Helmet Cameras by Gordon

Is there anything he doesn't know!

I started doing this just a few weeks ago. This is how I've done it.

A VC (video camera) with AV (audio-video) input jacks, and a battery for the PC (pin-hole camera) goes into a backpack worn by the rider. The PC is taped or velcro'd to the helmet visor, with its wires running alongside the helmet, and then down into the backpack to the VC and to the PC battery. Then the rider looks straight ahead in his normal riding position, while the PC is adjusted to show the trail and the rider ahead. Then just turn the camera on, hit the record button, stuff it (and some padding) down into the backpack, and go!

My friend Rick often rides with a backpack, so he volunteered to be the cameraman, leaving me to be the star of our first trail video. Both of us rode KTM 200E's. Rick did a great job of keeping me and the trail in view! The video makes the ride look slower than it really is, and the ground less rough. Also, the sound you hear comes from the rider with the camera, and there was a little static (white lines running across the screen) whenever Rick rode at very high RPM.

But all in all, for a PC that cost only $125, it was neat!

I briefly wore the backpack myself, and found it more than a little bothersome the first time out, so I suspect it will take some getting used to before one can ride at full tilt while wearing it. It will also be unusual for the cameraman to try and hold his head in the best position to capture the rider ahead as much as possible, but Rick did a great job at this!

The PC I bought is not a wireless unit, but it came from Wireless Video Cameras, of Rancho Santa Margarita, California, (949) 533-3516. I ordered directly from one of the owners, Monte Salot, whom you can reach by email at MCSalot@home.com, and they have a website at (www.wirelessvideocameras.com). They have pinhole cameras from $100 up, offering color video and sound. The higher price units offer better resolution and extra features. After discussing my plan with Monte Salot, I wound up buying a PC (pinhole camera) not shown on their website, but I like what I got. It requires 9-12 vdc power, and has only medium resolution, but it's color and includes a built-in microphone for sound. It's about 1-1/4" square and 5/8" thick, on an adjustable swivel base than can be taped or velcro'd to a helmet visor, and then swiveled up or down before locking into place. The PC with swivel base weighs about 1.5 oz., including its 24" cable with AV and DC power connectors.

The most difficult part of this endeavor was finding a video camera with AV input jacks! Many video cameras have AV output jacks, and many of the new DV models have digital input/output jacks for computer connections, but few have AV input jacks! I finally found an RCA model #CC4393 at Circuit City. It has a side-swiveling 3" color monitor, built-in speaker for playback sound (the first time I've seen this), titles capability, several fade options, a few special digital effects, 72:1 zoom (240:1 digital), and several other features, but it has no remote control capability, and since it uses a full-size VHS cassette, it's larger and heavier than most of the tiny little camcorders on sale today. Most important of all, though, it has the required AV input capability, which seems hard to find nowadays.

Naturally, this setup has other uses. You could, for example, carry the VC (video camera) in a bag or a thick briefcase, have the wires running up your sleeve, and have the PC (pin-hole camera) in your pocket, peeking through a 1/8" hole, allowing you to secretly tape a meeting or conversation... like with a car salesman or mechanic. Such tapes CAN be used in court! Or you could have the VC lying on the seat
of your car, with the PC mounted in such a way to record whatever's ahead while you drive (tape cops driving stupidly, and then send the tape to the mayor or chief of police). Secretly tape meetings or conversations where you can hide the VC somewhere out of sight. Using longer cables (standard AV cables) you could even video tape what's going on under your car or under the hood while you drive (if you ever
had a supercharger that kept throwing its drive belt, you'd understand this idea!). As you might guess from their name, Wireless Video Cameras actually specializes in wireless setups, where a small transmitter sends
the signal from the mini-camera to a remote video recorder (VCR or video camera) equipped with a receiver. These systems run from $900 up (with
emphasis on the 'up'!), but some will transmit up to 20 miles!

So anyway, we're now making our own riding videos, showing the trails where we ride, and the riders in action on the trail. It ain't cheap if you need to buy a new camcorder with AV input jacks, but it's neat!

WARNING: Real-life videos tend to greatly restrict one's ability to exaggerate the ride. What seemed like a 12" log at 30 mph when it happened, often turns out to be a 6" log at 15 mph when captured on real life video. (Sigh.)

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