Upgrading the Hubsan X4 H107C Camera

Depending on when you got your Hubsan X4 H107C you may have a low resolution camera (480P).  Newer models include a 2 megapixel HD 720P camera and you can upgrade your existing quad to have the same camera.  This project requires some soldering.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Here is what you'll need
Here is what you’ll need (wire cutters not shown)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 unscrew bottom
Flip the quad over to reveal two tiny screws securing the two halves of the quad body.  Unscrew the two screws using the #0 Phillips head screwdriver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 pop the legs
Release the bottom from each leg near the motor by bending the leg slightly until the bottom separates as shown here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift the bottom away from the rest of the quad
Lift the bottom away from the rest of the quad.  The camera is on the right inside the bottom half of the quad body.  It is connected to the main printed circuit board with two wires.  The black wire is negative (ground) and the red wire is positive power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5b main board close up
Here’s where the camera module wires connect to the main printed circuit board. The black wire needs to be removed by heating the existing solder and gently pulling the wire with needle nose pliers. The red wire is a little different. The red wire shares a terminal with another wire used elsewhere. To avoid any issue with the second wire, I cut the existing camera module red wire. The new camera module red wire will use an existing open positive terminal shown here. I verified with a volt meter that the terminal was the same voltage as the existing connection before deciding to take that approach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 mount the quad
I used a third-hand tool to help hold the quad while I did the detailed soldering work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use the #0 Phillips head screw driver to remove the four tiny screws from the inside of the bottom half of the quad body.  Remove the battery holder to reveal the camera circuit board.  Gently take the camera circuit board out of the body shell noting that the lens is friction fitted into the body shell.  Set the old camera aside.
Use the #0 Phillips head screw driver to remove the four tiny screws from the inside of the bottom half of the quad body. Remove the battery holder to reveal the camera circuit board. Gently take the camera circuit board out of the body shell noting that the lens is friction fitted into the body shell. Set the old camera aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 assemble new bottom
Now it’s time to reverse the process steps with the new camera. I elected to swap out the old black bottom with a shiny new red one just for looks. Install the camera by removing the protective plastic tab off of the lens and insert the lens into the bottom body shell. Note that the camera switch needs to be exposed (lower right hand corner) through the body shell so you can start and stop recording. The camera needs no screws. Insert the battery holder into the body shell lens end first. The battery holder has a small structure that must align with the camera. Use four tiny screws with your #0 Phillips head screwdriver to secure the battery holder to the body. I found I needed to apply a small amount of pressure on the battery holder to get the holes to line up for the screws. Tin the ends of the new camera wires by heating the ends and applying a small amount of solder on them. Solder the black wire to the same terminal on the main circuit board used by the old camera. Solder the red wire to the open terminal on the main circuit board by heating the wire and pushing it through the hole by using the needle nose pliers. You may need to apply a small amount of additional solder on this joint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10a final front
Reinstall the bottom half of the body by aligning the two screw posts with those on the top half. There is an inset allowing one to fit inside the other for a perfect alignment. Note the camera end of the body to ensure that part is seated correctly. Reinstall the two screws. Bend each leg to restore the body and leg connections. Now you’re ready to record in HD.

Arducopter Customizations

I have had a few too many crashes with my Arducopter kit and decided that a few customizations were in order:

  • Replace the Propeller Adapters
  • Replace the Motor Mounts
  • Enclose the Electronics

Replace the Propeller Adapters

The jDrones kit includes propeller adapters that are pretty difficult for me to install properly.  The adapters are the collet type and they kept falling off sending the propeller into the air and the copter to the ground.  Here is a video of the propeller falling off.  The camera was mounted on the quad and was pointing directly at the propeller that fell off.

I eventually replaced these adapters with the E-flite EFLM1930 adapter with set Screw (1/8″ rotor).  The set screw holds the bottom portion of the adapter firmly to the rotor.  The top portion of the adapter can be tightened independent of the bottom portion.  I use the blue thread-locking fluid on the top half and have never had another propeller fall off.

Replace the Motor Mounts

Many of the crashes resulted in the plexiglass motor mounts being cracked or completely broken.  I took the step of mounting the motors directly to the arm by adding another mounting hole like this:

I used the motor mount template from the kit to locate the additional mounting screw
Two 20mm M3 metal machine screws, lock washers and spacer washers. The space washers provide clearance at the bottom of the motor for the rotor.
The mounted motor

Enclose the Electronics

I plan to replace the landing gear, but the kit landing gear protects the electronics complex.  Here is my solution:

Use a DVD/CD spindle to enclose your electronics

The DVD/CD has been machined to replace one of the fiberglass boards in the frame.  Here are the steps I used:

  1. Get yourself a 30 disc (very tight fit) or 50 disc DVD/CD spindle
  2. Download and install Google Sketchup
  3. Download the model for the main plate from the 3D warehouse
  4. Add a circle to the center of your model that is the same size as the inside diameter of the bottom portion of your spindle case.

    This image might work for you with some scaling
  5. Print the model so that you have a 1:1 exact pattern of the main plate (compare it with the actual main plate to make sure it is right).
  6. Use scissors to cut around the circle on the printed model so that it can fit inside the bottom portion of the spindle case.
  7. Use a Dremel or similar tool to carve out anything on the bottom spindle that is in the way of having the printed main plate circle from laying flat.  You might need a few spindles for practice while you perfect your technique.
  8. Use your favorite brand of white glue (e.g. Elmers) to completely cover the blank side of the printed main plate circle and secure it to the bottom portion of the spindle.  Let it dry.  It is important to make sure you get the surface completely covered so that your pattern stays in place during the next step.
  9. Use a Dremel or similar tool to drill and carve the pattern of the main board into the spindle bottom.
  10. Use the same tool to allow room for the arms to lay flush with the new main board.

    Clear away material to allow the arms to lay flat on the surface of you new main board.
  11. Assemble your quad using the bottom portion of the spindle as the top main board.

    The machine spindle base as a replacement for a main board
  12. Screw the DVD/CD case top onto your quad.  You may need to rearrange your receiver and GPS to make it fit.  I also added a hole at the top to make enough room.