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Using an action camera (aka gopro) to document a long trip, with limited power

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Using an action camera (aka gopro) to document a long trip, with limited power

Old 03-02-16, 12:53 PM
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Using an action camera (aka gopro) to document a long trip, with limited power

We plan a longish ride this Summer. I would like to have an action camera recording a short sequence (or even only one or a few stills) every hour.

What would be the most efficient way? I read somewhere that you can add a control board to a gopro that will turn it on, do whatever you want it to do and then turn it off such that the battery should last at least a full day. The downside being the close to 200$ that you must pay on top of the price of the camera itself.

As the market for action cams is exploding, maybe someone knows about a cost and energy effective solution?
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Old 03-02-16, 07:30 PM
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If the GoPro is similar to my JVC, the battery I have is only around 2000 mah. You can get a 10,000 mah power pack charger at Amazon that would recharge the camera battery around 5 times. If you are overnighting somewhere with power, you could recharge it all over night and recharge the camera 5 times during the day.

I don't know if the GoPro battery is replaceable. I can get 2 extra batteries for my JVC on Amazon for less than $20 I think.
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Old 03-02-16, 07:37 PM
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"Anker" has a huge line of portable battery packs: https://www.anker.com/products/taxon...ble%20Chargers
They sell direct on eBay as username "ankerdirect".
I have a 10,000mAh pack I use on my bike and motorcycle to extend the running time of a Replay XD 1080 Mini.

ETA: Here is a new review on battery packs: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/bes...battery-packs/

Last edited by Shimagnolo; 03-02-16 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 03-02-16, 10:25 PM
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Running an always on cam would mean an extreme waste of energy.

We expect to be camping most of the way. I do not want to constantly worry about recharging.

I would hope that a manufacturer will come up with an integrated solution for interval shots that gives the option to save power by turning the cam off between the shots (assuming longish intervals)
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Old 03-02-16, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Running an always on cam would mean an extreme waste of energy.

We expect to be camping most of the way. I do not want to constantly worry about recharging.

I would hope that a manufacturer will come up with an integrated solution for interval shots that gives the option to save power by turning the cam off between the shots (assuming longish intervals)
Are you asking for time-lapse capability?
Lots of cameras have that, e.g. both my Mobius and Replay XD have it.
But you can't turn the camera off and do that, for the obvious reason if the camera it off it won't be measuring the time to the next shot.

ETA GoPro time-lapse info: https://gopro.com/support/articles/h...me-lapse-video
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Old 03-02-16, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
But you can't turn the camera off and do that, for the obvious reason if the camera it off it won't be measuring the time to the next shot.
Take a look at this.

If there were an integrated solution, I'd consider it. I just don't see how I could manage burning through 10 000 mAh per day when I'd need 200 or so.
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Old 03-02-16, 10:57 PM
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Interesting;
So the external board is doing the timing.
It looks like "intervalometer" is the standard name.
Googling only turns them up for high-end cameras, and they typically only operate the shutter, not the power.
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Old 03-02-16, 11:40 PM
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Yup.

I assume that it is just a matter of time before some manufacturer integrates such a timer.

(I believe that time lapse refers to a fixed cam or subject, such as the usual blooming sequence, whereas interval would refer to shots taken at intervals)

(I may end up concluding that automated interval pictures is a lousy idea - many action cams have a quick shot feature where you press a button to turn on and shoot, press again to turn off. Upside is that you can choose when and what to capture. Downside is that you forget...)
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Old 03-03-16, 12:22 AM
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If you want an interval timer for stills in a camera with replaceable batteries, look for a good used Nikon J1 or later discontinued or used model. They're tough little cameras, with a larger 1-inch sensor than most action video/still cameras so the image quality is a little better, especially in low light. The Nikon 1 Series (J1 and later J-models, V1 and later V-models) all include an easy to program intervalometer. I've used it to make time lapse videos from a tripod mounted camera, but not from the bike while riding.

Pop in a fresh battery as needed and recharge them when you get to a location with electricity. Good cheap batteries are available from Wasabi and other aftermarket brands.

I'm not sure about the J1 or other J-series, but my Nikon V1 rear LCD can be disabled to extend battery life (although the built-in electronic viewfinder can't be fully disabled and draws some juice, but the J-series have no EVF).

The VR Nikkors with vibration reduction can help a little to ensure sharp photos while riding, but a good mount makes more difference. I've had better results with a homebrewed handlebar mount with nylon mini ball head and heavy duty Velcro as padding to isolate the camera from vibrations. A fast shutter speed will also help ensure sharp photos. Also, I've used my 10-30mm VR Nikkor and am concerned the constant road vibration will eventually damage the lens, so I'll probably replace it with a fixed focal length with fewer moving parts and a tighter focusing lens barrel.

Also, check the Olympus TG-series tough cameras, which also have replaceable batteries. These are shock resistant, all-weather rated, without vulnerable telescoping lens barrels, and I think some models feature built-in intervalometers. No idea about the video performance. A friend has an Olympus TG-model but we've never tried the video.
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Old 03-03-16, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
If you want an interval timer for stills in a camera with replaceable batteries, look for a good used Nikon J1 or later discontinued or used model. They're tough little cameras, with a larger 1-inch sensor than most action video/still cameras so the image quality is a little better, especially in low light. The Nikon 1 Series (J1 and later J-models, V1 and later V-models) all include an easy to program intervalometer.
Thanks for the tip. Looks like it could be it. Wondering about ruggedness - you think these things will survive months on the handlebars?
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Old 03-03-16, 01:12 PM
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Is the camera capable of operating while charging? Some gadgets are, some aren't.
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Old 03-03-16, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Thanks for the tip. Looks like it could be it. Wondering about ruggedness - you think these things will survive months on the handlebars?
I'm not sure about the J1 or later J-models. I've handled them several times and they felt sturdy despite the plasticky shell (and partially metal chassis). I wish now I'd bought the J1 when Nikon was blowing them out cheaply a couple of years ago, especially in odd colors and bundled with the 10mm f/2.8 Nikkor. That lens is the equivalent to a 28mm on a 35mm film camera or "full frame" dSLR. It's lightweight, with very few moving parts, and probably better suited to bicycle mounting than the zooms.

But I bought the heavier, mostly metal V1 instead after a photojournalist told me he'd used the Nikon V1's to cover the Syrian conflict because they were so rugged, much smaller, lighter and more discrete than his dSLRs.

The only bits I worry about with the V1 is the mechanical shutter. However the V1 also has an electronic shutter, and the J1 and other J-models have electronic shutters only (like most P&S digicams). The mechanical shutter is mostly useful for the higher flash synchronization speed and I don't use it often.

I'm more worried about long term use of the 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR zoom on the bike because of the vibration. Zoom lenses with telescoping barrels aren't designed for that much vibration which could eventually wear or break internal components or cause the optics to go out of alignment. I've used it a few times to test a homebrewed camera mount, but won't use it much more, although I might get a fixed focal length lens for the V1 to use on the bike.

If I were going to use a Nikon 1 System camera on the bike long term, I'd check KEH cameras and Amazon for a used or new-old-stock J1 or J2, get the 10mm f/2.8 fixed focal length lens, and some spare batteries. The intervalometer could be set as desired and easily compiled into a video with a simple freebie editor like Picasa.

I don't really have any need for an intervalometer on a bike mounted camera, though, and am considering something like the Ricoh Theta 360 degree video camera just for routine documentary purposes. It's small, lightweight, not critical in orientation because it records 360 degrees and any portion can be isolated as desired. But so far I'm not sure the first generation Theta resolution appears good enough to record license plates or useful info like street signs.
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Old 10-15-16, 02:13 PM
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I was reading on this thread and may I ask if what would be the best Battery that we can use that's chaging while riding? Most chargable battry wont last that long during a long ride.
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Old 10-15-16, 02:48 PM
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I don't charge my external USB battery while riding, but use it to supplement my video camera, cell phone or lights. I've been using a Jackery (6000 mAh) for a couple of months. It works well and doesn't cost much. If I had it to do again I'd get the larger 12000 mAh Jackery with dual USB ports so I could run/charge more than one device at a time. I didn't expect to be toting so many electronic doodads while riding, but now I do.

For a tour I'd probably get a solar recharger and mount it on the top of the rack or atop a rack trunk. Haven't tried one yet and can see there are many choices, all well under $100.
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Old 10-15-16, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
We plan a longish ride this Summer. I would like to have an action camera recording a short sequence (or even only one or a few stills) every hour.
GoPro Session basically does that. Fully powers down when not recording. It's good for roughly an hour of recording and nearly unlimited stand by (I routinely leave it powered off for weeks and it retains a charge).

To recharge, a simple USB charging pack is best. With maybe a small solar panel to charge the battery if you're not going to have occasional power access.
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Old 10-15-16, 03:47 PM
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I was looking on some online reviews about GoPro, seems a great Action Camera.

Last edited by tonton09; 10-16-16 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 10-15-16, 06:22 PM
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Which current solar panel would you chose?
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Old 10-16-16, 10:28 AM
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If you buy a USB power bank, don't go cheap. The cheap no names are almost always badly overrated and have crap batteries that will last a few months at best.

As someone above mentioned, Anker is very affordable and builds great stuff that delivers what it says and lasts.
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Old 10-16-16, 08:17 PM
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Just to add. You might want to consider checking this site: Camera Runner | Guides and Reviews of the Best Cameras
I got my Go Pro hero 4 now. Hope we have a long ride someday.
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Old 10-17-16, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite View Post
Which current solar panel would you chose?
I just bought a small 14W dual panel one. I imagine they're all similar.
https://www.amazon.com/Nekteck-Charg...2Bcharger&th=1

It's small enough to hang off a backpack or potentially mount on a pannier/rank if you're riding. I primarily got mine for emergency use. At this point, I've got a large number of USB devices, phones, lights, etc, so I wanted a way to keep them powered.

There's no point to going for massive wattage if you're charging a battery pack. They all output 5V via USB and most are limited to 2.1A/port. So 2.1A*5V=10.5W, the >20W panels all require using both USB ports to generate full power.
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Old 10-17-16, 08:48 PM
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I use an Anker portable battery that I keep charged off my dyno hub. This is a great setup. I charge it, and it keeps all of our electronics charged. My headlight is a Luxos U, so I have the USB port built right in. The downside for some people is the weight of the hub and the extra drag. Honestly, I thought the drag would be an issue, but it isn't. The additional weight is negligible when compared to the overall weight of the bike and the load. I go light, so I pick and choose my gear carefully, but I'm not a fanatical ultra light weight bike tourist. I think there is also something to be said about being fully self contained.
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Old 10-18-16, 06:41 PM
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Wonder what the total weight of a dynamo system generally runs? (dynamo, usb gear, lights). I know it varies. Probably a couple of pounds?
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Old 10-21-16, 08:02 AM
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Could mount the remote to the handle bar and use that to power on and off. Should be more than good to go for a whole day.

Otherwise connecting to power from either a large external battery or solar panel if you are out in the open with sunny skies. . Pretty sure the camera still works while plugged in.
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Old 10-21-16, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite View Post
Wonder what the total weight of a dynamo system generally runs? (dynamo, usb gear, lights). I know it varies. Probably a couple of pounds?
A dynamo hub weighs about 336 grams or 12 ounces more than a non-dynamo hub. Dynamo powered headlights weigh about the same as or a little less than battery-powered lights, and I believe the same is true of tail lights. Overall, it's fair to estimate the weight penalty is really just 12 ounces, which I doubt most riders can feel except when lifting the wheel.

The drag they produce is also pretty small. I can feel a vibration at 20 mph and higher, but I can't claim to feel the drag. Drag becomes a bigger fraction of the power required to move at higher speeds, but that's when I can afford it the most, since I'm riding downhill or with a tailwind, so to my legs and butt, the drag is negligible.
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Old 10-21-16, 08:52 PM
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Thanks noglider!
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