Why micros are more relevant than ever with the Runcam Split

Let’s face it: micro builds are just plain awesome.

They’re tiny, appear to be “cute” rather than menacing, and a well-built micro with the right powertrain can beat a full size 5 inch copter around a race track.

You can also fly them through gaps that you couldn’t have thought possible with full size builds.

However, up until recently, the only decent footage you could get off of a micro was by DVRing your FPV feed, which was OK, but not the best solution.

DVR is still video, but it’s usually low resolution at 640×480 and doesn’t have audio by default. Plus, it’s full of all the disturbances and cutouts that you’d normally experience whilst flying FPV.

So while micros could be flown anywhere, half the magic – capturing awesome footage – was not so easily possible.

Up until now.

A mistake on GoPro’s part

Who would have thought that a patent claim by GoPro would result in one of the most phenomenal cameras to ever be released!

When Runcam released their Runcam 3, it was met with much fanfare and acclaim – here was a GoPro Session style camera with a similar form factor that recorded very good footage and was designed specifically with the FPV market in mind – but for a fraction of the cost of a GoPro Session.

GoPro didn’t like that, of course, so they filed a patent claim against Runcam, and they had to discontinue the Runcam 3.

But they also immediately went to work on something new to replace it: the Runcam Split.

I don’t think GoPro realized they inadvertently gave up a huge share of their market by forcing Runcam to innovate and make the Split.

The Runcam Split’s design

The Split is just the size of a small FPV camera, but attached to a board. It doubles as an FPV camera and as an HD camera that is capable of recording 1080p video at 60 frames per second(same as the Runcam 3).

Up until the Split was released, FPV pilots had to use two separate cameras – one FPV camera to fly with, and one HD camera such as a GoPro Session to record with.

That was all good, except the GoPro and a mount was an added 70 grams of weight – something that would not be noticeable on a 5 inch copter, but would seriously affect the performance of a 3 inch build.

Plus, the GoPro Session is a comparatively large camera, especially to the size of some of the 3″ and 4″ frames that are currently available on the market.

That’s where the Split comes in – since it’s just the one unit for both an FPV camera and an HD camera, you simply place it where you would have placed your regular FPV camera, and voila! – you have HD and FPV in one.

The Split is also much lighter than the GoPro – the Split and board weighs less than 30 grams, which is almost the same weight as the Runcam Swift or HS1177 camera, both of which are popular options for FPV cameras.

Why couldn’t you just use a GoPro

This of course gives rise to the question: why use an FPV camera at all, and just use a GoPro for FPV and for HD?

The main issue with using a regular GoPro for FPV footage is latency.

Latency is the delay in the video signal from the camera to the transmitter(and effectively to your receiver and goggles).

GoPros have very high latency, making it tough to use them for flying fast around tight corners and racetracks. By the time you would see what’s happening and respond, it would be too late.

That’s why pilots use FPV cameras to fly – they have very low latency compared to HD cameras.

The Runcam Split falls somewhere in between an FPV camera and an HD camera as far as latency is concerned.

It’s not as fast as a normal FPV camera, but it is much faster than an HD camera – and when I fly it, even on my powerful, fast build, I don’t really notice a difference between flying with the Split or flying with my old HS1177 regular FPV camera.

Of course, that may just be due to the fact I’m a relaxed pilot and not a super fast racer!

Using the Split on micro builds

There are two kinds of micro builds available on the market right now.

One is a super tiny build which has 20 x 20mm mounting holes for the flight controller and peripherals – which is very compact, and usually meant for tiny motors. You’ll have a hard time mounting the Runcam Split on this build because the mounting holes for the Split are 30.5 x 30.5 mm, the same as large copters.

Then you have micro frames which have 30.5 x 30.5 mm mounting holes – the Split will mount on these frames without a problem, though you may have to do some space management.

Once you have the Runcam Split installed, you’ll be able to capture full HD footage even off of a micro build – so have fun flying it in your backyard or through tight spaces, all the while getting some really awesome footage!

Additional reading