Thursday, March 05
Recording in-flight video
By Brady Lane at 2:15 PM
Flight log to date Hours flown: 14.8 | Days since I started: 142 | Cost: $2,601.20
I've received numerous questions about what gear we're using to record video of our flights. As a student pilot, I've benefited greatly from being able to watch the video of each lesson after the flight. It's amazing how much more you hear the second time through — and it's just fun to watch!
Basically, we are using two separate lipstick cameras from Race Optics. We have one camera mounted on the dash (looking back at me) and one mounted on the ceiling window above us (looking out over the nose).
Since there is not a separate line-in for audio on the digital video recorders (DVRs), I have to record our radio and intercom communications on a separate audio recorder, an Edirol R-09. For $6 I purchased a Y-cable to plug into the headset jack, so I could plug my headset into one end and the recorder into the other.
I keep both of the video DVRs and the audio recorder behind my seat in the small cubby space. By the time everything is installed, it's quite the mess of wires. I've taped down most of the cables to keep it as organized as possible.
The guys here at EAA's restoration shop made the mounts for me, but similar ones are available from Race Optics and other distributors.
Before each flight, I turn on all three units and then clap to give myself a marker to synch the two video files with the audio file when editing. It's not the best system, but we've been able to make it work.
That being said, here is a list of what I like and don't like about our setup. Hopefully it will help guide you if you're looking for a similar system.
- records digital video on an SD card
- easy to turn on/off in flight
- large screen for video preview
- DVRs are small and compact
- decent picture quality
- short battery life (just over an hour)
- no line-in audio into DVR
- records video in AVI format, which means I have to individually convert the videos before they can be edited on a Mac. (This takes a couple hours.)
- video interference when talking on the radio
There are numerous manufacturers out there that make similar camera systems, so I encourage you to look around. (DataToys.com was mentioned in a previous comment on the blog). You can spend several thousand or several hundred on these systems. We went somewhere in the middle. If you have a strong mount, you can also mount a small camcorder, but be careful it doesn't block your vision.
Whatever you do, take care that the cables and cameras aren't going to get in your way while flying the plane. Also make sure the electronics don't interfere with your radio.
If you have any questions, please ask. Recording video in flight is incredibly fun to watch and has been a priceless tool in my training. And as always, if you have another way to do it or have some other advice, please share with us.