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Mighty's Helmetcam

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After reading the Large Silent Menacing Presence story another time, I decided to go looking for an inexpensive R/C blimp.  It took some searching, but somehow I stumbled across Raidentech.  This particular blimp came with a little camera, and I decided to go ahead and splurge the $70 for it.  I'm pretty sure they sent me the wrong blimp, because the one I have appears to be substantially smaller than the other blimp on the page.  It's definitely too small to carry even the camera, let alone the heavier 9-volt battery, too.

But that's okay.  My main purpose for getting the little cam was to mount it on my hockey helmet.

By just holding the cam up to the helmet and tucking the wires under the padding, it appeared likely to me that if I could build a mount for it, I would be able to play with it inside my cage.  The company Jay works for builds small camera mounts all the time, so he thought he could do it for me easily.  I let him borrow the camera for awhile and he built a mount that used the screw mounts in his helmet and looked like it would work.  Unfortunately, despite us glancing at the screw mounts ahead of time, it turned out that his cage was different than mine.  Not only were the screws a different width apart, but his cage had a larger opening in the center than mine did.   With mine, the gap in the cage was small enough that the camera simply wouldn't fit in front of my forehead.

Eventually, I got the camera back from him.  I went to Home Labyrinth and got some inexpensive galvanized steel.  I was expecting to have to execute some complicated bends to get it inside the cage but still facing forward.  After a couple of attempts, it turned out that just two bends was all I needed.  And since the metal is so soft, I can easily adjust it after I have the camera in place.  After getting it in place I just cut away everything that wasn't necessary, and that leaves a very tiny mount.

I had a ref at one game mention that if I cut the helmet in any way to accomodate the mount then it's technically not legal.  Fortunately, I didn't have to make any cuts or holes.  Same with the goalie mount.  It just tucks under the padding, between the padding and the helmet.

I would have liked to use a camcorder to record the video, simply because it's compact and easy to carry to the bench and to and from the car.  But that would have cost at least a few hundred dollars and I just couldn't justify that.  So I ended up finding a 13" TV/VCR on eBay for $65 including shipping.  There are power outlets at the end of the bench, so I just put the TV in the penalty box with the receiver on the dasher between the box and the bench.  That works just fine.

I have a wireless mic, but I haven't picked up an adapter to go from the mini-plug to an RCA plug needed by the TV/VCR.  Someday soon.

Here's a short clip (5 meg download) showing a sequence from a face-off to a goal.  If you don't already have it, you'll need the DiVX codec.

When the camera is in the right place, the picture is quite good.  Surpisingly good, in fact.

bradrosy.jpg (11494 bytes)

But, as the camera moves around the signal hitting the receiving antenna changes phase.   Since this system operates at 1.2 GHz that means the wavelength is 1/4 of a meter, or about 10 inches.  So that means a movement of five inches to or from the receiver changes the phase by 180 degrees.  Since I'm pretty much constantly moving during a game, that means the colors are flashing constantly.

BradRosyColor.jpg (14572 bytes)

You do get used to it eventually.  But it never stops being pretty annoying.

I was thinking that it would take sophisticated electronics to allow for that.   When I was telling my dad about it, right off the top of his head he said, "Put two antennae a few inches from each other.  It's called spatial diversity."  He says that Doing It Right would require some special hardware.   But that just two simple wires should be enough to account for most of the phasing problems.  I'm going to try that later this week, I hope.

Everything.jpg (126116 bytes) Here's everything.  The cam, battery and mounts are in the lower-left.  The receiver is lower-right.  An example of the original galvanized metal is upper-right. Large
CameraMounts.jpg (56360 bytes) Here are the mounts.  The smaller one is for my helmet.  It uses the screw of the cage to hold it in place.  Velcro holds the cam to the mount.

The other is for a goalie mask.  The screws on the goalie mask aren't situated where using them for the mount makes sense.  So I just tucked the mount under the padding of the helmet.  Therefore, the mount bends the other direction, to get the cam out far enough that the cage isn't in the field of view. Large

CameraMountSide.jpg (47595 bytes) Here's the mount stuck onto the back of the cam. Large
CameraMountBack.jpg (40136 bytes) Another view of the cam and mount. Large
MountFront.jpg (172755 bytes) Here's the mount on the helmet without the cam. Large
MountQuarter.jpg (171344 bytes) Quarter view. Large
MountInside.jpg (112069 bytes) Here's what the mount looks like from below. Large
front.jpg (165712 bytes) Here's a front view of the helmet with the cam in place.  During a game I just tape the antenna to the top of the helmet. Large
QuarterShot.jpg (171397 bytes) Quarter view with cam. Large
side.jpg (117829 bytes) A side view, showing how much it pokes out from the cage. Large
inside.jpg (136061 bytes) Here's a pic of the inside with the cam in place.  Notice that the battery fits nicely in the gaps in the padding.  The wire from the battery runs under the padding to the camera.  Note: It's easier to plug the two pieces of the power wire together and run the entire thing under the padding.  Then plug the battery in.   Trying to plug the power cord in in-place is impossible.  Large
WornFront.jpg (171373 bytes) This shot shows how the cam is actually above my eyebrow.  The only time it gets in the way is when I'm leaning forward and trying to look up-and-left.  Large
WornSideCropped.jpg (73313 bytes) Shot from the side. Large
BradRosyLarge.jpg (27928 bytes) Here's a frame grabbed during a game.
BradRosyColorLarge.jpg (44735 bytes) And this is just a few frames later.  This shows the color shift that happens as the cam moves and messes up the phase hitting the receiving antenna.
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