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Thread: Helmet Cam!

  1. #1
    kpd
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    Helmet Cam!

    I built my first helmet camera over the weekend. Since I already had a pocket camera that could shoot reasonable video, I decided to try mounting that instead of buying a purpose-built action cam.

    The ingredients:
    • Canon PowerShot SD700 IS
    • $18 helmet from Target
    • Mounting plate from a cheap tripod
    • Steel 'L' bracket
    • A few nuts & bolts

    The cheapo helmet didn't quite fit my huge head, but a little reshaping of the foam fixed that. From there it was just a question of drilling holes in the right places and bolting it together. I've used it for one ride so far (see this thread). Here is a 'highlights' video (note that the quality Vimeo provides is significantly worse than what comes from the camera):
    <object width="640" height="483"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2723241&amp;server=vimeo.com &amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portr ait=0&amp;color=00ADEF&amp;fullscreen=1" /><embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2723241&amp;server=vimeo.com &amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portr ait=0&amp;color=00ADEF&amp;fullscreen=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" width="640" height="483"></embed></object><br /><a href="http://vimeo.com/2723241">Highlights</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user966832">Krishna Dole</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.

    Cons so far:
    • Having the extra weight out in front makes my neck a little tired after a while
    • It obstructs my view a tad
    • Can be a little hard to tell the status of the camera and operate the controls
    • Camera may not be up for the abuse (I already got a little mud on it)


    Pros:
    • The video is reasonably smooth and watchable
    • Quality is good (640x480 @ 30fps) and the image stabilization seems to help
    • Easy to quickly detach the camera to watch footage or take high quality stills


    Anyone else experimented with helmet cams? Any tips to share?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    Nice. I was thinking of doing the same thing! What trail is that?

  3. #3
    rox
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    is that bracket snell and cpsc certified?

  4. #4
    organically fed
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    I have a similar Canon digicam which does video and I've been playing around with it on my rides lately. My mounting system is a lot more simple tho, I have a tiny little tabletop tripod on little bendy legs that I just zip tie to my helmet or handlebars.

    I've uploaded some vids to youtube and they sure do get jacked up and extremely pixelated. What gives?

  5. #5
    kpd
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    D1PHAM: Thanks-- all those trails are in Waterdog. Passion Trail Bikes has a nice page about it.

    rox: We'll see. At least if I end up with bolts in my forehead they will show up nicely on x-rays.

    w00t!: The mini-tripod & zip tie option sounds like an excellent idea. I'm still looking for a video host that will provide decent quality. Vimeo is tolerable, and when I upload videos to Picasa Web Albums, the resulting Google video has a high quality option that isn't awful.

  6. #6
    I'm a "she".
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    Krishna, I enjoyed your vids from this nice setup. Now I got an idea to contribute. If you mount the same setup (with another camera) on the back of your helmet, you can shoot movies from two angles at the same time. And it will balance out the helmet so there won't be any "view obstruction."
    Inch by inch, I will get there...
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  7. #7
    kpd
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    Hey mudworm! I haven't seen you around in awhile. The rear-mounted camera does sound fun-- I still have brackets left.

  8. #8
    just another bleepin SSer
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    Probably more important than the camera set up - great editing of the clips!

    Quote Originally Posted by kpd
    Cons so far:
    • Having the extra weight out in front makes my neck a little tired after a while
    • It obstructs my view a tad
    • Can be a little hard to tell the status of the camera and operate the controls
    • Camera may not be up for the abuse (I already got a little mud on it)

    I use a camera made for this (Oregon Scientific ATC-2k). I found that mounting it on the top of the helmet (instead of the side, where I had mounted it before) gets rid of the unbalance issues.

    I wish the Oregon Scientific had image stabilization.
    Last edited by singlespeed.org; 01-06-2009 at 11:07 AM.
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  9. #9
    I'm a "she".
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    I still like my mounting a camera pointing backwards idea. Think about it. Most of the time, the action MTB videos you see are either just empty trails or someone's butt. With a rear view camera, you can actually get the face of the rider behind you. Now, Krishna will not only have videos titled "Chasing ...", but he will also have those titled "Dropping ..." Plus, don't we need some extra weight to slow Krishna down?

    Hi Krishna, indeed I haven't seen you for a while. I've been lazy.
    Inch by inch, I will get there...
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  10. #10
    just another bleepin SSer
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    Without a doubt, having cameras facing both ways would be great. And Krishna has already shown he has the editing tools and skills to handle it. But would require a second camera...
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpd

    Anyone else experimented with helmet cams? Any tips to share?
    I've never experimented with helmet comes - would love to in the future, but I got an untested tip:

    Can't you just find a correct screw that would fit in the camera's mounting hole and attached the camera directly to the L bracket with that screw? Maybe put a home-made rubber gasket between the camera and L bracket also?

  12. #12
    29 inches and Pissed Off!
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    Some one in the lighting forum set up a bracket on their handlebars to show some night riding videos. It turned out pretty good. That way you can see the controls and the view finder.

    Dan C.
    CaptainKana.com
    Mountain Biking.....Cheaper than a mistress.

  13. #13
    Master of '80s BMX tricks
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    I shot this with an canon SD 450 digital elph on one of those Eddie Bauer mini-tripods folded up and strapped on with velcro around the vents of my helmet (giro havoc) it's easy on and easy off on the trail. Once you aim it, it stays put.
    <embed id="VideoPlayback" src="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-1596565501701147183&hl=en&fs=true" style="width:400px;height:326px" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"> </embed>
    Also can be pointed forward;
    <embed id="VideoPlayback" src="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=973612465135563100&hl=en&fs =true" style="width:400px;height:326px" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"> </embed>
    the original video quality was perfect but google stepped on it so bad it's a little grainy.
    those little camera's are awesome.

  14. #14
    organically fed
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    Whoa, the backwards one makes me dizzy.

  15. #15
    Ancient Chinese Secret
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    Quote Originally Posted by singlespeed.org
    I wish the Oregon Scientific had image stabilization.
    There's software for image stabilization. I haven't tried it yet myself, I have the same camera. Apple, for example, just announced stabilization software on iMovie. http://www.apple.com/ilife/imovie/#stabilization

  16. #16
    Ancient Chinese Secret
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone_Rider74
    Can't you just find a correct screw that would fit in the camera's mounting hole and attached the camera directly to the L bracket with that screw? Maybe put a home-made rubber gasket between the camera and L bracket also?
    Yes, you can. And a hose connector gasket is the perfect sized washer.

    I also, have been worried about the hardware in the head in case of a crash. Minimal hardware seems ideal, I like the zip-tie idea.

    I'm experimenting with a hi-def camera. I'll let you know if I get a good bracket to work.

  17. #17
    kpd
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    Singlespeed: Glad you liked the editing-- the dark side of helmet cams is that it can be easy to shoot too much footage. No one wants to watch jerky, endless shots of your entire ride. The durability and mounting options of the Oregon Scientific look nice, but the video quality appears lacking.

    Mudworm et al.: OK, maybe you've convinced me to try the rear-mount option.

    Lone Rider: as Swell Guy says, you can mount directly to the bracket. The cool thing about the setup I'm using is that the camera can be detached/remounted in 2 seconds, which makes it easy to use it as a regular camera, put it in the backpack, or watch footage.

    Swell Guy: The iMovie image stabilization looks very slick, especially if your camera shoots HD (since the stabilization works by trimming the margins of the frame). Might have to buy my wife the new computer she's been considering so I can try it out.

  18. #18
    I'm a "she".
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpd
    Mudworm et al.: OK, maybe you've convinced me to try the rear-mount option.
    No big backpack please. I enjoyed the first video (I haven't had a chance to check out the second yet) by Biker_Scout_Sparky. The backpack was in the way a lot, but sometimes when it bounced around in sync with the music, it was pretty cute.

    BTW, Krishna, I did not expect you to take my suggestion seriously. But, hey, thanks!
    Inch by inch, I will get there...
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    Green Chiclets are my favorite candy.

  19. #19
    Fragile
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpd
    Anyone else experimented with helmet cams? Any tips to share?
    Love him or hate him, Pete makes some of the best helment cam vids out there. Also, his photography isn't too bad either.

    He's got some tips and FAQ's on his site for you too. Not saying yours were bad, but watching his will give you a good idea of what works well. Check his site out

    Keep up the good work. . .helmet cam vids are a great way for me to pass the time while I am away from my bike. I am also particularly fond of Waterdog.
    "It's easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat; but the man worth while, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat.'"

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  20. #20
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    Good stuff. Nice to see more and more capturing their rides.

    From the helmetcam videos I've done here's a few things I've found:

    - Counterbalancing the camera really helps with stabilization
    - Alternatively, mounting on top of the helmet removes the counterbalance need. But depending on the weight can cause the helmet to flop around a bit.
    - Image stabilization can make the image worse. It's designed to work when the shot it meant to be steady (think of the typical user hand holding and aiming at something). Lots of motion of the camera, panning, etc will cause some image stabilization to over compensate and the image will have slight jumps because of that.
    - I've experimented with all sorts of cameras and mounts. None to my satisfaction. But with newer and lighter solid state cameras their coming close.
    - To reduce the wind noise place a small piece of foam with some tape over the mic opening.

    If you are interested you can check out my little helmetcam vids:

    http://www.hanskellner.com/videos/cycling.html

    Cheers!
    My Cycling Videos: Vimeo | YouTube | My Website

  21. #21
    Master of '80s BMX tricks
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    for the sake of example, i slapped my helmet cam on.
    it took me all of 30 seconds to strap it on and probably would take another 30 second to lash another velcro strap on and it's surprising solid.

    Situations like this are when it's good to own 2 cameras.

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