Hidden parcel camera

Thread Starter


Joined May 9, 2009
I've started repairing LCD TVs professionally - as a small business - to earn a bit of money on the side. Might as well keep them from landfill, as most of the people I buy them from are about to take them to the dump.

Now I need to evaluate the proficiency of a variety of couriers. Whether or not they treat packages right, for example. Most of these couriers are actually pretty cheap - around £7 to ship a 37" LCD TV (weighing 24kg, no less.)

I have an absolutely *tiny* video camera, which outputs NTSC video. It's about 8mm x 8mm and looks like a button. (I was kindly donated it.) The fisheye lens is built in. The camera works from 3.5V - 12V DC (it uses a built in 2.8V regulator) and uses ~50mA.

I also have a Sandisk portable video recorder, which requires 5V DC @ 100mA, and will accept SDHC cards of up to 32 GB. It uses about 200MB/hour of recording, so that gives me 64 hours maximum of recording... a little under 3 days.

So, I am thinking of shipping a box to a fairly close location, and seeing what happens. If it is dropped or mistreated, I will know from the video.

One problem I have is powering everything. I have a 5V buck converter for model aircraft, so I don't need a linear regulator. But I figure from a 12V lead acid battery, I will use ~50-70mA @ 13.8V. I'd need at least 3.2Ah to do 64 hours, and I'd probably want to double that up so the battery isn't overly discharged. I'll keep an eye out for a cheap battery. I'm not that worried about weight, as I'll probably put a TV in with it...

I'd also like to make a small circuit to detect light. If there is no light, there is not much point in recording darkness. So I can shut down the recording by turning off the camera (my recorder does not record when there is no signal - it shows "Pause for loss of signal.")

Then I will post the videos online, so all can see who treats packages well, and the ones who don't.


Joined Jul 7, 2009
The sampling statistics are bad; they don't really tell you anything about how a real shipper behaves.

I think you'd be better off coming up with an inexpensive accelerometer and battery operated recorder and using it to flag to your customers when the acceleration limit has been exceeded. Of course, search the web, as both electronic and mechanical versions of such things have been sold for decades. Yours could be built around a simple processor setup and you could reward your customers somehow for shipping the device back to you.

But you'd probably be better off buying a commercial device. Even with a trustworthy device, you won't know whether the shipping company will honor its claims when they break something. Since the big ones ship millions of packages, they have lots of experience in dragging their feet.

Thread Starter


Joined May 9, 2009
I could build an accelerometer, that was on my mind too. Of course it doesn't have the same impact as a camera, though. I'm developing an on screen display, so they could be used in conjunction with each other to embed text on video.

I looked into shockwatch stickers but it's hard to justify covering my package in them when they are about £12 each.
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Joined Mar 17, 2011
Tom I predict that your camera setup will be discovered by a part-time lingere model who works in the post office, whereopun she will proceed to record a shocking strip routine that you will then feel obligated to post here as proof of the debauchery that transpires in those Fedex back rooms.


Joined Sep 26, 2009
It really would not matter how you record what they do to your package, either way, they will still mistreat it.... We use some 7" CRT's in some of our equipment, they come in labeled "Life Support Systems" and "Fragile", but we still watch the UPS delivery man just toss them around like they were footballs....

John Berry

Joined May 17, 2016
I agree totally with BMorse, it would be a complete waste of your time, money. and effort.
It is all down to that one individual on the day how they treat any parcel..... :)
Legally your wide open, plus a camera might show you it was thrown but thats about it. With a decent accelerometer and data logger you have evidence. You can go back and tell them not only was it thrown but the force that was used, and the impact on the package. So if something gets broken you can argue that the force far exceeds any reasonable packing can withstand.

Gives them no out clause, otherwise they always say 'should have packed it better', but if you can show it was subjected to extreme forces, then its game over. All couriers abuse packages, just look in the back of a van when you get something delivered. Trust me the 'Heap' isnt some kind kind of transport technique, its made by throwing your parcel into the back from a distance. :D.


Joined Mar 31, 2012
Uh, guys, let's keep in mind that this thread was over five years dead and buried when someone went out of their way to resurrect it for reasons known only to them. Does anyone really think that this guy is still looking for a suitable battery after this long?