Several people have asked about the video cameras that I've been using.  I've posted a few videos that include views from inside the cockpit (with audio), and views from outside the cockpit. 

I have an NFlightCam GPS+ (about 1 year old), and a GoPro Hero2 (about 5 months old), generally using both cameras at the same time on my test flights. 

These small video cameras have been a big help in my Phase 1 testing.  It's helpful to be able to "go back and review what happened".  One of the cameras plugs into my headset jacks and picks up voice, so instead of writing down notes I can just fly the airplane, talk to myself, and review later.  It's a lot of fun, and you never know what exciting events you may capture...  ;-)

Here is a basic review of the cameras that I own and use on my airplane.  I'd encourage you to do your own research into whatever is on the market at the time you are looking, as the technology is rapidly evolving, and I can promise you that there are better cameras out there than the ones I use (both are already obsolete).



NFlightCam GPS+:  I mount this one on the steel rollover tube behind the passenger seat, pointing forward (although it could point any direction).

Advantages:  it plugs into the headsets to capture audio, and it can record through the prop disk without distortion.  Picture quality is better than the GoPro due to less "fish eye" effect.  The lens can be rotated to "level" in cases where the mount is at an angle.  I has 2 small lasers built in to help find where "level" is.  

Disadvantages:  very limited battery life (max of 2 hours 14 minutes in my experience), no ability to recharge the battery in flight, no ability to see what you're recording until you download to a computer, and frankly it's just plain cheap chinese quality (I actually had to make a shim out of plastic just to get the battery that came with it to contact).  Total cost (about $600).  GPS doesn't work.  Sometimes it shuts itself off.


GoPro Hero2:  I mount this camera under the wings via a plastic bracket that is held on with double sided foam tape (which has thus far survived 100+ mph winds at 10 degrees Fahrenheit).  I also have a suction-cup type mount that attaches to the the canopy.

Advantages:  ability to add an extra battery 'backpack' for longer battery life, lots of mounting options and accessories, total cost (about $400).  

Disadvantages:  can't capture rapid motion without distortion (look at the propeller distortion on any GoPro video),  fish eye distortion, it has to be "re-programmed" every time you power it on if you use anything other than the default settings (which is fine for kids on skateboards, but not so good for guys who mount cameras upside down under their wings).  There is a separate remote control, but it doesn't  always work with the Hero2 (there's a new "Hero3" available now that has that built in).  Only sound capability is via the built-in mic.  You also need a newer computer to run their proprietary software (which is something I hadn't seen in any of the product reviews).  None of my personal computers (nor my computer at work) was able to run GoPro's software, and if you can't run their software then you can't upgrade the camera firmware (yeah, I know how to hack around that, but the issues I have are present with the current firmware version).  Also it shuts itself off sometimes and you don't know it.

Camera technology is rapidly evolving, and as time passes we are seeing the prices dropping while quality is improving.  With the increasing availability of small, inexpensive video cameras, it's going to be interesting to see what people do with them. 

I'm interested in hearing about other peoples experiences with cameras on their airplanes. 

- Pat

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Comment by Sebastien Heintz on April 14, 2015 at 11:31am

Marc Webster of Cloudbase Engineering sent us this nice mount for the CH 750 Cruzer wing strut. This specialty mount is lightweight, easy-to-install and rugged. Marc also makes camera mounts for the  STOL CH 701 round wing struts. Marc Webster: 661-312-3596 / cloudbaseengineering@gmail.com

Comment by Sebastien Heintz on April 14, 2015 at 11:17am

On the top of the CH 650 wing, this double suction cup mount (inexpensive RAM mount) works well, shown here with my Garmin VIRB camera:

Comment by Sebastien Heintz on April 14, 2015 at 11:12am

Inside the CH650, we've had good success using this standard GoPro suction cup to mount the camera virtually anywhere to the canopy:

Comment by Paul Sanders on January 9, 2013 at 9:54am
The new Countour+ 2 sure looks good, has an external mic socket so you can record the audio directly without having to mix it from a separate source (like I have to do with the Go Pro) and it records an NMEA track so it would be possible to track your course over a sectional alongside the video (with the right tool). I can't justify the $400 though, sadly.
Comment by Patrick Hoyt on January 8, 2013 at 5:56pm
Sebastien, your NFlightCam is different from mine. Must be a newer version. Its much nicer!
Comment by Sebastien Heintz on January 8, 2013 at 5:31pm

Pat: Good information!  Thanks for sharing.
I posted this video awhile back to show some of the cool camera views and commented about the NflightCam features and suction cup mounts.  View Video.

Bob: The NFlightCam is basically a Contour camera (with aviation features and pricing).

Comment by Bob McDonald on January 8, 2013 at 5:09pm

Great post Patrick. I have been wondering about the cameras used to produce the great videos posted by fellow pilots. Another one on the market I have seen used on a TRIKE is the ContourHD camera. It made great video but I have little to compare it to vs. other manufacturers.

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