Parking Mode

Gabolinche

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#1
When I was deciding which dash cam to buy next after having tried the DVR-207GS for a couple of months, one of my priorities was a good parking mode. Apparently that's a feature still difficult to find in today's dash cams so I bought the Panorama II for other reasons, but I still use it for parking mode. I'll try to be very specific about how you can use it in parking mode to make life easier for someone else wondering the same thing.

Parking mode requires hard-wiring

First of all, if you want your camera recording while parked, you need to hard wire it to an always-on power source. Most cigarette outlets in cars only have power when the car is on so you might need to add a female cigarette socket adapter with an add-a-circuit in your fuse box. This thread might be useful for a bit more detail about hard wiring.

Once you have your cigarette outlet connected to an always-on source, connect the camera's 12V charger and run the cables anywhere you want. Again, this thread is useful for anyone looking for more details. To my surprise, the included 12V charger comes with a handy, big, red on/off button. The top red part you can see in the image is the actual button:

Charger.JPG

What I did was open the conveniently-located fuse box in the driver's kick panel of my car (marked with a red square in the picture):

KickPanel.jpg

And there I installed everything: add-a-circuit, female cigarette outlet, and Panorama's 12V charger. This is a picture of the red square area zoomed-in and with the plastic cover off:

FuseBox.jpg

I don't have a battery discharge prevention thingy yet, so if I need to leave my car for a long period of time (for example, parked at the airport for a week) I can always just quickly access the fuse box and push the big, illuminated, red button to cut power to the camera and prevent it from sucking all the juice from the car's battery over a long period of time. I know, I know, the best setups are set-and-forget but this is pretty nice when you don't (yet) have a battery discharge prevention device.


Camera set up for parking mode

Once you have your camera installed and connected to an always-on power source you need to remember it will not turn on and off with your car, so it requires another way to know when to start and stop recording. The Panorama II comes with good-enough motion detection so if you want to use it for parking mode, enabling motion detection is a good idea. Of course, cycle recording is also a good idea since you will be recording more than your regular commute.

I guess in an optimal parking mode the g-sensor would also trigger a recording start, but with regular driving the g-sensor in the Panorama II is too sensitive even at its lowest setting. I had to turn it off since it's constantly write-protecting useless segments and with cycle recording that's not a good idea. Up until now, I still don't know of a good way to use the g-sensor to also trigger a recording start while parked in the Panorama II.


Actual behavior

So, with a hard-wired always-on camera with motion detection and cycle recording activated, I still had a lot of questions about what to expect. Here's the result:
  • The camera activates and starts recording very quickly (probably around 1 second) after detecting motion, which is pretty good for most scenarios where someone could've bumped or scratched the front of your car while parked. (I remember reading somewhere that Niko mentioned the Panorama II had the ability to record and save 5 seconds before motion is detected but I can't seem to find that post or anything in the settings. Maybe Niko can clarify further.)
  • UPDATE: Since the release of firmware v1.11.13 in December 2013 the Panorama II starts recording 5 seconds before motion is detected. I believe this is achieved through buffering. The camera is actively buffering the live video feed and, once motion is detected, it saves the video to the memory card including the 5 seconds before motion was detected.
  • The camera stops recording about 40 seconds after the last motion detected, independently of the clip size you select in the menu. So, even if you have selected the option of 5-minute clips, the camera will still stop recording after 40 seconds of lack of motion. In other words, if there's movement in the field of view the camera will start and continue recording. Once movement stops, the camera keeps recording for about 40 seconds and then stops. This is very good since I didn't want a bunch of 5-minute clips filling up the memory every time a small movement was detected.
  • Sensitivity of motion detection is actually pretty well balanced. When parked right in front of my office building, the camera is activated by people walking or passing by at about 20 meters or closer. People moving around farther than 20 meters don't seem to activate it. Cars are bigger, so they activate motion detection at roughly 40 or 50 meters.
  • When parked at home inside a garage with a narrow window, movement outside the window doesn't seem to activate the camera, which I was afraid it would. The street outside that window is busy 24/7 so my camera would be recording all the time if it was too sensitive. Changes in light do seem to activate it, for example, when I switch the garage light on or off it triggers a recording start.
  • I keep motion detection turned on the whole time (driving or parked) since I don't want to be messing with menu options every time I get in and out of the car. Having motion detection on while driving has worked flawlessly. My Panorama II has not missed any event and it doesn't produce gaps between the 5-minute clips of a continued driving session. It starts recording when it sees me walking up to the car and it stops recording until it sees me walking away and no motion left.


Memory concerns

One final concern I had was regarding the limited space available in a 32GB memory card. If always-on parking mode with motion detection wasn't efficient enough, it might end up filling the card with useless video in less than a day. That would defeat the whole purpose of having the dash cam storing video for possible future use.

As mentioned, my previous DVR-207GS was no good for parking mode because of its poor motion detection. I had that camera connected to a switched power source. With 32 GB it saved about 1 week of driving for me. Always consider this is variable since it depends on your camera's settings (bitrate, video size, video quality, FPS, etc.) and on your average daily usage.

Now, with my always-on Panorama II at its highest possible settings (1080p 30FPS video at about 12Mbps), I get the following behavior:
  • While I'm parked outside my office during the morning it records about 12 clips, most of them 44 seconds long (63MB), totalling about 900MB of data. These are common activations due to people walking past my car or cars parking right in front of it. Same behavior during the afternoon when I return from lunch.
  • At night, I generally park inside my garage from around 21:00 to 08:30 the next day. This produces about 6 clips, most of them also 44 seconds long, totalling a bit under 400 MB. Most of the clips are triggered by the turning on and off of lights inside the house or in the actual garage.
  • My regular commute to and from work is about 20 minutes long, which roughly produces 4 clips using up a total of about 1.5GB.

Thus, using around 8 or 9 GB per day, my 32GB card generally holds anywhere between 3.5 to 4 days of history. Knowing that the last 3 days of history are safely stored in my memory card gives me enough peace of mind to just set it and forget it (until something important comes up and I decide to take the SDHC card and browse through it in my computer).

Hope this helps anyone still trying to decide whether to get one of these dash cams... :cool:
 
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niko

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#2
Nice parking mode review. I must say sensitivity on this dash camera is truly MOST sensitive I'v experienced.
Regarding "5 sec. thing", - this was mentioned in v1.09.03 BETA firmware ( check website / firmware download ):

Direct Google translation:

Features and Updates Firmware v1.09.03
- Motion (motion) detection recording 5 seconds before the record store is detected, the motion detection sensitivity of 10% growth, memory information, updates, and other fine-tuning


Probably they still working on this "5 sec" feature, because it's a Beta version and not yet available for public download.

Other than that with present official firmware 1sec from motion detection to recording is lightning fast. Non of other dash cams known to me can do that.

P.S. , - small typo: 12Kbps >>> 12Mbps.
 

Roadcam HD

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#3
Thanks you for your great review of Parking Mode. What is the maximum pre-event record time available on any unit?
 

jokiin

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#4
Features and Updates Firmware v1.09.03
- Motion (motion) detection recording 5 seconds before the record store is detected, the motion detection sensitivity of 10% growth, memory information, updates, and other fine-tuning


Probably they still working on this "5 sec" feature, because it's a Beta version and not yet available for public download.

Other than that with present official firmware 1sec from motion detection to recording is lightning fast. Non of other dash cams known to me can do that.
they would have to constantly buffer what's happening and dump if no event, I guess there's advantage in offering the pre event activity but there must be a lot of buffering in memory going on, not sure what the long term effect of that might be on flash memory, price you pay for the functionality perhaps

have seen other cams that go from motion detect to record quickly like this, depends on the implementation I guess, the hardware is capable, very much dependent on firmware as to how well it works on any camera
 
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Gabolinche

Gabolinche

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#5
P.S. , - small typo: 12Kbps >>> 12Mbps.
You, sir, are correct. Thanks for catching that. Original post has been corrected...

Let's wait and see what firmware updates achieve for this camera's parking mode. I'll probably stick with this camera for a while now before I get jokiin's GT2S once it's available. Then the PanoramaII will move to the wife's car (if, and only if, I can get her approval).
 

niko

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#7
So is this truly the first fully functional 1080P camera with Great Day/Night recordings AND True automatic "parking mode" set it and forget it DVR functions? It seems to be the #1 Best All Around rated DashCam as of today. http://dashcamtalk.com/dash-cam-comparison/
There are few other premium class dash cams which has good night vision recording as Pano2 but non ot them I tested has as sensitive motion detection as Pano2. Some buyers "complained" it maybe too sensitive ? :)
Unfort it does not have auto-parking / motion det mode as Albatross2, but I tested drivinf with motion detection ON and it does as good job as with normal driving mod. There are only few dash cams with auto-parking / motion det mode that has good night recording.
 

niko

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#9
Automatic Parking-Mode is where things really need to be. (a true set it and forget it DVR appliance in every situation)
Yes, on all of dash cams are some things that are "really need to be" but there are no ideal product in any category. Take tv, car, mobile phones, etc. At least for Pano2 leaving it in constant motion det rec mode it works well on daily driving and parking. I can call it in some way "set and forget", it does the job.
 

Street Guardian USA

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#11
I see, so you just use Motion Detection enabled 24/7. It's so sensitive that it's pretty much recording the whole time once you're driving around? (unlike others that cut off)

What battery discharge devices are people recording to use with the Powerucc/ii?
http://dashcamtalk.com/battery-discharge-prevention/
Hopefully this will be built into 2014 DashCam products as well. (I think Jokiin is doing it)
 

niko

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#12
I see, so you just use Motion Detection enabled 24/7. It's so sensitive that it's pretty much recording the whole time once you're driving around? (unlike others that cut off)

What battery discharge devices are people recording to use with the Powerucc/ii?
http://dashcamtalk.com/battery-discharge-prevention/
Hopefully this will be built into 2014 DashCam products as well. (I think Jokiin is doing it)
Yes, can drive around and use 24 / 7 motion det on. It stops recording after last motion detected in 30 or 60 sec, dont remember exactly but it very rare when on daily bases driving it stops because there is always motion around, even on traffic lights and sensitivity is very high.
I had many battery cut off devices. From 45usd to 15usd. They all work same way. Dont see difference of overpaying for branded ( maybe in the long run ? ).
 

niko

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#13
AFAIK, kilo is smaller than Mega. So, it's exactly the opposite: 12 kbps<<<12 Mbps. :)
Thats what I wrote: fixing my typo of Kbps to Mbps. The arrows where just pointing into my fixed words and didnt mean mathematical value. I do know mathematics signs ;)
 
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#14
What battery discharge devices are people recording to use with the Powerucc/ii?
FWiW, the rear powerpoint in my Mazda CX-5 stays live when the ignition is off. So for the last 2 weeks, I've had TWO cam devices enabled: The Powerucc Panorama2 facing forward, and a GoPro Hero2 shooting rearward. The Panorama2 goes into park mode w/ motion sensing, BUT the rear-facing GoPro keeps running all night long, recycling over the oldest 1GB file.

I've gone 3 days between starts with this setup running. The Mazda is new this year so its battery is fresh, and we haven't had many freezing nights yet. But I haven't had trouble starting.

This is testing on my part, and because I have a good set of jumper cables handy if necessary. The point is, these cameras don't suck as much juice as people might think ... if your battery dies it might have been on the verge anyways.
 

Gurkha9

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#17
An alternate method is using a 2A trickle charger for the car's battery every now and then. These can also be permanently installed with minimal hassle.
Of course this doesn't help if you don't have an AC source, but for the daily home/work scenario it would be fine.
Nice review Gabolinche, thanks for sharing.
 

jokiin

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#18
Interesting. I don't want to risk a dead battery on my tiny smart car though.
I always figured they'd have a big key in the boot so you could wind them back up in case of emergencies :D

Actually I shouldn't joke, around here even super heroes drive Smart cars

batman.JPG
 

jokiin

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#20
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