Dashcams are now just a part of the standard equipment for our cars. It offers nice peace of mind whilst sitting in the middle of the goat rodeo we call everyday traffic.
We’ve gone through a number of different models, with different features (single camera, dual camera, GPS equipped) and have at this time moved on to the “rear view mirror dashcam” as being the best option for us. Generally these rear view dashcams clip/slip/stick to the stock rearview mirror, meaning they take up significantly less real estate than a camera suction cupped to the windshield. An added bonus is that they are less obvious, and would be less tempting to parking lot thieves that might mistake your dashcam for a GPS unit.
We’ve got some abuse testing to do with this unit, but early impressions are favorable. » Read more..
Received the Ram Motorcycle Fork Stem Base in the mail yesterday. This mount is a double ball mount with the base mounting into the center of the handlebars, allowing all sorts of adjustment for height and angle. Initial impressions are favourable, with all the bits included and proper english instructions for installation.
Installation took 20 minutes altogether, and was extremely simple. The finished product looks like the picture on the outside of the packaging, and so it’s time to test the thing out and see how it does.
I have to admit I like it. It provides a much better view than the cludged together mirror mount, and doesn’t make me nearly as sea-sick as the sunglasses camera. I think it’s just about perfect!
I’ll run this AND the sunglasses tomorrow on my way into work, and see if I can’t cobble together some entertaining video from the two sources as a mini-project!).
The most recent camera up for testing is a fixed outdoor action camera at $70CDN shipped. Promising a 120 degree field of vision and resistance to water and shock this camera will be mounted on the motorcycle to provide a fixed forward view of the ride.
Initial impressions are positive, with the camera working in the way the documentation describes and a few test clips being recorded properly (I was able to set the time and date the VERY first time following the documentation on this unit).
Update: 16 May 2012 – Video clip from my commute home.
I am impressed with this little camera, although the video size is not encouraging (about 16 minutes of video ate up almost 2Gb). I’ll look at a better mounting system under the front fairing, and see how that turns out.
Update: 18 May 2012 – Recorded a couple of test clips this morning (the Action cam now being equipped with a 8Gb TF card), the first to demonstrate the benefits of placing a piece of electrical tape over the microphone.
For the second clip I mounted the camera on the passenger grab handle, which resulted in somewhat shaky video of my posterior with a sliver of traffic visible on the left. Far from optimal.
I’ll experiment with other mounting locations, and (of course) post the results here.
Update: 25 May 2012 – I’ve given up the wire tie/velcro/duct tape mounting arrangements and ordered a Ram Motorcycle Fork Stem Base to install on the bike. This would give a view over the instrument cluster. We’ll see how this works out.
It took a while to make it here (35 days in transit) but the newest dashcam has finally arrived. Initial impressions are positive, with fit and finish feeling a little more substantial than the last two.
Cost was slightly higher on this model at $39.06CDN (Micro SD card not included).
It’s in the car and powers up and records just fine, I’ll review the footage in a few days and see how it does for capacity and low-light etc (whether the battery keeps the clock current).
Update: 16 May 2012 – So far so good, the unit powers on and off when it should and the clock hasn’t required setting since its initial install. Will post a sample video clip shortly.
Update: 18 May, 2012 – Nothing, so far, to shake my initial impression of this unit.
It Seems to record about 3-4 hours of video in 5 minute clips on a 4Gb TF card. Field of vision is better than the previous units and I haven’t had to adjust any settings (or reset the date or time) since I installed it.
Update: 05 June, 2012 – Occasionally this unit will “freeze” where it makes a high pitched whining noise when the car is started (the screen remains blank for this), pushing a paperclip or thumbtack into the “reset” hole returns things to normal. I’ve taken to keeping the small LCD display open so I can see that the device is running whenever I start the car.
Update: 15 June, 2012 – Still seeing the odd “high pitched whine” lock-up, but a quick press of the reset button brings it back into normal operation without issues (odd really). Time and date are retained nicely and this occasional issue is the only one I’ve encountered so far.
A quick picture of the dashcam installed, I keep the small 2″ lcd screen open just to visually verify that the unit is up and running.
I know, I know… It’s been ages since I’ve written anything firearms related at all. Well today I got dragged out to the range for some tinkering with technology (target cam – fail / DVR Glasses – Meh) and even got in a little trigger time versus some steel plates.
The video is a little disappointing, but has potential for future range trips.
(I did finally manage to set the clock on these glasses AFTER the range trip – so future videos should actually have the correct date/time)
The third (and final) Sunglass DVR I’m testing cost $60CDN, three times the cost of the versions I tested earlier. The good news is that these look like sunglasses, rather than pregnant bifocals.
Video quality appears the same (a low light test is likely in the near future) but the true benefit of this version is that it appears to save the video files in 900Mb chunks, and if you let it run non-stop it doesn’t eat the video but saves what it has left.
As a significant con the glasses lack any padding on the bridge of the nose, and seem to be configured for someone with a wider head than me (I plan to fix both of these issues, but inside a motorcycle helmet they are not of any real consequence).
Update: 05 June, 2012 – I think I have officially had it with these glasses. The field of vision is TOO narrow, the led indicating status does not seem to work (meaning I am never entirely SURE if I am recording, and seem to get a lot of footage of the inside of my pocket or helmet). I may experiment with a different unit (with a 120 degree field of vision) later, but for now I’m shelving this and will be sticking with the “action cam”.
Almost identical to the first pair I tried out, this pair seems to have different colored LED flashes, but functions in all other respects like the first pair.
I’m going to trim the buttons less aggressively this time, so I don’t have to mangle the internals with a pocket knife.
Will see if these glasses suffer from the same “ghost file” issue that the other pair did, and if there is any difference in field of vision or image quality.
(This is the second of three pairs I’ll be testing – the first was free, this pair cost $20CDN, and the final pair costs $60)
Edited to add: Am seeing exactly the same reliability issues with this pair as the first. Recorded my ride into work and back, the recording TO work was fine, the recording FROM work turned into a ghost file and the camera froze requiring a hard reset.
I’m not sure what is causing the problem, but these glasses can really NOT be relied upon. Additionally I can still NOT set the date/time on these things! So an inexpensive novelty, rather than a useful tool.
With the buttons removed from the sunglasses the recording generally lasts as long as the ride (subject to TF card and battery restrictions naturally). The down side is of course that I now have to carry a paperclip or knife to activate the recording button.
(These are so inexpensive they are nearly disposable – ebay auctions starting at $19.) There are more expensive models that are more asthetically pleasing, but for this application the fugly unit that I have is entirely adequate.
I’ll explore some options for bike mounted cameras where the field of vision doesn’t induce motion sickness.
I’m liking these things so far, but think it would be neat to have a fixed camera and the sunglass camera video edited together in a PIP sorta show (hell, not even sure I can do that, but it’ll be fun finding out).
A night ride
Edited to Add: Ok, these $18 sunglass cameras have one serious issue. Unlike it’s dashcam counterparts which record activity in specific “blocks” (1, 5 or 10 minutes) the sunglasses keep recording until you tell them to stop. This is fine if you stop the recording prior to them running out of space, but should they run out of space WHILE recording the entire process seems to crash. The unit does not respond to the buttons (I have to wait for the battery to die to access storage via USB) and the entire SD card is filled with a ghost file with no actual content (a 0kb AVI file that occupies the entire disk).
I have ordered an “improved” (and consequently more expensive version) along with a replacement, and more testing will follow.
I’m a fan of the concept of a dashcam in my personal vehicle, they’re cheap, and frankly I’ve seen enough nonsense occur just in front of me that having a recording in case something goes sideways just makes sense. The cost, at about $30CDN is hard to argue with as well.
I have not had a lot of luck with these units so far.
Successfully recorded one trip and then ceased functioning at all (dead unit – power button would light up, but that’s it). Got my money refunded on this one.
This unit (appearing to be the same model as the first, but with different colored illuminated buttons) died in a similar fashion after running for more than a month (although that unit would consistently lose the date – I assumed battery/charging issue – but the unit died before the replacement battery arrived). I’ve emailed the supplier of the second unit, but am not optimistic that they’ll be much help. I’m out $32 on this one at this point.
I have now ordered a different model from a different supplier and am hopeful that I’ll have more luck with a different “type” of unit.