DIY dashcam setup using a sports action camera

With lots of vehicles now on the road, the chances in getting into a vehicular accident also rises. To protect myself (or another driver) from being blamed as the cause of an accident, I installed an improvised dash camera in my car to capture every driving activity.

It isn’t really a fancy dashcam and it isn’t even sold as one. Two years ago I purchased an action camera which I usually use when I go to the beach or pool. This means that I just use them occasionally, maybe twice or thrice a year. To put it to good use, I installed it as a dashcam using DIY parts.

What I bought years ago was W7 HD DV 1080p 12MP WiFi Sports Camera (White), which, at that time, costed me P 2690, with the shipping included. You can find the link here in Lazada, and now costs two thousand. You can browse through Lazada to find a cheaper alternative. I also bought a 16gb card in CDRKing.

Requirements:
To set up the camera as dashcam, I used the following:
• a used suction cup for a car mount (I can’t recall how I got it)
• the camera
• camera clip
• velcro bandages (optional)

Setup:
Basically you just attach the camera in the clip, screw the clip into the suction cup, and install the cup in the windshield. In my case, I put it behind the rear view mirror so as not to distract myself. To ensure that it always has power, I connected the power cable to the camera and the other end to a powerbank. The camera screen goes off after about a minute so it doesn’t really suck up a lot of juice.

Before connecting the suction cup, I suggest that you customize first the settings. This camera has two video resolutions – 1080p and 720p. Since I do not really need a high resolution video, I chose 720p. This also allowed me to save on disk space. I also embedded the time and date in the shots.

You can also support that suction cup with some velcro bandages which you can use to tie the camera with the mirror. Sometimes, the cup loses its traction and since there is no supporting casing in the camera, it will definitely be damaged once it falls on a hard surface in your car.

Sample shots
Here are some sample shots, in pictures and videos, in both and day. The daylight picture was taken on a separate occasion but I am using it as an example.


Taken in Tanay, Rizal


Taken in the everlasting traffic of IPI.


Taken in Antipolo City


Taken in Cainta, Rizal

Verdict
I think the camera does an awesome job for my driving. It is very basic and easy to setup. I wish however, that there is an option for a smaller resolution. A 30-minute video at 720p is already 2.5gb. This means that the total length of videos that it can capture at 16gb is about 2 hours and 30 minutes only. Note that even the manual of the camera recognizes this. Maybe I haven’t tinkered with the camera yet, but I do not see a capability to delete individual videos. What I do now is after every trip, I connect the camera to a PC and then copy/delete the videos.

You will also notice in the video that it isn’t good in lowlight situations. Now that’s something I have to research on, if there’s a way to improve its night vision.

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