In-car Live Streaming 1080p video from Buttonwillow Raceway with HQ Autosport:
The Action Camera is a Raspberry Pi based system designed to address many shortcomings I've found with commercial camera offerings at entry level prices. Contour (RIP), GoPro, and various Chinese based competitors share many common flaws making them quite frustrating to use:
Require Batteries to Run - Why can't they just take power from my car?! Battery management is the last thing you want to deal with at a track day or racing event. Maybe you left spares at home, or they die unexpectedly leaving you with no footage, and often corrupting your existing footage if it happened during recording. They also can overheat!
Don't automatically record anything - ever start a session only to later discover your press of the record button didn't take?
When storage fills up nothing records - sometimes you forget to make room for new footage and now you lost your best lap from that last session.
Microphone is on the camera - when you're watching your footage do you like to hear you and your car, or just wind noise? Unless you came up with some trick technique to muffle the wind you usually capture a lot of frustrating wind noise.
Fisheye lenses - Sure they're great for skiing and biking, but it just looks awful for car footage. You don't want a fisheye lens!
Use hard to remove microSD storage - what a pain to have to dig these out whenever you want to look at footage!
No accurate timestamps on videos - How do you find footage from yesterday's 2pm session? Watch file after file trying to figure out which one is the one you're after.
Is my camera recording? - Usually cameras aren't mounted in your line of sight while driving so how are you going to see their status lights showing they're recording?
Don't offer Live Streaming - while this is coming out in recent generations it's not available on many cameras still. It's 2021, shouldn't everything be Live Streaming capable?
Runs off 12V power - No more batteries!Starts recording within 30 seconds when you start your car, and stops when you turn it off.
Always-On Recording - like a dashcam, but without the fish-eye lens. Rolls footage in 10 minute blocks without footage loss. Records over oldest footage when the drive is filled. Manual mode can be enabled if you prefer to start/stop recording via a switch, or connected to another device like an ECU or RaceCapture Pro for triggering.
Stores on a USB Drive - for quick and easy removal from your car. 16GB storage included stores up to 150min of rolling footage. System rotates over existing files, and when at capacity will record over the oldest file so you never run out of space. User can switch to a larger drive if needed. A USB Extension can be used to relocate the USB port anywhere you like!
External microphone - move the microphone wherever you like so that it is out of the wind. Get clear sound. Includes 3D printed clip with 3M mounting tape to secure to your dash.
GoPro Hero 3 quality - 1080p 8MP at 30fps with a 66 degree FOV lens, no fisheye here. Might be better, I just only compared it to my two old Hero 3 cameras.
Timestamps on video files - Thanks to the real time clock in the Action Camera system your video files are saved with accurate timestamps so you know when they were taken.
LED Status Indicator - Orange LED indicating system status, letting you know when it's recording.
Streaming Mode (experimental) - Simultaneously record and live stream to Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook! Requires internet connectivity through something like a cellular hotspot. Note - Streaming is coupled with video recording, and when connectivity is lost to the internet video recording is also interrupted. The system does automatically attempt to reconnect and if it does both streaming and video recording are resumed. Bitrate is static and configurable (unlike some competitors with variable bitrates that can peak too high for your cell connection, or are artificially set too low).
Live Preview Mode - View the live camera feed remotely from a phone or computer to assist with proper aiming of your Action Camera.
Hotspot and WiFi Access - Enable an automatic Hotspot when away from home, and connects to home WiFi when in range for easy access. Web File server for downloading files wirelessly as well as a Media Server for easy playback from your home or laptop wherever you are!
Dedicated Power Management - Designed to protect your file system from corruption (other Pi-based systems ignore this key design feature leading to corrupted microSD and USB cards!). Automatically closes and saves video files when shutting down without draining your car's battery excessively.
Multiple Mounting Styles and Orientations - Both GoPro and RAM style mounting are available, along with mount brackets for roll cages and flat surfaces. If you want something not seen here, reach out and we can talk about customizing your Action Camera.
Replaceable Lens Protector - Lexan lens cover unscrews for easy replacement (reach out to me for replacement covers).
File and DLNA servers - Access your videos for downloading or direct viewing from any device, including your phone, when connected to your Action Camera's hotspot or the same shared WiFi.
Easy updates - Just place system updates on your USB drive, insert into your Action Camera, and start it up and updates will apply automatically.
Email notifications - can email you when the clock battery has died or there has been an issue applying an update.
Automated Video Repair - Should a file not save properly the system provides an automated repair feature. By placing the corrupted video file on your USB drive in the proper directory and then inserting the drive into your Action Camera, upon startup the system will automatically repair the file, and let you know when it's complete via the status LED.
Action Camera with integrated 10ft. HDMI and camera focus tool
Main Unit - Raspberry Pi 3B+ in a custom case with Aviation style screw locking wiring harness. Pi 4B available upon special request.
External Microphone with mounting clip, 59" cable (138" upon request and extra fee, please include in order notes)
USB Sound Card with retention clip
16GB USB 3.0 Drive - stores up to 150min of footage
LED Status indicator (integrated into the case unless requested as external, please include in order notes)
Mounting Orientation - choose whether the the mounting provisions are towards the top of the camera, or the bottom. Only needed for initial setup, as you can re-orient the camera with a simple configuration change later.
Mount Style - None means there is no mount on the camera case, so you must figure out how to mount it and attach it to your car. GoPro and RAM style are self-explanatory (RAM is pictured above).
Case Material - Standard temperature range of the camera case is up to 154 deg F, plenty for most places inside a car and outside. However up under the windshield on the dashboard temps can go higher, so we have a higher temp material up to 235 deg F, plenty for the hottest of days even on a car dash or windshield. High temp material prints differently, and will not have a textured surface on the sides of the camera. Extra charge for high temp as it is expensive and difficult to work with.
Mount Options- Optional mounts can be purchased with your system. M6 GoPro Style mount for surface mounting, or various size roll cage mounts are available.
LED Status Indicator - can be integrated into the main unit (default) or external (wire lead out of main wiring harness, LED + mount provided loose). If you prefer external please note this in your order notes!
Customizable - I can customize the case lettering. If you have something fancier in mind, let me know. I can also work somewhat with the mount locations. Include customizations in your order notes during checkout or email me at [email protected] with your order number and customization details immediately after placing your order. Charges may apply for complex requests.
Water Resistance - upon special request and for an extra $15 fee (include in your order notes during checkout and a separate paypal payment will be required) the camera can be made water resistant.
Longer Cable - comes with a 10ft cable, but 15ft. can be included upon special request (include in your order notes during checkout) for an extra $3. Extensions may be added but note the cameras have only been tested to 15ft and longer may introduce video issues due to signal degradation.
Do you have a 4k and/or 60fps version? Unfortunately no. I'm limited to Raspberry Pi compatible components and there is no 4k or 60fps camera yet.
Why don't you use the latest Pi 4B? The system runs perfectly fine on a 3B+. The 4B tends to overheat easily and in a motorsports environment I opted for highest reliability, and it gets pretty warm in race cars. While I don't think the Action Camera's system load will lead to an overheat scenario in most motorsports conditions I can't be sure as I haven't run a 4B with the Action Camera on track. I do have active cooling solutions specifically for the Pi 4B however that address overheating for sure, but these come at extra cost. If you really want a Pi 4B in your Action Camera reach out to discuss options.
Can I customize the software myself? Yes! The system is open and accessible, allowing you to customize everything. Doing so voids the warranty covering the software component of course but I'm here to help (and open to suggestions). The desktop environment is disabled but could be re-enabled easily. The system comes with an extra dedicated USB port for power that can drive most small USB powered displays, including the John Freund Racing 7" Touch Display.
I can buy a Chinese 4k camera for less. Why would I want this? - It makes your life easier, eliminating the headaches of trying to use battery powered non-automated cameras in a motorsports environment. You do sacrifice video quality but for many 1920x1080@30fps is plenty, and you gain so much in terms of reducing headaches at track events. I also vastly prefer the lack of fisheye lens, which many other racers have attested to me in conversation. You have to judge for yourself if the sacrifice is worth it. As for cost, I have to individually 3D print and hand build every single device, and can't really order components in bulk for cost savings. I still have to charge enough to make this worth my time.
NOTE: As of 2/2022 a couple small updates have been made not reflected in the product photos:
Camera no longer uses a lens cover. I redesigned it so this wasn't necessary (one less piece to lose/fail, and easier for me to produce)
USB Sound card is slightly different from the one pictured (simpler and more compact)
Software Updates - Current release is v1.0. Future updates will be listed below.
v1.1 coming with systems produced after 2/1/22, update soon to be available. Includes
Twitch streaming support
Videos in a session after the first had odd timelines as the timing data wasn't restarted. Example, the second video's time would start at 10 minutes, not 0 like normal videos. This caused issues for some video players making it hard to seek to times in the video (not conducive to playback!). This has been fixed now in this release and all video segment files will have a 0-10minute timeline.
This product is MADE TO ORDER. I do not keep inventory, so I will need to order all these components after you place your order. Please be patient. This means I am subject to current parts availability though I will communicate any delays with you. Also all cases are 3D printed, and current 3D printing technology does not produce the same quality as Injection Molding so please tailor your expectations accordingly.
6 Month warranty against defects in workmanship and materials under normal use and conditions. Free software updates for life. John Freund Racing LLC agrees, at its option during the warranty period, to repair any defect in material or workmanship or to furnish a repaired or refurbished product of equal value in exchange without charge (except for a fee for shipping, handling, packing, return postage, and insurance which will be incurred by the customer). Such repair or replacement is subject to verification of the defect or malfunction and proof of purchase.