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September 3, 2006

In-Car Camera 2.0

Just finished putting together some pieces for my "2.0" version in-car setup.

For my previous trackday at Thunderhill last weekend, I built a camera mount for the roof to get a good view of the car's line on the track. In-car footage doesn't let you really assess how close to curbs you're getting, but putting the camera on the roof does.
<br><a href="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060814-roof_mount_2.0/?CRW_1997.jpg"><IMG src="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060814-roof_mount_2.0/thumbs/CRW_1997.jpg"></a>

Click this picture to watch a video: <br><a href="http://www.thenobot.org/video/watch.php?20060827-thill.mov"><img src="http://www.thenobot.org/video/video.thenobot.org/20060827-thill.mov.jpg"></a>

One thing I miss with the roof cam is the ability to see what's going on inside the car with the steering wheel, gauges, knees, and head. Short of getting a Picture-in-picture box, I decided to put the camera back inside the car. <br><a href="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060903-car_cam/?CRW_2262.jpg"><img src="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060903-car_cam/thumbs/CRW_2262.jpg"></a>

With the lipstick camera, I have to keep the camcorder somewhere in the car other than my usual mount. With the roof-cam, I had it stuffed in the glove box, but I don't really like the safety aspect of the weak glove box latch.

I had the idea last night to use the bolts that hold the seat down to attach a bracket. The bracket would then use the tripod mount on the camcorder to hold it close to the floor. <br><a href="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060903-car_cam/?CRW_2259.jpg"><img src="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060903-car_cam/thumbs/CRW_2259.jpg"></a>

Another problem with in-car footage is that the camera doesn't know to expose for the car interior, thus washing out the bright exterior; or vice-versa. I saw that a couple fellow trackjunkies had attached sunglasses material to their cameras to shade the top half (where the windshield is in the image), to balance the image intensity. I was talking with my wife about this, and she suggested using window tint on the clear glass lens protector.
<br><a href="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060903-car_cam/?CRW_2268.jpg"><img src="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060903-car_cam/thumbs/CRW_2268.jpg"></a>

I made two versions of this, one with a single layer of tint, one with two layers. In my limited tests, the single layer seems to work well. I haven't tried the double layer yet. <br><a href="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060903-car_cam/?nofilter.jpg"><img src="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060903-car_cam/thumbs/nofilter.jpg" height=80></a> <a href="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060903-car_cam/?filter1.jpg"><img src="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060903-car_cam/thumbs/filter1.jpg" height=80></a>

Here is a video from inside the car at Thunderhill Raceway:<br> <a href='http://www.thenobot.org/video/watch.php?20060913-thill.mov'><img src='http://www.thenobot.org/video/video.thenobot.org/20060913-thill.mov.jpg'></a>

More photos and descriptions of the setup are <a href="http://www.thenobot.org/pictures/20060903-car_cam/">here</a>.

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