Mintron 63V5HN

aka

Super Circuits PC-38

© Brooke Clarke 2007


Mintrol 63V5 - Super Circuits P-38
Mintron 63H5 - Super Circuits P-38


Background
Fantastic Dynamic Range
Power
8 Socket DIN Connector
Inside
Weatherproof Housing
Remote RS-232 Operation
Setting
Related Equipment
Links

Background

For some time I've wanted to get a Mintron but they were expensive and had no remote control capability.  Super Circuits has their PC-38 below $300 and it's a Mintron 63V5HN which has full remote control capability.  The manual that comes from Super Circuits does not include the section on remote programming, I think they don't want to support that function, so it's not advertised as having RS-232 capability.

Polaris-USA also sells the same camera as their DX-9263SL for about $250.  Like Super Circuits they are not talking about it's RS-232 capability.

Fantastic Dynamic Range

When used with a modern DC auto iris lens that has Day-Night (aka spot ND filter) iris so the lens is rated for something like f/1.4 to f/360 and electronic shutter enabled as well as sense up at X128 the camera AUTOMATICALLY adjusts itself from bright noon to stars.  The key is that sense up at X128 does NOT mean a 2 second exposure all the time.  This is the camera that feeding my Sky Weather Astronomy webcam.

Power

There are two options for powering this camera.

DC

12 VDC can be connected to the two screw terminals on the rear panel.  Since these same terminals accept AC the polarity of the DC does not matter.  The DC & Video Siamese cable that's used with the PC164 will not work with this camera directly since this camera does not have a 2.1x5.5mm DC power socket.  The screw terminals are much more reliable than the plug which can get pulled apart.

Rather than use a screwdriver every time the camera needs be brought inside I've added a pigtail with a 2.1x5.5 mm DC power Jack.  That way it's compatible with the other cameras that have the same jack.

AC

24 VAC can be connected to the two screw terminals on the rear panel.  This option has some advantages.

 8 Socket DIN Connector

The 8 socket DIN connector on the rear of the camera supports RS-232 using a 3 wire interface (TXD, RXD, GND) as well as the alarm output for the built-in motion detection feature and the freeze frame trigger input.
Pin #
Function
Computer DB-9
1
TXD
2-RXD
2
Gnd
5-Gnd
3
RXD
3-TXD
4
Gnd
5
Alarm Out

6
Gnd
7
Freeze Trigger In

8
Gnd
PC DB-9: jumper 7 & 8; jumper 1, 6 & 4

Inside

There are four separate printed circuit boards in this camera.

Rear and Right boards

Mintron 63V5 Right PCB
The rear board has all the rear panel controls soldered to it.  There are a number of connectors to get wires to the other boards.  Only the red and black power input wires are soldered.

The right board has a metal shield on the side facing the camera and on the other side are a couple of transformers and a number of electrolytic caps, so it looks like the AC/DC power supply that's connected directly to the two input wires.

Left Board

Mintron 63V5 left PCBThe left board has large scale ICs on both sides and is marked MTV63V2 which is the model number of an earlier version of this camera.  There is a 9 conductor ribbon cable (plus ground(s)) to connects to the front board.  Some IC numbers:
Mintron M-92128B
6A  A, 49323
0625PBM2
BA7665A
two IC SI IC41LV16100S-50TG, one of which has a sticker "63V5HN", so maybe some type of ROM.

Front Board

Mintron 63V5 Front (CCD) PCB

This board holds the CCD and one other IC (M88020).  My guess is that by changing this board you can made a number of cameras that differ only in what imaging CCD is used.  There is a hole in the PCB directly behind the CCD chip so you can read some of the label that's printed on the bottom of the IC (since the top is the open side), which shows: 544XD, X408AK.

The CCD is the ICX408AK.  But the Sony timing generator and output amplifier chips have been replaced by Mintron custom chips on the left PCB.

This board has a ribbon cable that connects to the left board and no other connections to other boards.

The 4 socket connector is for an auto iris lens.  The mating plug comes with the camera.




Weatherproof Housing

Super Circuits ENCOD Weatherproof HousingI've mounted the Mintron 63V5 in a Super Circuits ENCOD weatherproof housing since it's starting to get cloudy in mid Sep 2007.  Since this is not a security camera I mounted it low so I can sit in a chair to do any work needed.  The camera attaches to a sheet metal mounting plate using a supplied 1/4-20x1/4" stubby screw.  For the 3-8 mm Varifocal DC auto iris lens the front of the lens needs to be flush with the front of the plate.  You can just eyeball the left right rotation of the camera to get it pointing straight out the window.  The sliding sunshade can only be out a small amount and stay out of the field of view.  Maybe a long telephoto lens would allow for more extension.

The rear black plastic end cap has two places to bring in wires, but the holes are too small for a BNC connector or an RCA connector so you can not easily install a ready made cable.  I just cut a notch at the bottom center to just clear the Siamese DC/Video cable (black) and the CAT5 remote control cable (blue).  This allows removing the end cap completely which is  good since you don't want any weight on the cables trying to pull the camera and it's mounting plate out of the housing.

When opening the rear cap it's easy to drop a screw into the dirt/plants and loose it. 

Also be sure to start turning the screw CCW until it drops into the thread then turn clockwise.  This has been working and the threads in the housing are still fine after many cycles of the cap.

The mounting plate may be shorter than the slot allowing it to move once the rear cap is installed.  This can be a problem when a wide angle lens is used since you will see the edges of the window if the camera moves back.  Also if there's any movement the RS-232 cable may unplug.

Sky Camera Weatherproof Housing Max Up Angle

This is the maximum up angle you can get with the housing square to the wall without inverting the mount.  Notice that the cable pass through nuts are straddling the mount arm so if the camera is panned to the left or right the elevation will need to be lowered maybe 5 degrees.  If the camera is panned past the cable nuts then it might tip up another 10 degrees.

I used a twist & tie to hold the video, DC and Remote cables together and to the base plate.  Otherwise any pull on the remote cable will unplug it since it's a DIN type push in with no locking.   A single twist & tie was not good enough.  It's necessary to tie the remote cable to the mounting plate in maybe at least 3 places so that there's no way it can move and so that there's pressure pushing the connector into the socket.

The Mintron 63V5 (Super Circuits PC-38) is sitting below the centerline of the window.  That's probably a good thing, but not sure depending on the lens used.
17 Sep 2007 - After taking the above photo and starting to measure the bracket and housing to see what adjustments can be made the key adjustment was found.  That's the rail under the housing allowing it to be positioned anywhere along the length between the two end caps.  Now it's all the way forward and so can be tipped up whereas now the housing is against the house wall.

The camera mounting plate may have 1/2" of fore and aft slop.  To keep the plate up front so the lens does not get vignetted by the window I used two tooth picks, one on each side, wedged between the mounting plate and the groove it slips into.

Housing looks the same as the 3.5" x 3.5" x 13.5" DOTWORKZ SCH-13. $49 at 123 Security Products, $35 at Super Circuits (no label), $49 at WebCamProShop

ENCOD2 Mini Outdoor Security Camera 6.75 X 3.5 H X 4.25 W Housing  $40 @ Super Circuits - I wonder if the longer ENCOD/DOTWORKZ SCH-13 can just be cut to length with a hacksaw?

Remote RS-232 Operation

P38 - Mintron 63V5 in Super Circuite ENCOD housingNote Super Circuits is selling the camera without supporting RS-232.

Learning what some of the settings do will be much easier if they can be set from inside at night from the computer.

The 63V5 is specified by Mintron to have full setting and read back of parameters by using RS-232 with the ACK/NAK protocol.  Only TXD, RXD and GND are used.   Since the AUX connector has 8 pins and the in stock CAT5 cable also has 8 wires that's what I used.  The DIN plug supplied with the camera goes into the camera using the skinny pins and when you look at the back of the connector it's the same as looking at the back of the Mintron at the socket, so the pinout diagram in the manual works as is for connector wiring.

15 Sep 2007 - The RS-232 remote is working and tonight I'll start trying different settings.  In the day time it's clear that a gamma of 1.0 causes the trees to be very dark and gamma of 0.45 renders them in a much nicer way.



Setup RS-232

The steps are:
  1. Make a cable according to the 63V5 Manual
  2. Download the free software from Mintron as a zip file and expand it (but do not run yet).
  3. At the computer end of the cable with the camera connected to the other end and powered you should see -9 volts on pin 2 relative to ground (pin 5).
  4. Be sure your COM port is set to 9600 8N1 (the common default).
  5. Run the software.

Troubleshooting

More times than it works, it displays error -1, error -1 then says Serial Port is not connected and shuts down.  The cable was unplugged, see Weatherproof housing above.
Another error was "Camera Connection Changed (DR off) - caused by a break in the pin 1-4-6 jumper at pin 4.
When checking RS-232 devices you should see a negative voltage between the TXD pin from a device to ground.  In this case with the connectors separated -9 volts on the camera connector pin DB9-2 and -10 volts on the computer connector DB9-3.  Both measured relative to DB9-5.
The problem was with my cable.  ALL the jumpers need to be installed.

Tab 1 RS-232 Remote for Mintron 63V5Software

There are two tabs "Setup 1" and "Setup 2".  When the program starts it reads the parameters from the camera and they are shown.  Note that at the top center box for AGC that it's ON and Max is at midrange.  The MANU slider is all the way to the right, but MANUAL is not checked and so is not active.

When a change is made to the software it's immediately changed at the camera, but (I'm guessing) if  you don't "SAVE" it the camera may forget the next time it's power cycled?










RS-232 Control software for Mintron 63V5The "Setup 2" tab has less frequently used settings like High Light Set, Automatic Peak Control (APC), Motion Detection.  But also has the Gamma selection 0.45 or 1.0 and the Color Bar generator On/Off.

Setting

This camera has a very large number of settings that are possible and they all can be accessed by either the On Screen Display or by the RS-232 remote interface.
An advantage of this camera is it's great flexibility, but that's also a problem since you need to know how to drive it.

My goal is to have a 24/7 web cam and hopefully with no adjustments.  In order to see stars at night the Sense Up needs to be at the max of 128X.  In order to work in the daytime an auto iris lens that has a very wide range like f1.4 to f360 helps a lot.  Also using what on other cameras is called Automatic Electronic Shutter helps with daytime which is very bright for a sense up type camera. 

When AGC is OFF the daytime images are good but when it gets very dark the screen turns solid black.  AGC needs to be ON, but it's not clear how to manually set Automatic AGC vs. setting a fixed Gain level.  In the remote programming commands it's straight forward to enable Automatic Gain Control and that's what's wanted here.  The default is supposed to be Shutter priority AGC, not iris priority.  The latter is used for things like traffic cams or where there's a lot of motion and you want the fastest shutter speed.  For astronomy where there is no fast movement and in general using shutter priority is much better in terms of quality of image.  Once Sense Up X128 is selected, no sense up is used for bright scenes.  As it gets darker the shutter speed is slowed down until it gets to 1/60 second and if more light is needed the AGC starts using more and more Sense Up until it gets to 128X.  I think after this the lens gets opened up, but that's not clear.

While working on the remote control the AGC is ON and the LEVEL is at half way.  This may mean the camera iris DC voltage is at mid range?  I don't think so.
Some nights moving the AGC-ON Max slider results in not detectable change in the image (after waiting 3 to 5 minutes for the camera to recover from a black screen).

In the daytime switching the AGC between OFF and ON does not seem to change anything.

The remote software confirms that there are three AGC settings:
It may be that Sense really means Shutter and AGC means Iris, but I'm still working on that.

?#1 Testing  at night shows that with AGC ON the slider when full left products a mostly black image.  With the slider fully to the right the image contains a lot of red fluffy artifacts.  These may be clouds since that's the appearance of clouds at night, or it may be seeing related.  In any case full up doesn't look that good.  But in the center gave the most pleasing to the eye result.

There are many hot pixels and in a still photo it's impossible to tell which is a hot pixel and which is not.  But in a time lapse movie it's very clear since the stars are circling Polaris and the hot pixels are just sitting there.  It may be possible to make an overlay for the VisionGS software that posts to the web that would black out the hot pixels?

Satellites show up doubled, i.e. you see what appears to be two satellites and a line drawn between them is on the path of movement caused by the x128 (2 second) integration.  In other cases a bright dot appears and then goes away.  Maybe caused by trees.

Related Equipment

KPC-350BH (P164C) Low Light Monochrome CCTV camera
Harbor Freight Color Security CCTV camera
PC33C Color CCTV camera
7" TFT Color Monitor
WebCam2 - 24/7 Sky-Weather-Astronomy web cam uploads new still image every 15 minutes.  Oct 2007  start brighter than mag 4.5.

Links

Mintron -

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   created 16 Aug 2007