Many people may have seen YouTube clips of MTB downhill runs, and the clarity and angles that cameras like the GoPro and similar units can now provide. When you’re on a $4,000 bike, an extra $350 for a camera to capture those moments is well worth it. For the citizen cyclist, or the recreational rambler, something a little down the expense ladder may be more suitable.
Firstly though, there is the question of ‘why’. Why would you want a camera for your daily commute? Well, for about $50 you can now get a perfectly adequate ‘Black Box’ that records your ride, any mis-adventures or undesirable encounters, as well as areas for improvements that you may want to raise with the appropriate organisations. Of course it also doubles as a record of those recreational rambles you want to re-live or share.
It’s very hard to argue against video evidence following an incident with another cyclist or vehicle, and certainly far more reliable than memory alone, especially when the incident is more than just a near-miss. A small, unobtrusive camera mounted on the helmet or front of the bike can become a standard piece of equipment for the daily commute. Enter the ‘keychain’ or 808 camera model.
There are quite a number of these cameras available with more versions marketed almost monthly. The ChuckLohr.com website has a LOT of information about the various versions, but for now the #16 version provides a 720p HD camera that is lightweight and functional. It takes microSD cards, and the internal battery can take about 40 minutes of video. With an external battery pack and 16Gb memory card, nearly 3 hours of footage can be captured at one time!
Mounting the camera on a helmet can easily be done using Velcro dots or strips. This is enough to hold the camera on securely and get it aligned to allow for a clear image of the road ahead. Remember when you do this to angle the camera back a little depending on how you wear your helmet and how you hold your head. A lanyard is a useful safety strap in case it does go astray.
How and where to buy?
Your local cycle or Outdoors shop will have the GoPro and similar cameras but the best place is probably via Ebay. There are a number of dealers on both Ebay and TradeMe that offer clones of this camera, but for reliability and assurance that you get the correct model, I have been satisfied with the following two dealers: eletoponline365 and digitalele889. Both offer free shipping, and have options that include the memory card if you don’t already have one.
This particular version was refined by and for RC hobbyists, and there is a wealth of information in this RCGroups forum topic on the camera and how to use it. The first 5 posts have all the details. So, what are the results like? Excellent for the price paid! For a $50 camera that can record nearly an hour of HD video they are certainly worthwhile. Here’s a 30 second clip, unedited except for trimming (note 720p option on Youtube settings).
This and similar cameras now available are an excellent record of your ride and well worth the small investment, for both fun and logging.