Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: Fly6 Cam (AKA: "AssCam")


Gentle reader, good to see you're interested in what I think of the Fly6! Welcome!

I've had the Fly6 for over 3 months and have now adapted it to fit on the racks of two different bikes. They're described below.

  • The first adaptation is a PVP pipe for my Cannondale. Scruffy, but it served its purpose.

  • The second adaptation was for my Surly Long Haul Trucker's rear rack. It was conceived and fabricated by my LBS. It looks sleek and smart and is very sturdy. You can read about this further down the page.

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I finally got the Fly6 camera (http://cycliq.com/) after waiting 3.5 months for it to be produced and shipped from a kickstarter/crowdfunded program. It arrived 6/16 and I was able to test it out on a morning ride 6/17



Pros:

  • You don't have to keep deleting files to free up space on it like you do with the ContourCam
  • It's a rear blinky too!
  • 15 minutes chunks of video are much easier to deal with.
  • an extra mount is provided for ease of transfer from bike to bike.


Downsides:

  • The Fly6 .avi files don't talk to my Mac, to work around this, I've downloaded an .avi viewer so my Mac can view the video. Another program (Handbrake) is necessary to convert the .avi files into .mp4 files that I can edit in iMovie. (Thanks readers, for your help with this issue!)
  • The seatpost mount design doesn't take into account we might be wearing a skirt or have a rack and baggage back there. I'd like to mount it further back on the rack. See below for the adaptations to mount on a rack.
  • I can't figure out how to properly adjust the date, this is a failing on my part, I'm certain.


Here's the first test video with it mounted on the seatpost. You get a great view of the rear rack and sometimes when my skirt comes down over the back of the saddle, you get an awesome view... well... up my skirt.
I'm hoping to mount this on the back of the rack (with an attachment of some sort) to get a better view of things on the road instead of my rack, panniers and the inside of my skirt.

< insert rack and upskirt jokes here >





So, this is what it looks like to be a pair of bike shorts!



After some adjustments, I was able to angle the camera a bit better. Now, only a quarter or a third is taken up with rack and baggage instead of half the screen.

Wearing a raincape obscures more of the field of view, even when I'm careful to tuck it under my ass.


Even more interesting is the video I found on the camera's card of the women in the Chinese factory testing my device. Ummm. Not sure what to think about that. I mean, I know there are people in Asian countries who make all of our gadgets, but to SEE her on my camera! Wow.


I want to know how long a charge of the battery lasts and if I'll be able to find the perfect spot to mount the camera.

6/23/14 Adapted Mount

I went in search of PVC pipe at Home Depot as an inexpensive means to mount the camera to the rear rack. Not my best work, but certainly not the worst thing I've seen strapped to a bike in ramshackle fashion.

I'll snip off the extra ends of the zipties promptly.



The resulting video from this new mount is much better. However, It's displaced my Busch und Müller rear light. I'll need to find a new place for it.



I used a bit of reflective/hi-viz scraps to try and disguise the fact that my camera mount is a j-bend sink trap.




No rack or bags to obscure the field of view.


6/29/14 Storage and battery life


I went on a day long ride so this would be a great test of how long the battery would last and how many hours of recording the camera would store.
It appears that the battery died sometime around 3:45 in the afternoon (5.5 hours of running time?) and it had erased some of the morning's recordings before I could review them. I seem to have 4.25 hours of video stored. Good, but I may want to look into upgrading a 32GB card from the 16GB card if I want to store recordings of long rides.

7/8/14 Stability of video images while camera is mounted to PVC pipe:

Fly6 manufacturers dissuade us from mounting to anything other than the seatpost for optimal quality.
Judge for yourself!




7/9/14 Hello, World!


So, I'm aware now that Fly6 has posted this blog entry at their "Reviews" page. Awesome, welcome to my blog, potential Fly6 customers!

Turnabouts are fair play, I suppose... because Fly6 seems to have reviewed my bike in turn:

I'm sure the Aussies at Fly6 meant 'bonza', not 'busy'.     Right? RIGHT?!?

Also, I dig being called "PVC Chick"




7/10/14 Comparison of the brightness/visibility of the Fly6 lights next to various other rear blinkys.

A dark room was used for this but at some point I'd like to try the comparison at night from several car lengths back.

Rear lights compared:




I hired a serial killer to create the text on this image. Scary, huh?

Again, this is a personal preference. There's a clear winner as far as brightness goes and that's the Cygolite Hotshot. Personally, I use more than one rear blinky at night and that's because I'm a bit of a spaz. I like the circular pattern the LEDs flash at drivers. The flashing pattern is something different that they aren't used to seeing and it may get their attention.
Is it bright/visible enough? Sure.


Now, bear in mind the Fly6 isn't just about catching asshat motorists engaging in dangerous driving, you might catch some funny and interesting things on your camera back there. I love this image I got on a group ride when two ladies riding behind me discovered that there was a camera pointed at them.


Yes, that's a camera.


8/21/14

Since I've started this review, I've obtained a second bike that I also wanted to attach the Fly6 to. I tried using the aero post adaptor that Fly6 provided and attach it to the rear rack of my Surly. I was forced to use *gasp* duct tape to keep the adaptor in place. I hated putting duct tape on my bike! In addtion to the ghastlyness of duct tape, the camera wobbled around a fair amount as you can see in this video.

My lovely new bike had duct tape on it AND I wasn't getting optimal video.

So when I was at my LBS (Thick Bikes in Pittsburgh for those of you keeping score) the next day,  I asked Chris, the owner if he had any suggestions to get a stable mount for the camera. He disappeared with my bike and returned a few minutes later with this thing of beauty:



The sturdy, sleek mount next to the ugly duct tape.



He'd grabbed an old seatpost tube they had lying around, ground off the sharp edges and drilled a hole to attach it to the center of the rack; Surly racks have an accessory-mounting hole.

I was ecstatic. I almost hugged him.

Here's some video from the new, sturdy Surly rack mount:






9/9/14 SD card bites the dust.


My microSD card died and I felt this was an excellent excuse to get a 32 GB card and see how many hours the max size card could hold. I'll have to follow Fly6's instructions on how to re-format my knackered 16 GB SD card.



11 comments:

  1. Your custom rack mount gave better pictures than the seat-post mount. 4 or 5 hours of running time is pretty good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was surprised how stable the video was from the PVC mount, I expected some wobble, but there seems to be very little of that.

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  2. If you haven't already found an AVI viewer you might want to give VLC a try. http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks FJ! I found one through cNet from MacGo and it works well. The converter is giving me fits though: they only give you 5 minutes for free and converted video looks horrible on the two that I've tried.

      Delete
  3. +1 for VLC as a viewer - you won't need to convert anymore. If you still want to however, Handbrake is the one to beat. http://handbrake.fr/ Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Rusty, VLC is what you want. Plays every kind of video under the sun.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Rusty Red - I use Handbrake (free) to covert the video on my Mac and than it's compatible with QuickTime, can import in to Final Cut Pro, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, thanks Kris! I downloaded Handbrake this evening and it works great! I was able to load video into iMovie and edit it! Yaaaaa!

      Delete
  6. I finally took your advice and acquired my own under-sink PVC J-pipe for the Fly6. Prior to this, I'd mounted the Fly6 sideways on my rack with a small block of wood for a spacer. That was secure as all get-out, but caused consternation among my video followers who would/could not turn their monitors 90 degrees to view the videos I took.

    But at least I know the Fly6 will operate just fine for an extended period while turned sideways.

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    Replies
    1. That's great Stu! Do you have photos?

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    2. I'm going to give it one day in motion before I take a pic. Tuesday should be at least a bike-in day. I still have the zip-ties unsnipped, in case I need to adjust anything. But it's mounted in much the same spot yours is, only in black PVC. To top it off, we already had the part sitting in a box in the basement, so this was a zero-cost fix.

      Delete

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