Hitachi VK Series Cameras
Controlling Hitachi VK
Hitachi VK-S434R PTZ
For Sale & Wanted

First let me say that I don't claim to know allot about electronics or programing. If not for the help of two friends on the Bascom Forum I would not be writing this page.

I have been a recreational scuba diver for about 20 years. For as long as I can remember I have wanted a ROV. A remotely operated vehicle to go underwater. I have been a machinist for 13 years also. So with that background I figured I would try to build a ROV since to buy one is out of the question. I have seen that other people on the web are making them so I figured I would give it a shot. Another one of my interests is surveillance cameras & security. Earlier I acquired two American Dynamics Speed Dome PTZ cameras. They use the Hitachi VK series compact chassis camera. I knew the capability of the camera block and thought that would be perfect for the ROV. I knew the VK series cameras can be controlled using RS-232c. So I started searching the web for information on how to control them. I had found out that the person that helped me first get the PTZ cameras working had controlled a VK-S274R with a PIC. He kindly sent me the command codes for the camera. I didn't want to use a laptop or PC to control the ROV. So knowing that it could be done with a micro-controller I started learning about PICs. To make a long story short I was convinced to use an AVR by a friend (not at the time) and he offered to write the program for me. After some e-mails back and forth I purchased the Futurlec Atmega8535 controller.

This is the Futurlec Controller board I use. It is fairly inexpensive. The back bone of this board is the Atmel Atmega8535. The board has up to 28 I/O ports, RS-232 connection with the Max232 chip. The Atmega8535 can be programed while on the board (in-circuit programing). The board even includes the programer. However it requires a 25 pin parallel port.

The Hitachi VK series cameras all have a 9 pin Flat Flex Connector. You will need to come up with a way to interface the power, video & serial communications to the camera. The pinout is as follows.

1 = Serial RX
2 = Serial TX
3 = Serial Gnd
4 = positive 9-12vdc
5 = Power Gnd
6 = Video
7 = Video Gnd
8 = EX.FV (External v-sync)
9 = Gnd

On the first camera I carefully removed the 9 pin connector and soldered a 5 conductor ribbon cable to the pads on the board. The other end went to a DB-9 connector. The mating DB-9 connector had the power, video & serial plugs soldered to the appropriate pin. Ground is common.

Later I made a board that mounts to the back of the camera. I use the existing screw holes on the camera to mount it. The blue connector is for power. The connector above the power connector is a BNC for video. The round black part above the DB9 is a bridge rectifier. I put the rectifier in so you can't hook up the power backwards. Pin 3 on the DB9 connector goes to the RX of the camera. Pin 2 goes to TX and Pin 5 is Ground. The camera is able to echo back the settings of the camera if the program is written to do so. You can download the Autocad2000 file of the board. The file is VKBoard.dwg. It includes the Part numbers for all 5 components on the board. The flat cable came from an old copy machine. I don't know where to get them. It will have to have the contacts on opposite sides of the cable to work. You can get a flat cable with the contacts on both sides from Time Lapse Supply.

If you want to save time and hassle you can buy an interface board from Vision Reality. They are available for $30.00 that also includes shipping. They will work for the Hitachi VK series, Sony FCB-EX series and some of the LG camera modules. These are very nice boards made with all new parts. They come with a serial cable, power cable and a flat flex cable.

The board has connectors for the serial, power & video out. Making it easy to connect and disconnect the camera module. There is a Max232 IC to convert the RS232C to RS232. If you need test software that is available on the Downloads Page.This is the easiest way I know to connect your camera for testing or use in your project. I didn't know about these boards until after I made my own. It would have saved me a lot of time and headache.

NOTE: These boards will not work with the Futurlec Controller Board and the software that I have. It will have to be re-writen. They will work with the Windows software though on the download page.