2009 UWay XtendIR Review - October 31, 2009 Back to Main Review Page
   

2009 Uway XtendIR model I
www.xtendir.com



A new manufacturer has arrived on the scene this year.  This is the company Uway.  Uway has announced a new line of cameras for 2009/2010 and keeps on surprising us with new and innovative technology.  We just received word of a new unit called the XtendIR-I which will function as an InfraRed Flash Extender for IR cameras.  Distribution will be through HuntingCamOnline (HCO) that brought us the Scoutguard SG550 and their network of retailers.

We are told that this is the first of two models that will be produced.  This unit produces a red flash to compliment and extend the flash of your IR camera.  It triggers in synchronicity with your camera's flash so it works with both photo and movie modes to brighten and sharpen them up as well as provide more distance in the photos.


Jump to:
Flash range tests

Jump to: Sensor Mounting examples

Jump to: XtendIR gets a new sensor cable with new mounting options

Final Update 08/03/2010:  This device has an exceptional run and once a couple of bugs were worked out both the red and black flash versions have worked very good with certain cameras. We are closing this review except we will still on occasion show another new camera that will work well when coupled with these ground breaking devices. The black flash conversion has certainly surprised a lot of people as to how good it has worked, even when hooked to existing black flash cameras.

Manufacturers Specifications: (from the documentation)

  • 90 High Output LED Array
  • Main Enhancement LED Bank (36 Leds)
  • Wide Angle Illumination Bank (36 Leds)
  • Distance Illumination Bank (18 Leds)
  • Adjustable illumination from 45 to 120+ feet (standalone)
  • 3 foot Infrared Sensor Cable connects to ALL IR cameras
  • Functions in Photo and Movie Modes
  • Uses 4 "D" Cell Batteries Internal
  • 6 Volt External Battery port
  • Innovative Curved rear mounts provide both mounting and security using strap, bungee and python lock
  • Adjust angles up and down for easy camera alignment
  • Brown Anti-Reflective Color Surface
  • Patent Pending

The second model will function the same but will have a black flash rather than red flash which means it will be invisible to both game and would be thieves.  More on this later...

I was told that within a couple of weeks I should have one in my hands to do some before/after tests. 

Since we have some old cameras lying around that we like but described them as having poor flash range, this is our chance to improve the flash range on those old cameras and breath new life into them so to speak.

Whats under the hood?

Looking at the unit in more detail, we see an IR array consisting of 90 high output red flash LEDs.  The back of the unit sports a permanent curved "teeth" style mounting surface to enable easier adjustment angles up and down to align the device with your camera.  There is a slot between the "grippers" and the unit large enough to place a Python cable and a strap to secure it to the tree which is nice. 

The bottom cover slides downward to reveal the switches, ports and battery compartment.  First there is the IR Sensor port, followed by three on/off switches.  The first switch "white" is the main on/off switch which also activates Bank 1 of the LED array.  The next two switches activate Banks 2 and 3.  There is a Battery Test button with two led indicators to test battery level on the unit.  Finally there is an external battery port which is 6V.  This port is compatible with the UWay cameras.

Below the switches is the battery cover which opens to allow for 4 D cells which means this is a 6V device.

First of all, understand that the sensor cable (see the sidebar pictures) provides the triggering mechanism for the internal circuitry.  On top of the unit is a photo sensor which deactivates the unit during day light hours to avoid false triggers.  When your camera takes a photo or movie, the XtendIR will turn on its array and keep it on until the camera's array turns back off.  Below I will describe the details on the banks of leds.

The 90 LED array is divided into three switchable banks as follows:

Bank 1:  This is the Enhancement (default) Bank of 36 LEDS.  These are high output leds.  This bank pushes illumination to match the typical camera's field of view.

Bank 2:  This bank uses 36 high output Leds with a wide angle dispersion.  This is considered the Wide Angle illumination bank.  It not only pushes light in the center of the photo but puts more light in the corners to light up critters in the periphery.

Bank 3:  This bank consists of 18 high output Leds with a narrow viewing angle.  This is considered to be the Distance illumination bank.  18 leds were selected to avoid the halo affect in the center of the photo.  Normally using this bank should provide a rectangular "spotlight" affect on the triggering animal.

By providing several banks of leds, the XtendIR, enables the owner to not only select banks based on the level and type of illumination required but also to control and extend battery life.  If the camera and extender are fairly close to the targets then maybe only bank 1 is used but if the targets are further away then banks 1 and 2 may be used or other combinations.

So, basically the user is in control of the amount of additional illumination required for the particular set up and the battery life of the device.  Test results reported to us indicate that the 4 D cells should provide a continuous runtime of around 5 hours on all 3 banks.  If you break this into 1 second intervals (photos) I think thats a LOT of photos.  In any case battery life should not be an issue and don't forget that they provided an external battery port as well.

We were told that illumination tests revealed that the optimal mounting strategy was to place the XtendIR as close to the camera and in the same angle (plane) as the camera.

Keep in mind that we do not have a the black flash XtendIR and we are only speculating here.

The second version (XtendIR-B) of this unit should be introduced a bit later on this year or next year from what we are told.  This is a black flash version of this unit.  We foresee some interesting possibilities with this technology.  One, the XtendIR-B will be invisible to critters and potential thieves.  It can be used with Black Flash cameras like the Reconyx RC60 and BuckEyeCam XIR to extended their flash ranges. 

But there is another possibility.  This is to function as a black flash replacement system for older or existing IR cameras.  By now most camera owners have an IR camera as these seem to be the market trend these days but they long for that black flash model but cant afford that high end price tag.  This is a possible solution.  Simply place a black cover with a hole in it over your camera's existing red flash array (maybe some black tape or a rectangle of black plastic, etc).  Place the XtendIR-B sensor arm over that hole and mount them on a tree.  By blocking the red glow of your existing camera you wont spook the game or alert thieves.  The XtendIR-B will provide all the needed illumination in the black flash range.

Tests show that most IR cameras are sensitive to all ranges of IR light.  Red flash cameras will typically work with a black flash array but illumination will be dimmer as is typical of a black flash camera and it will require more leds to overcome the reduced flash range.  The XtendIR-B may fit this niche.

Converting your standard IR camera to a black flash camera unit is an interesting possibility if the unit provides sufficient illumination.

There will be more to come as we get more details, pictures and hopefully the real thing. 

11/04/2009 update:  I just received the photos with the remote sensor cable/arm in them.  I will add several more today.  See sidebar for more thumbnails with the remote sensor wire.  In the sidebar are some photos showing the sensor arm mounted on top of the camera with the sensor positioned over the led array on the camera.  The piece with the sensor will bend and mold to whatever shape is required to fit your camera.  This means it should easily work with all shapes and sizes of cameras as well as cameras mounted within security enclosures.  Click here to jump to the Sensor Mounting examples.

11/05/2009 Update:  The engineers sent me the following video footage to show a couple of things.  One, that the sensor will pick up the black flash of a Reconyx RC60 and two that it will synchronize with a very fast camera like the RC60.  One thing to note is that the CCD sensor on the handheld camera (which is recording the videos) actually perceives the RC60 LEDs as more intense.  This is simply a phenomenon but has no bearing on how those LEDs enhance the IR photos coming from the camera.  In other words the red flash leds will provide more flash range than the black flash LEDs on a scouting camera.  I put together the following video to demonstrate these synchronizations.  I see very little if any delay in the synchronizations.  What is important here is that the XtendIR is fast enough to detect the IR camera flash and turn on its array prior to the camera shuttering its photo.  Proof of this will be in the photo testing I will do as the eye may not be able to detect a 100 millisecond delay.

XtendIR Camera Synchronization Tests

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11/19/2009 Update:  We received our two samples units yesterday and managed to get some flash range tests done tonight.  As time permits we will continue adding cameras to the tests below.  I am impressed so far with what I have seen with the SG550.  I started the table below to show before/after and all in between for various camera.  When its not raining, I will try and keep updating this table with more models. Click here to jump to the Flash range tests

11/23/2009 Update:After studying this sensor cable and tip, Bill and I have decided that the best way to secure this for long term deployment that is the most critter proof, is to place the cable running vertically from the top down the face of the camera and to use a high quality electrical tape over the end of the cable.  Also anchor the base with the supplied Velcro.  This way a scurrying squirrel or a bird looking for a perch is least likely to dislodge the sensor.  Keeping this sensor tip in place is very important and time should be taken to ensure a proper and secure fit for long term deployment.

There are alternatives to this as well.  Some include using the ever-soft putty and forming a ring and using this to hold the sensor cone in place.  Below are some photos of various cameras and ways I have connected the sensor tip to the camera in a secure fashion.  Click here to jump to the Sensor Mounting examples

11/24/2009 Update:  After performing quite a few tests on various cameras with the XtendIR on our flash range, we feel we have enough data to perform some analysis of the results and provide an evaluation.  With all cameras we see improvement in flash range up to and beyond the 50 - 60 foot mark.  Our flash range does does not lend itself to distance beyond the 60 foot mark.  In most all cases we zoomed and studied the before/after using the 50 foot buck's antlers as a measuring stick.  In all cases clarity on the tines was much improved.  In some cases the before image did not even have enough illumination to view the tines whereas afterwards it was visible.  We see dramatic improvements on the BMC cameras (we will get TrophyCam and DLC Covert online at some point).  Other cameras show varying levels of improvement.  In all cases the illumination should have pronounced benefits within the 60 foot distances.

 

New Sensor and cable

02-28-2010 Update:  We have received the new sensor cable and tested it.  It works and should provide more reliability and mounting options than the original cable.  This new cable is no longer sensitive to white light and will only be triggered by IR light.  This makes false triggers due to ambient light nearly impossible as there is also a day/night sensor on top of the XtendIR.  Here are some photos of the new sensor cable and some mounting techniques for it as well:


 

Below we have examples of mounting the new sensor using two different techniques.  At Academy Sports we found these Gear Wraps which come in large and small sizes in camo.  We use the gear wrap around the camera to hold the sensor in place for a quick set up non-permanent mount.  Examples show both Leaf River and Bushnell cameras with sensor in place using this mounting style.

At Radio Shack they sell a double sided sticky foam used in electronics applications.  Below is pictured a roll of this stuff and a picture of the Scoutguard converted to black flash using the foam.  I cut a rectangle to fit the sensor pad and punched a hole in the center for the ir diode sensor.  I then just stuck it to the face of the led array on the camera.  In this case I also used black electrical tape to cover the array for use with the XtendIR-B as a black flash conversion.  A benefit of this style is in mounting to the camera in the door style like most Stealthcams, you wont have to remove the elastic band from the unit while checking the card, etc.

 

Mounting the new sensor to various cameras

03/12/2010 Update: I was asked by one of the good fellows over at Uway to come up with some ideas as to how to adapt the EXendIR-B to different cameras. Since we have some degree of inventory of different cameras we would be the perfect source of some pictures and suggestions as how to affix the sensor to the arrays of different cameras. Initially I had used different rolls of electrical tape to cover the array's for this application. I discovered that there are some brand names of electrical tape that contains some amount of chemical that might etch the plastic that covers the array's so we now have to find another means of covering the arrays. I found the perfect material that is not only opaque but it is weatherproof and ridged. This is just plain old roofing felt. This material is very easy to cut to the size of the array and when placed under a strap will stay in place. There are cameras like the I-40 that has a recessed array which required a shim over the sensor which I chose a short section of surgical tubing but any thing like that would work as long as it will stand up in the weather and have a color that will somewhat blend to its surroundings. I have made a number of pictures to show this. 

With the XtendIR-I There is no need for the felt unless you just wish to run off the array of the ExtendIR. The rubber strap has worked just fine for this application and if the rubber strap passes over a portion of the array it is not problem because the XtendIR will produce more than enough light for most any situation. We also tried the double stick tape for this application but we have not had this style of tape on the array lens cover very long so we do not know if some brands of that style tape will etch the gloss off the array lens. 

I did try to use the felt with a hole in it for the black flash application but had difficulties getting the double stick tape to remain firm on the felt. The rubber bands work so good there is just not a need to get to fancy trying to make things perfect. The felt squares to cover the array can be cut much larger if you wish if the array is relatively flush with the face of the camera. Just make a hole over one of the emitters in the felt and place the sensor over this hole to be held in place by the rubber strap which will also hold the felt next to the array. 

This red flash blast really brings a lot of life back to many of the older cameras that have been shelved because of weak flash. The Black flash is variable as far as performance because not every IR camera has a image sensor/lens that will fully accept all of the blackflash light frequency's. All will work, but it is just some cameras like Leaf River, the new Scoutguard 560 and 550, and Bushnell Trophy Cam are among many that work very well. View the test pictures to get an idea as just how your camera may work when driven by an XtendIR.

 
 

Pictures showing various cameras outfitted with a sensor, with and without the array covered, for use with the XtendIR-B and XtendIR-I respectively:  (we cover the array for black flash conversion)





 

 

Close up shots of the array and sensor with the asensor mounted using double sided sticky tape, thus the rubber strap is no longer needed:



   
 

XtendIR I Photo Comparison Tests 

  HCO Scoutguard SG550
Note:  In the photos below, I take one of flash range only and the other with me in them at around 40 feet.  I may need to move the 10 foot deer a bit to the right.
Camera Only
with XtendIR Bank 1
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 3
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2 + 3
   

Here is a short video clip using the SG550 and all 3 Banks on the Xtendir-I:

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Video Samples over the corn feeder with all 3 banks turned on with the SG550
   

 

Wildview 2 IR
Camera Only
with XtendIR Bank 1
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 3
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2 + 3
   
   

 

WildGame Innovations IR4
Camera Only
with XtendIR Bank 1
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 3
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2 + 3
   

 

Reconyx RM45
Camera Only
with XtendIR Bank 1
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 3
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2 + 3
   

 

Moultrie I45
Camera Only
with XtendIR Bank 1
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 3
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2 + 3
   
  Stealth I540
Camera Only
with XtendIR Bank 1
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 3
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2 + 3
   
  Spypoint IR-A
Camera Only
with XtendIR Bank 1
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 3
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2 + 3
   
   
  Leaf River IR5
Camera Only
with XtendIR Bank 1
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 3
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2 + 3
   
  Stealth Prowler HD (warning these are huge pics - wait while they download)
Camera Only
with XtendIR Bank 1
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 3
with XtendIR Bank 1 + 2 + 3
   

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