Friday, October 14, 2011

I want a dash-cam!

The magnitude of stupidity some people exhibit when they get behind the wheel can be absolutely staggering!  Take this very morning as a case in point:

I was driving along minding my own business having just made the turn from travelling eastbound on Westford Street onto Dalton Road.  A car coming the other way on Dalton was slowing for the stop sign when suddenly and completely without warning (or turn signal) the guy in back of him gets it in his head to reenact the sinking of the Andrea Doria casting Galileo and I in the role of the Stockholm!  It had been raining quite heavily earlier in the morning and the roads were still wet.  The guy on the helm of the Andrea Doria must have thought the conditions were perfect for testing the wet pavement traction, maximum braking ability and reaction time of a perfect stranger.  Either that or he cared more about getting to work on time than about living long enough to eat his lunch!  Or maybe he was already late and was looking for an excuse his boss could not argue with.  (If that’s the case he’s completely ignoring the much more immediate argument he’d have gotten from me had I clobbered him!)  Fortunately Sir Isaac Newton left me just enough wiggle room to avoid our meeting by accident


It did take a full-lock-slide with the helm cut hard over (which didn’t help much what with Galileo’s not having anti-lock brakes) to avoid T-boning that imbecilic ‘person of questionable parentage!’

Now before this gets tossed aside under the rule of “no harm, no foul” – I may have flat-spotted my tires as a result.  No harm to the wannabe helmsman of the Andrea Doria (unless he soiled his underoos…) but Galileo may need a new set of shoes sooner than would otherwise have been necessary.  And that’s a harm to my bank account!

Now about that dash-cam…

I am seriously thinking of installing one.  I realize it could be used against me were I to be the one behaving badly with regard the laws of physics or of man.  But I think it would be worth the small risk given that I (usually…) don’t flaunt the traffic laws (much…).  And having one might have provided a video clip that could have been appended to this very post to illustrate my point, even if I were to skip the part where it get’s emailed to the traffic enforcement division of my local constabulary.

Now this brings us to the question of what kind of camera would be most suitable for the job?  It should be inconspicuous so as to avoid having some nefarious individual make a mess of my car in the process of making my camera his own.  A fairly wide angle lens would work best.  And it should probably have some form of image stabilization.  And another thing: it should not distract the driver (Me) by its mere presence!

I’ve played around with home-spun dash-cams in the past.  I rigged one up that worked very well several years ago.  I used it while ‘neighborhood riding’ – that is while scouting out various area’s that Mum and I were thinking about buying investment real estate in.  That rig consisted of a Fuji S700 non-interchangeable lens dSLR fitted with an auxiliary wide angle lens via a filter adapter ring.  I mounted it on a pocket tripod that was essentially sandbagged in place on Galileo’s dashboard.

(I may add a sketch of the old rig here later…)

It worked out very well for what we wanted it to do.  But it was only slightly less conspicuous than the roof-mounted rig on the Google Streetview car

For my new version I want a bit more stealth than that.  Not because I want to sneak around filming people without them knowing.  I just don’t want the hassle of having to set it up every time I get in the car and then have to take it down and stow it so it doesn’t get stolen when I’m not.

Unless it has night vision capability I don’t know that I even want a display in the cabin.  That could get distracting.  Long recording time is also a must.  That can be achieved with a large memory card.  I just don’t want to have to swap cards on the road.  This system needs to be totally automated.

There are some cool new cameras out there that could be clipped to the visor – or my hat for that matter – and unclipped to go in my pocket when I’m done.  A lot of people are using them to shoot YouTube videos of the “Hey guys!  Hold my beer and watch this!” variety.  But that’s not automated.  And possibly a little too Darwinian for my tastes.

I also don’t need a multi-camera NASCAR in car camera system or a police system with a camera or two (front and back) and a DVR in the trunk.  Though that would achieve what I want to do with it.

One more thing it needs to be is cheap inexpensive.

Well, I’ll let this all percolate for a while and see what springs to mind.  If you have any ideas please feel free to share in the comments.

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