In 2005, I found the Panasonic SV-AV100 digital video camcorder mentioned on a camcorder web site. The AV100 uses a Secure Digital card instead of DV tapes, and records in several formats, including MPEG2, which is the same as a DVD. I bought one and mounted it in a small blue plastic box (made of Kydex) that I mounted on the right side of my helmet. I added a wide-angle lens to increase the viewing area. During the year, I collected lots of video and made some very good quality DVDs for my friends and others. The AV100 has turned out to be the best helmet camera that I've ever used, and I hope it lasts a good many years to come. Some other helmet cams that I've used over the years are shown below.
At the bottom of the page is some additional helmet cam info.
In 2004, I used the Sony HC20 digital video camcorder with a Sony wide angle lens. I mounted the camera on the left side of an open face helmet with balancing weights (KLX front sprockets) on the right side of the helmet. I used a remote control to start and stop recording. The remote had a small mirror taped to the back that I used to check the recording light on the front of the camera.
|Before the HC20, along about 1998-2000, I used a Sony PC-7 digital video camcorder mounted on the left side of an open face helmet and balancing weights on the right side of the helmet; three old KLX front sprockets.|
In 1991 and 1992, I used a JVC-007, which had a camera head about the size of a pack of cigarettes and a VCR box that mounted on my belt. That was a very good setup, with very little helmet weight. (No pictures available.)
The very first helmet cam I used, in 1990, was a Sony TR-5. I made a plastic frame which bolted to the helmet. It wrapped around the top, with a shelf on both sides of the helmet. The left shelf is where the TR-5 was mounted; the right shelf had two camera batteries in a box that were switchable. A cord connected the box to the TR-5. It was a little heavy, but it balanced well and worked ok.
|The battery box holds two batteries and has an external switch to select between the two. Not shown is the connecting cable from the battery box to the camcorder, which I usually taped to the back of the helmet. The battery box balances the frame; it weighs about the same as the TR-5.||
The frame is fastened to the helmet with three bolts; one on top and one by each ear. The helmet I used had the threaded bolt inserts on each side, and I added a through bolt to the top.
For when you want to remove the camcorder and battery box and just ride. Note padded interior.
General Helmet Cam Information
Helmet cameras can be either of two types:
1) The camera itself is mounted on a helmet or somewhere on the motorcycle. Pictures above show how I mounted some of the cameras I've used over the years. If you buy a digital camcorder, then the video quality will be better than DVD, and if you use the right software on your editing computer, you'll be able to make very high quality DVDs.
2) The camera lens unit is mounted on the helmet and is plugged into a camcorder which is carried in a waistpack/fannypack or fastened to your chest protector. This scheme adds very little weight to your helmet, and it protects the camcorder pretty well against damage from impact with trees and other trail hazards, as well as during a fall. The quality of video is limited by the lens system, the type of signal transmitted on the connecting wire, and the camcorder. Typically, the quality is VHS or better; but below DVD quality.
Here are some web sites that sell the remote lens setup.
This company has a complete line of lens units at three resolutions, plus a very rugged mounting system, and lots of accessories to cover your needs. You must supply your own camcorder; they provide a compatibility list.
This company has a 580 line resolution lens, plus GPS software that allows you to integrate video and mapping. You must supply your own camcorder; they provide a compatibility list.
This company has a 480 line resolution lens, plus a good assortment of accessories. You must supply your own camcorder; they provide a compatibility list.
This company has several lens units in 320 and 580 line resolution, plus a good assortment of accessories. You must supply your own camcorder; they provide a compatibility list.
This company has 580, 480, and 420 line resolution lenses, plus a good assortment of accessories. Accessories include packs for carrying your camcorder and two camcorder protection options. Their connector system is very compact and easy to set up. You must supply your own camcorder; they provide a compatibility list.
There are other web sites and vendors of remote lens systems; use Google to find them. They are similar to the companies mentioned above, and you might find one in your own area that would make it easier for you to decide what to buy.
More information about helmet cameras is on ThumperTalk.com in the "Off Topic Pictures & Video" forum.
Kydex comes in different colors and thicknesses. I use Kydex-T in Cadet Blue, .093 thickness for most applications but I have used thinner pieces with success also.
I paid about $160 for the most recent 4' x 8' sheet that I ordered from Steve at Regal Plastics in Littleton, CO, 800-777-7342. That's about $5 per square foot. The price included shipping. I charged it on my VISA.
They cut the 4' x 8' sheet into four pieces of 2' x 4' and packed them in a flat wood-framed cardboard box. It took about two weeks for it to arrive at my door via UPS.
More recently, I have been buying Kydex on eBay in 1' x 2' pieces. This size covers my needs now. I've found blue, black, white, and red in various thicknesses, but I usually order .093.
Here's some info about Kydex: <http://www.kydex.com/>
A pretty good net resource for Kydex is at: <http://www.boedeker.com/kydex-grades.htm>IMPORTANT NEWS: I have switched to using a heat gun instead of an open flame for heating and bending Kydex. I should have done this years ago, but I erroneously tried using my wife's hair dryer, and it didn't work. I borrowed a heat gun from a friend and that's all it took. I bought my own the next day and have been using it for the last two years. A recent Kydex question prompted me to make this change known.
Some tips on cutting and forming.
I mark the smooth side with a fine tip felt-tip pen. Sometimes I have to mark the rough side, but it doesn't mark as well. After working the piece, clean the marks off with a wet paper towel. Heating often erases the ink.
Allow for extra length at bends; 1/16 or so. Bends are never as sharp as you'd like. Perhaps a bending brake would help.
Plan for the rough side facing out and the smooth side in. Kydex doesn't scratch easily.
I cut with tin snips, and it's hard to get a straight line. I also use a very sharp blade in my carpenter's cutting tool. Score several times on the smooth side, then bend on the scored line. Kydex will break along the score, if it's deep enough.
I file the cut edges to get the white surface color to turn blue and to true the edges. I use a 12" medium file and a fine file. File along the cut to true the edges and across the grain to really cut away material. If you lightly heat cut edges, they get a round, finished look.
I pop rivet Kydex, and it works great. Aluminum rivets are ok; use steel rivets for pieces that will get rough treatment. I usually use 1/8" rivets of whatever length is appropriate. Metal washers are helpful to keep the end from pulling out. Kydex is a little weak at holes; the plastic deforms a bit.
I used to use a propane torch to heat Kydex. I would use a low setting on the gas flow to keep the flame tip short and hold the Kydex about 1-2" from the flame tip, a bit closer to really heat it fast. You can see the Kydex surface change as the heat front passes across. You can also heat it over a gas flame from your kitchen stove.
I also use a disposable cigarette lighter to heat very small areas and to minimize heating adjacent areas. This won't work for bigger areas because the lighter gets too hot to hold.
For several years now, I've been using a heat gun I bought on Amazon; see "IMPORTANT NEWS" below. This is much better than using open flames as it helps keep the Kydex from discoloring as it is heated. Probably safer, too. Meh. Ignore further references to torch and flames.... it's the same with the heat gun.
Heat Kydex until it gets flexible. Heat on both sides if possible. Try to heat along bend lines only to minimize distortion of adjacent areas. The longer you heat it, the more flexible it gets, right up until it scorches ;-)
You'll probably burn a few of the first pieces you heat, but you get the hang of it pretty quick. You have to get the plastic hot, through and through, and then it gets very flexible. I try to heat the bending seam part only, with my propane torch. That way, the rest of the piece retains it's shape. But when you want maximum flexibility, heat a larger area.
Form or bend the piece then hold it in position for about 30 seconds while it sets up. Use a wet paper towel to speed setup for tricky situations. Hold under cold water to set quickly.
For really form-fitting pieces, I heat thoroughly then form around or against the part I'm matching. Use gloves to prevent burns. Kydex holds the heat pretty good once it's really heated, but it will cool enough to hold its shape in 30 seconds or so.
If you accidentally burn the surface, you can scrub some of the burn off.
Reheating a bend or a formed piece will cause the Kydex to straighten out almost flat again.
Best Kydex advice: practice with a small 3x3" piece to see how quick it turns flexible and you'll discover how long it takes before it burns.
One problem with using Kydex as a protective cover over an underlying piece of metal such as over a clutch cover on a CRF250X is that dirt can get behind the Kydex and then rub the metal cover below it. This may lead to so much cosmetic damage that the metal cover would be ruined.
Also, the cover bolts that go through the Kydex edge get loose because the Kydex compresses as you tighten the bolt and the bolt never gets the right torque loading on the threads to make it stay put. Most of my successful Kydex mounting involves nylock nuts on bolts.
IMPORTANT NEWS: I have switched to using a heat gun instead of an open flame for heating and bending Kydex. I should have done this years ago, but I erroneously tried using my wife's hair dryer, and it didn't work. I borrowed a heat gun from a friend and that's all it took. I bought my own the next day and have been using it for the last two years. A recent Kydex question prompted me to make this change known.