Let's see that instant replay...

Why did I buy a helmet cam?  Well, there are several reasons:

  1. Insurance (just in case of an accident)
  2. To catch people doing stupid things and post it on the web site
  3. To capture friends riding with me on long trips for those unforgettable memories
The primary reason, insurance.  However, it turning out to be anything but just plain 'O insurance.  In fact, it's quite the conversation piece.  Some people are scared of it, some people are curious about it, and others just really don't care.  For the most part, people are curious and want to know why.  I've had everything from a guy in a Beemer ask me what it's for to a whole family in an SUV say, "What's up with that?"  In general people are very nice and say: "Hello.What is that for?"

Even the Security Officers at work are curious about the camera.  Friends that ride think it's a great idea and good insurance.  Mind you, I shouldn't receive credit for this idea.  In fact, it came from a amateur motorcycle racer that appeared on the L.A. evening news that gave me the idea.  She got into an accident on the I15 freeway.  The car driver that caused the accident even tried to blame her for the entire thing.  It was caught on tape so the guy had to pay for this lies.  I saw the results of that accident and thought the driver was very smart to have a helmet cam.  So I thought I would follow suit.

In fact, just a couple of days after clicking the submit button to purchase the cam, I wish I already had the camera mounted and recording because I was seeing drivers do some really stupid driving on the road.  A driver of an old suburban decided that traffic was going too slow for him so he needed to pass 5 cars, all in a row, on the right side of traffic, where there is no second lanes on our side of the street, to get ahead of everybody else.  It's not like cars would pop their front end on the side streets when they encounter a blind corner.  Drivers would  never do such a thing.  Nah, that's not possible.  Sarcasm aside, that driver was an idiot.  Something else I forgot to mention, we were all moving at about 30-35MPH when this guy decided he was the tarmac god and owned every street in town.  How rude.

But now that I have a helmet camera mounted, it's funny how people's behavior change around me.  I haven't seen one instance of stupid driving yet.  I'm sure it will happen one of these days.  Personally, not seeing anything is a preferred choice for me.  I like boring uneventful rides.  You have to remember one thing, I ride sane (e.g. max 5 MPH over the speed limit).  If cars want to pass me, they're more than welcome.  If cars want to drag race with me, they can win every time if they like.  As mentioned in other articles, I drive like an old man and I'm proud of it.  It suits my purpose to survive and ride every day for the rest of my life.

Anyway, here's what it took to do what I wanted.  I wanted the H2O camera because I do silly things like ride in a monsoon.  From


I purchased the Viosport Adventure Cam H2O Essential Package.  Motorcycle Superstore is awesome!  It's my favorite motorcycle Internet store now.  Sometimes they're not the fastest but they have killer prices.  I'm not in a hurry the majority of the time so I don't mind waiting, if there is a wait to be had.  The contents of the package looks something like this:

The camera is a lip stick cam but the water tight housing makes the camera a lot bigger than it really is.  Just think, I can dunk my camera over 150ft deep and it will be fine.  Uh yeah...  There is also a zip-tie mounting kit that comes with it but it's no good for helmets.  You think that the folks that put this thing together would think that a helmet is normally round in shape, not flat like a pancake.  Oh well.

My favored choice of mounting material?  You guessed it ... Velcro!  This camera is going nowhere!  Plus it's a lot lighter than putting any metal or plastic on the helmet.  Here's how it goes.

Talk about letting it all hang out.  How much more obvious this is a helmet cam?

As you can see, it's very obvious this is a helmet cam.  Being this blatant about the camera can only do one thing for you, pick up chicks!  Uh... NO.  It just makes people curious as to "What in the world is this humongous appendage doing hanging on this guy's head?  What could he possibly want to do with it?"  Hence people will roll down their windows to ask, "What's that for?"  Trust me, it happens, and definitely more than quintuple times.

Anyway, here's a close up view.  I decided to run the cables on the outside of the helmet because I prefer it not be a permanent installation.  This allows me to remove the camera when I'm ready for my replacement helmet, which is coming within the month.  Yes, another Arai XD.  White this time.  Is it because I want to look like a COP?  I don't think so.  I like white because I think it's cooler during the summer months.  Plus it's easier on the wallet to not have the fancy smansy patterns.  The patterns don't really do much for me anyway.

This is actually a good angle.  You'll see this when you look at the snaps of
the camcorder's preview screen.

Believe it or not, this camera is going nowhere.

The white-silvery stuff is actually 3M reflective tape put on the camera's input cable and Velcro strips.  I figured the reflective qualities of the reflective tape will help preserve the camera input cable from being dried out from the sun.  Plus it makes the helmet more visible at night.

The entire camera and camcorder system runs on batteries.  The camera has it's own 12V battery pack and the camcorder has it's own rechargeable battery.  I could hook up the camera to the bike's electrical system, but I don't care to do that at this time.

8AA x 1.5V/AA = 12V
The video cable is yellow and the mono audio cable is white.

The cable for the helmet cam is routed from the Marsee Bravarian bag under the driver seat to the front of the driver seat where the Baehr intercom connector is located.  I didn't do anything with the video cable except for looping it around the rubber tie down for the tool bag under the driver's seat.

The video cable is the small connector to the right of the intercom connector.

Under the seat, up the side, and into the Marsee bag.
You can see the microphone at the top of the Marsee bag.

I have an old Hi-8 digital camera that I use to record all the action.  Because it's digital, a 120 minute Hi-8 will only last 60 minutes.  This is a serious limitation but oh well, I guess I just have to bring a lot of video tapes to record long trips.

Set the camera in VTR mode with the video, audio, and power pack connected
for the helmet cam and I'm ready to record.

I just press the two REC buttons at the same time on the right and I'm set to go.

And here are some snapshots of the camcorder preview screen.  I don't have a means to capture the video on my computer so this is the best that I can do.  For those that think I can get a better and smaller camcorder, you're right.  However, since I already have this camcorder, I don't want to run out and spend another $1K for a camcorder.  I'll use this one until it chokes.  Then I'll worry about getting a new camcorder.  For my purposes, the big heavy old camcorder does a perfectly fine job for the commute.

For those that are interested in doing the same thing, you can purchase this helmet cam for approximately $350.  You can click on the link at the top of the article to find out the real pricing and details.  If you're wondering about the weight of the camera, it's 196g.  When I first used it, I noticed the minor weight difference.  After two weeks of riding, what camera?

Installation difficulty?  I give it a 3 in difficulty (e.g. I think my kids could have done it).  Well, maybe not my 5/6 year olds but definitely it's easy to put together.

Helmet Cam Update [July 18, 2006]

I've been riding 5 days a week for 1 1/2 weeks and the batteries finally gave out.  That's an average of 1 hour per day use.  That come to a total of 7 hours for one pack of batteries (e.g. 8 AA).  That's fair usage.  However, I can see myself going through batteries like drinking Coke if I keep on using the camera in this manner.  It's probably a good idea to either get rechargeable batteries or tie the camera's power directly to the bike.  Yet another thing to tie into the accessory power plug.

Update [Monday - August 6, 2007]

It's not my suit, my motorcycle, my helmet, my goggles, nor my so called electro statically charged personality that attracts attention.  No sir.  It's the helmet cam.  It's like a big sugar cube set aside for the honey bees to swarm from miles around.  Most people look and are curious about it.  Just today while I was riding home from work, I was confronted by a rider on an R12GS.  As I stop at a stop sign, he pulls up to me to say hi.  My first comment to him was, "Nice bike.  I use to own one of those."  I thought it was a new fangled '06 or '07 R12GS but it turned out to be an '05, what I use to have.  I started to say a couple more things until the car behind us honked.  I scooted and continued on my journey home until the guy caught up to me again and asked me to pull over for a quick conversation.  Sure, I pulled over and we chatted a bit.  Ultimately the question comes out, "What is the camera for?"  I told him it was for insurance and for vacation footage.  Even before this, a fellow worker at work noticed the camera and asked me what it was for.  I told him the same thing before heading for home.  Too funny.

I had purchased the upgraded helmet cam from VioSport (e.g. the Adventure Cam 3) and was planning on changing out the existing Adventure Cam 2.  However, the Cam 2 is so much bigger that its easily noticeable.  This is a plus as people take notice and wonder.  The size coupled with the thought of having to re-wire everything for the Cam 3 made the swap all that much more unattractive.  As a result, I'm going to mount the Cam 3 as a rear facing camera.  I've attempted this with a cheapy Oregon Scientific camera before and it was cool to record what is happening behind me.  What's even better is I can easily tell who is tailgating me because their license plate is nice and big on tape.  You can think I'm paranoid.  That's fine but it's also way cool to video tape my friends on a trip riding behind me.  Now all I need is a camera on the left and right and all angles are covered.  Just kidding.  Trust me, the logistics of worrying about one camera is bad enough already.  Having two camera is already much more complicated as it.  4 cameras is insane.  That is unless you're trying to produce your own IMax motorcycle movie.  What's the most problematic aspect of video taping?  Battery life and carrying enough media for whatever trips you're going on.  After a while the number of tapes and extra batteries pile up really fast.

Written on: July 17, 2006
Last modified: August 6, 2007