November 17th, 2012

2300-Yard Target Cam System — Components and Set-Up

Last week we featured a cool video put together by Forum Member Mark Dalzell (aka “MDSlammer”). The video shows Mark and a couple of his shooting buddies engaging a steel target at 2300 yards (1.3 miles). In order to see both hits and misses at that extreme range, Mark assembled a target-cam system that broadcasts multiple video cam feeds wirelessly to a receiver on the firing line. Down-range, Mark positioned a high-gain antenna. This was key — without the antenna the system’s useful range was less than 1000 yards. But with the hi-gain antenna Mark gets very clear signals from 2300 yards.

Mark’s video was very popular with our readers. Quite a few guys asked for technical details so they could start assembling a similar system. To explain the components and set-up of his 2300-yard target cam system, Mark has made a 10-minute video that shows the equipment and explains how all the gear is hooked up. Mark system uses a KW7305 2.4 Ghz, 8-channel A/V transmitter/receiver kit ($269.00), powered by Li-Ion batteries ($125.00 with charger) that offer about 3 hours of run-time. The video camera was a Panasonic HDC SD-60 with 35X zoom ($350.00). The antenna is a 2.4 Ghz 24 DBI Grid unit (model # HG2424EG-NG), that cost just $45.00 plus another $29.00 for cabling. To see how this all functions at long range, watch the video below.

Watch This 10-Minute Video to See Components of 2300-yard Target-Cam System

While Mark positioned his hi-gain antenna downrange near the target, you can, alternatively, set the hi-gain antenna at the firing line and point it downrange at the transmitter. Mark says that either configuration will work, as long as the hi-gain antenna is aimed carefully. You also need to elevate both Transmitter and Receiver antennas. Mark mounted his receiver on top of a 10-foot-tall Century C-Stand near the shooting station. From there he could watch bullet impacts on his 7″ Marshall color monitor placed on a portable bench.

Mark Dalzell Long Range video target camera

Mark Dalzell Long Range video target camera

Mark Dalzell Long Range video target camera

Mark tells us the whole system was affordable (under $1100.00 for everything including monitor and antenna), and it was easy to set up. Mark encourages readers who’ve been thinking about building a similar system for their long range shooting sessions: “The hardware is not difficult to configure… if I can do it, anyone certainly can.”

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February 7th, 2011

PSW Wireless Target Viewing Video System — Field-Tested

When conditions are absolutely perfect, you can see 6mm bullet holes (in the white) at 600 yards with a premium spotting scope (with at least 45x magnification). But add some haze and mirage into the mix and all bets are off. This weekend, we tested three top-of-the-line “big name” spotting scopes. All three had at least 60X magnification, all had HD glass, and the average price of the three units was over $2500.00 with eyepiece. Even with all those pricey, state-of-the-art optics, on Saturday we couldn’t see bullet holes at 400 yards because of thick mirage and dust in the air.

Quality Target Cams Can Provide Reliable Viewing from 50 yards to 1000+ yards
What can you do if you want to practice at long ranges, and see your bullet impacts — reliably, every time? There are electronic target systems that plot shot locations with sonic sensors or accelerometers, but these are large, complex, semi-permanent installations costing many thousands of dollars. For most shooters, the only practical, field-deployable solution is a quality, wireless target cam system. You can source the necessary components — video camera, transceivers, antennas, batteries, display screen — or you can purchase a turn-key system. There are a handful of target cam systems now marketed for shooters. We’ve tried a couple that did not perform as claimed. But one system that we can endorse without reservation is the Target Cam System from Pro Security Warehouse (PSW). We purchased PSW’s Long-Range Wireless Target Observation System and have tested it outdoors extensively. With a well-illuminated target, this system will reliably display even .22 caliber bullet holes in the black, at distances out to 1000 yards. In order to see bullet holes in the black you may have to increase the contrast or adjust the brightness — but that’s a simple matter of clicking a couple control buttons. During daylight hours, we could easily see all bullet holes, with the camera displaying an area about two feet by two feet square. When shooting at night, you need to illuminate the target with lights.

PSW Target Cam System

PSW Target Cam SystemPSW Wireless Video Viewing System Components
The PSW Target Cam System costs $1499.00 but that includes everything you need, even tripod and batteries. The target image is captured by a high-resolution, auto-focus color camera with 22X max magnification and motorized zoom. This can be set as far as 30 feet from the target, but we got the best results with the camera positioned about 10 feet from the target, on one side of the target frame. The camera connects to a digital wireless multi-channel transceiver (with high-gain antenna) clamped to the same tripod that holds the camera. A sealed, rechargeable 12V gel cell battery will run the camera for a full day’s worth of shooting.

Pro Security Warehouse Target Cam System Brochure (PDF).

For the shooter’s station, PSW provides a compact transceiver (the size of a smart-phone), plus a rugged color monitor in a padded carry pack. These are likewise powered by a rechargeable 12V battery. Initially, we suspected the 5.6″ monitor was a little on the small size, but it proved more than adequate in use. With the monitor positioned a couple feet from your rifle (either on the bench or on the ground when shooting prone), you can easily see scoring rings, score numbers, and, of course, bullet holes. You may want to fiddle with the color and contrast controls to create the best definition for viewing bullet holes in the black. The resolution is good enough that we could easily make out “doubles” where two 6mm shots landed virtually on top of one another.

PSW Target Cam System

One smart feature is that the target display is set for a short time delay. This allows you to turn your head from sights or scope to the display screen and see the bullet hole “arrive” on paper a few seconds after the actual hit. Being able to actually see the bullet hole appear on the target helps you quickly locate the latest shot even if there is a cluster of bullet holes close together. That’s smart engineering.

The PSW system works really well. We have no negatives to report — everything performed as advertised. Are there any improvements/enhancements we would like? Yes — it would be nice if the receiver could output to a laptop computer, so you’d have the option of a larger display screen and so you could capture video of shot strings. We would like PSW to offer an optional, small solar panel that could trickle-charge the unit during use. Lastly, we would like to see PSW offer a lower-cost system that could be used with a user-supplied video camera. We know many shooters already own small video cameras, and this could reduce the overall “buy-in” cost of the system.

Certainly, $1499.00 for the complete PSW system is not cheap. However, when you consider that the PSW wireless viewing system reliably displays bullet holes at long range in all daylight viewing conditions — something not even a $3500.00 spotting scope can do — the system is worth the money for shooters who practice at long ranges. Interestingly, all four testers who looked through the top-end spotting scopes agreed that they would rather have this $1500.00 target cam AND a $1000.00 spotting scope rather than a $2500.00+ spotting scope alone. To learn more about the PSW Target Cam system visit www.ProSecurityWarehouse.com or call (407) 447-1637.

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