Helmet Cam

Has any one ever tried to strap a camcorder or one of the small remote cameras on there helmet?

what were the results?

Vince,

Do you mean like duct tape a video camera to the helmet? Im not sure I understand. If that is what you mean then I know someone who tried it once and it was to heavy and it was too hard to get the thing positioned where he wanted it.

If your looking for a helmet cam and if you havent already you might try a search for "helmet cam" under the search option. You should find a plethora of answers to many of your questions there. :)

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Darin in Missouri - 1999 WR400F

Enduro Heaven - Ozark Mountain TrailRiders

[This message has been edited by MOmilkman (edited 08-21-2001).]

Search the archives for "helmet camera"

Check out helmetcamera.com

I am please with this set up. The camera gives a great picture and has a suprisingly stable picture when riding. I find it more jarring when you are moving you head around while not riding.

They have good cutomer service. They just replaced my battery for free after it "blew up". Didn't ask any questions.

I have a helmet camera, very clear and stable picture. You need a video camera with vtr capabilities to use it. mike

Speaking of Ron's helmet cam videos I have been slowly (56k) checking them out and they are truly awesome! I wish I could figure out how to make videos that clear. (dont try to explain it, its been done before and its all gibberish to me)

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Darin in Missouri - 1999 WR400F

Enduro Heaven - Ozark Mountain TrailRiders

Vince,

I have a www.helmetcamera.com setup and I am taking it to Colorado with me this week.It is a very nice and reasonably priced set up.Works very well.

I sell a billet aluminium bracket that clamps onto helmets and allows any sort of camera to mount to it. If you're interested, let me know.

Andy D

Baja Off Road Adventures www.bajaoffroad.com

I just purchased a set up from helmetcam.com the web site is a little misleading. It shows a picture of the complete package in a case next to the price of $195. That price is only for the camera only not the battery or charger. They are only making the waterproof version right now and if you want sound you have to buy the external mic.

Those out there using this set up, what model of camcorder are you using? Were there any modifications you had to do to the camcorder or was it plug and play ready?

I went with the Canon ZR10 digital on the advice of Cueball. It is small but has great features. It hooks up easily and the entire setup (cam and helcam battery) fits in a small fanny pack.

The only issue is that on the larger rocks or jolts, the digital picture will artifact as the heads get jostled. The cool thing is that you can hook it up to a CD player to lay down a music track and play it back three ways, bike audio only, a mix of both, or CD music only. I find that the non riders find the constant bike sound very annoying. It is more fun for them to watch with a music soundtrack.

Far as I know as long as the camera has the VTR function (video tape record) then its good to go. Just check with helmetcamera.com first and let them know what kind of camera you buy so they can send you the appropriate set-up for it.

I have the DCR-TRV 320 made by Sony and its basically a 1 jack hookup. Its pretty slick.

To protect it I bought a bagel container and some dense foam. Cut out the foam so the camera fits nice and tight and push the foam into the bagel bin and then all that into a fannypack. So now its watertight and mega-protected.

Like Dougie sais though, I dont think there is anything you can do about the tape heads jumping a little when you hit some rough stuff but it dosent seem to hurt the camera any.

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Darin in Missouri - 1999 WR400F

Enduro Heaven - Ozark Mountain TrailRiders

Unlike these guys with their fancy digital camcorders, I've got an old fashioned analog Hi-8 Sony camcorder. :)

Like they said, it MUST have VTR.

I have not noticed the heads jumping, but I'll bet it has more to do with carrying it snugly in a backpack than it being analog vs digital.

If you don't already have a camcorder, you may want to look on e-bay.

One major thing to consider is how long you want to record one session.

Say for instance your going to want to record for 3-4 hours (like a long Colorado trail ride or a desert ride) then you might want to look into the analog (Hi8), but if you want to go digital then you can only record for 1 1/2 hrs at the most in LP mode. SP only lets you record for a hour. So you might ride for 3 hours and only tape 1.

Ron, How much can you record consecutavly (sp?)with yours?

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Darin in Missouri - 1999 WR400F

Enduro Heaven - Ozark Mountain TrailRiders

Good points Darin.

My camcorder (Sony Hi8 CCD-TRV82) is good for 120 minutes per tape (SP). The HC battery is good for about 5 hours. I have two batteries for the camcorder, one good for four hours, the other only two. The most I've ever captured on one ride was four hours in SP (two tapes).

Another thing to consider is that if you go with an analog camcorder and want to edit and/or play videos on the computer, then you need a computer that can handle video capture. This can be expensive if you want to do a good job.

The videos you have seen on the web were captured on a old & slow computer (P 133) that has a fast hard drive (10,000 RPM SCSI) and a mid-range video capture board (PCI). It works okay, but the resolution of the videos as shown is set to the maximum my computer can handle. This is okay for the web, but that's about all.

With a digital camcorder the computer requirements are not as critical, but you still need a strong computer for video editing. I will be using some killer computers and software for capturing soon, and hope to make some rather large video files. Thanks Neil for all the help in this department! :)

Heres what I have Ron:

450 processor

192 Meg Ram

12 Gig hard drive

What do I need to make videos like you have on your site?

(please pretend like your talking to a 2 year old) :)

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Darin in Missouri - 1999 WR400F

Enduro Heaven - Ozark Mountain TrailRiders

ok, I'll bite... Here's my 2 cents on cameras. Some of it is a restatement from the comments already given.

To a 2 year old... hmmmm

First, what sort of camera are you using? These little videocams limit the

number of lines of resolution and by offering lower resolution you don't

need as sophisticated equipment to make it happen. Most cameras are

similar on the inside. Their housings can differ, but there's a few basic

bits you can think about...

Your normal TV puts out 525 horizontal lines. Yeah HD TV & DVD's use more,

but normal, off the antenna or over cable TV is 525 lines. Satellite

siganls can get up to 650 or 700 lines. VHS stuff, and it's generally

lower quality, can run between 330 & 450 lines. They don't record as much

information and therefore the electronics within the VCR unit don't have to

be that high-zoot. This makes them cheaper to make too. Naturally there's

high-end VCR that do record a very nice signal, but they're expensive

compared to a $100 WallMart VCR. The more lines you are dealing with, the

better the image quality, but the more electronics it'll take to make it

all happen.

So you have to decide whether you'll spend the bucks and buy a decent

camera or not. The more lines of resolution you capture and translate into

electronic signal, the more expensive it will be. The capturing of video

is done on a electronic chip that senses the changes in light 30 times a

second and converts that into electronic signal. Some cameras have 1 chip

.. this is most consumer camcorders and the helmet cams. Some camcorders

have 3 chips whereas the signal is broken into the TV primary components

red, blue, green and captured & processed separately. You probably won't

need one of these 3 chip cameras, but their image quality is superior.

The bigger the chip capturing the image, the better the image quality. The better the image quality, the more you can play with it during editing.

Most helmet cams have 1 chip. Most of them only offer 330 lines of

resolution. So the best image quality you can get out of that sort of

camera is only as good as VHS. Some go as low as 250 lines...it's a video

image, but you are limited with what you can do with it... You have to

think about your target audience. Are you going to show your finished

clips exclusively on computer or maybe only VCR... maybe both.... Computer

stuff is generally really low quality and a lower res camera will suffice.

If you plan on making a VHS or CD of the footage, then you might want to go

for higher res ...maybe splurge and go for 525 lines. It does make a

difference.

You can snag various kinds of helmet cams. Some mount in the mouthpeice of

the helmet (very cool), some look like lipstick cases, mine looks like a

couple boxes of matches. It doesn't really matter what they look like.

Try to get the best resolution possible for your budget. Something you

have to think about is how you are going to record the image off the

camera. Yep. These are cameras.. not recording devices. so... you have to

pick up a recording unit. The most common thing to use is a small

camcorder. Ron uses a Sony Hi-8 unit, I use a Canon MiniDV unit. Don't

sweat going out and spending a ton of money on a camcorder. You have to be

willing to crash with this unit on. It'll get duct taped to chest

protectors or stuffed into backpacks & kidneybags.. so don't get too

attached to it. Look for one with a S-Video in or at least a Composite

video in. High-8 offers damn fine video resolution to record onto.

Video-8 (Sony stuff) would work pretty good too, but try to get at least

High-8

Composite video in? Ok, the connection between the camera and the

camcorder makes a difference here as well. If you choose standard RCA type

plug (like the yellow connectors found on the back of your TV/VCR)(this is

called a composite signal) you actually get cheated out of a bit of

resolution. The better choice is S-Video (a 6 pin black connector). There

a good expalnation for that, but don't worry about it. S-Video is better.

Composite/Analog/RCA-video/normal video works pretty good but the 6 pin

connector is the way to go.

So, your camcorder has to have the ability to act a bit like a home VCR.

You want to plug tha camera into it and have it record the video signal.

Simple, eh? (oops, a little Canadian slipping in there...) Normally I end

up with a camera duct taped to my helmet. Not very stylish, but

surprisingly smooth. Off the camera is a cable running down into the

backpack where the camcorder resides. The camera is set in VCR mode and

is accepting input from the helmet cam. You can test that by looking at the

display screeen or through the eyepiece. Once you have confirmed you have a

session happening, you slip the camera and associated cabling back into the

pack and leave quickly so you don't waste tape or battery The camera also

has a battery pack so you have to carry it as well. This adds up to a bit

of weight that you have to deal with and due to the $$'s riding on your

back you might temper the riding style. ..or not :)

The smoothness of the camera on the helmet is nice, but the ange of view is

pretty high. This will give a nice wide view of what's in front of you,

but it also makes your pace seem slow. If you strap it to a fork-leg or

boot or something lower to the ground the ground whizzing by will make it

seem like you're going faster. It's a bit weird to tear up a bit of trail

and come back to watch the video and it's so smooth from a 5 ft high

vantage point it looks like you're doing 10 mph. So.. try to keep the

camera low or do it at least bits here and there... This technique will

also place your camera where it might get hurt.. so pay attention!

so. too much?

I can do similar for editing...

your call.

neil

[This message has been edited by '00 in Calgary (edited August 25, 2001).]

MoMilk,

Neil has helped me a bunch when I was getting started in the helmet cam thing. He knows of what he speaks. Its all about lines of resolution. His point about "It's a bit weird to tear up a bit of trail and come back to watch the video and it's so smooth from a 5 ft high vantage point it looks like you're doing 10 mph." is so true. Now you've got me thinking, Neil (once again).

Unfortunately, I know nothing about digital camcorders, so I'm afraid I will not be much help in this department. Maybe I can help a bit on the part that takes place after you have the footage on your computer. For now, I will leave it to the experts (Neil & Techman(?)). I'm still learning. Lets keep this one going…

Neil,

Please do.

ok... thanks. :)

Still to the age impared?

Ok, here's some "what makes video" thoughts

Why is computer stuff such low resolution? It's the storage/transmission medium. The signal has to be stored somewhere and retrieved to your computer so you can play it. While possibly doing the same to dozens/thousands of others at the same time. There's still a bunch of folks out there that use a 56k modem to access the internet. 56,000 bytes per second... not too bad when transfering text around or accessing web pages. Now to transmit TV into your house the broadcast station take a raw video signal of 140,000,000 bytes and compresses it down to about 4,500,000 bytes. The audio can mixed in there as well, but it's insignificant compared to the video signal.

So... 4,500,000...That's still a bunch over the 56,000 modem you have (the same priciple applies to cable modems so quit acting smug there) This is why there's no TV on your computer and the TV you do get to see is in a

tiny window with choppy images. They're trying to convert that 140,000,000 down to 56,000 ... and probably down to about 40,000 just so they can maintain what little quality they have over bumpy internet providor connections. The broadcast stations are quite used to just pumping out a steady stream of video, they don't care about the signal a millisecond after the image has be presented. Their goals in life reflect around working to keep the stream flowing. All TVs are made to decode just those signals in real time has no issues at all doing that. Because computers are computers and not TV's they don't do TV very well. It's much tougher than it looks

to make a TV signal appear on a computer 'cause they make their video

differently.

Why? The computer video can outperform TV, but the way they draw the pictures on the inside of the monitor screen creates issues. When a TV camera makes a video signal it takes a series of still pictures every 30'th of a second. Very much like movie film.(but film runs at 24 frames)(which

is another issue) When it sends the signal down the cable/out on the airways, it splits the 30th of a second image up into odd & even line sets of horizontal lines. one group is the odd lines 1,3,5,...523.. the other group is the even lines..2,4,6... with this, your TV can extrapolate a

video signal. If bits are missing in the transmission, there's no serious

panic, a fresh set of information is coming in 30'th of a second. This method of transmission is called Interlaced Video

A computer makes it's video signal by generating the same style of still

image, but it updates the image by redrawing the image on the screen top to bottom one line at a time. Depending on your 'puter and video card you can get your computer to update much faster.. up to 40 or 50 or 75 frames per second. Waaaaay better than the measly 30 times that a TV does. oh yeah

this is called Non-Interlaced video

But the syncing of these 2 ways of creating and presenting video cause grief when your trying to present TV on your computer. Interlaced doesn't work with non-interlaced and of course you have to convert back and forth between the two during the "making video" process. As well, you have to

reduce the amount of information needed to make the signal happen because

transfering information takes time, storage of video takes equipment $ storage media.

So. In comes the term "compression." You can call the reduction in a video signal from 140Meg to 4.5Meg (140,000,000 to 4,500,000) compression, cause, well that's what it is. To save money transmitting the signal to your house, the televison broadcast houses don't deliver the whole package to you. They take advantage of the way your eyes see and deliver just enough signal to your to create the illusion of moving pictures. You have to do the same thing on your computer. You have to deliver the best video image you can while minimizing the amount of information needed to make it happen. Unfortunetly, you have to do better than the broadast houses and

you have to bring the signal quality down to the level that can work over the internet. You have to end up with an end product that is big enough to present a good quality video signal and small enough people will either down load it or stream it to themselves over skinny Internet Providor connections. Your advantage... You have technology on your side 'cause TV stations have to be backwards compatible a couple of decades and 'we' get to play with tools made this century.

TV-guy have the advantage 'cause they do the transission in real time.. and this is a problem for those of us that don't own TV studios. If you want to store the information, you have to put it to a medium of some sort. Video tape has the ability to store a bunch of information, but it's access time is very slow and the more you move the video tape across the record/playback heads, the better the chance you'll create a wear spot in the tape. So... Stick it onto a hard drive. hmmm Hard drives are not that great at transferring in and out of. They're fast enough for word

processors & games, but video is a high intensity application. In fact you'll need a reasonable processor (better thatn 350Mhz) and a high speed hard drive like a SCSI drive or a 7200RPM IDE drive at the least. ... and you'll need a big one. You can easily fill up a 30 Gig hard drive with raw video clips.

This is 'cause each second of information recorded takes space on you hard drive. My MiniDV stuff take 4meg of drive space for every second of video clip. So if I queue up 10 mintues of raw footage 10minutes x 60seconds x 4Meg or 2.4 Gig of diskspace needed to store the basic data. I have some

folders with 10 Gig of raw stuff in them. It adds up! Eventually you end up with several folders of on-going projects and drive space will become a concern. Think BIG when it comes to this.

But how do you get it onto the hard drive?

ok.. that one is for next time.

neil

Very detailed explanations. Excellent! I might actually be understanding some of what you are saying but here’s my situation.

I’ve got the Sony TRV320 and the helmet cam from helmetcamera.com.

I have already transferred the image from my camcorder to VCR, VCR to computer. But something is going terribly wrong along the way.

I’m taping the original signal onto a 4-head VCR in SP mode (which might lose a touch of clarity, but not significantly) then I pop the tape into my old 2 head VCR (this may be my problem?) which is hooked up to my computer with RCA cables and I use some type of Microsoft Windows video capturing program (sorry I’m not very specific, I’m at work right now) and capture the video.

But no matter how many frames per second or size of the image I try to capture the video still produces a horrible clip.

It is very jerky, (one frame, then 1 second later, another frame, and so on) plus it’s blurry and really not even worth watching.

I’ve tried several different settings within the program and there still isn’t much difference. I know this is vague and will be very hard to troubleshoot with my explanation but I’m not real sure what I need to do next.

Upgrade my video capture board

Upgrade my video capture software

Find a better way to transfer the original source recording to PC, such as directly from camcorder to computer.

I just want my videos to produce and upload as good as Rons. They don’t have to be any better than that. Well, at least for now. :)

One more question, which goes on first?….. Shoes or socks?…..

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Darin in Missouri - 1999 WR400F

Enduro Heaven - Ozark Mountain TrailRiders

[This message has been edited by MOmilkman (edited August 27, 2001).]

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