LANC and Mic from a/v on CX7; any advice? at

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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.

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Old November 22nd, 2007, 07:23 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Old Town, Maine
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LANC and Mic from a/v on CX7; any advice?

I am setting up a remote sensing wildlife camera with HD. The sensor that turns on/off the camcorder uses LANC. I considered the HC7, but the MiniDV only gives me an hour and I have no way to transfer the video to my home unless I take a laptop through the wilderness and transfer the video (real-time) in the sub-zero (fahrenheit) temperatures of Maine. Or I can bring the camcorder home one day and back a few miles through the snow into the wilderness the next day. That will get old fast!

Ideally, I would like to use the CX7 with solid-state memory so I can bring the memory card back home to transfer the video to my desktop PC more easily. It is important that I have a lot of recording time, so I was originally thinking of the SR7. But I am concerned that at temperatures below 0 degrees fahrenheit may cause the hard drive to fail. The miniDV may be in the same boat. Does anyone know how these cameras perform in (freezing) cold temperatures? I was even considering wiring up a battery powered heater in the water-tight case to keep the cameras warmer if possible. But all of these options are not desirable if I could use the Cx7.

So if I do use the SR7 or the CX7, I have an issue: neither camcorder has (full) LANC. This leads me to my question. I saw a while back a post by David Blackhurst talking about how the 10 pin A/V connector on the HC3 has LANC. I got my hands on the HC3 service manual, and it appears that it would be fairly straight forward to butcher an extra 10 pin A/V cable and tie on a LANC and microphone connector. I could not find the Cx7 or Sr7 service manuals, but it is my guess that the 10 pin A/V connector pin-out is probably the same on these camcorders since they all are controllable in the Sony sports pack connected to this A/V connector. I do want to have a left and right stereo microphone connector I can use to connect two microphones on the outside of a water-tight case (protected from the rain, but not inside the vapor controlled case with the camera). So I would also like to connect a left and right microphone jack to the same A/V connector.

Can anyone tell me if they have any experience or advice with this idea? Is there any reason this will NOT work or is there a down-side to trying what I am describing? Does anyone know where I could get such a cable made or would anyone be willing to make me the cable I am describing? I think I can do it, but I don't have a lot of experience with detailed soldering and taking apart cables. I am not sure if the replacement A/V cable I would get from would have conductors for all 10 pins or not.

I would appreciate any help you can give before I purchase the camcorder. I may just end up with the HC7, but that will really be a challenge to use under the conditions I am facing.

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Old November 23rd, 2007, 02:15 PM   #2
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Bryan -

The A/V jack is apparently standard on the small Sonys (NOT HC1 though, but HC3 or later). SO, the pinout you've got for the 3 should allow you to interface the LANC and mics. I bought some cheapo import A/V cables to hack up to try the interface, haven't had time for that project though. too much stuff on my list.

FWIW, the maximum MS Duo is 8 Gb, which isn't going to be much more than a MiniDV tape in maximum quality mode... but the transfer is fast and Sandisk's 8Gb is due soon from what I hear, which should bring the price down a bit. 4Gb were going for $35 this weekend. Also, be aware I've had a LOT of trouble getting a card reader to work with the 8GB sticks... cam works fine to transfer though once I installed Sony's drivers, but now you're trudging miles through snow uphill both ways <wink>!

Keep in mind too that there will be a delay between the motion sensor turning the cam on and when it starts to shoot? Or do you have a really big battery pack , and the camera will stay "live". Either way the CX will give you the best battery life with the LCD closed, so could be a good choice if the LANC interface can be figured out - I'll see about poking at it a bit this weekend, as I did a test shoot where the LANC would have been handy... after seeing how fast and easy it was to transfer footage, the CX7 sure caught my attention! Way better than dumping tape "real time"!
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 03:56 PM   #3
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Remote cameras and beyond

David. That is encouraging to hear you think the pin out is probably the same. I have ordered a couple of cables (one from Hong Kong; the other from Amazon). I will have my new LANC camera control device next week. I might just get the CX7 and play with it a bit. It will be great to hear if you have any luck with the A/V cable project.

I have been using remote cameras for about 5 years now. But all the footage I captured with those cameras was using old analog Sony TRV camcorders. For those systems, the sensor had a couple second delay and then the camcorder seemed to come up pretty quick with the LANC "on" signal (I am sure there were 2 seconds or so delay). I typically use bait of some kind (road-kill deer or moose), so I have a "captive" performance where the animals tend to linger a bit longer than usual.

My dream has always been to record the same kind of video I got with the old systems, but use HDV. The technology now has changed a lot in 5 years for the stuff I was using. You can see the videos I captured here This uses "Flash" in your browser. Just click on a animal species, then at the bottom of each "species account" page, is a "continue" link. You can click this or the vertical orange accordion bar. Now you will be on the video page for a species. Click on the thumbnail and see the video clip. I edited these with Vegas and it did a great job. You are right; if I can't use a card reader to transfer the files, I wont be much better off than using MiniDV. Unless the MiniDV has problems in the cold which the CX7 won't have.

Do you know if the microphone inputs on the A/V connector (or hot shoe) require a powered microphone? I have one I got with a Sony DAT recorder, but I want to use lapel microphones for this application. I noticed B&H has an accessory hot shoe connector to give me a microphone jack, but I am afraid this needs to be a power microphone too.

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Old November 27th, 2007, 07:16 AM   #4
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Location: Pincher Creek, Alberta Canada
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The HC3 has a lanc port. I bought it to use it as a remote camera to start replacing my dv cameras. I'm hoping that a way can be found to use the newer models that record to solid state memory with my controllers as it does require a lanc port. All the cameras I have used have a lag time between power up and record. I have used dv cameras down to -10F with a heat source in a insulated case. The biggest problem is packing in a battery with enough power to keep the heat source going.

Gordon Hoffman
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