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A bike / map geek with a gadget obsession and a high-viz fetish. by Vannevar Bush       about       /       murals       /       Pgh-DC bike maps new

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Lance Armstrong and Steven Spielberg it's not

1.6.2015 2m
Today was a cold day, warmed up to all of 18F in the afternoon. I didn't need to be anywhere but I've installed some gear on my bike that I really wanted to try out, and the next two days don't promise to be as nice as today.


I have really wanted to be capable of recording video during rides, mostly to capture the unlikey perpetrator of my death. I really hope I'm wasting my money; I don't need to make this an effective investment.



I have purchased two Garmin Virb cameras (rhymes with verb, as in action-word) and mounted one on my helmet and one on the rear rack. I've just really wanted to give these a try.

This is a brief view of the front-camera. No excitement, although an overtaking car does pass me about 1 minute into it.


This is the rear camera from the same ride segment, with the same cars passing.


I learned that I have my helmet cam on the front of the helmet, and that the weight of the camera brings the helmet down to rest on my eyeglass frame - which exerts pressure on my nose in an uncomfortable way. So my next ride I'll have the camera mounted top-dead-center of the helmet.

I like the helmet mount as opposed to a handlebar mount because it shows the rider's perspective. Not that I'm reluctant to mount anything on my handlebars.

It seems like Garmin must be phasing-out this model, the price is down to $99 apiece. With the memory cards and a helmet strap I've got $290 in this.

There's some Garmin freeware that lets you crop the videos and overlay some GPS data. I'd like to learn how to present both the front-and-rear perspectives simultaneously.

Edit to add:
I learned you can do picture-in-picture using iMovie 11 and fortunately my wife K has a MacBook Pro with that software. Here's a look at the car overtaking from behind in the small window (top-left) and then emerging into the forward view:



What does one miss out on, if you purchase the just-obsolete Virb ($99) rather than the Virb Elite ($250)? There are some significant differences. The camera (lens, battery, structure) is the same. The Elite has an on-board GPS to record your ground track, auto-stablization software for your movies, and a software levelling adjustment to calibrate your camera to the horizon (in two dimensions). Also it's got wifi, so when you bring your bike-with-camera into the house you don't have to detach the camera to download the images; they whoosh across the ether with the speed of WiFi.

Small disappointment: while the Virb Edit software will present your movie on your device with an additional map presentation, you can't export the map-in-movie. The map info comes from Google or Bing, and Garmin isn't paying for the IP license. Which I totally get, except for: isn't Garmin a mapping company? Kind of lame for them to say, we don't have any maps especially when they could access the OpenMap project. This is a minor kvetch.


1 comment:

  1. Another great benefit of cameras are that people behave on film. There was the occasional jerk who'd lean on their horn and drive by close; this behavior disappeared entirely with the appearance of my camera.

    I did the handlebar mount for some time and I agree, helmet mount is so much better.

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