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Affixing a video camera to your trike


Recording video while riding a trike and having it turn out OK depends a lot on the camera's placement. The camera position determines the area that is recorded and the action's point of view. The other important aspect of recording is what is actually being recorded.

For my first test videos, I had the camera placed on the right side of my helmet with some velcro. I had a digital recording device in my pannier. This immediately presented a couple drawbacks. First, my head was now tethered to the trike, which means I have to take the helmet off before I could get off the trike. Not doing this hurts. Second, because the recorder is in the bags, once I'm rolling I can't see what's being recorded or if the recorder is even still on. Despite these limitations I did make some recordings and the video did turn out. My head acts like a big shock absorber for the camera making the image pretty steady. The bad news is that, apparently, I move my head side to side quite often. Good for seeing the sights, but quite dizzying on video. This was combined with a constant view of the side of my helmet on the left of the screen. This could probably be resolved by moving the camera to the top of the helmet.

The main thing I learned from the helmet-mounted-camera test is that unless I'm riding among other riders, the video looks pretty boring. Mounting the camera to the front of the trike would be an ideal position because then I could rotate the camera to point in different directions including at myself to break up the monotony. So, with a handlebar mount from a bike headlight and some hardware from home depot I came up with the contraption to the left. The Viosport camera that I use has threads on them, so I screwed a bolt right into it and used a wingnut to lock against it. Having the camera placed in the front of the trike also meant I needed to mount the recorder in the front. I liked this idea because I could mount the unit so I could see the video live from the camera. So, I built a cradle for the recorder out of some Aluminum and a bike bottle holder. This allowed me to mount it to the stock accessory holder. It was time for more testing.

The position of the camera in the front is much better. I can turn the camera while rolling and aim it at whatever I want. I quickly discovered that my mount needed some work. Every time I would rotate the camera one of the wingnuts would loosen. That meant I was constantly adjusting and then tightening. The next thing I discovered was that the vibrations of the road were too much for the AV500 recorder's hard drive. I was able to fix this by covering the bottom of my aluminum cradle with Velcro and about 25% of that amount of Velcro on the AV500's battery. The unit is now held secure but has enough dampening from the Velcro to prevent damaged video files. With that taken care of I got some good video, but the vibration made it almost unwatchable. Running the video through SteadyHand gets rid of most the vibration. SteadyHand is a software image stabilization program.

Even with SteadyHand, I thought I could get some better video if I minimized some of the vibration. My brother thought that an audio microphone shock mount might do the trick, so I remade the mount to include the AT897 shock mount and reworked my bolt arrangement to eliminate the loosening wingnuts. To lock the bolt on and still allow me to rotate the camera without loosening, I used nylon locknuts instead of the wingnuts. To keep tension on the handlebar mount I used two fender washers and two neoprene washers. With the whole assembly bolted up I put the camera in the shock mount. The results -- smoother but more shaky due to the camera being suspended in the mount.

My next step was to replace the AT897 mount with a basic mic clip. So far I think that's the best setup.

The final camera mount

Here is a picture of the latest and best-so-far camera mounting arrangement for the front of the trike. You can see the camera is mounted in a rubber microphone clip (MY100) which is attached to the support shaft. I also tightened up the accessory bar which is connected to the blue frame (derailer post) and that made a lot of difference. I run the camera's cable down the front of the frame and along the bottom and then connect it to the AV500 in front of the seat. The little length of cable between the camera and the coils seems to be enough to let the camera twist freely without getting tangled.

On this closeup picture you can see the bolt assembly better. The lock nuts work much better than the wingnuts did and the neoprene washers do a good job at keeping the whole assembly tight while still allowing it to twist. The basic mic clip seems to provide just the right amount of dampening without letting the camera bounce around too much.

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