Make an Inspection Camera from an old Pocket TV

This old analog Casio pocket tv has seen better days. It was once the pride & glory of a tech-savvy person, but now it’s just useless in its current state. However, we are going to change that by turning it into a functioning usable inspection camera!

Let’s start by powering it on, although we know the UHF and VHF frequencies that used to give this life no longer exist, curiosity gets the better of me.

And, nothing… Not even that nice pretty snow you used to get when you were close to a channel but not quite there, but we expected that. Now, let’s talk about what we are going to need to make this project happen. We will need the pocket tv of course, they are plentiful and cheap on ebay. We will need a camera, a very tiny camera, I chose this pinhole camera because just like this tv, it is analog and can be had for just a few bucks. However, this camera with IR built in is probably a better option.

The problem we are going to face is this old Casio pocket tv used a proprietary plug for video input, you may be able to purchase a video plug like this somewhere, but in this tutorial we are going to make our own. We can accomplish this by using an old RCA video cable, and the jack off a pair of cheap earbuds.

Cut off the connector on one end of your RCA cable, and cut off the jack from the earbuds (leave an inch or two to work with). Inside the RCA cable you will find two wires, one yellow wire and one bare copper wire. Inside the earbud cable you will find 3 wires, red, white, and a bare copper wire. Solder your connections as seen below.

Once you’ve made your connections, use heat shrink or electrical tape to cover each connection and ensure there is no contact between them. These tiny cameras operate at 12v and they almost never come with the power supply. I used this universal power supply for this project.

I plan to use this inspection camera for engines, so it is important for this to be mobile. If I want to take this out into the middle of a field I need to be able to do that. So, I will get my power from this portable power bank, it has a standard 115v house plug and it’s capable of jump starting a dead battery.

Alternatively, you could cut off the power connector to the camera and wire it to a small 12v battery like this.

The final step to making this an awesome inspection camera is attaching the camera to the antenna. These pocket tv antennas are perfect for this project since the antenna extends roughly 2 feet. It also has full range of motion so it allows for perfect 90 degree operation. You can attach the camera various ways to suit your particular needs, just make sure you put a layer of electrical tape on the end so no metal is contacting the PCB board of the tiny camera.

Now throw it in your toolbox or bag, or keep it handy in your workshop! I hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did. You can watch the full video tutorial below.