Dash Cam

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.


I drive over 20,000 miles a year. 90% of that is local traffic driving. I see plenty of strange stuff almost every day. I wanted to document it. While working, I wanted to be able to prove that jerk A who is now on the phone talking about crazy pizza drivers is actually upset that I thought he should make the right turn from the right turn lane and not go straight ahead into my car. I wanted a dashcam.


It took about a year to have the spare money and to decide to go out and buy the thing. Thanksgiving foolishness on the road may have pushed the decision. The thought of the outright stupidity that I was going to see on Christmas Eve pushed again. Time to buy. This Christmas it will turn two.


I started doing research. After looking at several on Amazon and reading reviews, and then finding independent reviews to back them up, and looking at local sellers (I try to shop local), I learned a few things.

Driving in Russia is really, really, terrible. Everyone in Russia has a dashcam. Therefore, some cheaper dash cams only have Russian manuals. I had three years of Russian. I don’t remember enough to handle a Russian only manual.


There are some crappy no name cameras out there. Of course most people who have good experiences don’t write reviews. People who had crappy experiences tell the world. To make reading reviews even more fun, there are people who write reviews for money. They will love anything. There are jerkwads who like trash talking. They hate everything. Reading reviews was a pain.

My Camera

I ended up finding an Uniden HD camera for under $150 at Best Buy. I hate Best Buy. But, it was on sale and in stock. And I made sure that it matched the online ad.


It is a Uniden 945 (https://www.uniden.com/automotive/dash-cameras) I got it for less than $150.00. Mine is an older model without GPS. Mine has 1080p images and in the right light, the clips are very sharp. One thing some reviews mentioned and I have found to be the case, the mounting hardware is cheap plastic. Go gentle or you will break things off.

Media cards

It came with an 8Gb Micro SD card. I bought a pair of 32 Gb class 10 cards. I live near a Microcenter. Name brand Micro SD cards are around $12 for a 32Gb card. If there is something I want to save, I switch out the cards so it doesn’t get overwritten. I have lost some interesting shots because I didn’t change cards for a day.


Setting it up was pretty straightforward. Mine has an accident mode. If it takes too hard of a jolt it saves the last three minutes to a separate section of the disk that isn’t written over. There are three settings. Life here in Missouri, why fix roads that costs money, meant too many bumps for anything but the strongest settings. A hail storm hit the car hard enough to make the camera think it was in an accident, just saying.


I keep a notebook in my car for delivery driving. If I see something I want to check on later, I write down the time and a quick note. Sometimes it helps, sometimes not. My camera records in three minute chunks. They can be watched on a computer with Media Player or just about any other video player software.

What I learned

Pizza driving is actually really boring. I may spend 30 minutes a night waiting at red lights. There is nothing like waiting on a long red at 1:00 in the morning when there is absolutely no one around in any direction. Half the miles I drive may be on Clayton Road. I have many hours of long drives on Clayton, Baxter, Holloway and 141.

Editing

In my mind, weird stuff happens on the road all the time. In reality, it happens after I have sat through three red lights and taken a long drive down Clayton Road. How to edit and get to the good parts.
Lightworks is free and Open Source. They have versions for Linux, Mac, and Windows. It can make professional level movies. That is to say, diving right it is hard.
I use Windows Movie Maker. It is a free download from Microsoft. It is fairly easy to use. The output is fine. You can be editing clips in about 10 minutes. The one thing Microsoft forgot to add was anything looking like a manual. I am now well versed in Googling “How do you ___ in Windows Movie Maker”.
I then save to the Android Medium format and upload away!

I also use Shortcut, https://www.shotcut.org/. Not as simple to use as Windows Movie Maker but has some powerful tools, like the ability to zoom and not save my dashboard in the finished product.

 

My videos are on my YouTube Channel

NSFW Video not on YouTube. Streaker. Hey he ran past the camera of his own free will.