Build a Wireless Microphone for your Kodak Zi8 (under $60)

Build a Wireless Microphone for your Kodak Zi8 (under $60)

I absolutely love my Kodak Zi8. One of the reasons I chose the Kodak Zi8 was that it accommodates an external microphone. It turns out that the built in microphone is very high quality, but it’s range is only several feet. If you’re recording puts you any further away or want really great sound, you’ll probably want to use a wireless lapel microphone.

That sounds great, but an entry level wireless microphone system can cost as much as your camera did. You also have to order them online and wait to test them once they arrive.

I decided to see if it was possible to create a battery powered (i.e. portable) wireless microphone system from components that are available locally and for about $60. I also recorded myself while I did it. The result is this three part series where I literally show you every detail.

It turned out to be quite easy to find components and add battery power to them. The down side is that the sound quality isn’t very good and, without some sort of mixer, the audio comes in on only one channel. Aside from that, this is an easy, fast and inexpensive way to build a portable wireless microphone system for your Kodak Zi8.

Remember to leave me a comment telling me what you think and if you used my suggestion.

Part 1, Components and Assembly

Part 2, Testing and Permanent Assembly (AA Batteries)

Part 3, Build 9V Battery Assembly

Happy Recording!

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17 Responses to “Build a Wireless Microphone for your Kodak Zi8 (under $60)”

  1. mark November 15, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    hey Daniel love the guide. Im not sure about the thumbnails chosen by youtube, it looks like your making a bo.mb. lol

  2. Daniel November 15, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    haha, that’s funny. I’m no good at making bombs, but it does have a good ‘secret garage project’ look there on my work table…

  3. Brother Beno November 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    Well you have solved another problem I had coming up. I have the camera and I was trying to figure out how to get such a system setup for outside shooting.

    Thanks, Brother Beno

  4. Jeff Asheville Homes Link November 16, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    Daniel I wonder if a Tekkeon tekcharge mp1800 would work. It powers an iPhone and I use it for the Z18? It would also be a lot easier and compact. Plus auxiliary power for the Zi8 if needed.

    • Daniel November 16, 2010 at 10:50 am #

      Hi Jeff,

      If you mean to use as a power source for the wireless mic system, it wouldn’t work. USB has a 5V charge and this wireless setup requires 9V. You would also have to do some crazy splicing to get the USB cable apart and plugged into the wireless mic system.

      As far as portable power for the Zi8, that would probably work.

  5. michael krisa November 21, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    Hey Daniel,

    I have both the Kodak zi8 and a FLIP Ultra HD.

    A simple work around for poor audio is to get an MP3 audio recoder ($40-$70) and a lav mic ($20).

    You capture video with your camera and record the audio with the recorder.

    Using your video editing software ( I use Sony Movie Studio) I snyc the audio from the MP3 recorder with the video track and presto … a wireless mic with great sound quzlity for under $100!

    Hope that helps.

    All Good Wishes,
    michael krisa
    http://ThatInterviewGuy.com

    PS. love the Optimizer software you created!!!

    • Daniel November 22, 2010 at 12:04 am #

      Michael,

      That’s a great idea. I’ve actually tried this and found that it was impossible to sync. I used a $50 voice recorder and my Zi8. Maybe a more expensive voice recorder or a different brand would have been better, but the time I tried it didn’t work. I’m glad to hear that you got it working and so I might try it with a different audio recorder.

  6. Mike November 22, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    I’m sure you already know this, but for those who don’t, if you are recording in a voice recorder (I use the Sony icd-sx750) along with a video camera with a built-in mic (I have the Flip Ultra HD), clap you hands one time so that it recorded on both the internal mic and the recorder. In your editing program, just line up the clap peaks. With a little practice you will find it’s pretty quick and accurate.

    • michael krisa January 1, 2011 at 9:25 am #

      Mike,

      Thanks for mentioning that tip – I completely forgot to add that point.

      I always clap three times – this makes a distinct and easy point to find on both the video’s audio track and the one I import from the MP3 recording.

      Then it’s a breeze to sync the two.

      *** BTW – Kodak has recently released a replcae to the Zi8 called the Play Touch*** it’s more like an iPhone – touch screen, mic jac AND … it records to Mp4 not .mov making it PC friendly.

  7. bbeeber November 26, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    I got the powered version working and tomorrow I start on the 9v battery portable. Thanks, you made it quite easy.
    Barry

    • Daniel November 26, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

      That’s great news Barry!

  8. Mike December 2, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    Hi Daniel,
    Awesome idea, I absolutely love my Zi8, and was thinking of sinking a few hundred into a wireless lav, this is great. Do you think that you can achieve better audio quality with a better lav mic? IF you get a better mic, can you just cut the existing mic off and splice it in? Would you lose quality by doing that?

    • Daniel December 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

      Mike,

      That bit of info would have make it into the ‘extended’ version of this video series. I think the quality of the mic is probably fine. The limitation comes in the bandwidth used to transmit the wireless signal. I wouldn’t expect higher quality by just swapping out the mic.

  9. Andrew Web July 16, 2011 at 1:34 am #

    Hi Daniel, just watched the potincrusher additional plugin on youtube. Nice.
    I have a Kodak touch on its way so I test and i bought some wired extrnal mic to test and will be moving on to a wireless mic in the future. I really wanted to test the recording of the video and sound first before moving it all forward. I do have a sony cam but made the mistake of not buying the next model up with external mic! Wont make that mistake again.
    I have a question slightly un-related to the diy wireless mic. I notice your youtube videos stream in from yutube on a bumper ride! always stopping and starting. I have had this before and I wonder is it the format of the video from the kodak or have you used editing software? I used adobe and even yesterday discovered a new outpu setting which toutube likes! It’s never ending all this video stuff :)

    Thanks for your great information and plugin for wordpress
    Andrew

    • Daniel July 16, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

      Youtube converts most video before displaying it, but the quality that you deliver is important. I use Sony Vegas for editing.

      • Andrew Web July 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

        My Kodak touch arrived today with a wired sony external mic, a quick test wasn’t promising but will be exploring with the formats and mic much more, cant wait for the 3M extension. We’re always so behind the rest of the World especially the US when it comes to stuff like this. The only external mic I found that is wireless was coming in at 400 GBP, thats just crazy money.

        Thanks for the reply Daniel.

        Andrew

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