This is the conclusion of the topic introduced in Part 1, where started out by looking at the rationale and parts needed for a high-quality DIY front and rear dash camera solution.
Odds and Ends
I originally wrote most of what you see here within the Part 2 Installation and Config post, but for clarity and brevity’s sake its better suited to a short, separate treatment.
There are only a few things you will want to stay on top of when living with your dash cam setup. Lets go over them now.
Long Term Maintenance?
Every once in a while, the camera will have a brainfart. One morning you will fire it up and it won’t work right. Investigation may lead you to discover it has reset itself to factory defaults. Thankfully, it only takes a couple of minutes to redo them – especially now that you have a guide to use to knock them out quickly.
What I usually see is a message telling me “Memory card is full”. Which should never happen, because the camera is doing loop recording. It is supposed to automatically records over the oldest recording on the Micro SD card. So the card can’t fill up. But it did.
That is a sign that loop recording has shut off. Enable it again and you solve that problem, but if that setting reverted, very likely you will find they all changed. That includes both the video settings changes and the overall system settings. Literally this morning I just had to re-enable all of the video settings, and then also had to go into the system settings and a) redo the date/time formats and b) enable the date/time timestamp… but the camera still remembered the correct system time, so it wasn’t a total loss of memory (still, check the system time just in case) or a full reset.
Riding daily and thus needing two runs per day with the cameras – to the office and back home again – I find this happens about once a month with my older camera models (the one that balked this morning was an older Akaso V50 Elite, which I would not buy again now that the V50x is available). It has not yet happened with one of my V50x’s.
Over time the battery loses capacity. Not a big surprise as that is normal for a li-ion pack. Hooking up the camera to an external power source is a big help for this. The power source just keeps the li-ion pack inside the camera topped up… almost. It doesn’t replace it.
When the camera starts getting old, you start seeing a situation where even if the camera is connected to an external power supply, it still dies mid-ride. That is because running the camera at this high resolution and frame rate means it eats a tiny little bit more power than the power feed can pump back in. As the battery ages, this slight disparity catches up with the camera.
The solution: every week or two on an old camera I need to turn the camera power on and let the camera sit, turned off, and charge its battery. Then its good again for a couple weeks. This can be done while I am charging the bike so its no big deal. Also, since these cameras come with two batteries, switching them one for the other on occasion puts wear on both of them and staves off this issue for quite some time.
I have never had a battery get so worn I considered replacing the camera. So this is an issue but its not the end of the world.
Sharing Cameras Across Multiple Bikes
I shared a parts list in Part 1 already, but lets do another, slightly different one and look at project cost for one bike, then two.
front + rear cameras for single Bike:
Action Camera US$90.00 x 2 SD Card 20.00 x 2 Front Camera Mount 18.00 Rear Camera Mount 12.00 27000mah Power Bank 30.00 USB Cables (2 pak) 11.00 ------------------------- Total Cost 291.00 ======= Cost Per Bike 291.00
Front + Rear Cameras For Two Bikes:
Action Camera US$90.00 x 2 SD Card 20.00 x 2 Front Camera Mount 18.00 x 2 Rear Camera Mount 12.00 x 2 27000mah Power Bank 30.00 USB Cables (2 pak) 11.00 x 2 Extra Scuba Box 13.00 x 2 -------------------------- Total Cost 358.00 ======= Cost Per Bike 179.00
What we’re doing above is buying two of everything to mount the cameras, but just one power bank and one set of cameras.
To move from one bike to another we just pop the cameras and power bank off of the one bike (remember the scuba boxes make for quick-detach) and right back onto the second bike in literally just a few seconds.
US$291 sounds like a lot until you look at your alternatives. Tally up the features you won’t have when buying a commercial bespoke solution, versus this one. We went over the alternatives in detail in Part 1. If you add to it the fact that it is easily made portable, works for two bikes and gets your costs down to US$179 per bike… you are way ahead of the game.
Extrapolate this out to as many bikes as you please. For three bikes, you come up with a total of US$425, which yields a per-bike cost of to US$142.
Video Editing Software
Recording your travels, you might want to look them over (or maybe you had an accident and need to show it to the cops or your lawyer). How do you dig the files out?
First, the easy (and almost useless) way: View them on your camera. You can scroll thru the vids and tap on one to run it onscreen. But the screen is like a 2-inch diagonal TV set, which can’t show any level of detail. You need to export the file to your PC to view and zoom in on a big screen monitor.
When you bought the camera, you also bought a MicroSD card to hold your files. Remove that card from your camera and plug it into a MicroSD card reader. This is one of the ones I have, so I know it works.
Plug that card reader into your PC. It will come up as a USB drive. Like a thumb drive. You will find files in three types.
These are Thumbnail files. These are merely the thumbnail images you see when scrolling thru the video list on your camera.
These are Low Resolution Video files. I mentioned earlier a recorded file in 4K30FPS is enormous. An LRV file is a playable low res version. If viewing a video on the tiny camera screen, this little file is used. Otherwise, these aren’t going to be of any use.
This is your high resolution recording. That will be obvious when you see the enormous file size. MP4 is a format this is a bit nebulous in terms of its use of standards, but you should be able to load it into common video software/freeware.
Copy the files to review to your PC’s hard drive. Load them into your video software. My Windows 10 PC came with Microsoft Video Editor pre-loaded. I use that to expand the video to full screen and play it back. I can pause it and click thru frame by frame until I can read a license plate of a car going by. If I am viewing the upside-down rear camera view, a couple of mouse clicks rotates the view to right-side-up.
Finally, once I find a still image that displays what I need, I can store a screen shot to hand over to a lawfully interested party.
Wrapping It Up
With any luck, all you will do with these cameras is install them, turn them on at the beginning of every ride and off at the end.
But if you ever need a witness after an accident, a super high-resolution, 170-degree forward and rear-facing, image-stabilized record of the event is there for you – and if you ever need them, they will be more than worth the time and effort it took you to set them up.
3 thoughts on “DIY Bicycle Front (And Rear) Dash Cam, Part 3”
Thank you, this post came at the right time, as I was researching a camera for my Wart Hog MD 750 off road Ebike.
I do have a question, will I be able to film a trail ride with these cameras? this will be a 120 mile ride, and probably a stay over along the trail, for one night.
Should I set up a different recording speed or other options.
I know nothing about film etc. I was thinking about mounting 1 camera
to the top of my helmet for the best view.
Thank you for your time and trouble to post this information, and for what it is worth, I have been run off the road twice in the last year, one by a PU and the last one was an 18 whlr that I could touch as it went by, yes I need a good camera system, as I am Pissed off by the vehicles around here.
While I haven’t done it myself, I don’t see any reason why the image stabilization on these cams shouldn’t work just fine on a bouncy singletrack. They certainly make potholes and curb jumps disappear entirely.
I don’t know anything about film either, but the video resolution means higher = more detail captured, and the fps = smoother display. 30 fps is really good. TV and movies typically use 24 fps for comparison but they are shooting to film and not to video so likely the difference is not 1:1. On a 2-lane road, oncoming cars in my lane have crystal clear license plates. On the opposite lane, they are visible and mostly clear. On the opposite lane parked on the side of the road, they are decipherable. Remember that 4k is my standard for reading license plates. And the articles are about dashcams. But if you just want to capture scenery on a ride, then maybe an adjustment – after you run some tests yourself – may make some sense. As noted in the articles 4k is really only usable in 2-3 minute snippets since it creates such gigantic files.
Thank you, matt for the information.
I have been thinking of attaching a camera on top of my helmet,
may provide better viewing etc.