Category Archives: Revelation

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.

First paddle of the Winter 2016-17 season

Jim and I went for a paddle. This is my first paddle since early November when I had discovered that I’d started up paddling a bit too soon after the carpal tunnel surgery. I’ve erged a bunch since then, so I felt like I was ready.

It’s my first time wearing the dry suit since spring, and it was a bit of a struggle to remember what to wear. I remember my feet being cold last year, so I wore two pairs of socks under the dry suit and neoprene socks and paddling shoes over them. It turned out that it was a tight fit and still wasn’t warm enough – possibly the lack of room negated whatever advantage the extra pair of socks gave. I think I may have to try Jim’s idea of using a chemical heater and one pair of socks.

The funny thing is that when I was paddling I was sure I could feel my feet getting wet, but when I checked my socks afterward, they were only a tiny bit damp. Most of my other under clothes were damp as well, but that was definitely from sweat.

The current was ripping. We did a pretty consistent 10 mins/km upstream, and 5 mins/km downstream. My foot strap let go when I got in the boat and with all the clothes and the excess fat, I couldn’t reach it to fix it so I had to put my GPS on my wrist, but then it was hidden under my pogie so I couldn’t see it unless I stopped. Wearing the GPS on your wrist means your speed is crazy up and down depending on whether your arm is going back or forward when it takes a reading, but also it means that it recorded a stroke rate.

Other than my hands, I was remarkably comfortable. I’m out of shape and out of practice, but it sure felt great. I’d rather paddle than erg any day.

I did it!

I’ve been thinking of getting a tattoo for years and years. Mostly I wanted something that celebrated my Canadian heritage, so I have been thinking in terms of a Canadian flag almost all that time. But when I went to the Canadian Surfski Championships in 2015, they gave me a nice sticker with their logo for my boat.
It was nice, but it didn’t really grab me. But in 2016, they gave me another sticker with an improved version of the logo.

I started thinking that this would be the solution for my tattoo – it celebrates Canada (with the maple leaf on the bow of the boat) and it celebrates my love of paddling. Plus it comes from an event that I loved both times I went, and I hope to go again.

I’ve been putting off getting a tattoo for all these years – I knew that getting one would require sitting out paddling and maybe even other exercise types for a week, and I rarely do that. Plus with my relationship to pain, I was reluctant to subject myself to anymore But when Vicki and Laura had tattoos last week, it struck me that I had all the elements needed – I have Vicki’s assurance that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought, I’m not paddling because of my wrist surgery, and the weather sucks so I’m not bike riding much either.

So I wrote to Bob Putnam, the organizer of the Canadian Surfski Championships, to make sure he wouldn’t think I was stealing his intellectual property and he wouldn’t mind if I used his design without the sponsor logo and the words on the bottom. He turned out to be very enthusiastic about the idea, and he even sent me two designs that they were still deciding between for the 2017 Canadian Surfski Championships. These designs were even better than the 2016 logo – he’s made some changes that make it look like it was influenced by west coast Indian art.

I chose the one where the maple leaf was more obvious, printed it out and took it to the tattoo artist. I’d even found a web site where I could convert it to an outline because I thought that would make things easier for the artist. Also because a friend told me that fill needles are painful and I might want to just get it as an outline.

When Bob had sent me the designs, he had mentioned that I might want to move the maple leaf to where the sponsor logo normally goes. And the tattoo artist had agreed – he said that trying to fit it on the boat would make it too hard to get the corners sharp and stuff. He also talked me into getting at least some fill.

The process was painful. Not as bad as I’d feared, but there were a couple of points where I just wished he’d finish. But I could see how well it was going and I was extremely pleased. Here’s what it looked like when he finished and wiped the blood away. I’m thrilled. It’s everything I’d hoped it would be.

Another camera option

In my on-going search for a decent action camera, I forgot to mention in my earlier blog post one option. I own a camera that is somewhat waterproof (IPX7), has nearly 80GB of storage on it, and can shoot 4K/30fps and 1080p/60fps. It’s my new iPhone 7 Plus. I added a waterproof case (IPx8), and it should be fine for the splashing and brief immersions of your typical kayak race. I did a bit of testing, and I can film 2 hours of 4K video without depleting the battery below 50%, nor did it more than half-fill the free space on the phone. So 4 hours might well be possible. Plus it has the advantage that I already own it.

The drawbacks, however, are kind of big:

  • The shooting field of view is fairly narrow compared to most action cameras. They usually use a pretty wide field of view. I’ve seen add-on lenses for earlier iPhones that go over the phone but they cost as much as a GoPro, so that’s not going to help.
  • The form factor doesn’t lend itself well to being worn on the head for Point Of View shots.
  • The waterproofing is good, but it’s not rated for “full immersion to meters below the surface for hours at a time” like most action cameras.
  • Most importantly, if you ruin it somehow, either by getting it wet, losing it in the depths of Lake Ontario or smashing it on a rock, you’re out a $700+ dollar phone. And if you do any of those things or even just run down the battery and suddenly need the phone for making an emergency call, you’re shit out of luck.

I think I need to test it out, but I’m thinking this isn’t going to be my primary camera.