Review: Runcam Split Mini FPV/HD Camera

The Runcam Split Mini camera is a smaller version of the Split V2, which has 20x20mm mounting pattern. It can be used as an FPV camera as well as recording 1080p HD footage.

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.

Smaller frames (90mm – 150mm) that runs 3″ or even 2″ propellers don’t normally carry an HD action cameras because of 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 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 sillicone cables
  • 8x M2 3mm Metal standoffs
  • 4x M2 25mm screws
  • 4x M2 5mm nylon standoff

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)

Basically the same spec as 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 a nearly identical dimension and mounting holes to the Runcam Swift Micro.

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, which is measured at about 65mm.

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

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 hold the connector firmly in place.

Micro SD Card

Similar to the Split V2, The Split Mini supports SD cards of up to 64GB capacity. There is a metal plate used to prevent the micro SD card from ejecting in a crash and flying away.

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

These are the hardware changes I have spotted so far. I will add to the list when I find out more.

  • Smaller mounting pattern
  • Takes up more vertical space
  • WiFi feature removed
  • Smaller camera, lens and FOV
  • Ribbon cable connector changed
  • Dedicated audio processor removed
  • Speaker removed – no more beeps when pressing power button or record button
  • Audio output pin for FPV removed

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 for the Split Mini camera, with just enough room for an AIO flight controller (FC with PDB integrated), and I will be using four standalone ESC’s mounting 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, It’s a bit on the heavy side, AUW is 152g :) I can’t believe this tiny guy will be able to capture 1080p 60fps footage !

I think you can make it lighter and definitely stay under the 250g legal weight limit for drones.

I will be using 600mah to 1000mah 4S LiPo batteries with this build.

The stack is very tight. I managed to get rid of the top and bottom metal standoffs and 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 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio 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. I don’t think this is a big problem but i wish they can improve this 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.

But it’s 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 environment.

I think we discussed the very same issue when I was reviewing the Split V1. The Split is just not yet, meant to be a camera for low light or situation where good WDR is required.

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, 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 little camera :)

With that said, I have to remind you again that the video was recorded with a 3″ micro quad, and the whole camera only weighs 15g! (minus the weight of an FPV camera, it’s only around 8g).

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

Despite the smaller lens on the Split Mini, the reported FOV is the same as the Split V2 with the GoPro lens. But it even looks a tiny bit wider in the HD footage than its bigger brother.

Audio

If the audio on the GoPro Session 5 gets 8/10, I will probably give the Split V2 6/10, and the Split Mini 3/10. I would say 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.

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 am not soft mounting the FC, or using any additional capacitors and yet the video looks very clean.

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

  • 31 December 2017 – product overview published
  • 10 January 2017 – more review and testing added, uploaded first flight video

11 thoughts on “Review: Runcam Split Mini FPV/HD Camera

  1. Paul Kurucz (Laup X)

    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
    1. Oscar Post author

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

      Reply
      1. Paul Kurucz (Laup X)

        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).

  2. Peter

    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
  3. Kevin

    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
    1. Gary Boulter

      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

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