$25 Head-Mounted Display


So it’s 2007: shouldn’t there be more cyborgs? Well, for a mere $25.00 (or less), you can be one big step closer to being one yourself. How so, you ask? Click the following link to to find out!
A few months ago, the rather clever folks at Wild Planet released a nifty (though rather clumsily named) little “toy” called the “Spy Video Car”. I cannot stress enough how well engineered this gadget is. For around $100 (much less on eBay), you get:

  • A nicely-styled motorised car base with decent-for-a-toy steering and an almost silent powertrain
  • A two-channel R/C set, also of decent-for-a-toy quality
  • A color capable video transmitter/receiver with a few hundred feet of range
  • A miniature B&W CCD video camera (similar to one of these)
  • A very bright 8mm IR LED and, best of all, a…
  • A video headset containing a Kopin 300M B&W LCD screen, optics, backlight, and a PAL/NTSC driver board

This guide will be all about re-purposing the later, though I will do similarly for the camera and video rx/tx set eventually. I should also mention that you can buy the headset separately here , but please don’t be greedy as I don’t think they’ll last long. What’s interesting is that the “replacement” headsets I bought are newer and much improved versions of the original one included with the car (one would assume that the newer cars come with the newer headsets, but I cannot verify this). The original one had a poorly diffused, red backlight which made made for a rather bad display all around. In the new version, they have upgraded the diffuser and changed the LED to white–making it look similar to an older camcorder’s viewfinder. They were also kind enough to redesign the circuit board into something much more hack-friendly. The most obvious of these changes is the potentiometer in the upper right-hand corner of the board (see below)

Turning this little critter adjusts the gain–an adjustment my headset needed pretty desperately. Oh, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, aren’t I?

First off, let’s talk about how to hook this bad boy up. Because Wild Planet decided to use normal video standards, we can make this usable without even opening the casing–heck, with the right adapters, you could probably do it without any soldering! Either way, you will need three things: a way to connect to your video source, a power supply, and a way to connect it all to the headset . To connect the headset to a DVD player, VCR, game system, iPod, PC, etc., you’ll probably want to use an RCA cable. If you don’t have one laying around, you can get one at most good dollar stores. As for power, the headset has a 3.3v regulator built in so you can run it on a wide range of things. It originally ran on 9v, but anything between 3.3v and 12v ought to work just fine. Wiring three “AA” batteries in series will give you around 4.5v, which is a good balance of physical size, battery life, and voltage. To connect this all to the headset, you’ll want to find a female 3.5mm 3-contact phono jack–better known as the thing you plug stereo headphones into. I’d snag a connector out of an old walkman or something if you don’t have a free one laying around. The pinout for the headset’s plug is as follows:



The base of the plug is the ground. This will need to be connected to two things; the negative terminal of your power supply and the shield of your RCA plug (when you strip the cable, this will be the woven sleeve around the inner wire). The middle ring is the video, which connects to the center wire/pin on the RCA cable/plug. Finally, the tip connects to the positive terminal of your power supply. Double-check your wiring, plug the RCA cable into your composite video source, and connect your power. If all goes well, you should see an image! Now if you’re video device is PAL format (from Europe, UK, etc.), you’re done! If, however, you’re device is NTSC (American), you’ll notice that the image in the headset is a bit messed up. Most modern devices will have a software setting somewhere that will let you change the video format, but there is a pretty simple hardware solution if not. Let’s have a look at that solution, shall we?

First, we need to crack open the display housing. It’s glued shut, so prying is our only option (unless you have a sonic screwdriver, that is). Insert your presumably non-sonic screwdriver into the side with the cable coming out of it and pull away foreward (away from your face, if you were wearing it (which you really shouldn’t be at this point)).

Ignore the way I’m doing it in the photo above and do it on the side with the cable. I managed OK, but there is a risk of hurting the LCD’s delicate ribbon cable if you jam sharp instruments into the side I did. The cover should pop off, leaving you with this:

The bit we need to get at is hiding under that capacitor in the lower right, so gently bend it out of the way. There you will see a surface-mount resistor and two blank pads. The datasheet for the chip (Kopin A300) tells us that the pin those are connected to is the PAL/NTSC setting. To switch it into NTSC mode, simply remove that resistor. If you want to be extra thorough, you can desolder that resistor and move it onto the blank pads as shown below:

Doing this will pull the line low, whereas just scraping it off lets the line float. It seems to work fine either way, but it can’t hurt to play it safe. The “resistor” seems to be little more than a jumper, so you can actually just pop it off and bridge the blank pads with a bit of wire or solder if you’re lazy (like me).

Pop the lid back on and there you have it: a wearable screen that can be connected to just about anything that plugs into a normal TV–and for less than twenty-five bucks!

So, what’s next? Well for one, you can make the display mush less dorky looking by removing the guts, rearranging them, and cramming them into something else. Sunglasses, perhaps? You can also probably replace the optics with something sharper and/or thinner. You could also forgo the whole HMD idea and turn it into a tiny projector–maybe with a laser for a light source? Electrically there is a lot of fun to be had as well. The data sheet for the chip shows us that there are are several unused functions such as black and white level and gamma adjustments, the pads for which are easily accessibly on the back of the board. There’s also the VERY intriguing “OSD_in” pin that may prove to be fun. Does anyone know what kind of signal that takes? I can’t seem to find any standards…

Good luck and enjoy!

Published in: on September 30, 2007 at 10:53 pm  Comments (210)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://jakehildebrandt.com/2007/09/30/25-head-mounted-display/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

210 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. In the datasheet it gives the range as 0-Vbat (battery voltage) and the block diagram shows it going through a “level detector” (voltage threshold) and mixing it with the (level-/gamma-corrected) video.

    My guess is that it’s just a B/W video signal with a 0-Vbat swing instead of 1Vp-p. Of course, it would probably have to be genlocked with the input video.

    The PPU from an old NES might make a nifty OSD (or even main image) generator! http://bripro.com/low/hardware/nesvidcard/index.php

  2. That’s what I was beginning to suspect myself. I was hoping it was some sort of serial text input or something, but that would make things too easy, wouldn’t it? 🙂

  3. Coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool.

  4. You could wire in a switch or a non-momentary toggle button for the PAL/NTSC “resistor” rather than hard-wiring it one way or the other…

    Also, using the middle pole for video and the end pole for the battery, isn’t that bad? As you plug it in you get voltage going in the video in, and back out the ground. Or between the voltage and video source pin… other such bad things.

  5. you know, there’s nothing (except out-of-stock on the site) to stop me from rigging two of these bad boys together, and then running dual output from a couple of tuner cards.

    Imagine, it’s stereoscopic 3D for $50. Even if you only used it as a digital still-shot stereoscope, it would be awesome! Then if you figured out how to render video separately to the two lines….

  6. use the coupon code SMILES when checking out to get 10% off. It is not valid for the car itself, but it works for the headsets

  7. […] Interessant was man aus Spielzeug so alles machen kann. Beim “Spy Video Car” ist ein HMD dabei. Als Ersatzteil bekommt man es schon für 25$. Was man damit dann macht kann man hier lesen https://jakeofalltrades.wordpress.com/2007/09/30/25-head-mounted-display/ […]

  8. Hey, thanks for the kind words, everybody! I had a feeling they’d sell out pretty fast, as they had done so twice long before I posted anything. Luckily they do have a notification system, which is nice and spam-free.

    @draeath: Putting a switch is a good idea. I had thought about doing it myself, but I’ve never had reason to use a PAL signal in my life 🙂 As to the pin arrangement, I think you’re looking at it backwards. The positive supply is on the tip, yes, but it’s the female socket that’s supplying this voltage. This means that the battery isn’t connected to anything until the plug is all the way in. You get video going into the v-in and ground to video-in for a brief second, not the other way around.

    @Lokkju: Shhhh! Now they’re really going to sell out… I actually used that code myself when I bought this one, but I forgot to mention it here. Thanks!

  9. DAMN! it’s out of stock!

    i wanna cry 😦

  10. I found one in the dumpster near my work place but it does not have ac adapter and its run on 5v. Can some one tell me how to make it to work? The model is X-eye.

  11. That car set would make a perfect cheap rear view camera/display for my RV. A shaving mirror would both magnify the tiny Kopin screen and do the necessary left-right reflection.

  12. Sold Out, BTW… wonder if they’ll ever restock that part?

  13. […] Project page [Jake of All Trades via Hack a Day] […]

  14. Nice work!!! You might be able to add color by replacing the white backlight LED with an RGB LED and sequence each color through. This would be very similar to what dlp projectors do, although it might be a pain on your eyes. You might check the backlight for unused connections, just in case they originally decided to make it color, but for whatever reason changed their mind.

    Roy, most video cards these days can actually render video separately in realtime. You might check to see if your video card supports it. Some video cards will render red-blue anaglyphs. Stereoscopy on a shoe string is a pretty cool idea.

    Jake, instead of desoldering the resistor, why not use an M connector? Or in other words, use aluminum foil to bypass it Macguyver style.

  15. Spy Video Car Replacement Part – Limit One per Customer!
    haha thats hilarious one per that is just great but they must be restocking because now they have a waiting list to buy it!

  16. […] $25 Head-Mounted Display « Jake of All Trades […]

  17. Think it would be easy to pull these and add IR LEDs or a separate IR LED flashlight to make a cheap yet functional night vision goggle?

    # A color capable video transmitter/receiver with a few hundred feet of range
    # A miniature B&W CCD video camera (similar to one of these)
    # A very bright 8mm IR LED and, best of all, a…
    # A video headset containing a Kopin 300M B&W LCD screen, optics, backlight, and a PAL/NTSC driver board

  18. They say they expect more by the end of the month. Seems like they should be getting a HUGE shipment if a lot of hack-a-day is watching this item.

  19. […] $25 Head-Mounted Display – Link […]

  20. […] $25 Head-Mounted Display – Link […]

  21. Jake, what a wonderful hack! So sorry the website is out of stock. Our engineering group has a bin of extra headsets (pre-production samples, engineering test units, etc.) we’d like to make available to 10 clever hackers.

    Email us with a one-paragraph proposal of what cool thing you’re going to do with your own cyborg headset. Best 10 answers we receive by 5PM tomorrow (Oct. 10) receive a headset. No guarantees–these aren’t production samples, but they’re free, right?

    email us: hack(at)wildplanet(dot)com

    Much love,
    Wild Planet Engineering Team

  22. Nice article! To see the guts of the car have a look here. http://hackedgadgets.com/2006/08/17/inside-the-spy-video-car/

  23. Thanks for the great hack!

    I would love to have that with a color VGA, (or better,) display. It could be used as a TV monitor, gaming monitor, PC Monitor, whatever. The original XBOX uses 640 x 480, if I remember correctly. With an RCA connector, it could connect right to a game console or TV feed. Kopin has VGA and WVGA screens, but I wouldn’t even know where to start. Power, input, backlight…, way over my head.

    If anyone ever makes a set of instructions for a VGA model, I might stand a chance.

  24. […] Head-Mounted Display – Link Wild Planet Toys – […]

  25. […] Head-Mounted Display – Link Wild Planet Toys – […]

  26. […] with a remote control car with a video transmitter and heads up display that looks pretty rad. – Link They’re out of stock at stores, but over at Make: they’re giving some away. – […]

  27. OSD stands for On Screen Display …

    That´s what you see on your TV shawing channel numbers, closed captions etc …

    It allows information overlay … nice thing to play with …

  28. … SHOWING …

    sorry …

  29. Indeed, but do you happen to know how such information is encoded? Is it simply a second “normal” video signal or is there some way to feed it text or something? On a whim I tried to talk to it via HyperTerminal, but that just made the display blink…

  30. The OSD signal is an analog signal… The OSD data is most commonly sent to the display processor in the VBLANK state. The OSD chip then converts it for display.
    I think if you send the right signal, it may work
    The signal max is 2/3 of VBAT and the min is 1/3 VBAT. VBAT has a min of -0.5V and a max of 4V. (basically, use a 3V battery (or is that 6V? darn. been too long since high school physics) fully charged up, then the min is 1V and the max is 2V)
    The signal delay is 20 nanoseconds with a max of 30 ns delay.
    So try sending a signal of 1 volt with an on/off delay of 20ns. That should give you white, right? And black should be a signal of 2V with the same on/off delay.

  31. Me again. If it is anything like this:
    then “The data path is synchronous or asynchronous serial with BOB-3 compatible ‘standard’ rates of 1200, 2400, 4800, 9600, 19.2k, 38.4k, 76.8k, and 153.6k bits/S, using eight data bits, no parity, and one stop bit (8N1). The default rate is 9600.” Back to HyperTerminal, you! I think. Oh, if it does print characters, it probably uses UTF-8. Also, if you are up to grokking c… http://www.decadenet.com/bob4/BOB-4%20Code%20Example.txt
    That is more of the bob chip, but if you use a microcontroller… (man, I love my robotics class. Now I just need to get one of the darn viewy things.)

  32. I don’t believe the OSD is a serial input. That BOB thing Shelby mentions is specifically for accepting text from serial or ucon. and overlaying it on a video signal.

    I also disagree with the VBlank comment. The closed caption signal (displayed as OSD by TVs) is indeed sent during VBlank, but this is a separate pin for a reason, methinks…

    Maybe try a simple transistor video amp outputting 1/3 Vcc video with a 1/3 Vcc DC bias and send it a bilevel/gray image. I’m thinking black=trans/white=opaque.

    One way to find out would be to find a camcorder that uses this (or a similar) LCD and ‘scope its OSD pin…

  33. A lot of voltage regulators want “overhead” voltage to operate properly. The 78xx and LM340/350/317 in particular want Vcc to be >= Vout + 2, and those are very common designs. Assuming they didn’t use a low-overhead regulator here (not common in my experience) the ideal minimum supply voltage is 5.3. 6V is probably a more realistic absolute minimum since the whole purpose of a voltage regulator is to produce a constant voltage source, and any dip below 5.3 will produce a proportional dip in output voltage.

  34. Great gadget. Im going to be using mine as a HUD for our Honeywell RapidEYE dvr system. Im building the video TX/RX right now. This will be perfect for our officers. Mobile video surveillance is always a nice tool.

  35. What a hack, Indeed!

    I do a lot of fishing. I wonder if I could hack my fishfinder to find the RGB, and Sync Signals to incorporate a small plug.. (say a SVID-type or x-pin mini DIN, or even a D-Type… ) .. to make a CYBORG-like eypiece to interface with my FISHFINDER? Imagine casting and at the same time VIRTUALLY SEEING where the fish are… OH YEA.

    Thanks for the HACK… keep on brother!

  36. Awesome. Looks real easy too (Australia uses PAL, so no need to actually do any hacking). Would be great as a HMD for video recording. Too bad it costs around the same to ship the darn thing to Australia as the display itself. Not being able to buy in multiples doesn’t help either… =(

  37. Ah, great tip! Thanks! I discovered that I can run a male-to-male headphone cable out of the remote control, into a video in on an Aiptek-brand MPV (handheld camcorder) and record what the spy video car can see. I was thinking it might be cool to run the signal into a video capture card–maybe that will be my next project. Oh yeah and I totally lucked out–the Toys R Us near me was having a sale on Spy Gear toys–2 for 1, so I got two video cars for $50 each. 🙂

  38. now this is a sweet setup…now i have something i can use as a hud for my wearable pc…for cheap! i thought i was gonna have to replace the headset section for sure, but it’s remarkably stable when i put it on. one 9v jack and an RCA cable later, i’m able to watch my xbox 360 boot up on the headset. nifty!

    thank you very much.

  39. I think I’ve got the OSD figured out. Kopin didn’t have any details (I emailed tech support), so I took a closer look at the A300 controller and it suddenly looked kinda familiar. Came up with the Freescale (Motorola) VirtuoView display driver: MCVVQ111AFB.

    Click to access MCVVQ111A.pdf

    Page 12 & 14 describe the OSD operation and it looks exactly like the Kopin A300.
    Basically, there’s two thresholds: below the bottom and it’s not adding OSD video. Above the 1st and it adds black. Above the 2nd and it adds white. You’ll have use the vertical and horizontal sync signals and come up with your own font(s) and graphics. But it’s easier because than regular NTSC video because you can use the pixel clock to know when to go to the next pixel.

    I’ll add it to my project list!


  40. Nice hack, thanks for the info.
    I got mine yesterday and pluged it into the reciever for my Swann Night Hawk wireless camera which has a built-in IR LED array to make a homebrew NVG. The coolest part is since the camera is powered by it’s on 9v battery, I can detach the it from my modded headset and plant it somewhere for remote viewing.

  41. Looks like they are back in stock (for the moment). I just ordered mine! Merry Early X-Mas to me.

  42. I’ve also ordered mine yesterday!
    (but I forgot to mention the coupon code SMILE…)
    I hope to find some “usefull” hacks for it!

    ciao from Italy

  43. Ordered two, to try to balance out the insane shipping cost. I’m basicly paying the cost of three for two though.

  44. […] very clever fella has hacked our Spy Video Car headset. Which has led to a run on something that was only designed as a replacement part. It […]

  45. A Message from the Wild Planet Engineering Team

    Unfortunately, with all the great press in the maker community, we aren’t able to meet the demand for the replacement headset right now. We didn’t anticipate so much interest in this as a stand-alone item, and it will take some time before our production capacity catches up with the demand. (We’re going full out to meet the Spy Video Car demand for the holiday season).

    If you can wait, we’ll notify you when we get the replacement headset in stock. The other option is that we do have inventory of the complete Spy Video Car available. In addition to the headset, The Spy Video Car is a remote controlled vehicle with a video camera mounted on the front to provide a first-person view from the vehicle for snooping and spying. The video image is transmitted via 2.4GHz signal and then displayed on a micro-LCD in the headset.
    Creative individuals could certainly imagine endless ways to reconfigure the various components that make up the Spy Video Car into new and exciting projects.

    Because we are unable to fulfill your request of the replacement headset, we would like to offer you a $20 discount on the Spy Video Car. To receive your discount, just enter the coupon code HACKER during checkout.

    Of course, if you prefer to wait, we will e-mail you when we get the replacement headsets in (early next year).

    Thank you, and happy hacking,
    Wild Planet Entertainment, Inc.

  46. I saw that deal on the site – nice. I can think of some really fun things to do with the full kit, but even with the $20 off I can’t justify spending that much on a toy for myself at the moment. Hopefully it will still be offered next year. I’m thinking camera mounted R/C “steampunk” airship! 😀

  47. Sweet. I got mine in the mail today (they are back in stock). With a 9V battery and a few alligator clips I was able to connect it to my playstation in just a few minutes. Next I’m going to pop it open and switch it to NTSC. Thanks for the tip, this is going to be fun!

  48. I’ve got an old Sony VAIO laptop with no head (cracked LCD) – anyone know if it is possible to hook this up to it? If any of you can point to resources which can help me I would appreciate it (I’m a software developer and not much of a hardware guy).

  49. Man what a great and very inexpensive thing for my RC plane video downlink!
    Doing the mods was a snap and I had it working in no time flat!
    This thing has tons of bang for the buck! It’s as good or better than other viewers that cost MUCH more.

  50. FYI: Received mine yesterday- seems to be set to NTSC from the factory…

  51. Correction: It is PAL. The image that I was looking at was split-screen right at where you’d expect the roll-over from the incorrect format…

  52. Josh,

    This is off topic, and I am not very savvy at hacking, but I am an IT guy. The simplest thing for you to do is use a VGA cable to connect the headless laptop to a spare monitor. I do not recall ever seeing a laptop without a VGA out port.

    If you look on eBay, you should be able to find a replacement screen. They are not that hard to swap out, once you figure out which screws unlock the “laptop puzzle”. Once you see what the prices are running, you can decide if it is worth it to you. Or sell yours on ebay and someone else can rebuild theirs.

    The headset is really a neat idea, but it is black and white and very low resolution, (300 x 225 pixels. VGA is 640 x 480, and windows XP has a default minimum resolution of 800 x 600.) I do not think you would be able to use it as an alternative to a monitor. (Well, of course you could, but I don’t think you would enjoy using it for any real work.)

    I think a color VGA one I could connect to my xBox would be very cool.

  53. Looking at the M300 website, and it appears thatthis thing is driven by the A300 controller board. Would make sense. Perhaps data on the OSD line is given in the chip’s paperwork?

    Just a thought.

  54. *headdesk* should have paid more attention to comments.

  55. I just got an e-mail from shopwildplanet.com. They are taking orders on the headsets again (to ship in December). I used coupon code SMILES, and paid $27.45 (to be shipped U.S.P.S. Priority Mail).

    I plan to us a PAL/NTSC switch to flip the resistor between the circuit pads shown above. I will use this with my Sony Nightshot digital camcorder I got at a garage sale for $5 (they said it did not work, but the menu allowed me to reset it to factory defaults ;-).

    Also, I discovered that you can get the translucent red spy video car for $79.99 (free shipping) at

  56. I’ve got linux running on the laptop now, and I don’t intend to use it as my primary computer, so low resolution isn’t really a concern. I’m more doing it because I like the idea and I want to learn more about hardware hackery. 🙂

  57. I just thought id toss a comment on what i will be doing with this headset. Im a regular airsoft player and have recieved the nickname of ‘Q’ for all the gadgets i create. The next one ive decided to make is a SWAT Wand (http://www.lecortec.com/vision_stick.htm) as you can see on that site its about $2300. The Wand basicaly allows the operator to look arround a corner or in a room for hostiles. Now connecting this HUD to a $25 wireless camera i purchased from ebay, ive made my own WIRELESS wand for about roughly $100. Im looking forward to geting the HUD i just ordered so i can get this gaget done!

    Thanks for the great article btw!

  58. Re: headless Vaio,

    Oops, I addressed my reply to Josh. I was actually answering Chaoslink’s post. ‘Scuze me.

  59. Chaoslink,

    That makes perfect sense. Go for it. Let us know how it works out.

  60. FT job + a couple of contracts + a new AppleTV to hack on (like I said, software comes easier to me 😉 ) means no time yet for this. I will not let this one lay on the shelf like my in-car MP3 player!

  61. Wow, for my first hack this went extremely well! Rather than just coble something together, I wanted a nice enclosure that I could just plug the HMD and A/V cable to. I also wanted an LED power indicator and power switch. For once Radio Shack had everything I needed! Unfortunately, it is Radio Shack so I spent as much building the enclosure as the HMD cost.

    In retrospect I would cut out the power switch. I was momentarily panicked when I flipped the switch and the LED light didn’t come on. It took me a second to visualize the circuit before I figured out I actually had to plug the HMD in for it to work. DOH! So I took the extra step for nothing.

    I think I will build smaller rechargable 9V version (current one uses 4 AA) since this one is a bit clunkier than I would like. It is about the size of two decks of playing cards stacked.

    Morpheus: I hooked mine up to my wireless camera per your idea. With a couple of 9V batter adapters for my CCD and reciever and some electrical tape I made myself a nifty little night scope. Works pretty well and everything fits in canteen pouch on my belt.

    Next I am going to mount the camera on a remote control car and…

  62. Chaoslink- I wonder if this might work for you:


    I’m not sure what the capabilites of the graphics card in your laptop are, but if it supports TV-out this might work for ya.

  63. Maybe, thanks Thaelog. I was hoping to somehow hookup the interface that used to go to the laptop screen, but I’ll check out that link, too.

  64. Chaoslink> Is there no TV Out at the Notebook you could use?
    Even if there is a SVHS Out on your sony vaio you could built this “Adapter” to composite:


  65. I did the “Pre order” and they said after the first of the year…… well I just got the tracking number from USPS. I can’t wait!! I will be using for a down link for taking arial photos from an RC plane.


  66. My headset finally arrived (after one month and ten days)!
    Also with the euro-dollar exchange rate, I saved a lot of money!

    Greetings from Italy ^^

  67. Hey, i’ve never soldered a thing in my life, and have no real knowledge of circuit boards and things, but i HAVE always wanted a head mounted display. Ironic no?

    Could somebody by any chance make like a step by step complete noobs guide to doing this so i can actually understand it? Even if you just take pictures of it step by step as you do your own with a paragraph or so explaining what you’re doing. If so that would be VERY much appreciated. And i’m in the UK, so it would only have to be up changing to NTSC, which i obviously have no need of. Very much optimistic thanks to everyone in advance.

    My email address is? the_pimptastic_mr_allan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  68. this is an wasome idea for my uav i was looking for a cheap screen of some sort but this is better thanks

  69. Hello fellow geeks. I can help anyone who needs it regarding these devices. I have wired mine to usb power with an S video conversion so I can use it seamlessly with my PC. There are a couple tricks to make the image look better and with a high contrast white background you can navigate with little difficulty in windows (yes you squint n grit your teeth) Now I just need some infared cameras (you can make one out of an old cheap webcam). I hope to have a Faq up on my site soon! Best of luck-


  70. I am interested in using this as a PC monitor, running Dragon 9 voice recognition with MS Word. I am very interested in your tweaks for pc use and your conversion to usb power. Please email the details if you have prepared such. Thank you.

  71. HMD-Master / Daniel,

    I’m also very interested in your hacks 🙂 My email is krozgen (a-t) gmail (d-o-t) com. If you could link me to your site when the FAQ is up, I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

    – Kroz

  72. Daniel If you could send me a link to your site I’d love to check out your hacks my email n1elkyfan(at)gmail(dot)com

  73. That’s a great idea Daniel! I’ll have to incorporate USB/SV into my new adapter.

    Oh yeah, I meant to post lastime that if you want a free enclosure to build your adapter and battery pack into you can go to: http://www.pactecenclosures.com

    They are sending out 2 free samples of their new product line. They even FedEx it for free! I’m going to be using the PPLX-9VB_2AA for my new adapter since it comes with a 9V batter compartment already. Which will be an improvement over my last one which requires me to unscrew the panel to change out the battery.

    Consequently, does anyone know of a DIY way to make a smart charger? I’ve been Googling with no luck.

  74. OK, well that was a quick purchase 😉 Thanks for the tips & tricks here. I tend to do a lot of LEGO, and some time ago built a Packbot out of the new LEGO NXT kit (search Youtube for “LEGO Packbot”). It works great, with BT remote control and on-board autonomy, but for remote control it needs video. I’ve got a small wireless cam, but having to stay by a TV or even laptop made this a less than completely portable option. But with this, I can take it into a cave I explore and be able to do some serious tight spaces work. *IF* I can get it hacked (I have a soldering iron, but it’s usually a source of burns…).


    Brian Davis

  75. I found this while searching some PIC stuff. It is how to superimpose (sorry for the spelling) a graphic on a ntsc signal. here is the link, hope it can be useful. http://www.rickard.gunee.com/projects/video/pic/pvgs_assembly/

  76. Hi!mind if I ask, do you know what’s the difference between the Wild Planet Spy Video Car Translucent Red and the Spy Video Car (the black one)? Is it just the color or anything else. I am planning to buy this for my son but I don’t know what’s the difference bet the two. Hope somebody can answer my ? . Thanks! Have a nice day!

  77. Yup, I can confirm that they are exactly the same aside from color and the design of the wheels. The wheels are only slightly different, however, and do not have any noticeable effect on normal operation of the vehicle. I prefer the black one aesthetically, but the red one is pretty slick too.

  78. Jake, really interesting hack–went to wild planet and bought one within 5 minutes of reading your hack. I have one problem, I don’t quite understand your wiring instructions (mainly because this is one of my first ever hacks–first one was fixing a transistor on a 35mm camera). Will Ineed to buy a battery tray for the AA batteries and wire the audio and power to the 3.5mm jack you mentioned? What’s the chances of a picture or two of this part of the hack? Or, if someone else wants to give me a link?
    Thanks, guys.

  79. Man this hack is brilliant… I’ve been looking for a long time how to get a cheap head mounted display, compatible with my PC, but I’ve never thought of looking for it in a toy shop. You are a genius. But the guys at wildplanet don’t ship this stuff to Hungary 😥 any ideas on how to get one? I know it’s the other side of the Globe but I want to get my hands on one of those :'(.

  80. I’m feeling like a bit of an idiot here, but I bought one of these headsets, and tried to hook it up to a wireless camera and reciever. I went in and changed it to NTSC as described, but I’m still not able to make out a clear image. Is there something I’m doing wrong? I stripped the wires on the headset and soldered in battery power for the headset in order to get it to work, and still it doesn’t work. Can anyone help me out? There sometimes is a fuzzy image, but adjusting neither gain for the reciever knob helps at all.

    Thanks, this is my first hack and I’m already sucking.

  81. Oh and the wireless camera/reciever is confirmed to be NTSC just to clarify…

  82. Hmm, sounds like you might have the wires reversed on the video-in. The shield (outer ring on an RCA plug) should be connected to the same point as the “-” terminal of your batteries, and the middle conductor should connect to the “video in” pin. That’s the only thing I can think of aside from a broken headset and wrong voltage. What are you powering it with, by the way?

  83. Just an update on my previous message. I bought the HMD from wild planet–$25 and no problems getting it. I must say, I achieved success with this first real “hack” of pre-existing gear.

    I followed the instructions by Jake–but instead of findng an old Walkman jack, I sprung for a new 1/8″ (3.5mm) female phone jack at Radio Shack (about one dollar). I also bought a 4-AA battery compartment ($1.59) which comes with a 9v-type attachment on the top–I figured this would put out a bit more than Jake’s 4.4V suggestion but that’s less than its limit.

    Then, I wired the black wire from the batteries to the lowest post of the 1/8″ jack, and the battery red wire to the top post (meaning, the one that touches the topmost part of the earphone plug).

    I also bought an RCA coupler for the video cable, and found an old yellow-tipped video rca cable in my supplies (if you’ve bought any electronics gadgets over the years, you’re bound to have as many USB and RCA cables as me!) I stripped the RCA plug off on one end and pulled the outer shield wire from the middle insulated wire. I attached the shielded wire to the black wire and post of the 1/8″ jack base post, and the middle wire to the remaining post on the jack (there are only three posts to choose from and two of the wires attach to that one base post). This gave the video display power, and then I attached the other end of the video rca cable to my wireless video camera receiver. It worked, but had the PAL format (the double image thing), so I knew I’d have to break open the display.

    Well, I opened the cable side, like in the photo by Jake, and found the little NTSC doohickey. I just scraped it off and hoped for the best.

    Success! It works, and I’m going to find a little compartment to stick the battery tray and wires into so they don’t come loose from movement. I’m also going to drill a hole into the compartment and attach the phone jack.

    I might use this at some point when working with home-built robots outside.

    Thanks Jake! My first real hack.

  84. Thanks for the response! — I have tried powering it with 2 AAA’s (not enough power), then switched it out to 4 AA’s. Here is a better explanation of how I have it wired:

    I stripped a portion of the wire coming out of the headset. In it, there is a red, green and clear wire. I soldered in the battery pack so that the red line connects to the positive, clear is negative.

    Then (and this might be where the problem lies) I used a stereo coupler to connect the stereo tip on the headset to an adapter that is stereo to RCA, and that connects to the RCA cord going to the camera reciever.

    Anyways I hope this helps shed light on my problem! Thanks again for the help.

  85. This would be awesome hooked up to my Commodore 64. The C64 Resolution is 320 x 200. It’s perfect!

  86. Hi!
    They are taking orders on the headsets again.

  87. I just picked up the whole car and everything at a local (aurora, CO) wal-mart for $49. Can anyone elaborate on the “color capable” bit that’s listed in the specs at the top of the page?

  88. Greetings Hackers,

    We only have a few headsets left in stock and then they will be gone for good. Wild Planet has told me they are unable to get anymore at the current price so they will not be reordering them as a standalone unit. Once the final few we are in the store are gone, the only way to get one would be to purchase the entire Spy Video Car.

    I just wanted to let you all know in the event you go to the site and find the link is gone in the next few days. We will be removing it once we have sold out of the final few we have left.


  89. They are already sold out 😦

    Hey are you guys building that page to explain how to connect a laptop?

  90. […] HUD (Yes, Heads Up Display) For those of you with electronics knowledge… $25 Head-Mounted Display Jake of All Trades This is from a product called "spy video car". Removing the cam from the car and […]

  91. Tripp McNeilly – “Think it would be easy to pull these and add IR LEDs or a separate IR LED flashlight to make a cheap yet functional night vision goggle?”

    I bought this thing for exactly that purpose:
    I wanted the wireless feature as an extra to play with, but this camera will do just fine:

    I made a Headset plug diagram and posted it here:

    Action shot, Camera looking through the headset.
    Doesn’t look all that great through a camera but up against your eye its pretty nice.

    I posted a few pictures of my setup here:

  92. When will these things be available again? I need 2 of them.

  93. I hacked the tx rx transponder for the video on the video car, email me and i will give you info on how to use it to transmit video

  94. does anyone know where i can find a very low lux camera for cheap? you say this is under $25, but where did you get a camera?

  95. Is anyone else hacking this for an iPhone version 2?

    The version 2 doesn’t have a 1/8 inch video out, so I bought a composite A/V cable which connects out of the bottom of the iPhone.

    The iPhone v2 can switch between NTSC and PAL so
    I wonder if it’s worth hacking the HMD to use NTSC.
    Has anyone tried the devices under both and compared the clarity?

    FYI, the settings for the iPhone are under Settings-iPod-TV Out.

    I’ve been looking for a non-immersive HMD like this one so I can watch my Vodcasts on the subway on my way to work. I need to be able to see to navigate, and it needs to be lighter than this device is, so I’m planning to take the optics out of the plastic housing and hang them on a pair of buddy-hollys in using a 1″ stand-off so I can swing the eye piece out of the way. Because of this, it still made sense to break open the shell, even if I don’t eventually end up converting it to NTSC.

    One thing I’d like to pass along is that the plastic plate we remove to work on this is actually a cap. To remove it, place it flat down on a surface
    and press straight down. The screw driver didn’t work for me, neither did a utility knife. I eventually found that a wood chisel could slide against the plastic and break the glue that hoilds the cap on.

  96. A little follow up. The hack went perfectly with the version 2. I didn’t scrape off the resistor because the iPhone can display NTSC/PAL. I tried it both ways and found that I really couldn’t tell any difference. Others of you who’se eyes aren’t 50 years old might be able to percieve a difference, but if you’re planning on using this with an iPhone, I’d suggest that you try it first before breaking the shell open.

    While I wouldn’t want to use this as a PC screen, I could read the print equally well in either case and it will meet my needs for watching the news on the train.

    One thing I added was a switch so I could turn the headset off when I’m not using it.

    I also taped on a pair of ear buds, taped the wires together and ran the combination over the back of my right ear, where they’ll run down to my suit pocket where I’ll keep the iPhone and battery pack.

    I sent a photo taken with my iPhone to show the entire setup.

    Thanks to all for the info.

    This was a lot of fun!

  97. When are these going to be in stock again????????

  98. never…..

  99. Why won’t they be in stock ever again?

  100. […] couple months ago a post circulated about how you could get a cheap head mounted display (HMD) from Wild Planet’s Spycar toy. It […]

  101. I found out that the Headset works on 9v battery or some AAA’s or AA’s, but for a more compact power source you can use the 12v alkaline battery http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2036244

  102. awesome article…i’m going to ebay this right now and see if i can pull this off with my rather clumsy electronics skills lol

  103. where can I get a set of htose spy goggles??

  104. OMG… the resistor that you have to move… well I drop it and smash it with my shoes…

    So… what size was that resistor????

  105. I’ve been there, Mr. Lopez! Luckily for you, the component in question is more of a jumper than a proper resistor so it can be replaced with nothing more than a bit of wire or a solder bridge. Good luck!

  106. As the display alone will never be available again on the store… is anybody able to find out brand&model of the raw display and its “controller”? If already coupled they cost 25$, buying them separately should cost even less!
    But WHERE to buy? WHAT to buy?

  107. other idea:
    where else small monitors are used?
    I have 2 ideas, but only know their italian names,sorry…:
    “videocitofono”, “kit retromarcia”.
    Maybe some of them are cheap enough?

  108. But the whole idea of ” spy gear ” is to have covery equipment. if it is so evicent it is no longer in the spy category.

  109. Here is a question for an electronics idiot and a dreamer.

    (1)remove yet maintain connection with a camera from a old camera phone and make for lack of a better term an extension cable.

    (2) mount the cell phone camera with “extension cord” to the headset.

    (3)share the video signal with both LCD headset and cell phone camera.

    (4) If possible could it be designed to be plug in and plug out if you wanted to use the wireless car camera.

    I apoligize if this is a bit clumsy in explanation. My idea is that with utilizing the cellphone camera and extending it you would now have a camera with the capability to be mounted with the headset LCD viewer. In addition if you can share the video feed from the cellphone camera to both the headset and camera itself,a micro SD chip would allow you to utilize the functions of the cellphone to save both pics and hours of video. Combine this with a good IR illumination source and you have not only great night vision goggles but also recording and cell phone capabilities of sending to others.

    I guess the icing on the cake would be if it was designed in such a way that you could utilized the cell phone then unplug and use the car unit as well.

    I hope I get a reply on this one. I am an electronics idiot but this is just a concept. I have searched and searched and have found nothing about anyone hacking into cell phone in regards to the camera.

  110. Sorry folks I had a typo I meant “FROM”an electronics idiot and dreamer not “FOR”. Please excuse me.

  111. Possible, yes, but not really doable by anyone without a masters in electrical engineering and a lot of time on their hands. The signals that come out of the camera element in a phone have pretty much nothing to do with those our display accepts, so you would need a boatload of circuitry to convert.

    If, on the other hand, you have a camera phone that can natively connect to a TV, the process will be rather simple. The iPhone is the only phone I know of that can do this, but most digital cameras (even old ones!) do it just fine.

  112. Consider the cyborg hacks possible with this:


  113. …messed up the link there…..

    with this:


  114. One more question but maybe more realistic. Thanks for the feedback by the way. (Great Folks)


    ( At the very least I hope I am making your wheels turn)

  115. Coool hack.. i intend to try this out.. might save me a few bucks if i can figure out(dud me so far) where i can buy the replacement headset alone..

    >Cobaltxxxfusion,Jake of All Trades:
    On Camera phones and tv out:
    yes, on newer models on cellphones, they have S-video or Composite(RCA jacks) outputs, at the same time, they also have LCD display from various sources. the trick lies in the s/w to be able to route the image coming in to the output device. in theory, you could modify the OS drivers(esp on one such as Linux based Nokia – 810 -not exactly a cellphone, but just a point), to route data incoming from the camera to both ur displays ->LCD and TV…

  116. […] said HMD to display video from any RCA source. The bottom line is yu can have your own B&W HMD for less than $25 (assuming you buy just the screen as a replacement part from Wild Planet. Not bad. Tags: Permalink […]

  117. free nextel real ringtones…

  118. caribbean poker portales internet…

  119. I just finished hooking this up to a button spycam. One problem though. A small portion of the top of the view is on the bottom portion of the headset screen. Looks like a horizontal is messed up. Is there a way to fix this? Also the view is extremely bright outdoors.

  120. Steven: It sounds like your camera and screen are in mis-matched modes (NTSC/PAL). If you did the above mod correctly, the screen will be set up to receive NTSC signals. This means that you either did not do the modification right, or that you camera is PAL (did you buy it from a non-US retailer?). To find out which it is, try hooking the camera up to a TV. If it displays OK, than you likely need to re-do the HMD mod. If it displays the way it looks on the HMD, than it is a PAL camera and you need to un-modify the HMD (as it is PAL out of the box). Please let me know how you get on with this.

  121. Thank you Jack 🙂

    The button camera always looked fine when hooked up to the television. It did come from Hong Kong though. I tested it before I got the HMD and it always looked fine wen hooked to the television.

    So basically I just need to remove the resistor to set the HMD to NTSC? 🙂

  122. Yup, that should do it!

  123. My headset is coming soon… soon as in, 2-4 weeks. I can’t wait. I will convert it so that not only will it work with my night vision device, but I’ll also make a small converter for it so I can use it with other devices.

  124. Hey Jack, I was wondering how you would recommend I open up the headset? In your main post you said not to pry it open with a screw driver because it might break a connection.

  125. Hi All,

    I missed out on the last time wildplanet sold the headsets.

    Now they don’t sell it anymore.

    I have a project in mind and need the headset.

    Does anyone know where can I still buy the headset ?

    I would be willing to buy from someone if they want to sell one to me.

    Thanks in advance.

  126. Hey all,

    I’m having a bit of a problem with my HMD and Windows Vista. I’ve a number of bits and pieces together in such a way that my HMD gets power from a USB port and displays video input from an RCA jack. I’ve also scraped off the resistor limiting the HMD to PAL resolution, thus switching it to NTSC. The HMD works beautifully when I connect it to my Playstation 2 via the PS2’s RCA cable. However, when I connect the HMD to my Vista computer via an RCA to S-Video convertor cable, I only get brief flashes of the desktop wallpaper whenever I attempt to change my monitor settings, and otherwise the HMD displays a blank white screen. Any thoughts/ideas as to why this is?

    DISCLAIMER: I am an avid Linux user, it’s just that the Vista computer was the only one I had available with an S-Video connector 😉 I plan to hook up the HMD to my Gentoo laptop once I procure an RCA to VGA convertor.



  127. any news about where to find similar displays at similar price?….

  128. I found this display:
    Sony Miniature Color LCD Display (LCX005BKB) $29.00
    1.4 CM (0.55 inch)Diagonal Full Color Display
    Built in horizontal and vertical drivers
    Delta Dot Pattern for High Picture Quality
    537 dots (H) x 222 dots (V)
    Compatiable with NTSC & PAL format and Sync Inputs
    12 VDC Operation with -1 to +17 V RGB Signal and Driver Input Voltage
    Excellent display for virtual reality projects
    Viewfinder and Miniature Test Equipment Displays
    Pin Outs and Specifications Included
    Unit requires a clock, Synchronization and Video

    But I don’t know how to “wire” it: is anybody able to make a suitable schematic?

  129. A couple of REALLY interesting links!

    Good luck and please share your findings! 😉

  130. I actually just went and bought the entire car set to get this headset. Now I have two awesome things!

  131. So I’ve finally begun fiddling with this thing. I put together a battery pack / 1/8″ jack to composite adapter . Then I removed the LED so that I could place the screen next to the board (instead of behind it). I had some trouble with my new cold heat soldering iron so I may need a new LED, but we’ll see.

    Anywho, two issues:
    1. The screen component is still quite a bit thicker than I’d like. I wanted to make an eye-patch or monocle out of it, blech! I poped open the screen and saw why this is – tiny LCD, lots of space, lens. Does anyone know if this board can drive a larger LCD?

    2. I’m getting vertical white lines in the display. I don’t know if my brutish hand with the soldering iron broke something, but it looks like some kind of noise in the signal. Any ideas?


  132. I have a problem, I would love some help. I scraped away the resistor to switch it from PAL to NTSC, but now it seems that the image has been moved up about 1/6 of the way up the screen. The remaining portion is now at the bottom! Could someone tell me what I did wrong? I bridged the connection with solder, if that means anything.

  133. @chaoslink: 1) I can’t say for certain that there are no larger compatible LCDs available, but it is HIGHLY unlikely. By messing about with different lenses, however, you may well be able to thin the thing down a bit. Now that I think about it, I’m quite sure that a larger LCD would require a greater focal length rather than a shorter one…
    2) Aye, it sounds like you may have indeed damaged something. My guess would be my all-time most hated electronic component: the ribbon cable. They sever like wet tissue-paper, and white lines would suggest that a signal or two is straight-up not getting to the panel.

    @Devrojin: Indeed it does! The “resistor” is actually nothing more than a fancy solder bridge, so you have in fact changed nothing–meaning it is still in PAL mode. Sever that bridge any way you can, and your problem should be solved.

  134. Thank you so much Jack of All Trades! My headset works perfectly now! I tested the image with GTA4! It was perfect!

  135. Hey all,

    So, I’ve given up trying to make my HMD work with Vista… as I posted earlier, I’ve wired it up to accept RVA/S-Video/VGA input and take power from a USB power. I am currently attempting to get my HMD to work as a secondary screen for my laptop (Compaq Presario 2200), which has just had its OS reinstalled and is now running Ubuntu Linux. So far, I have been unable to get the HMD recognized as a second monitor or external TV when I plug it into my laptop’s single VGA out. Again, I’ve chipped off the “resistor” to force the HMD into NTSC mode, and the HMD still works perfectly with my Playstation 2. However, the primary reason behind my purchasing of the headset was to use it with my laptop for mixed-reality applications, specifically real-time facial recognition. SO, if anyone has any suggestions regarding hooking the HMD up to a Linux laptop as a secondary output device, I would love to hear them!



  136. “To switch it into NTSC mode, simply remove that resistor. If you want to be extra thorough, you can desolder that resistor and move it onto the blank pads as shown below:”

    Ok so if I move the box to the 2 blank pads that will do exactly what now?

    “Doing this will pull the line low, whereas just scraping it off lets the line float.”

    Also what do you mean by the above quote?

  137. Sorry about the 2nd post in a row… I am trying to directly connect the camera that came with the car to the HMD and I don’t know anything about wiring power. I’m assuming I can just connect the video in to the vid out wires but like I said, I don’t know how to hook up the power for each so they’d run off of one power supply, and lastly, what kind of battery power supply should I use?


  138. OH I’m so doing this!!
    Ordering on eBay nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnow!

  139. I am trying to rebuild the full spy car toy into a wireless video weapon sight…
    (for airsoft / paintball)
    the board in the car is small enough to built into an enclosure for rail mounting, basicaly just using it for the camera and wireless video transmitter.
    on the recieving end howerever, the remote control board is rather bulky.
    I am thinking i only need the wireless video reciever off of the thing, but am not sure exactly how to apply power to it or wire it in with the display. if it is posible to do so directly, i’m not sure what the power requirement would be.

    I guess my question is, if anyone is familiar with the full spy car kit, if it is posible to use just the wireless video reciever and display from the control unit. if so, how would power be applied.

    (I’m more of a software guy, have done some soldering and simple projects, but never hacked something complicated like this.)

  140. I too am working on a video weapon sight for airsoft. The receiver is the easy one since its only connection is soldered on wires. I found that the colors of the wires were somewhat arbitrary as the yellow wire ended up being power (+3.3v) rather than video, and the red wire was video rather than power. Black is still ground.
    The transmitter was much more difficult to seperate from the car as it is soldered directly onto the circuit board with 12 pins. I fear that I damaged the transmitter with too much heat when I de-soldered it (never desoldered something before). Either that or I got my pinouts wrong on the transmitter, but Im pretty sure thats not the case.

    So… does anyone know the correct pinout of the transmitter? I would like to confirm with my own findings.

    If I did indeed damage the unit I may have to just buy a new TX/RX kit from somewhere. Thanks!

  141. This hack worked great for me but I was wondering, are there better color quality HMD’s that can plug into a small spy camera?


  142. Hi, i was wondering if anyone has any of the old microvision nomad head-up displays ND2100 or 2500. I am in desperate need of some for some research i’m doing and i’m getting desperate. willing to pay reasonable price.


  143. my email address is maestrotania@gmail.com

    desperately seeking nomad ND2100 or 2500


  144. Hi, I have two spy displays that I am selling for $30 a piece. I also have two color 640x 480 xybernaut HM-4 Xyberview displays that I want to sell. Please email me Thanks.


  145. Also, in reply to Drew’s comment about laptop output. I am running XP with an Ati Mobility Radeon Xpress 200, the only way I have been able to get output to the display is to use the “force TV detection mode” in the catalyst driver panel. You might need to search around your video drivers and settings to see if you can force TV output. Thanks,


  146. Has anyone tried to thin out the display depth? It’s pretty bulky as is. Can you view the lcd without the optics in front of it?

  147. Some guy did it. I saw a video of him mounting the display inside regular sunglasses. Now I can’t find the link!

  148. Hi all,

    did anyone check out the successor, the
    Spy Video ATV-360?
    Available at http://www.shopwildplanet.com/prod/WPT70241.html

    – See video and hear sound from the vehicle
    – Full function, dual-track radio controlled ATV with off-road power
    – 360-degree view button on remote
    – Headset LCF viewing screen with ear bud for listening

    I wonder if the headset is even better?

    janmartin from Germany

  149. Anyone know where to purchase the Headset only? i guess wild planet doesn’t have them again.

  150. I have 2 of these headsets for sale. One is brand new, untouched, and the other is brand new, but has had the resistor removed to make it NTSC. Although they both display video from my Canon soint and shoot when hooked up. Cost me about $45.00 each to order and get them to me, I will sell them for $35.00 each shipped in the Lower 48 or Canada. I got them to use for shooting Aerial photos with a RC helicopter, but never got around to hooking them up. I have now set up a new $300 video headset for shooting so have no need for them. If you are interested, send an email to fotocalc(at)shaw.ca. Don’t post here if you want to buy, as it is unlikely that I will see it, contact me by email.

    Cheers, Andy

  151. The two headsets from the post above have been SOLD, (just like that!) to Russ from Texas, Check out his cool Jet Bike build! http://www.badbros.net/jetbike27.html


  152. Hi there, I found this site a while back doing some research on HMD’s, was impressed enough that I kept an eye out for one of these units in second hand stores (we’re a little too far north for a toys’r’us around here)

    Found just the eyepiece laying around a thrift shop and for a whopping $2 it was mine. A little rummage around the for adapters and wire and had it up and running secondary screen for a laptop via S-video with USB power.

    I’ve worked with industrial robots in the past and would have killed for something like this at the time for some quick vision tests or on the fly reprogramming. Kudos on a well documented tear down.

    PS, I had a quick look at the next generation of spygear toys, seems they have a newer model, with sound and a tank tread setup as well as video. Hoping they offer similar replacement parts.

  153. So if you have a small project box w/battery clips (free as a sample from one of the links on this page) a $1.50 3.5mm 3 conductor stereo headphone jack, a $1 rca jack and 12v single cell bat (all availabe @ Radioshack, from links posted here) you could put together a nice little power source for the headset w/jacks to plug the headset and rca video source, wired or wireless.

    My point to other newb’s (self included), even if the blog has houndreds of posts, read b4 asking. You are already interested or you wouldn’t be here (whereever here is), you’ll learn more by reading the posts and probabally get ideas to make your own improvements.

    just my unsolicited 2Cents

    btw – Jake, AWSOME & Thanks!

  154. […] conveniently in the form of a composite video signal delivered through a standard phono jack. Combining the two is a relativley simple affair, some minimal soldering is required but nothing that will be permanent between the two […]

  155. Great instruction!
    i do it and now have one qwestion -in wich way i can adjust contrast the video on display in glass? thanx in advance/

  156. Take a look at the text surrounding the second photo in this post regarding the gain control pot. While there is no (simple) way to adjust contrast by itself, messing with gain should help you out quite a bit. When it comes to displays like this, gain is sort of a combination of brightness and contrast. If you still need another variable to fiddle with, check out the A300 datasheet–pins 3,4, and 30 in particular. By replacing the fixed-level resistors WildPlanet used for the voltage dividers with appropriate potentiometers as shown on pg. 11 or the datasheet, you should be able to adjust the display’s black, white, and gamma levels as well.

    Now the built-in gain control pot made all the adjustment I needed, so I have not done any of the modifications I just spoke of. They /should/ work, but you should probably double-check my thinking before you plug in the soldering iron… Let me how it goes!

  157. wow, amazing.. that is good information for me. see you on your next post

  158. oooh, that is good gadget, I think I want this one…

  159. Toller Beitrag. Merci 🙂

  160. how do i fix my atv video spy car 360. it wont turn.
    and sometimes when i move both sides there no picture.

  161. I am trying to find 1 or two of these to build an IR night vision set up. If anyone has some for sale or can refer me to a site with them still in stock that would be great. Email me at



  162. Scurry folks. Target just dropped the ATV version to $24.95. That’s their 75% off before they become landfill. I’ve been tracking it since the 25% off on xmas eve. You might have a week or less before they’re gone(I counted 70 from the 90 that were left after xmas,in my store). I bought two!! Hurry!!!-Keith

  163. which target store and would anyone be willing to sell a headset if they have one im looking for one for a project

  164. My local target has this at $27 too. Bought 2 sets for hacking :). In in Boston. MA

  165. Mine still has a ‘mountain’ of them. I asked a woman who worked there when she thought they’d go to the dump. She said,there was a small possibility,because of the quantity left they may go down to 90% off! If indeed they go to $10, I’m buying some more!-Keith

  166. Where abouts are you? I went again and the shelves were restocked again.

  167. Just dissected a spy video atv-360. It;s the same vehicle with the Head Mounted Display. Pics are at http://www.machinegrid.com/2009/02/taking-apart-the-spy-video-atv-360/

    The heads up display is next. Thanks for the nice writeup, Jake.

  168. Did the heads up display! The tiny Kopin Cyberdisplay LCD is amazing 🙂

  169. By the way, the resistor that one changes for ntsc/pal is a 1 ohm(not just a jumper). I don’t know if that will make a difference or not but in some circuits it can make a difference such as RF designs in power feeding.-Keith

  170. Where can I buy such a headset ?? Perhaps in Germany / Europe?

  171. So the LCD is a tiny B&W one, ya? Do you know the resolution (I didn’t see it listed here). What about replacing it? What would I want to search for to find some kind of similar LCD? Thanks!

  172. The display is mentioned in the second paragraph of the original post up top.

  173. I’ve been getting my hands pretty dirty with the board circuitry and it looks like that pot adjustment on the board is the ‘Gamma’, not the ‘Gain’. There are a total of 4 actual adjustments that can be made including the Gamma(External White Level,Black level,Gain and Gamma). There’s a ‘sink’ adjust as well which I believe is the LED current sink available. I’m going to remove the fixed resistors that are on board in place of potentiometer trimmers and do a breakout board for some trimmers and see how much it improves things. I’ll report results as soon as I can get to this.-Keith

  174. Hello, I am looking to use a 1.5″ LCD display in a project like this, the one I currently have has (from what I have seen) 8 digital controll pins, and the A300 appears to only have 2 video drive pins.

    then again the immages show this unit to have 5 digital pins aswell. how do I get the incomming AV signal (IE from a camcorder to the 8 digital pins of my display (using this IC as a base)?

  175. Fascinating — I started looking around for Kopin devices like this and discovered a company called “Trimersion” has made a VR system and gone out of business. Trimersion uses color binocular glasses along with gyroscope sensors and can be found cheap on eBay. If you search the classifieds for “Kopin CyberDisplay” on “inetgiant.com”, you may find a guy in Florida who has about 100 BDM-230K Kopin binocular displays (320×240 color) left over from that project in his garage that he’s looking to sell ($45 per unit, requires a 3.3V power supply and you’ll need to attach a composite RCA video input cable to hook it to anything). FYI, date is August 2009.

  176. Hi, I got a message from john the other day concerning the Kopin displays.
    I was the Director of Research and Develoment at Trimersion and headed up the Trimersion VR Game System project. I was sad to see the comany go in the tank as we were coming out of the gate with the game system but unfortnately the management of the company wasn’t as good as the engineering and prouction saff.
    This left us with some really cool gadgets that can be used in many types of devices. ie: Night Vision Units,
    Remote controlled Spy Cars, Personal Movie Viewers etc.
    I also have access to the production run of the Trimersion Game Systems that were left in the manufacturers wharehouse in China.
    The gadget supply includes the Kopin BDM-230K dislays,(New and still in package w/Wire Harness.)
    Airwave AWM634/AWM630A A/V Transmitter/Receive Sets, Game Conrol Base Stations with Built in A/V transmitters
    that work with USB/Playstation/Xbox/GameCube, Wireless Game Guns with built in gyro-sensors and hmd’s complete with Oriscape vga displays – Gyro sensors – Stereo Audio Amp and A/V Receeivers and Wireless Game Guns.
    This is very solid technology but unfortunately in the US it is still in the experimenter stage as far as the consumer market goes and HMD’s are still very expensive and hard to come by. I will be glad to make you a deal.
    I have had a blast working with this stuff and would like to make it available to as many people as possible.

    If you are interested in any of these devices or need assistance developing your project or product feel free to contact me.
    I can be reached at bobbye124@comcast.net

  177. Hi Bobby.
    It would be interesting to know the prices of items you listed.


  178. Airwave AWM634/AWM630A A/V Transmitter/Receive Sets, $20
    Game Conrol Base Stations with Built in A/V transmitters that work with USB/Playstation/Xbox/GameCube, $45

    Wireless Game Guns with built in gyro-sensors $60

    hmd’s complete with Oriscape vga displays –
    Gyro sensors – Stereo Audio Amp and A/V Receivers $120 Works with Wireless Game Guns

    Wireless Game Guns $40

    Gyration Gyro Sensors $20

    If your interested drop me a line. I have some quantities and will negotiate.

    • Do you have any of these left? Please call or text me at 971-239-7361

  179. […] pal/ntsc signaal. Ooit eens gekocht voor een projectje, maar uiteindelijk nooit gebruikt. Zie $25 Head-Mounted Display Jake of All Trades voor info. 2 stuks beschikbaar, min 15 euro per stuk excl., richtprijs 20 euro per stuk. Liefst […]

  180. Is this spy video car the same product as the spy video atv? it looks like it. if it is, it’s awesome! they’re suppose to be sold out by 12/9 which is a shame. i hope they get more in soon. It’s currently $40 off, which is great! this would be a Great Christmas present for boys or girls! I got one for my grandson and that’s all he played with once he got the hang of it! It does take the younger kids a little while to figure it out, but once they do there’s no stopping ’em! It does sound like ‘kids of all ages’ enjoy this thing. Some parents have as much or more fun with it as their kids do! I’ve heard that the video and lighting may not be great, but have heard conflicting reports. And you have to manually move the camera, but that’s no biggie really. It’s capabilities are awesome, especially for kids. They never had these when i was a kid!

    It’s good to know about the replacement headset, and not a bad price. thanks!

  181. Anyone know where to purchase the Headset only? coz wild planet doesn’t have them again.

    • Sorry, but we don’t have any headsets left on shopwildplanet.com. As this toy has been discontinued by Wild Planet, no headsets are available. There is a great new toy coming out this fall that has video on the remote control. More information is available on our site: shopwildplanet.com It’s under Spy Gear toys and is called the Spy Video TRAKR. Be sure to put your name on the wait list as this is going to be a great toy!

  182. […] questions from people regarding the availability of those replacement headsets I wrote about in this previous post.  Unfortunately, they are most certainly not available anymore.  In fact, they sold out pretty […]

  183. wow really good job !

  184. agree with this….Ah, great tip! Thanks! I discovered that I can run a male-to-male headphone cable out of the remote control, into a video in on an Aiptek-brand MPV (handheld camcorder) and record what the spy video car can see. I was thinking it might be cool to run the signal into a video capture card–maybe that will be my next project. Oh yeah and I totally lucked out–the Toys R Us near me was having a sale on Spy Gear toys–2 for 1, so I got two video cars for $50 each.

  185. this works brillant , thank you it’s a great idea

  186. Replacement head sets are now $15.99 http://www.shopwildplanet.com/ReplacementParts/70205-HEAD

  187. sh*t, they only deliver to USA!!!

  188. *snort* Sonic screwdriver. Where can I get one? (heheh.)-mistertime

  189. where can I find replacement head set?

  190. My brother recommended I may like this web site.
    He used to be entirely right. This submit truly made
    my day. You cann’t consider simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thank you!

  191. Awesome. Both those above links are broken however. I’ve been looking for something like this for months. Looks like its time to hit EBay or Amazon again. Thanks a million.

  192. Hi guys,

    Does any one have the latest details on getting a spare headset or maybe 2?


  193. At joel…..ive not been able to find any except 1 that i ordered on amazon with car and all used for 50.00. Keep an eye out there…..If you find any let us know


    • Not sure if anyone is interested on this level, but Goldmine Electronics has the imaging part for $5 (sometimes on sale for as low as a $1). You’d have to build the electronics to support the display part though. The data sheet is available on the web however, I’ve done it but it’s not for electronic newbies.-Keith

    • I have a kit that I can let go for $25. It has the tank and the glasses in an unopened box. However… it will cost $15 to ship via parcel post. pm me at bluevault using gmail.

  194. Link?

  195. Tried to post link but didn’t show. Search Electronic Goldmine and in home page, search ‘Kopin’.
    Then search KopinCyberDisplay 320M and two pages will come up. One of those pages has the .pdf for the display.-Keith

  196. (The .PDF is a seperate search; not on ‘Electronic Goldmine’)

  197. I found the actual lcd matrix, but id really prefer the glasses that come with the car, i cant seem to find a camera compatable with it, let alon just the glasses, I cant spend 60 and waist some of it on a stupid rc car chassis motors etc, what do i do?

  198. Does anyone know if it is still possible to obtain these?

    • I ebayed one for $20.

      • same, $16

  199. Hey people, your prayers have been answered:

  200. This post still delivers. I just used it to rig up a head mounted display for my wearable Raspberry Pi. Thanks!

  201. […] to a monocle display. So, as always, more research was called for. Finally I stumbled across a web page that explained how to use the monochrome HMD from a toy RC car as a composite display. I found one […]

  202. $2, Goodwill, Thanks Jake!

  203. Lol I had one of these laying around and decided to use it to play nes very unpracticully

Leave a Reply to Super-cheap head-mounted video display Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: