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 Post subject: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 20th, 2013, 2:24 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
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Location: Greater Houston TX Area
I've been toying with the idea of getting one, for a variety of reasons:

- I'd like to capture that "moment of discovery" when you see an animal road-cruising
- For herps that move off the road before you can go back to see what they are, a review of the video may provide ID clues
- I'd also like to ID animals that dart in front of you but you would otherwise have no record (mountain lions, Mexican wolves, sasquatch, etc)

I haven't researched them much yet, but apparently there is a wide range of field-of-view, frames-per-second, resolution, and so on. What I THINK I'd like to be able to do is:

- Have the thing continuously record (powered via cigarette lighter port)
- Be able to hit a button or something to mark or save a time stamp of interest

Anyone have any experiences using a dash cam for these, or other non-traffic-related purposes?


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 20th, 2013, 2:42 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
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Looks like a recent article likes a $60 model. A navigator like me might prefer a GPS feature, but with the date/time stamp matched up with an NAHERP record or other means of positional determination, that's probably money better saved.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 22nd, 2013, 7:42 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
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Location: San Antonio, TX
I've thought about it and have used my video camera and phone to record road cruising video before. However, every time I have done it, I haven't seen anything! It's a curse!

I would like to see some night video out of one before I jumped in I think.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 22nd, 2013, 10:02 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Brilliant idea!


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2013, 9:33 am 
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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 6:38 am
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Location: Canada
I was down in Mexico this past March and I was getting pretty tired of driving roads and finding nothing but the odd roadkill here and there. On my last day I thought, what the hell, I'll film some of these roads with my iphone just to document the road itself. I happened to get my only live snake of the trip after 2 minutes of video on my first try!

I like the dash cam idea. An affordable one would be great. I always thought it would be a good idea to have two or more cameras with one facing the drivers side window (with audio). It could be useful in arguing your case for car accidents, or interactions with police, etc.. Really you could delete whatever you wanted so it could only help you! Considering the average ticket around here is about $150, these things could pay for them selves in no time considering it's not hard to have charges dropped if you can prove certain details.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2013, 2:53 pm 
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Location: Gainesville, FL
My video camera (an older canon) has a 3 second pre-record setting. In this mode, it is always 'recording' and when you depress the button the previous 3 seconds are saved, plus from the point you pressed it onward. Its great for unpredictable events, like when a dolphin comes up to the surface or something. If you had that mounted, plus used the remote, whenever something crosses the road, as long as you hit the record button within 3 seconds of seeing it, it would capture it. 3 seconds is actually a pretty long time when you think about how quickly things cross the road.

http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/support/c ... 1#Overview

It might be more expensive than you were thinking though. But you could look for a cheaper model with a similar feature.

P.S. Found this too: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/precord ... 58814?mt=8


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2013, 3:00 pm 
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Joined: August 9th, 2010, 7:48 am
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Location: Torrance, CA
I have a GoPro Hero3 that I'm thinking of purchasing the suction cup adaptor specifically for this same reason. I think it'd be interesting to see that moment of discovery from 3rd person. When I get back from Sturgis, I'll get the adaptor and put it to good use.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2013, 3:12 pm 
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I've been researching this a bit too and thought a goPro would be awesome because it could be used for walking around on hikes and such too, but for the driving part, the problem you will run into is battery life. The memory usually outlasts the power.

These links are interesting, keep us posted if you buy something.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2013, 3:27 pm 
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AndyO'Connor wrote:
I've been researching this a bit too and thought a goPro would be awesome because it could be used for walking around on hikes and such too, but for the driving part, the problem you will run into is battery life. The memory usually outlasts the power.

These links are interesting, keep us posted if you buy something.


I agree, battery life is definitely a problem. I have 2 batteries plus the extended battery and I don't think those would last long on an all-nighter. Since they are USB chargeable, I could always be charging 1 battery while using the other one to exhaustion then switch. I may give that a good try.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2013, 5:28 pm 
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devilfish79 wrote:
I agree, battery life is definitely a problem. I have 2 batteries plus the extended battery and I don't think those would last long on an all-nighter. Since they are USB chargeable, I could always be charging 1 battery while using the other one to exhaustion then switch. I may give that a good try.



I don't know much about the GoPro--is there not an option to plug it into either a car DC outlet or an AC outlet (for which I could use my cigarette-lighter inverter)?

The older-Canon-prerecord is an intriguing option, but I think the newer dashcams are more what I'm looking for--with the wildcard of "variable low-light quality."


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 24th, 2013, 6:38 am 
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Location: Torrance, CA
chris_mcmartin wrote:
devilfish79 wrote:
I agree, battery life is definitely a problem. I have 2 batteries plus the extended battery and I don't think those would last long on an all-nighter. Since they are USB chargeable, I could always be charging 1 battery while using the other one to exhaustion then switch. I may give that a good try.



I don't know much about the GoPro--is there not an option to plug it into either a car DC outlet or an AC outlet (for which I could use my cigarette-lighter inverter)?

The older-Canon-prerecord is an intriguing option, but I think the newer dashcams are more what I'm looking for--with the wildcard of "variable low-light quality."


Well, GoPro cameras are enclosed in a plastic mounting case. The case is designed to be utilized with their waterproof backplate so that you can go anywhere and photograph anywhere. There is a skeleton backplate for better sound quality when water isn't present, but in all instances, there's no port available for charging once the camera is in it's housing. If you remove the camera from the housing, you could charge the battery that way, but you won't be recording anything unless you hold the camera.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 24th, 2013, 12:33 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
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Location: San Antonio, TX
Here's 30 seconds of road cruising video I shot with my phone a couple of years ago. The real video is 8 minutes long, during which time I saw nothing.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/aIsw9rOb04E[/youtube]

Hmm...youtube embed isn't working. Here it is directly if you prefer. Warning, it is 30 seconds of your life you can never get back.

http://youtu.be/aIsw9rOb04E

I'm not sure what advantage a dash cam would give over just doing it this way, other than already being set up?
Is the image resolution better with the dash cam? (this was a deliberately low res upload)


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 24th, 2013, 5:37 pm 
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chrish wrote:
I'm not sure what advantage a dash cam would give over just doing it this way, other than already being set up?
Is the image resolution better with the dash cam?


Field of view appears comparable, and resolution is probably also comparable (I think many dashcams are 1080 nowadays).

The advantages I see (at least from information I've read) are:

- once you turn them on, you can just leave them running--it takes a few hours to fill up the SD card, and once you run out of memory the camera "loops back" and records over the beginning of the video. Obviously, you would stop the camera before that happened if you saw something of note.

- The video is overlaid with a date/time stamp--good for matching up to any other data you manage to record ("at 10:28pm, I saw a snake cross the road") and ultimately tie it to coordinates for entering into databases once you've (hopefully) identified the animal.

- If you had a dashcam, you could still use your phone, for things like HERP Mobile, other photography, or even (gasp) phone calls. 8-)

- You can hardwire the dashcam to the car such that it automatically starts recording when you start the car, eliminating the potential for forgetting to turn it on after getting back in the car from walking a cut, for example.


As I type this, I'm getting more enamored of the thought of getting a dashcam.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: July 24th, 2013, 5:58 pm 
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I like the idea as well.

I wonder if the sensor can run 4-5 hours non-stop without heat problems? I know many video cameras cannot.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: August 2nd, 2013, 1:22 pm 

Joined: July 4th, 2013, 2:21 pm
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I have a gopro "dashcam" that i use for cruising and driving scenic biways as well as kayaking. But my favorite new thing to do with it is mounting it on my tongs. This is an AWESOME POV for capturing a large rattler, and you can get the camera right up in its face without any endangerment. But it also makes for neat feeding videos for your retics ;-)

GoPro 3 Black edition is what I have, and the wifi remote app just received an update a couple days ago that allows you to capture video directly to your iphone / ipad / android and snap images. This is amazing for working with hots and capturing VERY good wide angle images safely, and effeciently.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: May 2nd, 2016, 7:02 pm 
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Wow, almost three years have elapsed since I first posted on this topic, and here I am STILL without a dash cam. :lol:

HOWEVER, I think I'm finally going to get one in the next week or so, in preparation for heading out to Snake Days. One I've been looking at is the KDLINKS X-1. Doesn't sound like it holds up well if you leave it in the windshield of your parked car in the middle of a hot summer day, but I wonder which cameras (or other electronics) do. I plan to use it primarily for night cruising, and the ability to just press a button and "keep" the last minute or so of video for when that chupacabra bounds across the road in front of me is appealing. Also interesting is that you can watch your video later with your precise location also shown via Google Maps--sounds handy for data entry etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: May 18th, 2016, 10:43 pm 
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That unit does look interesting although I'm curious about the looping.

How much video can you record with the max sized card (32Gb) before it begins to overwrite the beginning?

From what I can read online, estimates for 32Gb of video at 1080p (30fps) range from 20 minutes to about 4 hours depending on the amount of compression. If only 20 minutes, that seems a bit short to be of any real value? And if the card did fill, I would almost rather the camera told me to change cards than simply overwrite the beginning again.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: May 24th, 2016, 9:12 am 
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chrish wrote:
That unit does look interesting although I'm curious about the looping.


I ended up getting it but haven't played around with it yet.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: May 27th, 2016, 3:03 pm 
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chrish wrote:
How much video can you record with the max sized card (32Gb) before it begins to overwrite the beginning?

From what I can read online, estimates for 32Gb of video at 1080p (30fps) range from 20 minutes to about 4 hours depending on the amount of compression.


The manual says for 1080p, the camera will typically hold 16 5-minute files (1 hr 20 minutes) on an 8GB card.. Not too bad, but I'm going to put in a 32GB which should theoretically provide 5 hr 20 minutes. That's probably enough for me for a night, assuming I won't be in the car the WHOLE time (i.e. shining cuts etc.). All that is BEFORE the camera loops back to record over the oldest files in sequence. Plus, if you want to save a particular file, you just hit "lock" and that file is protected from overwriting.

I'm hoping to get those glimpses of javelina, ringtails, kingsnakes, Mexican wolves, chupacabras, etc. on camera by "locking" after everyone exclaims, "Did you see THAT?" :lol: I got the GPS module so it'll record that info as well as date/time.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: May 28th, 2016, 3:54 pm 
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First test today. Near as I can tell, There's no way to determine if, when you hit "lock" to prevent a clip from getting overwritten when the camera loops back, you are doing so at the beginning, middle, or end of a particular time-slice (I have mine set to 2 minutes). For example, I announced the time I pressed "lock" (the camera records sound, too), and the clip had started the minute prior--so whatever I had hoped to capture on video would've been preserved. Worst-case would be if I were to hit "lock" 5 seconds or so into the start of a new clip/file (I figure it'll be at least 5 seconds for me to react and think enough to hit the button).

I was worried about video quality (I have it set to the highest--1080p), especially because it has a 160-degree horizontal field of view (and an also-high-number vertically), but so far I'm impressed...the playback software shows your exact lat/long, speed real-time with the clip, the max and average speed you were traveling during the clip, and the distance traveled during the clip. One example screen-grab I did, when imported to Photoshop and cropped/resized, allowed me to read "GMC" above the license plate of a car 30 feet in front of me on the highway, but not the license plate itself. Waiting until I got 15 feet from the car (traffic jam; I don't follow that closely on the interstate normally!) made the license plate easily readable--both the numbers and the little "Texas" above it.

For my trip today, I wound up recording just over 2 hours of video, and it used 11GB on the SD card, so my initial estimate of getting 5 hr 20 min with the 32GB card seems reasonable.

Also, the playback software has a cool feature of showing you on Google Maps exactly where you are while the clip is playing...very nice.

The camera itself has a pretty easy learning curve. I'm pretty confident I can use it without having to think through the setup too hard. It automatically starts recording as soon as you start the vehicle (assuming you have it plugged in to the cigarette lighter). The "lock" button is conveniently located on the lower-left side of the device--closest button to the driver.

The REAL test, of course, will be how it does for road-cruising at night...will check that at Snake Days next weekend. 8-)


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone Use a Dash Cam?
PostPosted: May 29th, 2016, 7:41 pm 
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Very brief night drive tonight around the extended neighborhood. As expected, video quality is not quite as good using default settings...might have to play around with the various exposure compensations. It's still decent for objects larger than herps, as long as you know what you were looking at (for example, a black cat on the grass near the road "sort of" looked like a black cat, but I probably wouldn't have been able to identify it as such had I not noticed it other than through the camera's lens). I think a workaround would be to verbalize what each animal/object is as you see them, and the dash cam's microphone will record that info for you ("Couch's spadefoot;" "Atrox;" etc.). Using high beams on the car seems to help a little bit.

The GPS took about 3 minutes to lock on and start providing lat/long data for the video.

On the plus side, I discovered two things:

1. The camera tells you real-time how far into a clip it is (e.g. if you have it set to record in 2-minute intervals, a "stopwatch" resets at 0:00 every 2 minutes).
2. The microphone is decent enough that I drove around with the windows down (at 30mph) and could pick out gray treefrogs and Rio Grande chirping frogs. Might be able to pull the audio, filter out the car noise, and have audio vouchers (complete with lat/long) for NAHerp in this manner.

There is some light bloom from oncoming cars on a two-lane road, but my lane was still discernible in the video (i.e. an oncoming car isn't going to "blind" the camera).


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