First Go at a Real Helmet Cam

| April 17, 2009 | 7 Comments

About a month ago, perhaps because I wrote an article on how to make your own $2.00 helmet cam, Chris Dickey from VIO helmet cams sent me a demo VIO 1.5 helmet cam to try out, which was most likely a ploy as he knew that I’m a techno geek and once I tried it, I would want to keep it.  The cam part is a forgone conclusion – I tend to like cameras.  The helmet part however is another story.  I wear helmets for ice climbing, downhill racing, mountain unicycling and bass fishing, but never for backcountry skiing.  For one they are too hot on the uphills, they don’t carry well in, or on packs and I think they encourage me to take chances I probably wouldn’t without one.  I realize this is Old Skool thinking, but if a helmet serves as both a tripod AND head protection, I might change my evil ways.

Part of the reason it took me a month to actually try out the new VIO cam was that I needed the right helmet for it.  My Alpine skiing helmets are too heavy for BC skiing and my climbing helmets don’t work well with goggles, so I needed yet another helmet to add to my collection of ten or so helmets which I own but never use.  I was able to pick up a K2 Edge helmet, which is not only lightweight, but seems pretty comfy.  It looks like it would offer up some nice crash protection, but by the time I’m done misdrilling all of the mounting holes six times over, it is so Swiss Cheesed that protection is now secondary to camera location.

One of the cool things about the VIO system is that it has a very forgiving wide angle lens.  Still, if the angle is off, you end up getting a stiff neck watching the videos as you are constantly craning your neck to try to see the top of the frame, which just isn’t there.  Getting the camera angle just right is a big part of making a helmet cam work, otherwise the results are more annoying than fun.

My first mounting attempt did a good job at capturing “task” details, like getting into bindings, stripping skins, etc., but didn’t look far enough ahead to work well for skiing.  More helmet holes are needed.  But, the aft looking position worked pretty well and I almost like that angle better as it makes plinky-dink skiing look more dramatic.

The above video is my backyard stomping ground and is a run I’ve skied at least 200 times.  It’s not “world class” but it is quick, easy, safe and you can bring your dogs, so it has been getting increasing traffic over the years.  The snow tint looks off, but it is actually from a dust storm which blew in from Moab and made all the snow red.

After trying screws and Velcro, I have now settled on the burly little magnets for attaching the camera to the helmet.  I like this as the camera snaps into position by itself and has a sort of release feature if I crater, which I hope will help save the camera.  And who knows… it might even save my skull.

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Help support StraightChuter.com and get a camera worthy K2 Edge Helmet on sale now from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…

Category: 02 Gear

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (7)

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  1. Ben says:

    You may claim to be “Old Skool”, but after watching the video it’s clear that you’re really just one of those young punks who can’t even put a hat on facing the right way…

  2. dongshow says:

    I completely agree on the mounting comments, that seems to be most of the trick of using these things. Trying to share one between 5-6 people, constantly remounting with zip ties leads to hours of horrible footage. But it’s super fun playing with the thing through out the winter.

  3. Polly says:

    Wooh, I’ve never skied backwards before! Where were the dogs? I didn’t see their tracks.

  4. Jared says:

    Dude, the dog were eating your Moab dust! Skiing in that dusty snow sure had a strange texture…

  5. Hart says:

    i’ve been thinking about a helmet cam myself andrew. although not a confidence builder that the vio is the best option for quality. i used one to video meltzer as he started the appalachian assault on mount katahdin. right after that shot i put it away and took out my point and shoot digital. the quality degradation was worth it for the ease of use. as you mention the tubular vio is just tough to keep righted.

  6. dr says:

    you ditched your pup! Something tells me that dog knows that line as well as you…

  7. Chuck says:

    Your post on the dirt bag helmet cam inspired me. I happened to have a helmet with a hole in it (from a rock) that was perfect for adding more holes to attach a camara. It cost me $1.45 plus tax for the screw.

    I took it out for a test run in Red Pine and vicinity, and put together at 5 minute video. http://www.youtube.com/ckonopa

    Thanks for the idea!

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