First publication “Australian Skydiver Magazine”, 2003

You don’t have to go back to far in this sport to the point where air to air video was a pretty amazing thing – 8mm and 16mm cameras mounted atop helmets, with the results sent for processing after the weekend’s jumping – on a rush job, you could be reviewing your skydive as early as next weekend. Today – thanks to miniaturisation and consumer electronics – debriefing the load one jump whilst climbing to height on load two is commonplace.

Even better miniaturisation has seen full-fledged cameras such as Sony’s IP7, small enough to slip into a shirt pocket. It’s pretty much a take-anywhere technology, and easy in the palm of your hand. But what if you’re looking for that special shot? Want to be a fly on the wall? An eye on the strut? You could put a camera out there – gaffer tape is pretty foolproof – but it might be smarter to just put the lens out there…

Leo Baker is a seasoned intermediate RW competitor who “gets” cameras in a big way. He’s also got the Electrical Engineering knowledge to make things work – and Jaycar electronics have the bits. He compiled a short shopping list for me:

Cat QC-3488 Bullet Style Camera with Panasonic CCD Sensor
This /is/ a camera – the leads attached are for power, and video – it has its roots in security installations. Just plug it in to anything that can record video, and away you go! It has a 380 line resolution – perhaps not quite up with today’s best cameras, but very serviceable – and a lens angle of 70 degrees, so it’s reasonably wide. Colour saturation isn’t a great as you get with a conventional camera – and worsens after a cold ride to height if mounted externally.

But you do get flexibility – for $329.

Next, you’ll need to get power to it. A sealed lead-acid battery has the “oomph” to drive the camera, 100mA required; Jaycar offer the following, which is well in excess of requirements for $24.95

Cat SB-2480 Sealed Lead Acid Battery 1.3 Amp Hour 12 Volt

A recharger, if you don’t have one, is essential:

Cat MB-3517 12V charger
…another $32.95

You’ll also need wire to hook the two together, and connecting lugs and so on – the Jaycar dudes are really helpful here.
Tim Bates has the best idea I’ve seen so far – using Category 5 Ethernet (Computer network) cabling allows a positive locking connection with ready made cable lengths. Alternatives include “cannon” style connections, like a microphone.

Most Sony handicam equipment has the ability to record video from an external source – check your manual, in any case.

The video lead may need to be adapted to meet the camera; this can be as simple as a

Get a couple of rolls of this
Cat NM2810 Gaffer Tape
At $13.50 a roll, it doesn’t sound cheap. But it will do the job if used correctly.

OK. Connect the whole lot together, plug the power (etc)

I’ve mounted this camera on struts, bicycles and shoes; clipped it to risers, dangled it from pergolas. It can go anywhere.

Thanks to Tim Bates and Leo Baker

By Luke Oliver

I'm having an interesting life.You can contact me on 0429 020865.

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