Dash to Dashcams
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Thread: Dash to Dashcams

  1. #1
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    thubs up Dash to Dashcams

    This might be of interest to those of us with 2014 C7s, or those who opted out of the PDR in the 2015 and up C7s as well as other OEM vehicles. I look at an alternative to the PDR.


    It seems like dashcams (cameras mounted on or near the windshield) are becoming trendy in the United States, with most being purchased aftermarket while a few OEMs (like our C7s beginning with MY2015) are beginning to offer them as an integrated option at time of purchase. You might recall my mentioning that tt was certainly a hot niche at this year’s SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) in Las Vegas. This briefly looks at the logic in considering one, and then details a new model by a major vendor in the market. My perspective in this review is influenced by being an automotive enthusiast and a professional photographer.

    Why consider one?

    In the USA interest in having a dashcam tends to be based on one, or a combination, of the following:
    • A desire to share images of a car trip
    • A record of driving on a high performance track or circuit
    • Documentation in the event of an accident or road rage

    Ideally a dashcam should be easy to use, relatively non-intrusive and of course safe. Pricing has a pretty broad range from around $50 to $350. What appears to be driving the price difference is a combination of manufacture reputation, lens quality, image quality, memory storage, etc. Very similar to what you would find when looking at point-and-shoot cameras.

    An important determiner in selecting one dashcam over another is your intended use:

    If your primary intent is sharing videos of your car trip, be sure to check out how the videos are saved by the unit you are looking at. Ideally it should provide a common output file such as “QuickTime for Microsoft Windows” or “MOV” or other MPEG 4 file. This will allow you to directly share without any conversion software needed, to your friends or to YouTube, etc.

    If you are primarily interested in recording your track experiences, you probably should focus on one that allows for the integration of engine telemetry (speed, gear, amount of throttle and brake, etc.) along with an overlay of the actual course layout and your gps location as you are driving the course. Those being offered by OEMs as integrated units will typically offer this, while only a few aftermarket dashcams do.

    I mentioned the third consideration for having a dashcam was for documentation in the event of an accident or road rage. Many dashcams will automatically record to a separate folder in the event of impact, while some also offer an ‘emergency’ button to record and preserve the recording (whenever you want to). The reason for this is important: dashcams typically record to a memory card or built-in memory, and when that medium is filled up, it starts recording back over at the beginning. Having a dashcam that preserves, or offers the ability to preserve, images of an accident/incident is a real plus.

    Other things to consider in selecting a dashcam is how is it powered, how much of the forward view does it capture, how well does it work under various light conditions, how much can it record before it over-writes, and how well will it perform under different temperatures experienced on the inside of your windshield.

    Hands On Review: Papago GoSafe 520 Dashcam

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    This Papago model is loaded with features, including an impressive 146 degree capture of the scene in front of your car. Its standard format is a 21:9 ratio image- most wide screen tvs today are 16:9 ratio, so it is really a wide view. In spite of this, the image is pretty sharp edge to edge and does not look like you are viewing the world through a fish-eye lens. Here is a still image I have taken from the normal video output- it is not enhanced nor edited from the original. The colors are vibrant and correct and the detail is excellent even out to the edges. You can easily read the license plate on the blue Corvette, when viewing the original. Actually I found that the image stayed very clear even up to almost a 50% enlargement.

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    The video looks exactly like this image in quality, as you will see. This first short excerpt video shows you the stability of the image (very good at any speed) as well as how the camera adapts to going from the sun behind you to driving into the sun and then the shade. It does a pretty good job of adjusting (technically called ‘high dynamic range’) and I’m confident that even with the shot into the sun, if necessary, more detail could be pulled out of the image via ‘post production’ software.






    The GoSafe520 does fairly well in night driving. Here is an image taken from the video output, as I pull to a red light and up behind a stopped car. Again, it is easy to read license plate on that car.

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    Similarly, here is an excerpt of video shot at night. Like the day light version, it does a pretty good job of going from bright lights to dim lights, as well as handling approaching head lights.





    Some additional details on the GoSafe 520 before my conclusions:

    I think to some degree it gets its “GoSafe” nomenclature because of several features/options I have not mentioned yet. It has the ability to remind you to turn on your headlights once it senses the sun has set. It can remind you to avoid driver fatigue with a tone at a preset option of 30 minutes, 1, 2 or 4 hours. It can monitor and remind you with its ‘Stop and Go’ option to alert you when after 10 seconds, if the car in front of you has started driving away and you are still stopped (like at a stop light that changes and you aren’t paying attention).

    It also has a neat software function that will automatically adjust the angle of the camera to match the horizon, keeping your videos focused on the best position. It has the ability to let you know you have to reformat the micro sd card to ensure continued high quality recording after a selectable period of time.

    Depending on your car (truck/vehicle) accessory outlet set up, the GoSafe 520 has some additional features. If your outlet is only powered when the ignition is on, then the GoSafe will automatically turn on and start recording when you start your car. When you stop driving, you then have the option to delay the powering down of the camera by using the built in battery, to have it shut off 1, 3 or 5 minutes after the car turns off. On the other hand, if your car’s accessory is ‘live’ all the time whether your engine is on or not, then you can set the GoSafe to ‘Motion Detection.’ This will activate the camera whenever there is movement in front of your car (like a person walking or car backing up close to it). It will continue recording until no motion is detected for a period of 60 seconds, until the next motion is detected.

    Conclusions:

    I think a dashcam offers some very nice pluses and is worth considering. There is no question that it would prove invaluable in documenting a road rage or accident incident. And, as I looked at my videos I realized that even though the camera does not provide any rear view video, if you were rear ended you could provide proof that you were properly stopped at the moment of impact.

    It also provides excellent video of a road trip or excursion to share with your friends (or car club). It safely captures the scenery very similarly to the way you are experiencing it- all without you or your companion having to hold a video camera steady to do the same thing. You can of course remove the camera from the window suction unit and continue video recording (if you leave your car running) to capture views other than through the front of the windshield. It comes with a very long cord between the camera and accessory plug.

    I found that most people who viewed the set up and output from the unit in my car, felt that they would like to add one to their car.
    While the unit I reviewed did not offer the ability to overlay engine telemetry and track information, it still would be quite valuable to use on a track. You could review the video after your runs and see how well you found the apex of the turn and the best line as you drove the track.

    Specific to the Papago GoSafe 520:

    The image quality is outstanding as is the field of view without distortion. The unit uses an advanced A7L chipset for processing that does a very admirable job. The ease of using the unit combined with the ‘stick it up’ and forget about it, are real pluses. Its output is QuickTime Movie (.MOV) files and requires no additional software to view or share. The latest upgrade to the software now allows you to use a 64GB micro SD card. This should provide you with several days’ worth of typical driving with the highest quality recording before it begins to over write. It offers the emergency recording button to ensure an incident you are recording is put into the non-over writable folder on the memory card.

    It also has a built-in microphone that continuously records what is audible primarily inside the car cabin and some of the sounds external to the car. I did not really find this necessary, but I guess if you were wanting to narrate what you were seeing/recording, that would be very handy. You can turn the mic off (as well as other audible reminders from the unit). Another option is to have the live image viewable on the hd display, but I set it to turn that feature off shortly after starting the car. It has leds that show you the camera is recording.

    What would I like to see modified in this unit?

    While this Papago GoSafe 520 is very good, there are a few things to consider. A different bracket so that the camera can sit closer to the windshield and take up less visual space. Right now the bracket sits above the unit-- I would prefer it sat closer to the camera body or even behind the camera body (though that would block a good bit of the rear viewing screen—again, I didn’t use the viewing screen so that would be OK with me). I would like GPS tagging imbedded in the meta data of the images. The accessory plug should have a built in USB outlet so that you could plug in your phone for charging at the same time (in cars with only one 12 volt accessory outlet handy). Lastly, I would like it to have a larger capacity reserve battery so that even when you used it in a vehicle that doesn’t have the accessory outlets powered when the engine is off, it could capture parking lot incidents where your car is bumped.

    Bottom line, I rate the Papago GoSafe 520 “5 thumbs up out of a possible 5.”
    aka Jeff
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    Jeff, thanks for your intensive, quality review. What a worthy option to consider for those who do not have a PDR system. Thank you!
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    Quote Originally Posted by elegant View Post
    Jeff, thanks for your intensive, quality review. What a worthy option to consider for those who do not have a PDR system. Thank you!
    Thanks John. Probably the biggest surprise to me was the very high quality image edge to edge. As you can imagine it does a fantastic job documenting a spirited drive through some twisties or in the unfortunate event of an accident/road rage.
    aka Jeff
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    I have the Blackvue and love it! WiFi and free Cloud to monitor from anywhere. Even sends me messages if the car senses impact or motion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cdbrito View Post
    I have the Blackvue and love it! WiFi and free Cloud to monitor from anywhere. Even sends me messages if the car senses impact or motion.
    So you have your Blackvue hardwired to a live power supply even when your C7 is shut down?
    aka Jeff
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    I love discussion of these options, especially for those who did not want the nav, thus could not get the PDR. A high quality choice is always a good thing for our Corvettes.
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    Got the PDR and nav... PDR is a fun toy for a little while, but soon forget it's there. I like the valet auto-on feature with door opening, but would not spend money on it again unless they do one thing, and that is allow it to loop auto-on like a dashcam, then it would be a great tool, useful for daily driving, not just the track.

    GM could do this easy on existing PDRs, and would be a super happy customer if they do! Anyone listening? Tesla is raising the bar on software updates, they are respecting their consumers instead of trying to spur sales with something that should be periodically updated anyway.
    rdslon01 likes this.
    Nate: 2016 Z51 Blade Silver 2LT Kalahari. A8, Mag ride, Chrome wheels, Exposed cf roof, Hood Stinger Stripe, Nav/PDR, cf dash. Added: Katech cf spoiler, C7 Carbon cf splitter, C7 Carbon cf rockers, C7 Carbon cf Diffuser, Lloyds Luxe matts, Xpel (full frontal plus), CQuartz.

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    Dash to Dashcams

    Quote Originally Posted by jsvette View Post
    So you have your Blackvue hardwired to a live power supply even when your C7 is shut down?
    Yes, hardwired thru a blackvue power magic pro, which monitors the battery and shuts it off if the battery dips past my setting or I can also set it to shut off after a set amount of hours. Since the car is a 14 and has no wifi, I installed a Verizon hot spot jetpack the same way. So the dashcam is always available via the cloud and warns me if there's an incident.

    The dashcam has GPS too, so it shows me where the car is at any given time. Currently sitting in my garage lol
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    Last edited by cdbrito; 12-04-2015 at 02:51 PM.
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