Syma X8 X8C X8HC FPV with RunCam 2 cable

When flying blind with a RunCam 2 slung under my Syma, I wanted to see what I was pointing at when flying rather than guessing. The solution was to send the video back down via a FPV transmitter.

Required parts:

  • 3.5mm jack plug or chopped up jack to jack cable
  • Solder Micro USB plug (ebay etc)
  • Some small lengths of interconnecting wire
  • VTX 20mW that can work from 5V
  • FPV Goggles to view the transmitted signal

Syma X8 camera socket

The Syma has a 3.5mm jack socket used for the camera module that came with it and in my previous post I explain what the connector pins are.

SYMA X8C X8HC 3.5mm pin out camera control signal

The tip and screen of the connector can provide a five volt supply for a FPV module. I went for the

Eachine VTX03 Super Mini 5.8G 72CH 0/25mW/50mw/200mW Switchable FPV Transmitter as it can run from 5 Volts, is small and easy to work with.  I recommend a 25mW transmitter, the Syma does not cope with any higher demand than that on its power rail. The VTX03 is switchable between three power ratings, make certain you read the instructions and set it to 25mW.


Make a Cable 3.5mm & Micro USB

Next you must make a cable to connect the RunCam and drone together. The RunCam outputs video when it is on via its Micro USB connector. The FPV unit needs a 3.5mm Jack to get power from the drone.

So go to the Dollar or Pound shop and get a cheap 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, used for linking many audio devices together so is easy to find, or chop one off an old pair of headphones.

Wire the tip of the connector to the power Red wire of the VTX. Wire the shield (not the ring), to the black wire of the VTX power. You will need to chop off the tiny white connector that comes with the VTX to do this, the power only has two wires, red and black going to the white connector.

To test, plug in the 3.5mm jack plug, making certain it is fully into the drone socket, turn on the drone and the LED should illuminate on the VTX display showing it is getting power.

Next unplug it again. Now you will need to use a solder micro USB connector. I had no luck with cutting up Micro USB cables for this, as I don’t think they use the same pins as the RunCam. Wire the yellow wire from the VTX to the Video pin indicated in the photo below. Then wire the GND pin of the micro USB connector to the Video GND pin of the VTX (black). The Video cables are the three wires going to the tiny white connector on the VTX. You will have one wire unused on the VTX of the three.

Hot glue the wires where they attach to the PCB to prevent them bending and thus falling off. Also glue in the cable as required to the rear of the connectors to give it some strain relief. You should also heat shrink the antenna to the PCB to prevent it popping off in flight or on heavy landing.

 Video Pin Micro USB Runcam 2

GND pin RunCam 2 Micro USB

Plug the Usb into the RunCam, the 3.5mm jack into the drone and turn on the RunCam (it will power from the RunCam battery so make certain it is charged), turn on the drone. You will then be able to see the picture in your FTV goggles! Now secure the VTX module to the jack plug with a cable tie, this is a better solution that taping it a Syma leg, as if the leg comes off during heavy landing, there is a good chance your VTX wiring harness will be snapped too.

Getting Raspberry Pi Zero W working with OctoPi and Octoprint for 3D printer



My very first Raspberry Pi Model B+ has been running my 3D printer (Printrbot Simple Metal) for a few years now. It is slow and although I have lots of Raspberry Pi versions around –I need the higher power ones for other projects I have going on.

I thought I’d grab myself a Pi Zero W as the price is good and I want to try it out, – this has in built in WiFi adapter. They are so cheap for what you get I thought it was time to try it with the printer just to see what happens.

At time of writing the current version of octopi is 0.13.


This version is built upon an operating system image that does not support the Pi Zero W WiFi adapter, so I had to pick up the release candidate 3 from the source code repository,

You had better check to see if there is a newer version, there probably is by now! The release candidates are posted via links in the issues list on Github.

In my example I got the following file downloaded from the link in the issue list.


Grab yourself a SD card image writer like Etcher

Use it to write the Zip (no need to decompress!) to the SD card.

Put the SD card back into your machine and edit the octopi-network.txt file in the root of the folder, follow the comments to set your WiFi connection information, save the file.

Now place the SD card into your Pi and boot it up. Wait a while and you should see Octopi connect to the network.

Optional migrate uploads from old Octopi to new Octopi

As I was migrating from a previous install I wanted to get all my uploads available on the new install. I plugged the old Octopi SD card into the Pi Zero via the USB hub and SD card reader. I then mounted the SD card via USB on to the file system in Linux. This allowed me to copy the upload folder to the new installation. The steps I took follow.

To do this, use PuTTY (windows) or other terminal app to make a connection to the pi, login in with pi & raspberry as user name and password respectfully. Accept the security certificate when prompted.

Then list the disks available, the USB card reader adapter should show up as something like  /dev/sda* , take a note of the name, in my case I know this is an 8G card, so I can see it is /dev/sda2

sudo fdisk -l
In the commend below use the name of your drive rather than /dev/sda2 to mount the drive onto the file system and then copy the uploads directory and subdirectories to the new install.

sudo mkdir /media/usb
sudo mount /dev/sda2 /media/usb
cd /media/usb
cp -a /media/usb/home/pi/.octoprint/uploads/. /home/pi/.octoprint/uploads/

At this mount you can reboot the Pi, taking the USB card reader out and the previous uploaded files will show as available in Octoprint.

SYMA X8C X8HC 3.5mm pin out camera control signal

I was curious about the camera output on the SYMA X8 and how the controller causes the camera to activate.

Scope on Syma X8HC

Putting a 3.5 mm jack into the 3.5mm socket we find the following signals on the pins

Pole Signal
Tip Power 5V
Shield GND - 0V
Ring Control - nominally: 3.3V
Start/Stop video: 0V for 1 second
Take picture:  0V for 250 milliseconds


This is the scope showing the video signal (1s) and then the photo shot signal (250ms).

Syma X8C X8HC camera control scope 

I use a Runcam 2 for photography but wonder if this signal could be harnessed to trigger the RunCam and/or drone recovery buzzer for when it lands in the corn field!
I’ll expand on this post if I get anywhere with that idea.

Derby Mini Makerfaire 2016

All the Makerfaire type events have their own “feel”, Derby is held in a listed silk mill and gets a good foot-fall. Derby holds on to a good mixture of craft and electronics, having screen printing, weaving, knitting and much more next to the microprocessors.


Sticker Critter and the Cognitive mirror projects were on show.IMG_1397IMG_1398IMG_1399

We did around 300 sticker designs and a constant flow of people to the the mirror, unfortunately I don’t currently log the mirror usage so don’t have any figures for that one.IMG_1411

We were several people deep around the table for the duration of the day, even after official closing time people were trying to come back to us as we’d been so busy earlier in the day.IMG_1424

I was good to be told how much good feedback the organisers had been getting regarding our show, even better how much the people at the table were praising the activities and asking questions too.

More photos here:

The creativity

There were quite a lot of younger visitors to this venue compared to the previous two, and the age range was much more diverse, we had some lovely older members of the community join in too.

Judge for yourself how this town full of engineering folks from JCB, Toyota and Rolls Royce did when faced with an artistic demand.

Here are a selection of the stickers made during the faire, after censorship…

Click to enlarge photos!