Teardown: Swann Night Hawk Wireless Security Camera

I have recently acquired several broken Swann Night Hawk SW231-WOC wireless security cameras and figured i would document the tear down process and anything interesting i might find. My goal in this project was to satisfy my curiosity, try my hands at fixing them and perhaps even learn something in the process.

Here’s how it starts:

Swann Night Hawk Camera

And here is how it ends:

Swann Night Hawk Camera - Teardown

Swann Night Hawk Camera - Teardown

Dissasembly is very easy – front of the camera unscrews by hand and the rest is all regular phillips screws:

The first board that you see when you unscrew the front of the camera is the LED board. There’s an o-ring (not visible on the photo) between the front and the back of the camera which provides protection against elements and it more or less does it job – inside of the camera case look clean and water free. Main elements on the LED board are the 12 infrared LEDs connected in series of 3; light sensitive resistor which turns LEDs on in low light conditions; and 2 position DIP switch marked “ON KHS22” which selects the transmission channel (1 through 4) . The back side has a 3 pin device marked Y2, a 5 pin chip marked 3272 – probably an op-am, and a variable resistor to adjust sensitivity. Board is marked with AEE, V812IC10:

The second board is the image sensor and 8v to 5v conversion board. It is marked with V801CV28. Notable components include image sensor – no markings on top but based from Swann’s specifications is a 1/3″ Color CMOS, 510 x 492, 380 lines sensor in a 48-CLCC package rated for 5 volts. Sensor is covered by the focusing cover which allows adjusting sensor to lens distance via rotation of the lens holder. On the back of the board there’s a 14.318 MHz (NTSC sampling frequency) crystal. Voltage conversion is done via 75L05 5v voltage regulator and a 10 uF, 5v capacitor. In the entire camera only LEDs are using supplied 8v from the power supply, rest of the components use 5v supply:

The third board is the RF board and is marked VT24A0X4 040315. This board is connected to video sensor board via yellow data wire, red (torn out on the photo) and black power supply wires. It is also connected to the channel selection switch on the LED board via white and yellow wire and to the Microphone board via the white data wire. Board contains following chips: “bj8p153snj ar03-a 0812” which is a 2.4Ghz transmitter (channel selection switches are soldered directly onto 2 pins on the chip); 17.734475 Mhz crystal which i could only identify as PAL related frequency. On the back there’s “E07SL E1C744 M52” which i found is described as “Single Serial Input PLL Frequency Synthesizer On-Chip 2.5 GHz Prescaler”. My RF knowledge is very limited so i did not pursue this board any further:

Fourth board is the microphone and power jack board. Unlike the main camera case this one is not protected via o-ring and shows quite a bit of water damage. I consider this a major flaw in design as at least one camera in my possession failed because connections on the circuit board rusted out. The board contains a microphone, a side switch perhaps for enabling/disabling audio and something with 3 pins and 4th large ground marked “8A 804”:

I have also acquired a cheap Swann Receiver:

Swann Wireless Receiver

Conclusion:
Out of 4 cameras that were broken i have managed to fix two. First one had rusted out power supply connection and what looks like a bad case of electronics-rage: all camera innards were twisted and ripped but then stuffed back and closed (why?). After re-soldering all wires and patching rusted out connections on the microphone board, camera came alive once again. Another camera had a bad transmitter. I figured that one out by connecting two cameras to the same power supply and rewiring the sensor of one camera to use transmitter of the other. After installing good transmitter board from another camera this one started to work as well. The other 2 cameras seem to have bad sensor board/chip. One of them has a short (12 Ohm) between power and ground which i was unable to trace and another just doesn’t output anything. Perhaps i can give it a try later when i am more experienced. If some one out there has any ideas or the pointers on how to decode these “Y2” and “8A 804” devices please let me know.

Aleksey

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11 Responses to “Teardown: Swann Night Hawk Wireless Security Camera”

  1. Bob Says:

    So how is the camera it self powered? I don’t see a compartment for a battery source or an video out?

    • abieneman Says:

      Camera is powered with 9v supply either from wall-plug adapter or 9v battery adapter. The black tail shown on top most picture is the power plug. Regarding the video out, it’s located on the wireless receiver.

  2. Paul Says:

    Helllo.. I have a few of these cameras… I am interested in salvaging them as “wired cameras… rather than “Wireless” as they were intended….. can you tell me which two wires care the video signal?
    The Transmitter board has…Red, Black, Yellow & White going to it. The Infrareds has Yellow & Red. UI think the small hole in the back is a mic… with red & black going to it. My experience tells me the yellow & White going to the transmitter must be it. Am I correct…and if so, can I just wire this to a BNC connector and plug it into my DVR like my other cameras? Thanks, Paul, newfoundland

    • abieneman Says:

      The video signal is indeed carried by yellow wire from sensor board to radio board. The white wire from plug to sensor board carries audio signal. However, i am afraid, your idea of plugging these into DVR would not work (at least the video part). The signal from image sensor is serial digital signal, while DVR expects composite analog video signal – so these are not compatible.

      • excal2 Says:

        to make the camera wired , could you connect the cables directly(wired) to the reciever.. then use the reciever av out to connect to the DVR, thereby getting the correct AV as composite analog to the DVR?

      • abieneman Says:

        Might work, but be careful connecting antennas and grounds together directly as not to burn transmitter or receiver. You might need to couple them using inductors (coils). Also consider coaxial cable for long distances and to prevent leaks that can be then picked up by someone else.

      • leighgibbo Says:

        G’day, thanks a lot for the write up, it really helped me out.
        I just picked up two of these cameras with a receiver and was very disappointed with the interference with my wifi at home so I was very keen to hard-wire them. I managed to do this easily too.
        I firstly removed the RF board of completely.
        Then I chopped one end connector off an RCA cable, stripped it back and soldered the inner wire to the video-out point on the bottom of the image sensor PCB, and soldered the outer strands (twisted together) to the ground point on the bottom of the PCB. (on mine it was marked ‘gnd’)..
        Sorry I’m not an electronics guru or anything, just wanted to say thanks and let people know it’s possible to hard-wire.
        Here’s a pic of the cameras: http://imgur.com/VB5xN
        The modified one is in the background. It has the new RCA cable exiting through a second hole in the housing that I drilled, and it is plugged directly into a monitor. I didn’t worry about hooking up the audio-output.

  3. Paul Says:

    Th cameras that I have… look the same….however they are cheapy ebay chinese models…. the cameras came with a little receiver with four antennas on it… that has composite cables going to a PCI card that came with it… Also they don’t have the dip switches on the board like yours… so I’m thinking they are analog and the digital conversion is done in the receiver…. is this possible?…how can I check to see if they are analog or digital cams?

    Thanks

    Paul

    • abieneman Says:

      Well, if cameras are different design then i can’t say much about them. You can test the signal with voltmeter on the DC settings. If you get above 1v then it’s digital, otherwise it’s most likely analog and you can to plug it to DVR (or TV) and see if you get a picture.

  4. j834_4562 Says:

    A SWAN N3960 TEARDOWN REVEALED SAME SET OF PCBS EXCEPT THERE IS NO MICROPHONE OR ASSOCIATED BOARD.

    COULD THE WIRELESS INTERFACE BE SIMILAR TO BABY
    MONITER SYSTEMS ??

  5. john maxwell Says:

    I have several of these swann cameras and am very interested and intrigued by there design,as an amateur sec.camera enthusiest.I find it interesting how they incorporated the microphone into the jack,i never would have guessed. thanks for the insight.

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