket
  • Various silicone cables
  • 8x M2 3mm Metal standoffs
  • 4x M2 25mm screws
  • 4x M2 5mm nylon standoff
Split Mini Camera Accessories

Split Mini Camera Accessories

Specification

  • HD FOV 165° / FPV FOV 130°
  • HD Video Resolution / frame rate: 1080p60fps / 1080p30fps / 720p60fps
  • Dimensions: PCB 29*27*11mm (20mm mounting pattern) / Lens Module 19*19*22mm
  • Power – Voltage/Current: 5-17V / 430mA when idle, 540mA-650mA when recording
  • Weight: 14.5g without any standoff & screws
  • Integrated Microphone (but not for FPV)

The Split Mini has a very similar spec to the Split V2, except the lack of support for WiFi module, and a camera lens with slightly smaller FOV.

Closer Look at the Split Mini Camera

Camera Module

The lens module has almost identical dimensions and mounting holes to the Runcam Swift Micro.

Split Mini Camera vs. Micro Siwft 2

Split Mini Camera vs. Micro Siwft 2

Ribbon Cable

The lens module (camera) is connected to the processor module (PCB) with a ribbon cable. The ribbon cable on the Split Mini is slightly shorter than the Split V2, and measures about 65mm.

The connection between the ribbon cable and PCB has changed to “board to board” connector, making it easy to connect and disconnect.

It can be disconnected by accident in a crash easily as it is, but Runcam came up with a solution to this by providing a metal plate that sits on top of this connector. This should provide enough protection and works to hold the connector firmly in place.

Micro SD Card

The Split Mini supports an SD card capacity of up to 64GB, and also has metal plate to prevent the memory card from ejecting in a crash.

To eject the SD card, simply lift the metal plate and push the card to release.

Processing Module (PCB’s)

The Split Mini is built on 2 separate boards that are connected through a “board to board” connector.

Taking them apart reveals both sides of the PCB’s.

There are 5 solder pads on the Split Mini for power, video signal and serial connection (for FC control). There is no JST plastic connector. Also, the lack of audio output means you won’t have sound for FPV, but you will still get sound in your HD footage.

Talking about audio, beware that the sound quality of the Runcam Split Mini will not be as good as the full size Split because of the lack of dedicated audio processor. (it’s removed due to the limited space)

Summary of all the differences between the Split Mini & V2

This is the list of hardware changes:`

  • Smaller mounting pattern (from 30.5mm to 20mm)
  • Takes up less horizontal space, but more vertical space due the two-board design
  • WiFi feature removed
  • Smaller camera and lens
  • Ribbon cable connector changed – more robust against crashes
  • Dedicated audio processor removed – lower audio quality
  • Speaker removed – no more beeping when pressing power button or record button
  • Audio output pin for FPV removed
  • Overall lighter

Main Limitation – Stack Height!

Because of the dual PCB design, the Split Mini requires more vertical space in the frame for installation. Therefore It’s not going to fit all the frames out there.

I am going to use the Runcam Split Mini in this 3″ build from 3B-R (purchase link).

This frame seems to be a perfect platform, with just enough room for an AIO flight controller (FC with PDB integrated) and the Split Mini camera. I will be using four standalone ESC’s mounted on the arms.

The height of the Split Mini stack is just under 12mm. So when you are selecting or designing a frame for this camera, you should make sure there is enough room for the FC stack.

This is how small the Runcam Split Mini is when compared to the full size Split V2.

The 3″ build is done, all-up weight is 152g. :) Even so it’s amazing because this tiny guy is able to capture 1080p 60fps footage!

You can easily stay under the 250g legal weight limit for drones. I will be using 4S LiPo batteries between 600mah to 1000mah.

The stack is very tight. I managed to remove the metal standoffs on top and bottom in order to squeeze it in there.

Using Runcam Split Mini as FPV Camera

Latency Testing

The average latency of the Split Mini is about 37ms. Recording HD video doesn’t seem to have an impact on the latency.

My FPV latency testing results.

Aspect Ratio

You can choose between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios for your FPV video in the Split Mini, the setting is under “TV-OUT” => “Full Screen”. When selecting full screen it will output 4:3, but you get a smaller FOV image (basically with the left and right edges chopped off).

Under “Non-full screen”, you get the exact image as you would see in the HD footage. Supposedly that’s 16:9 but you will notice 2 black bars on the top and bottom of the FPV video. This is not a huge problem but i hope they can improve this in the future and make use of the whole screen.

Image Quality

When looking through my goggles, the image quality of the Split Mini as an FPV camera is pretty good, it looks just like it’s HD footage with lower resolution, very natural colour and great image detail.

It is lacking some good WDR (wide dynamic range) that we get from dedicated FPV cameras like the Swift or the Eagle, especially the ability in showing shadow detail and low light environments. But considering the weight saving this is definitely not a deal breaker.

I think I mentioned the very same issue when I was reviewing the Split V1. The dynamic range of the Split is just not quite perfected for low light flying, yet! But for general day time flying it’s okay.

Not sure if it’s just me, but I feel like the FPS might be a little lower with the Split Mini, it’s totally flyable, but the video just feels a little “choppy” and not fluid like other dedicated FPV cameras.

HD Recording Testing

Image Quality

I have to be honest here, the image quality is quite nice at first glance, but when you compare it to the the Split V1 back to back, you can tell the V1 is clearly better. The image from the Split Mini is not as sharp, and the colour looks a bit more washed out. I think this is due to the smaller lens, you can only get so much performance out of a tiny camera.

With that said, I have to remind you again that the video was recorded with a 3″ micro quad, and the whole camera weighs only 15g! Considering you will use an FPV camera anyway, the Split Mini really only adds 8g extra weight to your build.

I am actually quite happy with the result: excellent WDR (in the HD video) and sharpness, and very natural colour.

Despite the smaller lens, the Split Mini has the same FOV as the Split V2 on paper. However from my testing, the mini has a tiny bit wider FOV than its bigger brother.

Audio

If the audio on the GoPro Session 5 gets a 8/10, I will probably give the Split V2 a 6/10, and the Split Mini a 3/10. The audio of the Mini is similar to that of a Mobius or Runcam HD.

The wind noise is really loud, it’s almost as loud as the sound from the motors. I shall try to cover the mic with some foam in my next flight see if I can get any improvement. I think part of the reason for the terrible audio is the lack of dedicated audio processor. (because there is no space!)

If you don’t care about listening to motor noise in your videos, then this is not a problem for you.

Here is my first video test:

Micro Quad Parts List:

The camera and VTX are directly powered by the FC’s 5V 2A BEC. I did not soft mount the FC, or use any additional capacitors and yet the video still looks pretty clean.

Another test on a cloudy day with the iFlight iH3 RTF.

FAQ

What happens if power is disconnected during recording?

The video will be saved automatically, but you will lose a few seconds of the recording at the end of the video.

How to update Split Mini firmware?

  • Download the firmware file (extension ends with .BRN)
  • Place the file on your SD card, put the SD card in your camera
  • Power up your camera and the Split will read the file and begin updating
  • LED should start flashing, when it stops the upgrade is complete

Edit History

  • Dec 2017 – product overview published
  • Jan 2018 – more testing and thoughts added
  • Aug 2018 – added more info

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25 comments

Kevin 16th November 2018 - 7:47 am

Oscar,

Any thoughts on how to correct the Washed out video feed?
rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=40481914&postcount=2246

Thank you in advance!

Kevin

Reply
David R 24th October 2018 - 5:18 pm

I’m a complete newbie to drones. I’d like to assemble a rig as a camera platform… music video type stuff, maybe a little sports coverage like surfing or skating. Not interested in racing, aerobatics, just nice stable flight and pretty images. Based on the RunCam Split Mini cam (ver 2 now available), and a 2.5-3 in frame like shown here, what else do I need? Goggles, RC radio, ??

Reply
Oscar 6th November 2018 - 12:36 pm

you basically still need everything a racing drone needs.
take a look at this article: https://oscarliang.com/build-racing-drone-fpv-quadcopter/#tools

Reply
Anthony McCudden 15th August 2018 - 1:47 pm

Hi Oscar,

do you know if there will be an updated version of the Split Mini with lower latency?

Cheers,
Anthony

Reply
Oscar 20th August 2018 - 5:46 pm

No haven’t heard anything.

Reply
Markus Richert 28th July 2018 - 5:41 pm

Great review!!
Question about the settings. If I mount the camera upside-down, can I change that in the settings anywhere?

Reply
David Dugas 5th July 2018 - 4:13 pm

What is the battery drain like? Is it comparable to having a GoPro Session on your quad?

My reason is that because the Runcam is drawing battery power (making the battery drain faster) whereas the GoPro adds extra weight, draining the battery by making the motors work harder… Thoughts or experience?

Reply
Oscar 24th July 2018 - 5:51 pm

Constant current draw is less than 0.5A, which can be ignored compared to how much your motors draw (30A or higher in total for a 3″ quad)

Reply
Rob 24th May 2018 - 3:04 pm

I’m curious about the installed height of the split v2 pcb. Any chance of measuring/showing?

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Rarem 31st March 2018 - 10:59 pm

So, is image is distorted in 16:9 googles (when Full Screen is off) , or it is geometrically correct (lines does not change size when quadcopter make rolls) but just with black bars at top and bottom?

Reply
Oscar 1st April 2018 - 1:17 am

You will be looking at exactly the same image as shown in the video I posted. Just with lower resolution.

Reply
Paul Kurucz (Laup X) 8th January 2018 - 5:24 pm

Any details on how firmware updates are done with this guy since it doesn’t have wifi? Will runcam be doing binary blobs via the micro sd card? And thus, the settings aspect ratio and the like are only settable via the OSD right?

Reply
Oscar 16th January 2018 - 3:37 pm

Just download the firmware (.BRN) and put it on your SD card. Turn on your camera and it should start updating automatically.

Reply
Paul Kurucz (Laup X) 16th January 2018 - 11:00 pm

Thanks for posting the video review. The fpv footage def looked choppy, almost like it was 25 fps. Advancing your youtube video frame by frame (with “.” and “,”) you can see the dvr is updated every 3rd frame, then every 2nd, then 3rd, then 2nd and so on. Can you confirm that the video output was set to NTSC and 60 hz for the agc (though that really shouldn’t have an effect).

Reply
ziptar 4th January 2018 - 6:23 pm

Gosh I sure hope latency is better with this model. When will you do a latency test for the new split?

Reply
Oscar 8th January 2018 - 3:20 pm

latency is on par with the full size Split

Reply
Peter 4th January 2018 - 4:41 pm

you mentioned the ribbon connection changed from v2. I’m curious if the ribbon-camera connection changed as well. I’m hoping to use the rc split mini camera with the v2 board

Reply
Oscar 8th January 2018 - 3:20 pm

the cable size is different, so I don’t think you would be able to use the same camera.

Reply
Peter 8th February 2018 - 3:08 am

Following up on this, I just finally opened up the lens module of the runcam split mini and found that the lens module end of the ribbon cable remained the same between v2 and mini, so I am indeed able to connect a rc split mini lens module to an rc split v2 board

Reply
Niek 30th April 2018 - 11:28 pm

hey Peter, as I can’t reply to your comment down below I’ll just reply here. did your solution of opening the lens module work out in the end? did you have any issues?

Kind regards
-Niek

Reply
Kevin 1st January 2018 - 11:15 pm

Wow… the weight savings alone for a HD / FPV system like this would make it worth it.

IMO All Run am needs to add to own the market:
-Reduce Latency
-Give 4K video as an option
-Digital video compression & transmission
-Provide support for 3D-fpv, that includes dual cameras

Reply
Gary Boulter 2nd January 2018 - 4:21 pm

Have they added the option for the full chip aspect ratio to be used on the FPV feed for those of us that use 16:9 goggles.

Reply
Riffer 13th January 2018 - 10:10 pm

I am curious about this too. How does the FPV feed look like for 16/9 goggles, please?

Reply
Christoph 28th February 2018 - 7:28 pm

like with the split 1/2 you get pseudo bars surrouding the image

Reply
tom 12th January 2018 - 7:44 am

*Jeremy Clarkson voice* …In the world!

Reply