A Complete Guide To Helmet Cameras- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    A Complete Guide To Helmet Cameras

    Hello, you have just stumbled into my guide for helmet cameras. There have been a lot of questions floating around the boards about what is required, how to connect, how to mount, and so on. I put this complete guide together to show anyone in question what needs to be purchased, what needs to be connected, and how to finally get rolling. Its relativley easy, but its very confusing in a few ways. I've sorted it out into sections, read carefully...there are photos..of course!

    Section 1: What is Required?

    Today we are using a Hoytech HC-Pro helmet camera kit, and a Sony DCR-HC42 Camcorder. While many of you may have different brands of equipment, a lot of the connections are all universal and relativley the same.

    Here is the complete list:
    A camcorder with the ability to record from a external source (There are many compatability charts at helmet camera vendor's sites)
    A helmet camera
    Battery Pack
    All cables and connections which include: Your camcorders AV Cable (Most of these are propietary which means only a certain brand will work with them, such as Sony, Cannon etc. Make SURE you have this cable before attempting to even do anything, it will most likely be required.
    Mounts for your helmet
    Optional: LANC Remote
    Optional: Microphone
    I left the Microphone optional because during my snowboarding adventure with these, the wind tends to drown out all noise, you can fiddle with the placement of the microphone or adjust things, but I will show you how to connect the microphone regardless.

    Thats just about what you need...lets move onto the next section.


    Section 2: The Battery Pack.

    This is the easiest, but make sure you do a few extra steps. You fill the large plastic box with 8 AA batteries, they last about 6-7 hours. Don't make the same mistake I did, MAKE SURE you tape the entire box shut with electrical tape! Otherwise, when you crash a bettery could possibly bounce out, runing all your filming. Another suggestion would to tape a towel around it for additional cushion. Believe me, you don't want to screw up your whole day of filming because of one lousy AA battery.


    Section 3: Connections

    This is the most confusing of all, connectiong everything. I sort it into two sub-sections...connecting JUST the camera, and connecting the camera and the micrphone.

    Look in the above image, maybe you can trace a trail from my camcorder to the helmet camera. You can see eventually halfway they meet with two yellow connectors. This is the part that varies company by company. Hoytech sells their cameras with a female RCA end of the camera, which means that I can plug the AV cord of my sony right into the cable of the Hoytech helmet camera. Viosport which is another popular brand requires the use of a Female to Female adapter, which can be purchased at their site, or any radio shack.

    The battery pack needs to power the camera, there are two black connectors that simply snap together. If you crash a lot, you may want to tape both of the connectors together with electrical tape.


    Now comes the slightly more complicated part, connecting the camera, microphone, and power. Try to trace a trail all the way from my camcorders AV connectors, you can see that they all line up (Much like connecting a Xbox to a TV or something), this is a relativley easy connection, however the power part is quite confusing. Both the microphone and camera need power, there is a "pass through" power connection that allows both power to the mic and camera. As you can see, the power goes to the mic near the AV connectors, and then another connector breaks off for the camera.

    The microphone picks up a lot of wind, you can try two of these ideas:
    Play around with location. Keeping the mic in the back of your body is better (Tying it to your camelbak or so). If its REALLY windy (Snowboarding) buy some crappy snow gloves, cut off the finger, then zip tie the tips over the mics.

    Section 4: The LANC Remote
    This little piece of plastic is basically a material ripoff, but convenience wise, you won't know how you did anything without it. The LANC remote is a one button wonder, with functions for On, Off and Record:

    When the camcorder is off...hold it for about 5 seconds and it will turn on with the LED green. Press it once and the LED will turn red, for recording. Hold it while the LED is green and it will blink, and the camera will turn off. Note that the Camcorder, NOT the helmet camera powers off. As long as the helmet camera is connected to the battery pack, it will remained power. (So un-plug it during lunch, or in the car or something).

    The LANC remote connector is similar to a headphone plug, and there should be a port on all LANC compatible cameras with the words LANC on them, like this:


    Sorry for the hardcore newbie like shot...

    Section 5: Turning It On!
    The newer model cameras will be able to detect the external recording source automatically (Or at least the newer Sony's do). This section is tricky, because each camera has a way of its own in terms of recording from a outside source. With my camcorder (Sony DCR-HC42) as with other Sony HC models, to manually get it to record from the helmet camera, do the following:
    1. Turn on camera and turn it to VTR mode (The mode which you use to playback your footage)
    2. On the touch screen, there should be a "Record Control" button, or there should be something similar in the menu.
    3. Touch this item, and you should start seeing feed from the camera.
    Again, the newer models will be able to detect it, and you won't have to touch a thing...Luckily mine does:


    Section 6: Mounting
    Mounting requires creativity, cause most helmets have vents in different areas.

    This is my snowboard helmet with creative mounting (Subject of partying at a friend cabin till 2 AM). I reccomend those sticky thingys for skate like helmets. You can buy them at a hardware store, and they stick like none other. They feature specific holes where you can slip a zip tie through and get your camera snug. In the case of all the crazy crap we all do here, I reccomend using at least two of those sticky thingys, and four zip ties. (Yes, four). When the camera is on your head, you won't even notice it...and you'll want to ride like you always do (You should). This leads to...well with the camera on my head I crashed into a tree hardcore, ran into a skier, and other crazy crap. Basically...make sure its mounted securely.

    With Full Face helmets, I have yet to find the magic spot...I'll update you guys on it. I'm not too sure how to mount it on the deviant (If anyone has experience, feel free to post).

    Thats it!

    Thats my guide. If you have ANY questions just drop 'em here and I or someone else can get back to you. Thanks for stopping in, and be sure to show us your footage while you ride! (I'll be sure to).
    Last edited by Raptordude; 07-02-2006 at 12:30 PM.
    Northstar 2008 Riding Crew

  2. #2
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    Nice write up. Could you post some of your video so we can see the picture quality with your set-up?

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