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Anyone with a smartphone and wire hanger can record their rides

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Anonymous

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Jan 17 2013 at 5:48am #

It saddens me that we’re seeing so many accidents and close calls from careless and outwardly aggressive drivers lately.

I like the theory that this is part an “extinction burst” in these behaviors, but to make sure it is, I think it’s good for all of us who feel any inkling at all to start recording, and I’m writing to share some info to help.

The best answer is to get a real bike camera, and this thread has some info on that. http://bike-pgh.org/bbpress/topic/handlebar-camera-vs-aggressive-a-hole/page/2

I personally just have a problem spending money on something I wouldn’t use except because somebody else is an a-hole. I doubt I’m alone, but I also doubt too many others have done what I have in response, to make a cell phone mount on my helmet and record from my phone.

I writing to encourage you to do so, because it’s so easy even a klutz like me can do it in about 10 minutes. And you don’t need anything but a wire hanger and something to tie it down with.

This is very much rushed out the door so people can try it. At some point theoretically I’ll take these links down and put together one video, taken when I don’t have a cold, with better (less yellow!) lighting (outdoor video comes out fine), and maybe some actual editing.

But without further adieu :

The intro:

http://youtu.be/pzPSdePvdyA

Design overview:

http://youtu.be/UR70xb_paIA

Start to finish in ~10 minutes (minus fine tuning, but that doesn’t add much time):

http://youtu.be/byaU85tQAXs


epkiley

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Jan 17 2013 at 12:42pm #

If you don’t feel like risking your phone on your head, you can get a surprisingly decent video camera in the same form factor for ~$30 these days.


flyS564

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Jan 17 2013 at 3:21pm #

That could possibly be a successful Kickstarter project. Lots to consider with fitment and different phones but, I can picture you coming up with a way to bend coat hangers neatly in a minute and launching them for 5-$10 each.


rice rocket

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Jan 17 2013 at 3:56pm #

If you don’t feel like risking your phone on your head, you can get a surprisingly decent video camera in the same form factor for ~$30 these days.

http://www.meritline.com/sports-helmet-camera—p-78766.aspx

This just showed up the other day, no idea about the quality. The product reviews aren’t really in “English”, not sure what that says about the reviewer. The vendor is legit though, I’ve ordered some random stuff from them before.


Anonymous

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Jan 17 2013 at 4:13pm #

I have an HD Hero Go Pro and I find that unless both the vehicle and myself are still, I cannot get a clear image/video of a license plate. How about you guys?


Anonymous

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Jan 17 2013 at 4:21pm #

Point of posting this was to give folks something they could do FOR FREE and RIGHT NOW. No comparative research, no need to scout for materials or tools you may not have, something you JUST GO AHEAD AND DO.

A spur to action I hope, even for those who like me have a deep aversion to spending money on something they’d have no use for except for except because somebody else is an a-hole.

If you look at the video, the phone isn’t in much risk, turned the helmet upside down and gave it a pretty nice shake. Just take your phone out and put it some place better protected if it starts raining.


rice rocket

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Jan 17 2013 at 4:25pm #

brybot, are you recording in 30fps or 60fps? I’d drop down to 720p and get the extra framerate instead of using the full 1080p, the sensor is tiny anyways so you’re not getting any extra quality from 1080p.


Anonymous

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Jan 17 2013 at 4:31pm #

Also if there are any shutter speed or exposure compensation controls, you may be able to tweak them to get less motion blur. Bump up the shutter speed or use the exposure compensation to underexpose the image. You’ll get a darker image, but it should be sharper.

Sometimes I think the only way to go with this is to strap my dslr to my bike.

byogman has a point though, throwing something together for free with materials found around the house gets you in the game. Your cell phone camera may not be perfect, but you’ll be able to get a good description of the vehicle and a record of the event.


Anonymous

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Jan 17 2013 at 4:31pm #

Based on my video so far, depends on a lot of things, distance to the car, relative velocity, road quality, lighting, etc…

I imagine in some cases the video would just be corroboration of a license plate I have to remember, or it might help me fill back in a missing digit or two my memory lost, but in many cases the plates are quite clear in spite of the shakiness that I had assumed would come with the cheesy mount. I think mounting it to the helmet rather than bike helps.


Anonymous

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Jan 17 2013 at 5:00pm #

rice rocket, I’ve tried both 30fps and 60fps and although 60 is better, it is still hard to get plates.

mattjackets, I’ll look into that, but I don’t recall seeing particularly fancy options on my camera.

byogman, Are you able to get plates with your cell phone?


unicyclemike

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Jan 17 2013 at 5:36pm #

I am sort of surprised that someone would trust a $500+($ needed to replace) smart phone to a coat hanger that you bend on your helmet. There are quite a few helmet mounts out there for most smart phones. Most include a built in waterproof case.


Anonymous

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Jan 17 2013 at 6:02pm #

Well, if it helps, my cell phone is probably worth very close to 0 resale, 50 or 60 bucks replacement (with better) cost (it’s three years old and was 150$ then).

But really, the coat hanger mount is very robust, watch the video and the upsidedown shaking. I trust it as much if not more so than a plastic and tiny screws mount because every time I put it in or take it out I can feel if it’s in any way getting looser (it’s not).


Anonymous

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Jan 17 2013 at 6:04pm #

Brybot, ability to get a plate depends on a lot of things, see my post immediately preceding yours.

I think the last thing, X factor, is how still I’m keeping my head at that moment. I found while I’m pushing hard the video bobs significantly. So if I did get a close pass, I’d probably ease off the peddles significantly to focus my eyes and the camera on the plate.

Intersections make for disorienting video as well, but I think are better on balance than non-disorienting video taken from the bike facing forward that doesn’t capture the traffic situation as much.


Mick

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Jan 17 2013 at 6:10pm #

Some questions.

So, other then the $500 for the smart phone this is cheap? Like you would only lose a half a grand if you were in an accident that damaged the helmet?

Or would the phone pfft in the rain?

Could there be some other considerations, like not being able to conveniently use you phone while stopped on a ride or maybe batteries running down after an hour or two and temporarily disabling your phone?


Anonymous

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Jan 17 2013 at 7:55pm #

The mount ain’t actually precarious. And we’re not in the tropics, you get a little warning before the rain dumps (if we were in the tropics you’d want a real waterproof case anyway). My phone has taken a little warning drizzle no problem (the flimsy nothing gel-case does not enclose, but the profile to the sky is fine). Only time I don’t put it in is when it’s raining at the start of my ride.

If you buy latest and greatest and greatest rather than cheapest “good enough” and you’re feeling antsy about putting your gee whiz bang new phone in there, then fine buy a camera… but you may have an older generation phone laying around if you’re lazy about throwing them out, so you can think of that as an option, too.

And it’s really quite easy and convenient to take the camera in and out btw. See the video. Actually about 3X faster than shown there, was just working blind and trying to avoid hitting the stop recording button (I normally start recording once phone is in the mount).

And I haven’t experimented with voice mode settings and speaker-phone, but I’d think when you’re stopped that would work fine (wind noise would prevent at speed, but what do you expect!?)

Rough guestimation from 1/2 hour ish rides says I have about 5 hours recording in terms of battery life. Haven’t even tried to estimate storage, but feels quite ample with the 16gb sd card in there.

Anyways, look, it works for me and I think could work for a lot of people that wouldn’t even consider buying a separate bike cam. And it’s doable by them RIGHT NOW and FOR FREE. And, if I can get some time in my life, I’ll try and see what I can do (at least for android) to make an app that can do a lot more than that for you.

So that’s my best attempt to get more people to record their rides. If someone else wants to make a go, let me know, happy to provide any support and refine video on the basis, and would love to compare notes when done.

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