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In-car VideoSo you've spent your well earned money on track time, so why not video the occasion? Most tracks allow cameras and video cameras so long as they are suitably mounted and don't interfere with the driver. The driver or passenger are not usually allowed to hold the camcorder in case of an accident so it must be rgidly mounted to the car. Analogue recorders work well and tend to use less power than thier digital equivalents but the best quality comes with digital cameras, at a price.
I have my own solution in my Fury R1 which uses a bullet camera and a solid state recording device. There are now some very small and compact devices available for less than £80 from the likes of Oregon Scientific.
Bullet CamerasAn additional camera to plug into your camcorder. Has the advantage that it is small, lightweight and can be mounted pretty much anywhere (e.g. wing mirror) to give a better racing perspective. Also less expensive and less likely to result in stone damage to your camera. Often available in waterproof casings. Before you buy one, make sure you camera has a analogue input to support an external camera. You really want one that is 480 lines or better. They can be picked up quite cheaply now on eBay. Other suppliers:
There are some excellent videos taken using a bullet camera on this Norwegian biking website. Most are laps of the Nürburgring and are quite big files.
Clamp MountsThese offer the most rigid fixing and can be used to clamp the camera to the roll bar cover or roll cage (if fitted). A rigid fixing is a must. You don't want these things flying around the car at speed.
Suction MountsThese allow your camera to be safely stuck to glass or bodywork. To be pefectly honest I wouldn't trust them and some trackday organisers don't allow them.
Power SuppliesMost camcorders eat batteries. The cheapest approach is to use a power adaptor the plugs into the cigarette lighter socket. These tend to be very expensive from the OEM suppliers and a quality regulator capable of supplying the required voltage and current can be built for about £5. You can also buy leads to acheive the same effect from specialist dealers:
The cigarette socket is prone to bumps and shakes, so a direct battery connection via a professional locking plug/socket combination (e.g. XLR connectors) is a better bet. Don't forget to put a fuse in-line close to the battery if you do this. If you put a socket in a suitable location (front bulkhead in mk I, rear bulkhead in mk II) you can also use it to connect a battery conditioner to the car (if you leave your car unused for any length of time). Make sure the in-line fuse can handle both applications.
If you are handy with a soldering iron, the following is the cheapest and best solution, assuming your camcorder has a power supply that pretends to be a battery pack. Take the existing mains power adaptor for your camcorder and cut the wires half-way along to seperate the battery adaptor from it. Add a suitable socket to the mains PSU end and a matching plug to the battery adaptor end so that you can plug them back together again. Obviously you have to wire the plug and socket up correctly. Now build a suitable regulator that takes the cars 12V supply as its input and connect the output to another similar socket. You can now plug the battery adapter into the mains PSU or your own in-car PSU as and when required.
One solution is to use a multiple batteries and a battery charger. The Uniross VC100648 will charge most batteries (3.6V and 7.2V) from a mains supply or a car 12V cigarette socket. It can be bought from Maplin for about £30
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Copyright © Rob Collingridge 2009 - Last updated 22 Nov 2010