DR32 as an action-cam

Northernlanes

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I primarily purchased my DR32 to use as a cheap alternative to a GoPro for use with my mountain bike and motorcycle, the DR32's video is hd and from tests I'd seen (mainly Techmoan's) was good enough for the purpose, the DR32's form-factor was ideal for me as I didn't want to attach a camera to my crash helmet but to my chest using a diy chest harness, for me this gives a very good stable platform as most vibrations are damped out using this method, for mountainbiking I decided to use a combination of chest mount and a handlebar mount which I purchased here .. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/181117530399 , in tests this product is very solid if attached tightly enough and gives reasonable vibration free video particularly with my full-suspension mountain bike.
The chest mount was made using a snug fitting compact-camera case with holes for the lens and the power-supply plug/cable, this was glued and cable (zip) tied to a machined piece of plastic with various holes and slots for the straps (see photos), the plastic was backed with a rubberised material to help the assembly grip to my jacket. The strap around the neck was from an old camera case and there is also a lower Velcro (hook & loop) strap to secure it around my chest. The DR32 is powered by a 5volt 700mA 3400mAh lithium Ion power pack that I already owned which is good to power the unit for several hours, similar (better) ones are available here http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/330897517559 or here http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/161026473760, obviously the powerpack is stored in an internal chest pocket. The microphone on the front of the DR32 is not exposed to the outside wind roar as I didn't create a hole in the camera case for it but it still picks up sound okay. The camera case I used is similar to this one .. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Hama-Arezzo-30G-Compact-Camera-Case-/321004576933 . I'll try and post some video footage sometime soon.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/1mbo6u36yhfyt ... 164622.jpg

https://www.dropbox.com/s/6dlf0shqpiwqc ... 164649.jpg

https://www.dropbox.com/s/egttkhg454jbo ... 163953.jpg
 
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drh

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Mobius, SJ 1000, 808#16,
Thanks for sharing! This is what I want to do with dr32 for my bike as well! Looking forward to see some videos. I am not yet owning dr32 as I wasn't lucky to get it for 99$ but I am still thinking that for using it as an actiom cam it would be nice if the video screen could be turned off. (as far as I know it can't be done?).
 

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drh said:
if the video screen could be turned off. (as far as I know it can't be done?).
It has auto-off after 1 minute option, although it's also possible to turn it on-off from a button.
 

drh

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Mobius, SJ 1000, 808#16,
Mikk36 said:
drh said:
if the video screen could be turned off. (as far as I know it can't be done?).
It has auto-off after 1 minute option, although it's also possible to turn it on-off from a button.
Yes, thank you. I downloaded the user manual to see the operating modes. But still missing the test video footage with body mounting.
 
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Northernlanes

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diy chest mount test footage available here for viewing ...

http://youtu.be/lGmhjEMX3s0

I am pleased with the quality of the footage, especially the lack of shake which is difficult for motorcycle mounted cameras, my biggest issue is the screen being in the way but my chest mount cannot feasibly be any higher, a chest mount probably wouldn't suit a sports bike where you would be in a more prone position but would suit a 'naked' style bike like mine, particularly one without a screen (and without a gps mount in the way, unlike mine)

I have also made a mount for my DR32 to fit behind the screen, pics and test footage to follow
 
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Mikk36

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For those not that familiar with english (got even me confused for a moment): he's talking about the windscreen of the bike, not the screen of the camera.
 
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Northernlanes

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As part of my continuing attempt to use my DR32 as an action cam on my motorcycle I have tried the following..
I attached the standard self adhesive mount that came with my DR32 to the underside of my fairings (wind)screen, the separate power supply was velcro'd (hook & loop) to the bikes dash, this I tested and the resultant footage was very shaky, the screen has a lot of flex in it and combined with bumpy country roads and my rather vibey V-twin didn't help. I then used some machined aluminium poles to make some diy stabilising/bracing rods that attached to solid parts of the bike (as shown in the photos), this helped but did not fully overcome the shakiness in the video footage (see clip linked below).
The pro's and cons are ..

Pros:
reasonable stabilisation
weather proofing
less wind noise

Cons:
video is shot through a plastic screen causing a darker view and slight distortion
still shaky video to a certain extent

https://www.dropbox.com/s/sje1ev4tltwuqf1/DSC00915.JPG

https://www.dropbox.com/s/1mik8u889ljbrgl/DSC00916.JPG

http://youtu.be/ReNjOq5GuZY
 
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drh

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Mobius, SJ 1000, 808#16,
Thanks for test footage. In my opinion the best place for mounting a camera on a two wheeler is (in,on,at) helmet. You get the view of the driver i.e. you film where you look and zero vibrations. But you need a power source for dr 32 so i am not sure mounting on helmet is the case here.
 
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Northernlanes

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Yeah the DR32 is the wrong shape for helmet mounting, maybe the Proview that Techmoan tested recently (http://www.techmoan.com/blog/2013/5/3/p ... eview.html ) would have been more suitable, the chest mount worked well though I'd liked to have seen more road, the fairing/screen method would have been better if the windscreen wasn't tinted and also wasn't causing a bit of distortion. I'm working on another idea based on a modded mini tripod ... far too much time on my hands Lol
 
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Mikk36

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That mount on the top of the windscreen seems rather good placement for it although I think you need to address the horizontal vibrations somehow. Being only attached from the top with that small plastic attachment doesn't sound firm enough for the vibrations that it will have to endure. I would try to fix the bottom of the camera too to those two beams you've attached to the windscreen.
 

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The noise level is quite high in your first clip, Northern. Have you updated the firmware? One thing you might try is to modify a microphone shock mount (which you can pick up for cheap at a music store). It would be a bit of effort, but it looks like you've already invested time. My own preliminary experience so far trying to use the DR32 as a walkabout camera is that it is inadequate due to 1) lack of image stabilization and 2) shearing artifacts. This camera will never be a substitute for a GoPro.

By the way, I misspoke in the main DR32 thread; My unit definitely suffers from the color comets problem. Basically it happens any time you have a strong, solid color in the image such as signs and signals. I see it as well in your sample. Just look at the red street signs. If I were to pretend to know what I'm talking about, I would say that the camera may not be coding P frames correctly. Just from examining the latest firmware using a hex editor, I can also see that the raw footage is being passed through a function RGB_DENOISE_EN which might be contributing to the problem.
 
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Northernlanes

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Mikk36 said:
That mount on the top of the windscreen seems rather good placement for it although I think you need to address the horizontal vibrations somehow. Being only attached from the top with that small plastic attachment doesn't sound firm enough for the vibrations that it will have to endure. I would try to fix the bottom of the camera too to those two beams you've attached to the windscreen.
I have also thought this, the design of the DR32's tripod bush is not too solid no matter how tight it is tightened, I am also thinking of a method to stop the slight movement at the bottom of the camera without things getting too messy.
 
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Northernlanes

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laalaa99stl said:
The noise level is quite high in your first clip, Northern. Have you updated the firmware? One thing you might try is to modify a microphone shock mount (which you can pick up for cheap at a music store). It would be a bit of effort, but it looks like you've already invested time. My own preliminary experience so far trying to use the DR32 as a walkabout camera is that it is inadequate due to 1) lack of image stabilization and 2) shearing artifacts. This camera will never be a substitute for a GoPro.

By the way, I misspoke in the main DR32 thread; My unit definitely suffers from the color comets problem. Basically it happens any time you have a strong, solid color in the image such as signs and signals. I see it as well in your sample. Just look at the red street signs. If I were to pretend to know what I'm talking about, I would say that the camera may not be coding P frames correctly. Just from examining the latest firmware using a hex editor, I can also see that the raw footage is being passed through a function RGB_DENOISE_EN which might be contributing to the problem.
no it will never be as good as a GoPro but for £66 ($99) its not bad, I didn't consider the sound too bad on the clips bearing in mind it is exposed to wind-roar in the first clip (the leatherette case must let some of the wind roar through), and for my use it is acceptable. I think my unit must have come with the newer firmware pre installed as the sound in the car is very good. Strong colours, particularly reds, do show quite a bit of colour bleed unfortunately, but for the price I can live with it.

I wonder if Hetai are planning to update the firmware again to maybe counter the colour bleed, hopefully stop the random unit lockups (its happened twice to me in four outings) and maybe make the unit have some sort of digital stabilisation ?
 
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Northernlanes

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Having purchased a bicycle handle bar mount here .. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/181117530399 , I shot some video test footage using my DR32 as an action cam on my mountain bike, I also shot some using my do-it-yourself chest mount I had previously made.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/mhcxxkhnga37n ... 144540.jpg

https://www.dropbox.com/s/myt9icdacmqk6 ... 144550.jpg

The first 3 clips are the handlebar mount, the last 3 are the chest mount .. and don't worry the weird transition in between the two sets of clips is just my video editing software :-D

My main criteria is to find the best method of getting a steady shot, both methods are acceptable to me, some are steadier whereas others have a better point of view, so a combination of both can be used, the handle bar mount is quite solid and works better on a mountain bike than on a motorbike because the engine vibration spoils it.

I have also modified my motorbike windscreen mount to have a bracing spar to steady the bottom of the DR32, its now seems very solid but I need to conduct a video test next which I will upload soon.

http://youtu.be/sZsPvOiYD6Y
 
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I have improved my motorcycle fairing/windscreen mount design (see earlier post) to make it steadier, as suggested by Mikk36 I have added a bracing bar to counter the vibration of the DR32 (see photo)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/w306i72a400vy ... 165645.jpg

This has mostly sorted the vibration problem, I have uploaded a video montage of a recent ride out, bear in mind the DR32 is mounted behind a tinted, curved perspex windscreen, and the clips have been converted 3 times, once by Handbrake video converter to use in my video editing software, again by the video editor and finally by You Tube themselves, overall I'd suggest a loss of 15% video quality. All in I'm quite pleased with the results.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT4VHeA6 ... e=youtu.be
 
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Mikk36

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Northernlanes said:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT4VHeA6Bgk&feature=youtu.be
It would seem that you have increased the brightness quite a bit. Have you tried turning it back down to see how it looks while it's a bit darker? To me it seems too bright in many places.
 
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Northernlanes

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I always use ev=+1, +2 is too bright and washed out, I prefer +1 particularly through motorbikes tinted visor. ev=0 was a little dark for me even when using in the car, personal preference I suppose, but it looks okay on my monitor
 
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Northernlanes

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Mikk36 I agree the sky is washed out at times but I think that is a limitation of the DR32 and probably many other video cameras/dash cams, more importantl for me is the exposure of the rest of the scene, I deliberately aimed the DR32 downlands so the camera would expose more for the ground, it was a fairly bright day. I would prefer more EV settings, ie +/- 0.5ev and 1.5ev
 

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Northernlanes said:
Mikk36 I agree the sky is washed out at times but I think that is a limitation of the DR32 and probably many other video cameras/dash cams, more importantl for me is the exposure of the rest of the scene, I deliberately aimed the DR32 downlands so the camera would expose more for the ground, it was a fairly bright day. I would prefer more EV settings, ie +/- 0.5ev and 1.5ev
I didn't look at the sky, but rather the dark places when you drove into the shade. With your higher EV setting it seemed to make them look rather bad.
But ultimately the choice is up to you, I'm just expressing my opinion here.
 

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