OK, so this is a no-frills post while I’m on the road in Italy …..
Some folks have asked how the INNOVV K2 is getting along after I fitted it to the Capo a few weeks ago. Well here is a quick update for you! The install is a semi-permanent arrangement – the recording unit and GPS module are in the under-seat storage area and the front camera is hung from the right-hand fog lamp, while the rear camera hangs from the right-hand pannier rail. Both are very much temporary mounts and as such suffer from a little vibration (front mostly) but it’s only noticeable at certain RPM’s. This will disappear once they are mounted permanently on more robust mounts.
The 12v/5v power supply sits in the same spot as the old unit – on top of the ECU. 12v is taken directly from the battery and the sensing/switching connection goes to the tail lights. No lights, no cameras!
The system has run faultlessly from day 1. Start the bike, turn on the lights and away it goes …. no fuss, no drama. I have not experienced any of the shortcomings of the old K1 – corrupt files, frozen recording etc. The K2 has done its job exactly as it should, in fact I’ve got so comfortable with it that I no longer check the video or setting on the app every ride …. I just fire up and go! At the end of the week I’ve checked the SD card and been really pleased that all the files are recorded just fine with no corrupt or dropped frames in sight.
So that’s it as far as a quick update is concerned. Once I’m back in the UK I’ll go more in detail about image quality etc, but for now I’m really pleased with the K2, it’s a real improvement over the K1 in all aspects.
Now that I’ve finished running the C5 camera on the rear, I figured it was finally time to get around to making a more permanent mount for the rear K1 camera, rather than the piece of scrap steel strip that has done the job so far. Although it felt quite rigid, the fact is the video image would suffer with a bit of ‘jello’ above 6,000rpm – an annoying vibration in the image that makes it look slightly wobbly!
So after a couple of test runs to make sure dimensions were ‘ish’, it was a 6 hour slog-athon until the Robox printer produced this little puppy. It uses the same two M5 bolts as the steel strip, along with two more M4 mounting points to add a little extra rigidity. The camera now mounts (like the front) using all three 1/4-20 UNC points. I’m happy to say the image is lovely and stable, no more wibbly-wobbly video when the throttle gets lovingly caressed!
The INNOVV website has just been updated with the details of the new C5 full-HD remote head camera system. I’ve been beta-testing a pre-production one for a few weeks now and have to say it’s a neat and waterproof system that has excellent image quality. Communication is via a smartphone app (Wi-Fi not Bluetooth) with outstanding ‘live-view’ ability.
It records in 1080@30fps and 720@30 & 60fps, has an internal battery for independent operation, park mode, an internal microphone and a socket for a remote microphone. The recording unit is small and lightweight and because it’s waterproof, can be mounted just about anywhere on a motorcycle.
Anyway, enough for now ….. pop over to the INNOVV website for more information and later on, once I’m done beta testing I’ll post up a review. At the moment I’m especially keen to see how the C5 and K1 video quality compares – day or night – so the Capo’s getting plenty of use! Here is a picture of the recording unit ………… remember, this is a PRE-production model, so the one for sale may look a little different, especially the final body colour.
All I can say is – WOW! Since the link was added to the INNOVV website about the K1 review, I don’t think I’ve ever had so much traffic or comments in one day. Absolutely fantastic and wonderful to swap emails with so many other riders!!
So as a follow on, today I’ll answer a couple of questions that folks have raised. Firstly, ferrite cores, what are they and what do they do. In a nutshell wires can act as aerials, bringing unwanted high-frequency signals into (or out of) an electrical circuit, such that this interference causes problems. By fitting a clip-on ferrite core you prevent these unwanted signals from entering or leaving – in this case the DV recording unit. In my case for example, when I tapped the horn button (Stebel Nautilus Compact Tuning – 18A!) the DV recorder would always reboot itself. Since fitting the ferrites – no problems at all when using the horn! The ferrites I bought are for 3.5mm cable and fit all the INNOVV wiring just fine.
Secondly, the button/LED replacement I made. Here’s a breakdown of the existing button – just a momentary push-to-make switch and a red LED, nothing more. As mentioned in the previous post, the voltage to the switch is 3.8v and to the LED 1.8v pulling approx. 11ma. The switch could easily be replaced by any momentary switch you like, that’s easy, unfortunately though the LED is drawing very little current and so this line cannot be relied on (without frying something!) to power a brighter LED that would typically draw around 20-30ma, so a new circuit is required. Now this could be as simple as using this line to drive a transistor such as in the diagram below. Here a fused switched 12v line provides the required voltage/current to drive an LED via a transistor. In this case the INNOVV provides the 1.8v (at 0.5ma) to switch the transistor. This circuit could all be assembled inline with the LED to save space …… however it would have to be meticulously assembled, if the 12v line touches the 1.8v line, then goodnight DV recorder!! Much better to buy a small box and a piece of strip-board from Maplin (UK) or RadioShack (USA) and build the circuit into the cable run.
Remember that if you want to use a green or blue LED instead of the red one, then the 560Ω resistor will need to be replaced with a 510Ω one to compensate for the different voltage requirement.
Now this where I admit I didn’t do it this way! That’s because I wanted to add a couple of other functions that I thought were useful, so I went and added a microcontroller into the melting pot. On the standard setup, when the button is pushed (long) the recorder starts or stops and the LED changes state – in other words, I have feedback from the unit while I’m riding along. However when the button is pushed (momentary) the LED does nothing …. the DV unit will say “Video file protected” and the red dot on the recorder screen will change to a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark in it, but I can neither hear or see any of this from the saddle. So for file protect/unprotect I don’t have any usable feedback and I wanted to change that.
Now the microcontroller runs a combined red/green LED – this lights green when recording and off when not recording, if file protect is enabled then it toggles red/green for 0.5 seconds at 10Hz then turns red denoting that the file currently recording is now protected. Another push of the button reverses the process – red/green toggle and then solid green for unprotected file recording.
There is also one other feature ……. when file protection is enabled, it is ONLY for the current file. So if for example you activate file protection with a 10 minute file at 9 minutes 58 seconds elapsed, then 2 seconds later a new file will begin to record and it is UNPROTECTED, see the issue? So now, if I have activated file protection, the microcontroller waits until the new file begins recording and triggers file protection itself in the background and will continue to do so until I deactivate it. All the time I know I’m recording a sequence of protected files because the LED is red not green.
I joined the HD camera bandwagon back in January 2014 and since then have enjoyed (or not!) the delights and foibles of the GoPro Hero 3+ Black camera. Constantly charging a bucket load of batteries, taking it on and off the bike then getting frustrated when the current battery needs replacing/recharging in oh-so short a time.
In the end of course the penny dropped. The GoPro is simply overkill for day-to-day riding where (hopefully) nothing of any note happens. But if it did, I’d still like to capture it if possible, just in case it could help with an insurance claim or legal dispute.
I realised that what I wanted wasn’t an ‘Action camera’, but a ‘dashcam‘ …. a subtle difference it seems! So here’s what I’d like it to do:-
Bike AND battery powered – turn on/off and record video with just the turn of the ignition key
2 cameras – forward and rear both recorded by a single unit
Full HD – 1920 x 1080 (30fps minimum) progressive with good low-light capability
Protect files – Either on demand or on collision detection
Be designed for motorcycles – waterproof and ruggedised.
And so courtesy of Jim at Abbey Motorcycle Instructors in Oxfordshire, an INNOVV K1 dual-camera kit found its way to the Capo. While the INNOVV didn’t tick all of my ‘wish-list’ it ticked more than most. The full specification of the K1 can be viewed here.
To fit the kit to the Capo required a bit of sacrifice. The long serving and ultra-reliable Autocom Pro-7 unit had to come off the bike and has now been streamlined and put into the tank bag along with the ICOM PMR446 radio. You really can’t keep a good, but very old bit of kit down for long!
The INNOVV 12v/5v voltage regulator is wired into the tail-light loom and installed on top of the ECU with a (provided) double-sided sticky pad. I have to be honest here and admit that I already have an extra loom in place ready for the Active Brake Light System which is still being built. So in the meantime I pinched its Molex connector to power the K1. Next the GPS unit was installed in the Capo’s luggage bay just behind the ECU on a 3D printed bracket so it fits nicely next to the MCCruise electric servo.
With that done it was time to install the cameras. I decided I wanted them on the center-line of the bike rather than bias them one side or the other. I wanted them EU/UK road friendly! The rear is mounted just above the tail-light and the front on the headlight guard. Both are angled down about 7º to reduce glare, each has an excellent view of the road with only the edge of the top-box getting in the rear camera frame. The cameras are each physically identical (just different cable length) and have machined aluminium bodies that are waterproof and heavy-duty, however the lens (especially front) is vulnerable and would benefit from some protection. They each have three 1/4-20 UNC thread mounting points (normal camera thread) and come with basic steel L-brackets. However I decided to make my own to best suit the mounting points – the rear from a piece of steel plate, while the front is 3D printed and bolts to the headlight guard (AP8791235). The final two items in the box are the push-button and a small loom that plugs into the DV recoreder, joining both button and GPS USB’s to one connector, however I left this off for the initial trials – more about this later.
With the kit fitted it was time to set-up the unit in the two recorder menu’s. Time, date and vehicle name are straight forward as was selecting camera orientation – one of mine had to be rotated. Initially I set both cameras to 1920×1080, then had a play with 1280×720 on the rear, but ultimately went back to full HD on both. Again all the settings (bar one) are covered in the manual. The one that is missing is ‘EDOG beep’ …….. INNOVV tell me this is to do with warning of being over-speed but requires the speed camera data to be installed. Besides, the ‘beep’ is under the saddle and inaudible for riders, so I leave it switched off.
The system also incorporates accelerometers in the front camera and they can be used to lock video files or start the cameras (Park Mode) when they detect an impact above a certain value. Setting this value is trial and error and at first I found it locked files when riding along our dirt/stone road. It’s something you can tweak over a few rides until it suits your roads/riding style I guess.
Operation and observations
With the Capo buttoned up, it was time to give it a whirl and see if it really is as fit-and-forget as I wanted. In short yes it is! We all have our little routines and mine is key-on, wait for the dashboard to finish its self-test, hit the starter and when the motor settles, turn on the lights. At that point the K1 turns on and immediately begins recording. I set mine for 10 minute segments, the selection is 1, 2, 5 and 10 minutes. At the end of the ride simply shut off the lights or ignition and the K1 reverts to its internal 3.7v 1100mAH battery** to finish the current file and store it, then it shuts down. It couldn’t be any more turn-key if it tried! The K1 also has voice (and beep/bong!) confirmations that tells you what it’s doing, but you look mighty odd jumping off your bike and sticking your ear to the pillion saddle, so I turned it off once confident it was working reliably.
With a 128Gb card installed it records for about 14∼15 hours before overwriting the first files it recorded. All video files can be viewed directly on the recording unit, with basic fast forward/reverse functions or remove the SD card and pop it into your computer. When you format the memory card in the recorder it adds a useful viewing program (Registrator Viewer 5.8 for Windows) that allows you to not only view the files but it can also show you location/speed/heading from the GPS data and data from the accelerometers. However, if you want to save your video as picture-in-picture format like you see dotted around the internet, you’ll need a video editing package such as Adobe Premiere Elements.
What about picture quality? I left the menu settings at default, however there are a few items specifically for tweaking the image quality – resolution, quality (Normal, Fine & Super Fine) as well as WRD (Wide Dynamic Range). This improves the cameras night-time images or images with strong back-lighting where objects appear more in silhouette. Personally I find the images pretty good but a little over sharpened such that there is some noticeable image ringing. Also the data rates differ front to rear, the front camera has a data rate of 12Mbs while the rear is reduced to 8Mbs and I found definite compression artifacts on the rear footage especially (for example) when riding along a tree-lined road where the image has lots of fast changing areas (overhanging trees) instead of a relatively constant sky. Maybe I’m being a little harsh here. After all it is a budget dual camera system not a high-end Sony/Nikon/Cannon! But having said that, and looking at the specification of the Ambarella OV2710 sensor and A7LA70 chipset I can’t help but think that image quality can be improved by tweaking the firmware. Maybe an update will be released in 2017?
Here’s a short video put together from K1 and GoPro (top left & audio) footage. The Capo popping on the overun has stopped since the new camchain tensioner was fitted and the slight front camera movement has gone since the new mount has been fitted ….. oh and some of the quality has been lost sending it over to YouTube. 🙁 I think I better do a new video!!
Parts not used
As mentioned previously, there is a push-button provided as well. This is used to lock/unlock (momentary push) the currently recording video file and (2-3 second push) to start or stop the recording. When recording an LED is lit in the button. Now here is quite possibly my biggest gripe of the K1 system. The button isn’t waterproof and the LED is so weak as to be almost impossible to see except in a dimly lit room (or car interior?). I decided to strip it to find out what makes it tick, then set about replacing it with something more useful.
The button has two functions – first it grounds a 3.8v signal line (the button push), second the LED is fed by a 1.8v 11mA signal from the DV recorder – both ground through a third wire. So I knocked up an interface box to improve the LED power and feed both signals forward to the old Autocom PTT (Push to Talk) button I still had on the handlebars. Now I have a waterproof, heavy-duty push-button and a much brighter LED that I can see in daylight.
Conclusion after 6 months use
Overall I’m pretty happy with the kit and enjoy letting it do its thing …. nowadays I don’t think about it and only check the cameras are clean before heading out. In fact I only checked the SD card yesterday after about a month – everything is recording just fine.
The one niggle I had early on was intermmittent locking-up or shut-down of the DV recorder. This was cured by fitting ferrite cores to all the leads. The only other change I’ve made has been the replacement of the bag provided for the DV recorder with a 3D printed frame – similar protection but with better ventilation for cooling – it does get VERY warm over time! Anyway, here are a few more bullet points that come to mind.
Build quality, installation instructions & general performance
Price (pre BREXIT £/$ crash!) of approx £200
Availability of accessories and spares
Communication with INNOVV – quick response to emails.
Could be better
Improve video quality – reduce compression and sharpening
Waterproof heavy duty button with bright LED specifically for motorcycles
Supply a pair of lens protectors in the kit
Susceptible to RF interference – shielded wires or add ferrite cores to cameras/GPS/switch wiring
Waterproof cases for the GPS and DVR unit.
Other things to possibly consider for the future ….
Improved battery capacity and reduced drain when unit is switched off
Wireless or Wi-Fi capability for intercom or Off-Bike video file storage on a smartphone. Maybe the system could notify you via SMS if the Park Mode is activated by impact?
Combine the DVR and GPS units to reduce the overall number of cables and connections.
* The voltage regulator has been updated with a sensing wire to be attached to a switched 12v source while the red/black connect directly to battery supply. The regulator supplied in my kit did not have this upgraded function.
** This is the same battery as used in the old GoPro / GoPro2 – Battery model AHDBT-001 or 002. There are loads of aftermarket versions of these on the Ebay if you need to replace it.
A huge thank-you to those that have donated toward the upkeep of this website, it is much appreciated!
A couple of parts finally arrived yesterday, having had an extended holiday in Milan courtesy of customs. These have been kindly provided for review by Rock Liu at INNOVV. The first is the Power Hub 1 and the second is a bracket to help support the four cables that go into the K1 camera system. The delivery is well-timed actually ….. we’re about to get a good old dose of crap weather, so it’ll be an ideal time to fit the hub and write a review of it and the K1 camera system.
After waiting a week for the delivery from carparts4less, the Capo is happily running on four coils again! 😀 I bought the Renault V6 coil (413745171) made by HAAS. While plug’n play at the LT connector, it does need some excess plastic removing and the HT end requires a modification. I’ve seen this coil modified in a couple of ways – one simple and one requiring a bit of soldering skill. I chose the latter because I think it gives a more positive connection. New page here.
With the bike buttoned up, I ran the INNOVV K1 cameras again – no sign of RF issues anymore, so that’s a step in the right direction. It was about 6pm and dark inside as well as outside the barn as I stood tweeking the throttle and glancing at the INNOVV DV recorder while it captured the rear K1 camera. I watched the vapour from the exhausts to the left and right of the camera as it swirled in the red glow of the tail light. Then it all went blank and the INNOVV rebooted again – WTF!!! 👿
However …… in that moment I saw something that was a revelation. A real game changer as they say. The fact is, I started to suffer an intermittent fault a few months ago and as any engineer knows, you’ll go bald fast if you waste time chasing an intermittent fault – wait for it to come to you. I think of these sorts of faults a little like the TV serial killers on any number of cop shows – they always want to get caught. At some point an intermittent fault will give itself away, that one clue that unlocks the puzzle. In this case, when the INNOVV rebooted, I saw a momentary flicker of the red glow from the tail light out of the corner of my eye. If I hadn’t been doing this in the dark I would never have spotted it!
This fault goes back quite a while, back to a hot summer, a long day on French motorways and a cruise control that would occasionally stop working. Sometimes it would engage for the whole 1½-2hr ride, the next it would drop out after a few minutes or maybe after a ½hr – it was completely random. However …… I did find that by turning the headlights off, the cruise could be re-engaged and would work just fine! At that point I was suspecting a fault with the headlight loom, the 6-way connector is known to burn if the Earth (Ground) connection is bad. Unfortunately all tests and checks came up with nothing. So I sat back and waited for the fault to give me the one clue I needed to bring the bugger to justice!
In that momentary tail light flicker, all the parts came crashing together. It was the light switch all along! You see the switch isn’t just one switch but two-in-one. One for the headlight and one for the sidelight …… and this is the circuit that the MCCruise control AND the INNOV are powered from! The switch was stripped, the hard dirt-filled goo that had once been grease that was stopping the springs working was cleaned out and the contacts treated to a splash of contact cleaner and fresh lubricant. Now it looks better, works smoother and above all, delivers a constant voltage to where it’s required. 😀
And afterwards? Well a couple of days eating up the miles and clocking up the hours have been rewarding (and fun!) to say the least. Both cruise and cameras have worked perfectly and the Capo is pulling like a little train again thanks to its refreshed ignition!
Twitter, Facebook, emails, texts … it’s a fact that the modern driver is ever more distracted and as a consequence, the one thing I hate most – rear end collisions, are on the increase. It’s the one direction I have little or no influence over what the driver is doing. The last incident I was unfortunate to be involved in dates back to July 2005. Sat minding my own business at a roundabout waiting for a gap, when in a heartbeat the day turned to s**t. White-van-man ran into the back of me …… Ripping off the panniers and exhaust of my lovely Triumph Trophy 1200, while at the same time bending the subframe and ruining the body work as it slid along the road. The drivers opening words were: “I didn’t think you were there”.
Thankfully he never contested that he was to blame and the insurance paid out pretty quickly. But it could so easily have gone the other way. None of the vehicles in the immediate vicinity stopped – they had a good gawp, then trotted on. If he’d argued that I’d cut him up or some other sob story, I’d have been hard pressed to prove otherwise and the case would have dragged on for ages. This is of course one reason why cameras make mighty useful tools for our defence!
In reality I’ve been using cameras on bikes for about 13 years now ….. First a 640*480 bullet camera feeding into a Sony Video Walkman (digital tape). Nowadays I use the GoPro 3+ I bought a few years ago, but it’s really not suited to the roll of ‘dashcam’ and of course, running two (forward/rear) is an expensive hobby! So I was interest to read recently about the Innovv K1 system.
The Innovv K1 uses dual cameras (1920*1080 full HD) that feed into a single recording unit and it is designed to be a permanent installation on the bike. Both cameras are recorded in full frame and can be played back as such or as ‘picture-in-picture’ on the recording unit built in screen. It also has a GPS unit that can overlay information onto the footage if you want. What I particularly like is that the cameras are fairly discreet and can be mounted out of the way of prying eyes and fiddly fingers. It has many more features that I’ll not go into here, but are well worth checking out on the Innovv website. Oh and the price is damn good when compared to many single-camera systems.
I really like the idea of an almost fit-n-forget system that starts and stops at the turn of the ignition key. Other than keeping the lenses clean I should be able to go about my daily business, smug in the knowledge that should something untoward happen, the Innovv K1 will have probably captured it and (if it detects excessive g) will have locked the video file to prevent deletion.
Of course common sense says that if vehicle manufacturers reduced the number of eye-candy gadgets and driver training were improved then the number of distracted idiots might reduce and I wouldn’t have to worry so much ….. but that’s not going to happen any time soon. Unfortunately the same is now happening with bikes, just look at the latest offerings. Colour LCD dashboards with more information, entertainment and interconnectivity than you can shake a very long stick at.
Above is a classic example of the latest sort of offering, also can anybody reasonably explain to me the obsession about knowing which gear you’re in and why it has to dominate the dashboard! It also appears that ‘neutral’ is so important to Ducati they show it you twice…… WTF! 😯
No siree Bob, none of this information overload for me thank you very much. I’m going to fire up the Capo, fiddle with the GPS for a minute, turn on the GoPro from the wireless remote, plug into the Autocom, kickstart the music and make sure the phone has Bluetoothed itself to the GPS/Autocom just in case someone phones, then I’m all set to ride around the corner for a nice loaf of bread ……….
……… The new breed of riders just don’t have a clue how simple life is with older bikes! 😉
Well it’s time to test out the prototype of the BMW-clone Dynamic Brake Light System ……… but how to keep an eye on the tail-light and hazards when riding around? Dig out a bit of scrap metal, the old Shorai battery and the Tarot 2D gimbal/GoPro camera combination – that’s how! 😀
Pardon the pun … but the Shorai battery was a complete non-starter as far as getting the Capo to wheeze into life (below 12C anyway!), so it spent the next few years doing various duties. Replacing the battery in my computer UPS (uninterruptible Power Supply) for one, then running the dashboard test-rig for a while before being the power supply of choice to run the Tarot gimbal or any home-brew datalogging/test kit that needed 12V. To be fair it’s 4½ years old, stored in the barn for extended periods, recharged with a crude 6V/12V charger, run flat as a pancake and overcharged …. and it still keeps working!
So now we’re ready to rock the highways and byways with the gimbal/GoPro hopefully grabbing the footage I need. Once it’s done I’ll turn the gimbal around and grab some more quirky footage facing backwards! 😯
Many years back I started to carry one of these disposable cameras on the bike. Usually ratting around in the top-box with all manner of junk, it was their just in case of …… Well I’m sure you get the idea. Instead it ended up being used to take a picture of the speedo whenever it passed through an ‘interesting’ odometer reading – 12345, 22222, 33333. Sad I know, but it became a habit.
Taking a photo of these mileages has stayed with me and where possible I still take a snap of the dashboard if it’s convenient/safe to do it and of course, if I remember! This time around it was a biggie, the one that would use up all but one segment of the entire odometer – 88,888 – I wasn’t going to miss this one.
And so on a beautifully warm day with January knocking on February’s door the capo rolled to a halt just south of Penne and the picture was taken. The Capo’s running wonderfully and I’m (slowly) losing a bit of weight and feeling better for it – I have a feeling this year might just be the year we crack that 6th digit!