Category Archives: Revelation

V10 Sport good as new, what to do with my V12?

So after my last update I sent my boat off to get fixed. It came back looking amazing – you can’t tell where it was damaged, either by color or by texture. John at did an amazing job. But I paid a high price for it – $500. More than I would have liked, but it’s my best boat.

In the meantime, I’ve been paddling my V12. When I bought the V12, I knew it was a bit old and beat up, but I wanted something that would challenge my balance. Also, it had an overstern rudder option, so I thought it might be useful for inland races, especially in shallow waters. And I used it in a few races in 2015. But in 2016, I ended up not using it in races, in spite of using it for much of my early spring training. The only race I did in 2016 that I’d done in the V12 in 2015 was the week before the Canadians, and I had a theory that I wanted more time in the V10 Sport. I didn’t use it for other races that I’d thought about using it for like Round the Mountain because I just haven’t managed to handle it in waves yet, and I wasn’t sure what the weather would be like on race day. I’d still like to get some time in it in waves with the hope of eventually being able to use it in smaller waves.

But here’s the problem: the boat is in much worse shape than I thought it was when I bought it. I don’t know if I just didn’t recognize how horrible it was when I bought it, or if has deteriorated since I got it. As well as the cracks on the seam line that I knew about beforehand, I’ve noticed a bunch of soft spots on the hull, especially where the boat rests on my V-racks. I had it up on my shoulder today and I could hear the gel coat cracking as it bounced when I walked. Not surprisingly, it leaks like a sieve. But on the other hand, I like the fact that my V12 is a beater that I don’t mind dropping in the mud while spring paddling. It also has the earlier bow shape that doesn’t pick up weeds quite as badly as my V10 Sport (the 2014 V10 Sport redesign changed the bow shape to make it sweep up every weed in the world), which means it might be better at the Seneca Monster race if I do it this year. And the overstern option might be good in that race as well.

I don’t want to spend the money to fix it – if fixing a few small cracks on an otherwise pristine boat was $500, fixing all the multitudinous problems with this pig-in-a-poke will cost way more than what it’s worth. Ideally, I should probably get a replacement (used) boat. But what boat? The fact that I’ve been unable to master this boat in anything more than a single boat wake is bothersome. I’d like something that’s faster than the V10 Sport, but I’d also like something I wouldn’t be afraid to use on the Bay (at least before the motorboats come out to play).

But the other problem is that I’ve got my heart set on a better computer this spring, so I don’t have money for a new boat. So I think the plan will be to keep using my V12 as a beater boat until it finally gets an irreparable hole, then look for a used V12, V10 or maybe something else. According to Wesley’s surf ski reviews the Stellar SEL or Fenn Spark might be as fast as a V12 but more stable. So might the new redesign of the V12 but I bet the new one has the weed sucker bow as well as being more expensive.

Paddling the GoPro

With the GoPro mounted on my lovely Jim Smith bow mount, I took it out on the Genessee River to see how it looks. And I have to say, I think it looks awesome (ok, as I write this it’s only a few minutes after I uploaded it to YouTube and YouTube is only showing it in 360p, but trust me when I say it looks great in 4K). The GoPro doesn’t have image stabilization in 4K, but on a flat water trip like this, it doesn’t need it. And I love the position – the Jim Smith mount puts it just at about the right height, and it feels firm.

GoPro Hero 5 Black battery tests

I’m going to update this table as I do further tests. These are “bench tests” done with the camera mostly stationary in my office or in my work-out room. The idea was just to get a basic idea of whether I’m going to be able to record long kayak races with the camera as-is, or if I’m going to have to figure out how to attach an external battery to it without compromising the waterproofness.

Frame Rate
GPS Image
External Battery Battery Life
4K/30 On Off NA No 92 min
4K/30 Off Off NA No 97 min
4K/30 On Off NA Yes 142 min overheat
98 min
2.7K/60 On Off On No 85 min
2.7K/60 On Off On Yes 290 min
– card filled up
1080p/60 On Off On No 110 min
1080p/60 On Off On Yes 272 min

One additional test: I wanted to see whether being in “standby” mode using a remote consumed a lot of battery power, because if not I could perhaps cover a long race by turning it off and on as action warranted. However, in 4K mode (where I got 92 minutes video in continuous shooting), going 30 minutes on then repeating 15 minutes off and 15 minutes on, I only got a total of 111 minutes total between shooting (66 minutes) and standby (45 minutes). That’s not what I was hoping – basically 45 minutes in standby was equivalent to 26 minutes running.

Note: The “External Battery” in the table is a Novobeam NBP3000 Waterproof USB battery. I’m trying to figure out how to attach it to the camera without compromising the waterproofness of the camera, possibly by covering the USB and HDMI port hatch with Sugru or something similar.

First results with the GoPro Hero 5 Black

First thing I did was turn off gps but leave all the other stuff on (wifi, Bluetooth, voice recognition) and see how long it would record a 4K video before overheating or running out of battery. On the “bench test” i accidentally shut it down at 82 minutes because I didn’t realize that it would keep recording when it had a low battery warning on the screen. But no overheating problem. With the same setup I went paddling in mid to high 40s Fahrenheit and got 92 minutes before the battery completely died and it shut off. That bodes well. I plan to post the paddling video later after I give it the VIRB Edit treatment.

In order to see if it would work if I plumbed in an external battery, I repeated the bench test with a USB battery hooked up. It over heated and shut down after just over two hours. That’s not encouraging. The battery indicator was indicating a nearly full battery though. I let it cool down for 15 minutes or so and started it up, and it’s currently 75 minutes into that test and the battery indicator is saying 19% remaining, which makes me wonder if the first video before it shut down was just the external battery and after is just the internal. I’ve discovered from testing on other cameras that removing the internal battery entirely when you’re using an external battery can solve some overheating – that might be worth a test with a higher capacity external.

For my next test I want to reduce the resolution to 2.7K, increase the frame rate to 60fps and turn on image stabilization and turn off the other features and see how long the battery lasts both with and without external battery. If I could get a three hours or more with the external I might have exactly what I was looking for.

On the other side of the coin, I tried editing the kayaking video using that fancy video editor daVinci Resolver and it was slow as molasses so I gave up. So then I tried in iMovie and it was slow but bearable. I had to shut down just about everything else on the computer though to prevent it from stuttering and dropping frames. Maybe I do need that new MacBook Pro after all.

Sony FDR-X3000, first impressions

So I decided to stop cheaping out on video cameras and buy a top of the line Sony 4K action cam with real image stabilization. In the 24 hours or so I’ve had it, I’ve tried a couple of tests.

First, I put it in the waterproof case (aka “dive housing” because it’s supposedly good to 60 meters). Unlike the new GoPros, the Sony has no water resistance without the case. I had it set up for 4K/30fps, with all the bells and whistles (wifi, Bluetooth, GPS) turned on. It overheated and died after only 30 minutes (a suspiciously round number?). I took it out the case and let it cool a bit, and it continued another 16 minutes. Ok, that’s not great.

Then I put it into airplane mode and tried again, and this time it lasted 40 minutes (another suspiciously round number). I forgot to see if it had some battery left after it cooled down.

Then, leaving it in airplane mode, 4k/30fps, etc, I took it for a walk around the block.

I’m really pretty pleased about the image stabilization here. I looked left to right a bit too much and it didn’t deal well with that, but as I walked along the flat I could feel the camera bouncing a tiny bit in the head strap, and none of that shows in the video. I think it’s going to look pretty good mounted on my boat.

It was 23° F at the time, and I guess we walked for about 20 minutes. I kept the camera running as we came back inside and it continued to run until it had run for exactly 1 hour. (Another suspiciously round number!) After it cooled down, it ran for another 8 minutes before the battery ran out. So I think that proves that it has a definite overheating problem in the waterproof case at room temperature, which does not bode well for kayak races in warm weather.

Yes, unlike canoe racers who prefer it when they have to chisel the ice off their boats, we surf ski paddlers often race in the warm summer sun. That’s why I became a surf ski paddler.

I’ve done another test which is more hopeful. I tried switching it to 1080p/60fps. That’s a very good resolution for recording kayak races because let’s face it, not very many of us have 4k monitors and the extra frame rate makes everything look smoother. This time, in the waterproof case and in Airplane Mode, I got 90 minutes almost exactly. That’s long enough to capture the important part of most races. I’d prefer two hours or more, but I’ve got what I’ve got.

Next, I’ve got to try it at 1080p/60fps with all the bells and whistles turned on. The camera came with a remote control – I could strap the remote to my leg and turn the camera on at the start, turn it off when there’s nobody around, and turn it back on for interesting parts like the finish sprint. That will make synchronizing with my Garmin a bit of a nightmare, but I’ll do what I have to do. Maybe I’ll hit the lap button on my Garmin at the same time or keep a camera that has a longer battery life running at the same time. I don’t know.