Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

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Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby RW1 » Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:15 pm

Been busy over the last three weeks sorting out a decent but not costly Dash Cam. Finally decided 10 days ago to go with this one........

I had a good look round for a Dash-Cam over the last few weeks as I was getting fed-up with near-miss situations, red light runners and Astra chavs buzzing the Scirocco.

After looking at quite a lot from £25 upto £400, I came to the conclusion that the video quality did not improve once beyond £60ish, just more bells & whistle like GPS. So why buy a £220 Dash-Cam with GPS if the video quality was no better than a £60 one. Was it necessary for me - No!

Then I came across Techmoan, who has done some really practical hands-on reviews of various Dash Cams via YouTube. After consideration of my needs, ie. black-box recorder with no real daily maintenance to set up and bulky awkward size.... I decided upon this one, the SmartCam HD (not the VGA version).

- It runs continously (15min segment recordings or less, each end on end and then loops to the beginning when the micro-card is full)
- It could be switched on/off by the ignition.
- Video quality was good.
- Sound recording not too bad.
- Reasonably wide angle lens without too much distortion, 120 degrees.
- Good night time imaging.
- Compact but with mini viewing screen.

Techmoan does a very good review here and there are two to choose from. The HD version is best. In fact just under the YouTube screen you can download a daytime and nightime raw video files out of the SmartCam.



Daytime raw AVI video file out of the camera http://www.mediafire.com/?ddgir87v9iedfv3
Night time raw AVI video file of the camera http://www.mediafire.com/?s4r29acet2x9yb5
(Use the "Save target as" option on the right click of the mouse to download. Give time to react as the files are large 54Mb & 42Mb resppectively)

What I will say is that it comes with no micro-card. So you have to buy that separtely. It has to be a Class 10, any slower causes poor video, sound sync or missed frames when the video is stored. SO THIS MUST BE CLASS 10. Got the SmartCam here....

http://smartcamdirect.com/smartcam_camera.html

Scott sells them and he's very good in responding to queries so no worries buying off Ebay. Delivered the next day!

The 32Gb Class 10 Micro Sd Card I bought was this one.....

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005FY61EK/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00

It works very well with the SmartCam. Good video, seamless storing no noticeable loss when a segment completes and the camera starts the next.

The rate is 4Gb/1 hour recording. The 32Gb should give me about 7.5 to 8 hours historical recorded video blocked into segments of 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 10 or 15 minutes depending how the SmartCam is set-up. Bear in mind that when the micro-card is full, that SmartCam deleteds the oldest file first as it loops so that deletes 15 minutes if you have it set to 15 mins. So if retention is really critical, work with small segments of stored video file such as 5 minutes.

It comes with a screen mount as you have seen in the YouTube review. I didn't want that as sucker rings indicate a SatNav being used and that means little light fingers getting interested. So I decided in true Blue Peter fashion to make my own mount on top of the dash out of hard foam, draft excluder foam and a bit of none slip mat from Maplin.

DSCN9698.JPG

DSCN9705.JPG

The power wire will eventually be hidden next week when I complete the installation. I've flipped the mini-screen in the menu so it looks right if I want it flipped up to see in that position.

DSCN9699.JPG

It just pops into the foam frame and there is a mini USB connection to fit, pretty easy to do in that position.
It doesn't obscure the windscreen view, although the Windscreen mount supplied is pretty small. And no dangling wires when I've finished tracking it over to the fuse box on the end of the right side of the dash. (The 12volts socket in the centre console still has 8 volts when the ignition switches off, so the SmartCam can see that and gets upset. So having to make a fly-socket connection in the side dash fusebox area with a 12 volt ignition feed.)

DSCN9700.JPG

From the front through the windscreen, not much to see. I've left the two little LEDs off. Its position is no worse than being on the sucker mount it comes with, still see all in front over a 120 degree angle.

DSCN9701.JPG

Easy to disconnect and the SmartCam can be then popped into your top shirt pocket if removal dictates. Its no different in size and thickness to a mobile phone.

In practice, in that position on the dash is what I see when driving, so the 120 degree wide angle pretty much covers it. The hard foam mount is good enough to reduce dash vibration. I found in high lateral "g" situations such as going round a roundabout, the unit initial slid on the dash a little. So added the Maplin sticky anti-slip mat trimmed (Maplin code: A10KF, Bar Code: 5 026686 077605). That worked a treat.

Aiming is not an issue as the lens is so wide angle. If its pointing forward by eye, that will do but it is best to reduce as much as possible the visible sky in the picture frame otherwise the road & vehicles become under exposed (dark). You'll soon see when in use. I fitted some tape as Techmoan did on the underside to stop the camera part vibrating and to ensure it was point straight ahead, not skyward or into the bonnet.

The Smart Cam is also a stills camera. File size of 1.3Mb suggests with 4Mp - 5Mp definition with a lens zoom (Which also operates in the movie mode as well). The lens quality is not as good as a standard digital camera picture though.
The internal battery will give about 40 - 45 mins when I measured it.
It will play back on the miniscreen the video/stills files.

So all round VFM for me. I decided that if I get two years use out of it, video camera sensors will have moved on again and I'll consider moving on from there.

If you want better coverage, then this maybe worth looking at but it looks bulky and I've seen no video from it yet. I expect it to be the same quality as all the crop of 2011 Dash Cams like Smart Cam.
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/140730789116?ru=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%3A80%2Fsch%2Fi.html%3F_from%3DR40%26_npmv%3D3%26_trksid%3Dm570.l2736%26_nkw%3D140730789116%26_fvi%3D1&_rdc=1

C.
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Week 43 Build has happened on time! 22 Oct'09 Scirocco is at Check Point 5 in the factory
23 Oct'09 Now Complete on the dockside, 24 Oct'09 Sailed from Portugal, 27 Oct'09 In the UK,
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby ZephyR » Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:28 pm

What a brilliant review !
Looks like a god bit of kit at an affordable price.
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby Ryy » Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:28 pm

Red light runners? You're the local citizens policeman? lol.

Running when yours have turned to green from another road? Or the guy in front of you skipping the red?
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby RW1 » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:07 pm

ZephyR wrote:What a brilliant review !
Looks like a good bit of kit at an affordable price.

Yup! Had a double take on the SmartCam videos initially as the driving locations are where I come from as a family in Standish.
Now thinking how to wire up and install the rear looking one cos for £70, it is VFM.

Ryy wrote:Running when yours have turned to green from another road?

This, quite a few don't understand what a red light means around my way.

Had one in a big Merc the other day just charge straight across a junction without bothering to slow down, through a red light that had been red for a minutes before he arrived. That incident made me decide it was time to have a dash cam as he was deliberate in doing it and I don't want the same again as in a similar incident 20 years ago, when I was blamed despite having a green light. Twisted witness who was not present when it happened. I actually saw the witness arrive 5 minutes after I got hit but due to his occupation, the insurance accepted his statement. The joke that day was there was £2,000 of video camera & equipment in the boot switched off. Camera's don't lie!

In the last week....

I was nearly side swiped on Monday cos the driver did not look to his right before changing lanes at 30 mph entering a roundabout.

Tonight the camera nearly became witness to a 16 year old girl get out of a parked car on its road side and nearly walk under a VW Polo cos she didn't look both ways and the Polo driver was to busy rubber necking out of the side window while driving forwards :rolleyes:

I won't talk about a Scirocco driver road rage incident on Wednesday afternoon driving within 5 feet of the tail of a little Nissan Micra. Carried on for over a mile doing it because initially he wasn't paying attention to his driving and other traffic, so he blamed the Nissan.

And I only do about 80 miles a week. Mad, just plain mad round my way.

C.
Week 43 Build has happened on time! 22 Oct'09 Scirocco is at Check Point 5 in the factory
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby Ryy » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:37 pm

As long as they don't throw no "you shouldn't be recording me" "it's my rights" crap at you, good stuff.
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby Withnail » Sat May 12, 2012 3:29 pm

I think this is an excellent idea and will follow suit.
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby Cool Hand Luke » Sat May 12, 2012 8:30 pm

Excellent post and review, never thought of this before and to be honest looks even better quality than the ones you see on the Cop TV car chase programmes especially the HD version, nice one RW1 first class, I thoroughly enjoyed another of your well executed posts.
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby RW1 » Sat May 12, 2012 8:38 pm

Thank you, there's more to come in a couple of hours. A 2nd one fitted. And the Muppet Squadron extracts.

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Week 43 Build has happened on time! 22 Oct'09 Scirocco is at Check Point 5 in the factory
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby RW1 » Sat May 12, 2012 10:16 pm

Decided to fully install and tidy up the front SmartCam installation.

Dash Installation 01.JPG

Clipped the power wire down neatly in front of the Windscreen air vents. The clips are from B&Q which I then sprayed Satin Black to blend in as they are only sold in white nylon.

B-Q Clips for Power Cable.JPG

At the end of the vent area, there is a neat fine channel which the SmartCam power wire neatly self clips into. Took the power wire all the way along to the top of the Dash Fusebox area.

Dash Installation 02.JPG

In the fuse box there is room to install an in-line 12v power socket and the SmartCam power adapter. Power was picked up off the ignition switched 12 volts of the fuse plate using one of the two Mini-Fuse spare slots and a piggy back fuse holder with a 3 amp fuse.

Dash Fuse Box Installation.JPG

From here, the power was split, 12 volts connection the front SmartCam in-line 12 volt socket and a second connection wired off to a 12 volts in-line socket for the rear SmartCam. The 12 volt socket being stored in the rear passenger’s cubby hole side pocket. Earths was convenient as the dash frame is at earth potential. So, a 13mm nut onto the dash stud mounting secured the two earth wires.

The second SmartCam was fitted yesterday on the rear parcel shelf on the left hand side pointing slightly right.

SmartCam Dual Installation.JPG

Re-cycling old mouse mats made of dense foam with a coloured cloth top is what the foam mount is made of. Used a double thickness and the parcel shelf hump to get some height over the lower tailgate plastic trim and used four small “dot” Velcro hook pads to secured the foam mount down. The side walls are made from B&Q Stormguard Extra Thick Weather Strip – Black (Bar Code 5 017259 312056).

Rear SmartCam instalation.JPG

Because the Rear Parcel Self lifts, the arrangement has a securing waist strap made of Velcro Tape to prevent the SmartCam toppling out of its’ mounting pad.

The SmartCam power lead is routed along the side of the rear right seat and along the rear seat bottom. Then up onto the parcel Shelf on the left side. All hidden away, only the rear mouting platform is visible.

Now both switch on automatically with the ignition key. And off as well with the ignition key.

So here is what they record as a field of view (The video files are too big to upload)

Front View.......

Front View.JPG

Rear View at the same road position......

Rear View.JPG



And now ...... the Muppet Squadron:

1. Seems to remember he’s left something at home and forget other traffic so he can do a U turn at this next roundabout at my expense...... :rolleyes:
Slide1.JPG

2. Nothing like jumping the filter right queue is there....... :rolleyes:

Slide4.JPG

3. Always a surprise on a Bank Holiday afternoon..... let’s pretend we are on holiday and drive on the right hand side like in Europe......... :grumpy:

Slide5.JPG

And there are several more in just 3 weeks. Used to think it was my driving when it started getting worse in February this year, but no its not me. And when you sit down and watch each incident without actually driving, things begger belief. And another benefit of the kit, you can review your own driving!

C.
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Week 43 Build has happened on time! 22 Oct'09 Scirocco is at Check Point 5 in the factory
23 Oct'09 Now Complete on the dockside, 24 Oct'09 Sailed from Portugal, 27 Oct'09 In the UK,
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Driving 4th Nov. Sorted!
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby ZephyR » Sat May 12, 2012 10:42 pm

Gotta wonder Chris how you managed to leave such a gap between you and the car in front in #2 at Blossom Street. If you'd kept up with the car in front then that tosser wouldn't have been able to cut in in front of you. Rule No.1 :lol:
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby RW1 » Sat May 12, 2012 11:02 pm

Usually rule 1 does apply, but I seem to remember I had 5 off, 6 foot planks sat on the centre arm rest in a Jiffy bag, one way they were nudging the DSG into reverse and the other, scrape all the Heated Rear Window elements of the rear window. Anyway I aint going to interupt the Moss Side to Bird Hall Estate evening run by that Rover.

C.
Week 43 Build has happened on time! 22 Oct'09 Scirocco is at Check Point 5 in the factory
23 Oct'09 Now Complete on the dockside, 24 Oct'09 Sailed from Portugal, 27 Oct'09 In the UK,
29 Oct'09 at dealers
Driving 4th Nov. Sorted!
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby ZephyR » Sat May 12, 2012 11:13 pm

RW1 wrote:Usually rule 1 does apply, but I seem to remember I had 5 off, 6 foot planks sat on the centre arm rest in a Jiffy bag, one way they were nudging the DSG into reverse and the other, scrape all the Heated Rear Window elements of the rear window. Anyway I aint going to interupt the Moss Side to Bird Hall Estate evening run by that Rover.

C.

LOL :nod:
Next time try folding the passenger seat back rest all the way back and slot your planks into the footwell.
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby mysciroccoRocks » Sun May 13, 2012 1:10 am

I Want one, or two..

I do lots of miles with my work and have probably half a dozen 'near incidents' or Twots lets call them, daily!

I am going to invest in cam system... this week..watch this space
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby sakh » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:06 pm

There are quite a few videos on youtube with this camera - if you want to see the quality. The user is called drivecam2012, there are quite a few driving incidents on there aswell.
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby Thommohawk » Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:31 pm

Good write up...can see you must get some 'entertainment' watching some of those back. Could start a prat de jour from hat collection.
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby Withnail » Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:32 pm

Mine is all set up and working well and like RW1 I have become very 'Blue Peterish' in it's installation. Have to say the Smartcam is excellent value for money and perfect for the job. I might sound extremely thick here but for the moment mine is plugged into the 12V socket and when I turn the ignition off the cam stays on. Is this right ?
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby RW1 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:50 pm

Withnail wrote: I might sound extremely thick here but for the moment mine is plugged into the 12V socket and when I turn the ignition off the cam stays on. Is this right ?

Yes it will cos the Scirocco 12v sockets (front & rear) do not go to 0v when the ignition key switch is off. There is still 8 volts present which will keep the SmartCam (or any other) working. In fact it can cause lock ups which needs the SmartCam "reset" to be depressed through the pin hole with a paper clip.

That is why I did the dash fusebox installation with an in-line 12 volt socket wired to the ignition 12 volts on a fuse piggyback arrangement. By this method the in-line socket goes to 0 volts with the ignition off. ( made a note of it in the first post towards the middle-bottom of about the 8 volt residual voltage)

C.
Week 43 Build has happened on time! 22 Oct'09 Scirocco is at Check Point 5 in the factory
23 Oct'09 Now Complete on the dockside, 24 Oct'09 Sailed from Portugal, 27 Oct'09 In the UK,
29 Oct'09 at dealers
Driving 4th Nov. Sorted!
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Ordered 12Jul'09, provisional build Wk43, now 42 (05/08/09), PRODUCTION CONFIRMED Wk43 (30/09/09), Driving 04Nov09.

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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby Withnail » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:49 pm

Thanks RW1 your help is appreciated.
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby roccopanda » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:17 pm

Sorry to bump this thread up - very useful info.

Having done some research, I'm going to go with this model personally: http://joovuu.com/index.php?id_product= ... er=product

Will let you guys know how I get on once it all arrives. Got a massive box of stuff ready for the rocco when she lands. Few more weeks now :)
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Re: Dash Cam (SmartCam HD)

Postby Zany Wabbit » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:49 pm

Good review, good idea with the foam as I wouldn't want to obscure vision by attaching sucky thing to windscreen.
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