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Old 05-08-2014, 19:15   #1
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Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

In a post dated March 6, 2012 Ben Ellison at Panbo wrote about using a baby monitor on your boat to monitor various parts of your boat. My boat is not big enough to need any of this but, with not one but 2 masts in front of me, I would like to mount a camera on the bow pulpit (or masthead?!) to help with maneuvering/docking in crowded harbors... It would also be nice (cough) to get a quick peak ahead of me when I'm napping and the Admiral is at the helm.

I tried the two units Ben had suggested (the withins baby monitor, which was difficult to mount and the iZon, which was all around horrible) but returned them both.

But now, two years later, there are more options. Has anyone tried this?

Pros/cons of Cameras I'm considering.

IBaby:
Pro: Internal Battery & wifi means no running cable.
Cons: doesn't look rugged at all

GoPro or Garmin VIRB:
Pro: battery and wifi option plus rugged
Cons: expensive, only 2 hour battery life

DropCam:
Pro: remote monitoring of boat when I'm shoreside
Cons: Not sure how rugged it is. Requires power via usb cable (which max out at 15')

Poe Security Camera
Pros: rugged, only requires on cat5 cable (which I could run up the mast.
Cons: The ipad viewing software on most have poor reviews


Backup Camera connected to the video input of my Simrad NSE12:
Pros: Cheap and fairly rugged
Cons: requires running wires RCA and Power.

Wireless Backup Camera
Cons: wireless range (i tried a few of these two years ago and the picture was fuzzy)



Any thoughts?


John Konrad
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Old 05-08-2014, 19:32   #2
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

I tried a GoPro and the video delay to the screen, which was 1.5 seconds and up dependant upon the quality of the wireless connection, made it unworkable. I was trying it for a back-up camera and a delay was exactly what I didn't need in tight docking situations!

Dignity remained intact and no docks or boats were harmed during the test.
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Old 05-08-2014, 19:37   #3
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

Hi John,

Having been living on the boat for 6 years now I have missed out on some of the technology thats now in everyday use on land.
One of my friends has a BMW car and it has a huge TV screen in the dashboard with a camera outta the bum of the car. Not only does it show whats up the clacker but in reverse which way your car is gunna go and shades the danger area. Must be great for parking but he won't let me drive it!

Could that sor of thing mounted on the bow, or as you say, up the stick be the idea?Something that has the camera, IR sensors and the software to let you see exaactly how far the dock, or mooring ball is away.

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Old 05-08-2014, 19:44   #4
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

If I were going to do this on a sailboat I would want maximum coverage and versatility.

Consider a mast head mounted security camera with pan/tilt/zoom low light capabilities

Used them a lot on Superyachts and they are great!
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Old 05-08-2014, 23:14   #5
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

I have done this, but I did it for different reasons, still it should work for you.

I mostly sail alone, and descending into a Swanson 42 while under way is a pretty unpleasant process. It's something like a 7 foot drop, in two stages, so if you miss your footing, it is nasty.

Anyway, that means that when I go down to make a cup of tea, or set the oven for lunch, I have to keep clambering up and down the side of a mountain to deal with my somewhat irrational fear that despite the fact that I am moving at five or six knots, and there was nothing in site when I went down to light the oven, something may have mysteriously emerged from the ocean directly in front of me in the ten seconds I was down below (a sub maybe, we do some sub maintenance here in Adelaide) and I am about to crash into it and sink.

Like I said, irrational.

Anyway, the solution was staring me in the face, as I look forward from the galley at the bulkhead there is a great big LCD TV sitting there, never used (who wants to watch TV when you can watch dolphins, or subs...). So I wired a weather proof camera at the bow to the RCA input on the side, and now I watch the "Nothing in front of me" channel when under way and making the tea.

But this is all irrelevant anyway, as the tricky part, the relevant bit of this rambling post, is that you have to work out the best angle of view to suit your needs. The weather-proof 12V cameras are a dime a dozen, and very compact, and the wiring, though a little tedious, is in my experience of things electronic, worth the effort (After 20 odd years of IT I really avoid wireless when I can), but each camera comes with a different field of view. The reversing cameras (which are brilliant and very, very cheap) have a field of view (120 to 170 degrees) too wide for your application, I believe. Anything further away than about 8 feet is too far to give a perception of distance with these cameras, some are no good for things further than half that. I use a relatively narrow 62 degree field of view for my bow camera, which I derived by swapping the interchangeable lenses on a crap security camera I had in a box. But this may be a bit too narrow for your needs as it is to suit a boat under way with a pretty large TV screen, not for manoeuvring in a tight space.

I suggest you play around at the bow with a conventional camera first to figure out what angle of view you need, then I do really recommend wiring the camera in to avoid all the hassles of lag, dropout etc with wireless. Most 12V cameras incorporate the power supply and the single cable in one reasonably thin cable, so running the line is not too bad in the average boat.

The idea of mounting the camera on the mast does appeal to me for docking ... though like the idea of reversing cameras on cars, I find it hard to imagine how well the concept would work in a pen. I found the car cameras brilliant once I tried one, and have retro fitted them to both our cars and our bus, but cars are absolute in their movement, no slip, drift, yaw etc, boats as we all know, have no park brake. I am not sure there is enough time to consider and convert what you would see on the screen to meaningful wheel/throttle movements... but then our boat is not particularly nimble, yours is likely to be a lot more responsive and therefore the camera may be helpful.

Matt
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Old 05-08-2014, 23:24   #6
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

Just looked at my favourite retailer of this sort of thing...

Bullet Style Colour Camera with Panasonic CCD Sensor - Jaycar Electronics

That's a 70 degree field of view which I am guessing would be about right for docking a boat...

Matt
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Old 05-08-2014, 23:42   #7
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

Great ideas guys... Sounds like I'll try the backup camera first, my chartplotter (Simrad nse12) has an rca video in so this "should" work without problems.


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Old 06-08-2014, 02:17   #8
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

I put in wiring and a bracket for a PTZ camera below my radar, 10 meters up the mast, when I rerigged last year. I haven't gotten around to installing the camera yet, but the idea is:

1. Point it down and feed video to the helm plotter for docking.

2. Point it forward and feed video to a monitor at the nav table and use it to enhance visual watch from there.

3. Point it forward and feed video to a monitor on the salon bulkhead for a better view out for people inside.


I think it will be a great thing.
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Old 06-08-2014, 04:17   #9
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I put in wiring and a bracket for a PTZ camera below my radar, 10 meters up the mast, when I rerigged last year. I haven't gotten around to installing the camera yet, but the idea is:

1. Point it down and feed video to the helm plotter for docking.

2. Point it forward and feed video to a monitor at the nav table and use it to enhance visual watch from there.

3. Point it forward and feed video to a monitor on the salon bulkhead for a better view out for people inside.


I think it will be a great thing.
especially when you are sailing downwind with your new spinnaker pole...

Jim
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Old 06-08-2014, 04:31   #10
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

I have learnt to do practically everything single handed, but taking up the anchor is difficult and frequently leads to inadvertant loading up on the windlass, as I can't see the run of the chain beneath the trampolines from the helm.

So, i bought one of these cheap knock-off's.

High Quality 5M Waterproof HD 1080P Digital Camera Recorder Sport Wifi DV | eBay

It has it's own clamp, so you don't have to buy some expensive aftermarket GoPro accessory. It is HD and communicates with the iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth, independent of a WiFi network. There is minimal delay. It works perfectly and has solved my problem for only $88. As a bonus it's basically a GoPro with all those benefits, but without the premium cost.
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Old 06-08-2014, 05:40   #11
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
especially when you are sailing downwind with your new spinnaker pole...

Jim
LOL.

OK, OK, already
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Old 06-08-2014, 06:31   #12
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

I thought about putting cameras to cover 360 degrees, then having an iPad to monitor below while the boat sails on auto, and I adjust using the handheld
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Old 24-08-2014, 18:58   #13
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Re: Dropcam Or Wireless Camera on Bow

DropCam:
Pro: remote monitoring of boat when I'm shoreside
Cons: Not sure how rugged it is. Requires power via usb cable (which max out at 15')



I would stay AWAY from dropcam since they send continuous feeds of images to their servers, and will really hog a wireless network bandwidth in the process. What you need is a camera that is "stand-alone" and will let you connect if you like to see the image remotely.

If you had a sailboat, I would fashion a mount on the spreaders for a Mobotix Q24 (or whatever is current now), and give you 360 degree coverage of your boat. That one is a stand-alone linux server with an option to store images in the SDRAM card onboard. It can also export images to a remote server and can let you log in from your cell phone, tablet, PC, etc. It's a bit more than some solutions but is a durable solution. It is POE, so all you need to run up the mast is CAT5 cable to the camera. the power is 48vdc so you can use a DC-DC converter depending on what you have available.

If you only want the bow shot, you could use a Mobotix M12 camera (black and white plus color) so you have day & night operation. Same power cables and high quality cameras, good video, on-board storage if desired and easy remote access.

You can make trip zones so anything moving will alert you with images or video, and what moved. That's good when it's moored out of sight or you're off the boat.
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