808 Car Keys Micro video camera

Forget the GoPro and its expensive ilk: the real fun is clearly to be had with cheap, nasty, hackable spycams such as the 808 Car Keys Micro. Made to resemble a remote entry fob, the gadget records audio, shoots serviceable (YouTube) video, and costs about as much as a pizza. Aficionados pay close attention to serial numbers and other indicators of origin, as they offer clues as to the hackability and durability of otherwise indistinguishable tat. Chuck Lohr broke one apart for science, and offers hints on how to get the best ones. From way back in 2003, Dan Rutter explains the appeal of the no-nonsense bottom end: "It's cheap, it's cute, it's a camera."

Take your chances at ebay or pay a few bob more at Amazon, where one reviewer assures us that it's "an absolute piece of crap". Sold.


  1. I bought several from http://www.ledshoppe.com/ , they turned out to be #3’s, which are the better of all the various types.

    I wish there was no photo option, just record and stop record.  Use the LED to blink every now and then to show it’s recording..     Sadly, they are a bit of a trick to make work in hurry.

    Two of the ‘buttons’ are just decorative bumps on the case.

    I will say the quality on a sunny day, is really VERY good considering the price.  Taken apart, you can  focus the lens (fixed with Loctite). 

    These make great POV cams for race cars and model aircraft.

    1. “These make great POV cams for race cars and model aircraft.”

      That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw it. Now I’m thinking of buying one to stick on a model glider.

  2. I’ve been using these as a cycling helmet cam for months now.  It’s nearly completely invisible, and cheap enough that you can put one facing both forward and backward (very useful if you’re doing it for evidence).

    The standard 808 is dated now though; get the #11 which features h.264 720p recording.  It’s a bit more at $40, and it draws more current (20 minutes on a charge instead of about 60) but they make up for that by allowing it to record while feeding off a USB power source.  Pick up a USB “emergency charger” that will take a pair of AA rechargables and run it for hours.

    If you do get the cheaper one, be sure to try to get a #3 camera.  It makes a big difference.

  3. Chibu on Amazon says: “this is one of the best products i have ever bought in the whole of my life.”

  4. I bought mine from DealExtreme ($12, no shipping cost). Works well, though the viewing angle is too small (about 28 deg.) Audio is surprisingly excellent (watch for wind noise, though). Read somewhere (unconfirmed) that they are re-purposed cellphone cameras.

  5. Places like dealextreme.com have a zillion items like this for nutty low prices. Most of the folks on ebay etc are just reselling the items they buy from the various HK shops.

  6. If you’re interested in learning more, the rcgroups forum has a very active thread about this camera. There is also a great website, techmoan.com, that does some great side-by-side comparisons. The techmoan guy also does reviews of other inexpensive electonic gear. Worth checking out.

  7. While the potential for the components of this device are amazing, I’m unclear on it’s original intent.  Are you supposed to hold your car key in your hand wherever you go, pointing at suspicious people?  If someone steals your keys do you get footage of the inside of their pocket?  

    1. Your keys are something you typically have on you at all times. Thus, you would always have access to quick and easy video recording. Walking to your car, or just down the street, your keys would be close at hand. Beats fumbling for a phone or regular camera. In the event someone were to approach you in a threatening manner, it wouldn’t be out of place for you to pull out your keys to defend yourself. Start shooting video of your assailant at the same time. Having your car remote hanging out of your pocket is also a lot less obvious than having a camera hanging out of your pocket… or how about this? You’re pulled over by the police. You take your keys, put them on your dash so the officer knows you’re not going to drive off… and turn on the camera.

  8. I bought two off of eBay for $10 each, and one off of Amazon for $20.  All three are identical outwardly, I haven’t cracked them open yet.  All three do not work.  I’m pretty bummed.  

    Thanks for the link to the chucklohr site! Turns out all three USB cables that came with the cameras were bad! I feel silly, but I never tried them with other USB cables till just now. And now at least one of them works! yay!

    1. I bought one of those alarm clock motion activated spycams $30  I wanted to use it on the bird feeder.. you can put it a 4gb microsd – It never did work and the chinglsh instructions are awful.

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