Monday, August 26, 2013

European Chronicles 2013: Dashcam

For several reasons not related to this trip, we ended up using GoPro HERO 3 Black Edition as a dashcam. Turned out to be not the brightest idea, mainly because of two things.


The camera overheats all the time. The only day it didn't it was about 8°C to 20°C outside, whenever the temperature was getting more than about 22°, it lasted about 40 minutes.

One thing GoPro can do better is - they can improve sound notifications. Right now you have no idea why the camera shuts off by itself - and there's quite a few possible causes, here's what I remember off the top of my head:

  • Camera overheats;
  • SD card is out of disk space;
  • SD card can't keep up with throughput camera wants it to deliver (turning Protune off helps).

Also, it makes the same sound when you start the recording as when you stop it, and it's not really possible to easily determine whether it's currently recording or not (that bright red flashing light is actually not that bright when you're looking against the sun), and it's turned away from you.


Since the plan was to record *everything*, we ended up mounting the camera to the inside of the windshield with the suction cup. As a result, the reflection of the dashboard is on all the videos - and unfortunately, we only noticed this after returning. Hence, artistic value of the video is zero - though, it is still perfectly usable as a documentary. You can probably get rid of this if you concoct a sort of a hood for the camera, shouldn't be that difficult.


Mounting the camera on the inside of the windshield was the only option since we were driving (and recording) up to 8 hours a day. This allowed to use the car charger, but required to get the skeleton housing, for it was the only solution that exposed the USB port (frame mount doesn't expose the SD card slot, and it would've been a pain in the neck to replace the SD card on the fly (see why)).

One other thing GoPro can do better is to make the camera in such a way that it can be used with just the USB cable without the battery - which was the main source of overheating.


Some cards (surprisingly, SunDisk is one of them) are known *not* to work with this camera, or work with limitations (Protune being one of them). Search on "gopro 3 stops recording" to find out more.


Despite all the shortcomings, having the trip filmed at 1080x60FPS was cool :) If your trip is in cold weather, this might be a good solution after all.

^[European Chronicles 2013]

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