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Old October 4th, 2003, 08:59 PM   #1
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Underwater housing for JVC HDV

While the epoxy is drying, I thought I would mention my latest project. I've taken an old underwater housing that was designed for a 2 piece VHS-C deck and camera, and modified it for use with the HD1 / HD10. Modifying is really an understatement, a complete redesign and rebuild is more accurate.

It is basically a big aluminum cylinder with a dome port on the front and a thick plexi disc in the back. The advantage of the big window on the back is that I was able to put a big 7" 16x9 LCD monitor back there just like on the Pace housings that we use with the Sony f900. It's bright and you can actually focus with it.

The bottom holds two Lead Acid 12volt batteries wired in parallel which powers 2 100watt MR16 underwater lights, the LCD panel, and the camera through a 12v to 7.5v converter.

Since JVC was so kind as to not include a Lanc connector or any way to remotely control the camera, I came up with a novel solution. The housing has many knobs and levers which actuate contact closure type switches on the inside. I took a learning remote, and programmed zoom in and out as well as vtr start/stop from the JVC supplied remote. I then soldered wires to the itty bitty traces on the remote to the housing switches. The learning remote is velcro'd inside the housing,and voila, controls.

Toggling between Auto focus and locked focus is done through a mechanical arm that I modified to push the button on the side of the camera. And what about the camera's stupid time out and power shut down feature that can't be revived by pushing start/stop or any other button? I made one of the mechanical buttons a push on/push off power interrupt. Cycling the power revives the camera.

I think the epoxy is dry now.

Jay
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Old October 4th, 2003, 09:14 PM   #2
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That sounds very interesting.

Did you know JVC makes a custom housing for the camera. It costs about $1,000, but it lets you use the viewfinder and I think gives you basic controls like on and off and zoom.

Please Please Please make sure you take it for a dive empty before trusting your camera.

Good Luck
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Old October 4th, 2003, 09:19 PM   #3
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Jay

I'd love to post some photos of that, if you have any!
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Old October 5th, 2003, 12:02 AM   #4
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Darren,

It was just a matter of time before a dedicated housing came out, but that was quick, and from JVC of all people. The viewfinder is useless for focusing, and the swingout is not that great underwater either. This 7" LCD is BIG. It's not easy framing shots underwater with your mask pinned to the housing, but with the 7" LCD, you can actually hold it at arms length. $1000 sounds real cheap, the Amphibico for the VX1000 was like $4000 without lighting. I wonder if they use infrared for the zoom and start/stop. Do you have a link?

We will definitly depth test before the electronics go back in. In fact, the first thing I did was splash this housing in my pool when I got it, and it did have a leak from sitting. Tomorrow back in the pool with the new seals, then out to the lake down to 100' empty and then down to 60' with the camera.

Chris,

I'll take some digital stills. Can you drop me an email on how I can get them to you?

Thanks,

Jay
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Old October 5th, 2003, 12:09 AM   #5
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Jay, if you can handle the bandwidth, you can just email 'em to me (link below in email button). Prefer full-size high-res; I'll do the compression for the web page. That's a heck of a project you've done and I'm pretty sure some folks are going to want to see it!
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Old October 5th, 2003, 12:15 AM   #6
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Thanks Chris,

I'll take some pics and email them.

I found the link to JVC's own housing:
http://www.jvc-victor.co.jp/english/accessory/video/product/wr_hd1.html

It actually looks pretty decent. I wonder how they handle the power cycling. They probably tell you to start recording when you put it in the housing and leave it running knowing that you'll run out of air about the same time the tape runs out.

Jay
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Old October 6th, 2003, 01:48 AM   #7
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Update:

Housing empty test in pool - good

Housing with camera in pool - good (nice footage of my kids swimming, zooming and start/stopping)

Housing empty test at lake - small leak at 70 feet

I replaced every seal except the one on the dome port since it had been redone recently, of course it is the one that failed. Replacing tonight and diving again tomorrow.

Jay
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Old October 7th, 2003, 12:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
It costs about $1,000
Darren,

Where'd you get the pricing information from? That is really cheap for a marine housing unit. The marine pack for my Sony still costs well over $2,000! :)

Go figure, but if I'm moving up to the JY-HD1OU I'd be very interested in the marine pack.

Thanks.

Troy
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Old October 7th, 2003, 12:42 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Troy LaMont :
Go figure, but if I'm moving up to the JY-HD1OU I'd be very interested in the marine pack. -->>>

Troy, here is the link on JVC's Web site:

http://www.jvcservice.com/store/ProductDetail.asp?part=WR-HD1-J

I have used other housings from JVC inthe past and they have worked well for me. They are basic, but they do the job.

I have yet to try shooting with this (am hoping to get one for the JumpStart DVD) but I would recommend you also buy some underwater lighting. It will make a huge difference.

Good Luck.
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Old October 7th, 2003, 12:54 PM   #10
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Darren,

Thanks for the info.

Ikelite has a very nice housing for the JVCs.

It covers all the operating aspects it looks like;
  • Power
  • Start / Stop
  • Snapshot
  • Zoom
  • 4- Position Recording Mode
  • Manual Focus Lock

http://www.ikelite.com/video/jvc_hd_frnt.jpg

Cost: $1,500 and is rated down to 200 ft.

Troy
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Old October 7th, 2003, 02:02 PM   #11
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...and here's the page link:

http://www.ikelite.com/web_pages/jvc_hd1.html
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Old October 7th, 2003, 02:17 PM   #12
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The Ikelite housing looks good, it's too bad they don't accomodate the swing out LCD. I would go with the JVC housing just for that reason alone. I wonder how Ikelite handles the power-off cycling.

Jay
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Old October 7th, 2003, 05:09 PM   #13
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With my current JVC housinjg for my mini DV, you can easily turn off and on the camera to reset it.

Frankly, as a diver, I tend to turn it on and leave it on when I dive.

DBK
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Old October 7th, 2003, 06:38 PM   #14
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Do you mean you leave it rolling the whole time? The problem with these cameras is, if you leave it in pause for more than five minutes, it powers down and none of the typical button pushing (start, zoom, etc.) brings it back to life. You have to turn the silly power ring to off then back on or close and open the lcd viewfinder, both things impossible to do underwater, The other way to revive the camera is to drop the power and restore it, something you can't do with the onboard battery, you need an external battery going into the dc connector.

So leaving it on the whole time is fine, but if you forget to roll every five minutes minimum, the camera shuts down and you're going topside to reset. Of course letting it roll the whole time will work since a tape typically outlasts a single 80 tank, unless you're a realy slooooooooow breather.

Jay
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Old October 8th, 2003, 09:33 AM   #15
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The typical UW case allows you to turn the camera off and on if you want.

My policy of leaving it on, just assures I don't miss anything. I usually have the camera pointed in Wide Angle looking in the direction I am looking, so it makes it a visual recording of my dive. Then, I stop and shoot in more detail the stuff I really want.

Hope this helps
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