Monday, February 28, 2011

Videoing is difficult

On Sunday I managed to get the MD80 Opticam working for a while. I got it to take about 50 minutes of video, before it shut down itself. Before that, the best I've managed is about 15 minutes or so (outdoors). Maybe that is because the manual says the operating range is from +10C upwards, and I've been trying to get it to work in -15C. I've even soldered a cell phone battery to give it more juice, and I've kept the battery in my pocket to keep it warm. Still, after a while the camera shuts down. When I come back inside and the camera warms up again, I can get a long video without recharging. This makes me think there is somekind of temperature sensor to protect from overheating, and when it's too cold the sensor sends wrong signal to the processor and it shuts down. Or it's just crap.

Still, I've got some good footage and lots of bad footage. A lot of is useless because it is too dark. Even early in the afternoon, around 16:00 (4pm) there is not enough light for the camera. Here in Very Northern Florida the days are pretty short in the winter. For example, on January 1st, sunrise at 10:25, sunset 14:18 (2:18 pm). So, MD80 is not a good choice for winter use.

Some of the footage is bad due to mounting problems. I've attached the camera to an elastic band and put that over my wool hat. Works pretty well, except for one problem. It's on my forehead, and I can't see where the camera is pointing. The camera can start to 'droop' and I'll notice nothing wrong. I took some awesome videos of my front wheel.

OK, there's another problem:  the position of my head changes. I can use a large mirror in the bathroom to aim the camera just right, but when I get on my bike (old, rusty mtb) I'm leaning forward a little. More footage of the front wheel. In traffic lights etc, when I'm standing around straight, I'm shooting the sky. I guess the same problem would be with a chest mount.

I've tried mounting the camera on the bike. When I had the camera on my forehead, I thought the picture was moving a lot. Apparently I tilt, turn and shake my head a lot. But when it's on the handlebars, the picture swings from side to side. I almost get seasick watching the video. The vibration is not too bad. In my previous mount I had some drooping problems, so I got some more footage of my front wheel. The current one works better, but even it has to be aimed properly.

So, the video from Sunday is mostly useless. I noticed it had some drooping problems while riding but fixed them with a piece of wire. The aim was bad, too low.

Today I had watched the take from Sunday and knew how to aim it better. The day was bright, and it was rather warm, maybe -1C so it should have been perfect. Now the camera kept shutting down. Apart from 10 and 19 minute segments, the camera shut down every 2 minutes or less. Great footage, though.

Maybe I'll build a box around the camera, insulate it, fill it with something warm and see if it helps to keep the camera going.

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