Homemade Cycle Helmet Headcam

Homemade Cycle Helmet Headcam
Blog 009 - 22 May 2012

I use VLC for viewing video and listening to music

Homemade Cycle Helmet Headcam

View the edited demo video clip of scene 1 / take 1 (40MB) that illustrates the narrative:

Alternatively, if you have the bandwith, Watch scene 1 / take 1 (200 MB)

Helmet Headcam Discussion

Several years ago my daughter and son-in-law gave me a neat little Canon IXUS 100 IS camera as a gift. At that time I was looking after their son Ryan every weekday afternoon for an hour or so. I had been using my phone to take photographs of Ryan, myself and the places we visited, while I pushed him around the complex and nearby neighbourhood. This little camera they gave me (the one on top of the cycle helmet in the images above), was far more suitable. However, it only had a 3X optical zoom, and after a while I was wanting more than that. So I bought a Canon Powershot SX210. It too was a compact camera, but larger than the 100. It did of course have more features, and one of these was a 14X optical zoom. As I no longer need the 100, I passed it on to my wife. She has used it on the odd occasion, and was rather fond of it because of its size.

More recently I have started cycling and have been tempted to buy one of these fancy helmet / sports (video) cameras that one sees advertised. The local sports outlet has one that retails for around R4000 (US$500). Thus far I have been unable to bring myself to the point of purchasing one, as I really was not sure that I would use it that often, once the novelty had worn off. I also have no idea how good the video would be, and how it would compare with that of the 210 (which is quite impressive when hand-held). Being inclined to conducting experiments, I decided to see whether I could buy an attachement that would allow me to attach the 100 to my cycling helmet. Then it occurred to me that I could use the 100. So I drilled a hole through the top of the helmet in the vicinity that I thought the camera should be mounted. I then pushed a bolt through the hole from the inside of the helmet and tightened a nut from the other side to draw the bolt's head into the polystyrene. I then added a lock nut and cut the bolt to leave a stub long enough to accomodate the camera.

While the manner in which I endeavoured to position the camera on the helmet was not completely arbitrary, the resultant position of the camera was such that, once the camera was on my head, and I was on my bike seated in the position I would normally adopt while cycling, it produced an excellent shot / video image of the road ahead. Whilst cruising on the level past areas of interest, the image was generally good and I was able to adequately narrate the scenes. On the hills, narration had to compete with breathing and it all becomes a tad too slow. To avoid this, it would be useful if one could turn the camera off, and then on again, preferably using a toggle switch, or even better, a voice command. Descents it always seems to me, are never boring. Unfortunately the accompanying wind noise spoils the audio recording, and some scenes pass to quickly. One could of course stop, but then the video is no longer one depicting "The ride".

Well I now no longer think I need to acquire the real thing, despite not knowing whether it would produce a better, possibly much better video. I now also have more respect for those that do produce this sort of material. It is a lot more demanding that still photography, and requires lots of time. Videos are also very demanding in terms of physical resources. The final nail in this coffin would probably be the passing comment, "Who is going to watch this stuff?". Well, if the stuff survives, then probably the children's children, because the children will want them to see it, even if it is only just once. Then when the children have explained to the children's children that what they saw really was a bike, and yes, that was also a camera, everyone will have a had a good laugh.

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