Monday, May 27, 2013

Advancedbikers Camera set up - Sony Camcorder and Drift HD with Autocom

I always get asked time to time, what is you camera set up ?, how do you connect the Autocom to the camera ?, how does it work with the Drift HD ?
Well here goes, but I must warn you I am no technical expert in this field and the latest set up could not have been achieved without the help from Andy Griffiths and the Griff Gizmo !

The present camera set up consists of three bullet cameras, connected to a Sony Mini DV Camcorder with the AV in facility.  These units are getting harder to find and cost a fortune to repair, so I am gradually experimenting with a Drift HD 1080P camera. 

The front bullet camera is fitted with a Ram Mount to the offside of the BMW beak and is a 600 tvl version.  The bullet camera is clamped to the Ram mount with a Ram Pipe Clamp.  It is also fitted with a sun shield.....Just in case it gets sunny.

The bullet camera has been a great bit of kit but does take a bit of setting up with power and leads etc.

The second camera is fitted under the rear carrier and again fixed with Ram mounts.

The other camera I mentioned is helmet mounted with 3M.

The next task..... How do you control all the cameras....Just add a switch to the handlebars, bottom one, front and back cameras.  The top switch switches onto the helmet camera, giving me helmet camera and from camera.

The BMW R1200GS is 'Hard Wired' with phono sockets for the camcorder lead and has a lanc fitted for pausing the Sony Camcorder.  

The Sony Camcorder is placed in the Tank Bag

The biggest problem I have with the Bmw is storage, so I fitted a Pelicase 1300 to replace the pillion seat.

There is a power supply to the case and I have put a 12 volt switchable constant supply in line with the power supply to the cameras and run them on 9 volts.  The plug you see in the fron powers the cameras.
So you see a complex set up......But there are a lot of other cameras on the market - High Defintion...... Go Pro, Drift Hd etc...
So at the beginning of the year I took the plunge as Action Cameras were offering the Drift HD 1080p camera for £150.00.  I managed to get 10% discount so it came in at £134.00.
I first used the Drift HD when I went to Spain and had it helmet mounted :

Not the best attempt - Unable to get the right angle....... BUT I did invest in an additional power pack from Ebay and it gave me power all day.  Details below

Powers Drift HD  - Connected to this socket

 The next task - Audio....

I have Autocom fitted and there is an external microphone you can buy and it fits the Drift Hd 1080P.

However I did not fancy having an extra cable to my helmet and fitting two microphones into the helmet did not appeal to me.

The next thing that happened was a friend of mine, Andy Griffiths had the same idea and was looking at a way to connect the Drift Hd to the Autocom.

He came up with the Griff Gizmo.

Advancedbikers ‘Griff’s Gizmo’ - Instructions for use
Purpose of Unit
To take both the riders voice signal and bike to bike chatter from Autocom Bike communication units and record them on to the sound track of a Digital Video Recorder with a microphone level input. This unit has been tested with Autocom and Drift HD Cameras only.
Further Parts Required
·         In order to get both rider’s voice and bike to bike sound recordings on to a DVR soundtrack you will also require an Autocom Headphone lead, part number 2091A.
·      You will also require a stereo jack to jack lead to connect from your Gizmo to your DVR, one end being a 3.5mm 3 pin stereo jack plug (Griff’s Gizmo end) to whatever corresponding size the DVR unit Jack socket is, on Drift HD units this is a 2.5mm 3pin stereo jack plug, on a Drift HD Ghost it is a 3.5mm 3 pin stereo jack plug. (You can use mono leads, but stereo are more readily available and cheaper).
If all you require is riders voice output to DVR and you have a post 2009 Autocom system then you do not need the Gizmo, you can simply make a pin to pin lead from the 4 pin 3.5mm Autocom jack to a 2/3pin Jack of corresponding size to your DVR input jack!

Connection Details
·         Connect the Autocom 2091A lead into the Autocom Pillion 7 pin plug, (if you still want to connect a pillion passenger you will need to obtain an Autocom splitter lead).
·         Connect the Stereo Jack plug from the Gizmo into the headphone socket of the Autocom 2091A.
·         Connect the Stereo jack to jack lead from the Gizmo jack socket to the DVR.
Do’s and Don’ts
·         Never connect directly from the Autocom 2091A lead to the DVR without the Gizmo inline; you may damage your DVR!
·         Install the Gizmo in a fixed position adjacent your Autocom unit, although the leads are flexible I have had instances where over flexing of the cables has broken the conductors, fitting the Gizmo in a fixed location removes this problem.
·         Position the Gizmo and its leads away from any power cables to minimise interference pickup.
·         If the Gizmo fails do not open up the unit, it is filled with liquid plastic to keep the components corrosion free, opening it up may destroy the unit, please return it to me so I can ascertain the reason for the failure.
·         I have not found a stereo jack yet that will plug into the Drift Camera weatherproof cap, you will have to sand down the plastic of your jack plug to make it fit through the weather proof cap of the Drift, it is easily done.
·         If you still have older camcorders that take a line level signal you can easily connect them from the headphone socket of the Autocom 2091A without the Gizmo in line using a lead such as Maplin Twin phono to stereo jack lead part number N04JZ.


The Autocom 2091 connects to the pillion lead, but my pillion is connected to my Sony Camcorder, so I made the splitter lead up that feeds off the riders socket.

 This picture shows the 3.5mm socket from the Autocom headset and the 3.5mm to 2.5mm lead to the Drift Hd 1080P Camera

The Griff Gizmo ..........
How to get microphone level signals out of an Autocom system
Ok Guys I’m not an electronics expert, but as I couldn’t find the answer to this whilst I was looking, I thought I would share what I had found out.
I have been looking around for a long time now to see how I could get sound out of an Autocom System and into the microphone input of the new modern DVR’s. Not just the rider’s microphone but also the background chat from bike to bike.
Spoke at length to Autocom who didn’t really manage to give me a full answer as to how to do this, they gave me some bum advice along the way (they tried to be helpful but I just don’t think they know fully the products bought off of the old Autocom team), but they did give me some good advice about the sound output (speaker output) from Autocom. So in the end having done a lot of research online, I decided to risk making and connecting up my gizmo and hope I didn’t blow the Microphone input of a Drift HD Camera unit.
To give an example as to why you might want to do this, if you’re an instructor and you have the microphone output only connected from Autocom (available on all post 2009 Autocom units on the 3.5mm 4 pin jack), any video on the DVR will only record the instructors commentary, if your student or mate is also wired for sound and you can feed in the speaker output you will also get their commentary on the video.
The other reason for wanting to do this is that over the year’s camcorders / DVR’s have developed. Going back quite a few years most camcorders used to have line inputs, the red and white mono Left and Right ‘RCA’ type plugs, the point being most kit had unbalanced line level inputs, whereas the new action camera gear and Digital Video Recorders tend to have microphone inputs only.
What’s the difference?
Microphone inputs work at voltages of up to about 3 to 4 millivolts and line level inputs work at voltages up to about 700 millivolts. So if you put a line level signal into a microphone input such as on a Drift HD it could damage the circuit board.
So before messing about with the Autocom too much I first made up a simple pin to pin lead just to take the microphone output (riders voice) from Autocom to the Drift HD (remember the microphone output from Autocom is already at microphone level so doesn’t need reducing). This worked fine.
First a few things the Autocom guys did tell me,
·         The speaker outputs from the Autocom 7 pin wiring harness are balanced audio outputs. That means you have a separate positive and negative connection for both Left and Right speaker outputs +L –L, +R –R.
·         The speaker outputs don’t work at line level all the time as the signal strength changes (it does on the SPA) depending on noise conditions and the 40% reduction in sound when the microphone kicks in. Might have to check your dip switch settings dependent upon which output you use.
·         Post 2009 Autocoms already have microphone output from the 4pole 3.5mm jacks (rider’s voice only).
·         All other connections on the 4pole 3.5mm jacks are audio inputs not outputs.

I put my wiring into the handlebar bag and the additional Autocom wiring is hidden under my tank bag.

 Time to use the Drift HD Camera and it comes with wireless remote.......
 Micro SD Card adapter, which gives me the ability to view the footage on computers, laptops and some televisions with USB sockets


But there are no televisions when I am out on the road training, so I thought - Tablet with Micro Sd Card input.  Yes they exist so a Versus 7 Tablet was purchased.  Found this one for under 
£ 90.00.
This picture shows some recent footage of a recent visit to Dorset.

Below is some Drift HD footage:

Thanks for viewing the Blog.  If you have any further questions,please get in touch

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thank You Motorcycle News for the Article Normandy 2013

Just got this weeks Motorcycle News, ( MCN ) and we are in it, pages 38 and 39.  A feature on the trip we did to Normandy in April 2013.  I will be getting a clearer version in a couple of days and will post that as well.
Thanks for mentioning Karen and Adrian at Normandybeach : and
Brittany Ferries :

In the meantime, Thank You Alison Silcox for the article:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Advanced Motorcycle Training Workshop - Normandy April 2013 - Day 2

Well after  a sound sleep and not hearing the church bells, down for breakfast and then out on the road for 10am.  Do you ever get one of those feelings that is going to be one of those days.......Well the Sat Nav packed up, had a mind of it's own....Switching between screens, freezing, you name it, it did it, then no power in the Drift HD camera.  Could job I had the old reliable Sony Camcorder and bullet cameras working, and five other motorcycles fitted with Drift HD cameras.....
Down to business - Not a good day for the weather, bit wet, but we are in Normandy and a few spots of rain was not going to spoil the day.
Just needed to decide on the running order and route, as my Sat Nav had all the routes.......Back to basics and memory:

Get the old maps out and hopefully I could remember roughly where we were heading...

Decided to head into  Bayeux for fuel and then head off along the D5 towards le Molay-Littry where we could stop for coffee and a debrief.

Organising the 9 riders:
Alison and Sue with me, with Alison being the first rider of the group.
Dave was with Kevin
Andy or as we got to know him as Dave, Dave, don't ask with Eva -Maria and Barry
Leaving Clinton as 'Tail end Charlie'
The D5 is a good road to just get you used to riding in France and Alison did well, with only a few minor issues which we discussed later.  The biggest thing, which never occurred to me before was the added pressure of being lead rider in a group of experienced riders.
Well the rain came down a bit more so we took longer than normal at the first stop before Sue had her turn in front as we headed for St Lo.  The roads were not that good in terms of rural dirt and the motorcycles looked a bit messy afterwards......

We made it so St Lo and the rain stopped, so I lead the group to our dinner stop in the quaint town of Villedieu-les-Poeles.  We use a cafe by the side of the church and treated ourselves to a sandwich, French style.  That big they gave you jaw ache.....

General chit chat at the dinner stop, everyone in good spirits and a lot of conversation about the riding etc......

Just to point out at this stage that all the riders on the Workshop had ether ridden with me before and some had gone on the gain advanced grades from the I.A.M and R.O.S.P.A. Other had had been on Bikesafe.  So the standard of riding was not basic and the general issues amongst the group was:
  1. Lack of observation in depth
  2. Being in CAR mode
  3. Balancing the motorcycle on the bends - CONTROL
The next part of the day was going to test their skills as we headed out on the D999 to Brecey, before turning east and heading along the D911 to Sourdeval.  This road has been on Youtube many times and used by me on numerous occasions.  It is a good surfaced road with good stretches between villages and hardly any traffic.

This is some footage from Andy (Drift Hd) as he follows Eva-Maria)

Once again Alison was the lead motorcycle and when we reached Sourdeval I decided to head North to Vire for a well deserved break in the town square by the old clock tower.  We had enough training for the day, so on the way back to Arromanches I took the group to see the gun battery at Longues s.Mer.

A great first day, progress seen in all the riders, another two days to go, just hope for some better weather......

Thought of the day - It is always great to have a reliable HOST, as I had forgot all about the evening meal.  I need not have worried as Karen had got it all sorted. - We had taken advantage of the offer of an evening meal at the bed and breakfast. Thanks Karen.

After the meal, it all became a bit technical with lap top, tablets, I Pads coming out from nowhere as the days camera footage was played back to the riders.  I tried to repair my Sat Nav, in otherwords take the battery out....Still did not work.....  Maps again for tomorrows run.......

Monday, May 20, 2013

Advanced Motorcycle Workshop - Normandy 2013 Day 1

Well it has  taken me a while to get round to it, but here goes......
WHY ? Normandy, well well over ten years ago I was invited to go over to Normandy with a group of friends to have a look at the World War Two sites and we stopped at Normandy Beach Bed and Breakfast in Arromanches Les Bains. A some what quaint place with an armoured car in the court yard and pop up gazebos for the motorcycles.  A lot of things have changed since those early days..

After the legendary breakfast we would head out onto the Normandy roads taking in the sites and also take in some nice roads, in between breaks for drinks, non alcoholic, when riding.  This went on for a few years until I had a though about bringing over a small group of motorcyclists, just to do the roads and add a bit of advanced tuition at the same time.
So in around 2008 we started the Advanced Workshops and every year have made changes and developed the courses.

A selection of photographs from previous trips...
Then we started using video cameras to record all the days riding.......

This brings us up to date with our April 2013 trip, which has now been and gone.
Well the organisation for it started for it way back in the Autumn of 2012, when I had to make sure we had the accommodation available for a group of nine motorcyclists.  Managed to get this sorted, so the next task advertise the trip on the web site and also for the first time on Facebook, where I attracted two riders from London.
Now just a matter of waiting for the ferry times to come out and booking the crossing from Portsmouth to Caen with Brittany Ferries

All the deposits for the ferry and the training in, time for the off.  Well perhaps not that easy......  Do some planning as the riders were coming from Preston, Doncaster, Biddulph, Burton, Tewkesbury, Peterborough and London.  I circulated times to the ferry and having picked up Kevin, Dave, Andy and Clinton enroute down the M6, M5, M40 and A34 we met up with Alison, Sue, Eva-Maria and Barry at Portsmouth.  We all had an uneventful ride down, dry weather and some sun and once in through the booking kiosks, I got a little wound up by the way we were treated by the customs.  We were searched for wait for it, ammunition, guns and knives......  I appreciated they have a job to do, but I ask you.....
Well on the Ferry ; 

The Normandie Express, all motorcycle secured and the up to the resevered lounge for the reclining seats.  Long crossing - 5 hours ish, but a welcome break having just done 240 miles to the ferry port.  I thought of using the Eurotunnel, and then driving down....Works out about the same time, but you are using more fuel and the wear and tear on the motorcycles.  Any way time to get aquainted and admire the sea view..... Well NOT quite - Sea mist all the way across and as we landed in Normandy at 21.30 hrs local time, it was dark and the sea mist had turned to FOG.
We only had a sort 30 minute run to the bed and breakfast, so Sat Nav on and off we went with me leading.  I was very happy I had the Sat Nav as it gave me an idea of where the road went and on occasions had to follow the centre white line.  It was that bad.
Arrived at Adrian's and Karen's to be met with a fantastic buffet, before we headed off to bed ready for the next day's riding.
Day Two to follow.