Continuous recordings
November 16, 2008 10:40 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for standalone devices to continuously record video and/or audio. I would like to record while biking and when the memory is full automatic overwrite should occur. I.e. I always want to have the last X minutes of the recording ready in case something interesting happens. Anybody know of an affordable solution for this?
posted by Brennus to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are three good options for standalone helmet/bike video cameras:

GoPro Helmet Hero
Oregon Scientific ATC-2000

I've tried all three. None have automatic overwriting, but it's pretty easy to manage the clips in the field on the GoPro or ATC-2000. I can't think of any camera that does an automatic overwrite; most people would consider that to be a serious bug.

The least expensive ($120) and most rugged is the ATC-2000, but it also has the lowest video quality of the three. There's a Tony Hawk helmet cam that's much less expensive, but the video quality is poor and I wouldn't recommend it if you ever intend to use the video for anything other than forensic purposes.

Vholdr is the easiest to use. It's essentially just one huge slider button on top of the camera; starts a new clip whenever you activate the switch. It's also got really nice video quality. It's pretty pricey ($330), but nowhere near the upper range for helmet-mounted cameras (most of which use cables to connect to a separate recorder).

The GoPro Helmet Hero has the best mounting options. It supports mounting on the bike handlebars, on your helmet, on your wrist, or directly to your head (via a strap). ATC-2000 supports helmet or handlebars, with mediocre mounts. Vholdr is helmet-only.
posted by Jeff Howard at 11:58 AM on November 16, 2008

Also, battery life would probably prevent automatic overwriting from being useful, even if it were an optional setting.

None of the cameras I mentioned support continuous recording for more than a couple hours on a single charge (less in cold weather). The largest memory card you can use is a 2GB microSD card for Vholdr, and that captures about an hour and 40 minutes of video.

Even if you could loop through that 1:40 and rewrite, it'd only buy you an extra 20 minutes before the power gave out. There's no "set it and forget it" where you record all day long. You either swap the memory card or swap the batteries. ATC-2000 and GoPro use replaceable batteries (AA and AAA, respectively) while the Vholdr has a rechargeable battery.
posted by Jeff Howard at 12:18 PM on November 16, 2008

I wouldn't recommend the Tony Hawk helmet cam Jeff mentioned. My brother got it because it was just around $10 so he could play around with it during paintball and such. It only records in 15 minute segments so it won't be continuous. So unless you know something interesting was going to happen while biking, it wouldn't be of any use to it. You might want to look into it if you just want to play around with it, but it wasn't too helpful for my brother.
posted by Deflagro at 2:12 PM on November 16, 2008

If you can tolerate very short record times there are crash recorders available which record continuously and when activated, save the 15 seconds before and the 15 seconds after activation.

The other option is a hand-held camera with an 'AV in' option and you change or rewind the tape every 90 minutes or so. Not so cool and automatic, but probably cheaper and with a longer record time. Obviously though, if the camera and tape don't survive the crash, your crash video setup is kinda useless.
posted by Mike1024 at 2:23 PM on November 16, 2008

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