MARK'S (NOT SO) DAILY BLOG

Mark Pilgrim Kia Sandton

Boys and their toys. My latest gadgets.

If you follow this blog regularly you'll know I'm obsessed with gadgets. Not novelties or weird complex stuff that only an engineer would be able to figure out, but the simple things that make my life a little easier... and more fun!

My latest toy is my quadcopter (drone), which I am LOVING! Out of respect for my neighbours though I'm not really flying it in the complex much, as it sounds like a swarm of bees on steroids when in the air. Also, I'm sure they don't appreciate the "big brother" eye in the sky, as it has my GoPro attached and records high definition video!


The DJI Phantom 2 drone is more advanced than the smaller ones which you simply fly by tiling an iPhone. This one has a full radio controller where you have to manoeuvre thrust, yaw, roll and pitch at the same time.

If you are used to flying radio controlled planes or helicopters it'll be a breeze, but if you haven't flown before, you might want to do do some simulator flying before taking just under R25000 up in the sky. (I highly recommend Aerial Concepts in Woodmead for any sales or information. They are fantastic and have a huge variety of planes, choppers and drones. 011 8028500).

I never had a GoPro before getting the drone and am absolutely loving the video quality. SO much so that I'm now also using it when riding my motorbike, using it as a helmet cam:


I use the GoPro Hero Silver 3+. I get a few stares from people on the road when I pull up next to them and they see a lens and a red blinking light looking back at them, but it's amazing how more well behaved people are at the thought of doing something wrong and it landing up on the internet!

Also, I've had a dashcam in my car for almost a year (the DOD430):


You almost never need to look at the footage, but you never know what could happen right in front of you (and it could help out with any insurance claim too!).I got my camera from www.sacarcameras.co.za.

Finally, thanks Afrihost, my car is once again a Wi-Fi zone. My MIFI device is back up and running, so my passengers can do some great surfing while I drive... and internet radio becomes a lot cheaper to listen to as well!


This is just a quick round up of some of my latest gadgets that I'm playing with at the moment.
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Gadget review: Dashcam. Why you need one in your car.

Being a devourer of gadgets, and also a lover of reality cop shows where they show footage of amazing incidents, the two married together nicely when I got my very own dashcam!

My wife's first question was "why"? My first answer was "why not"!

But what is a dashcam and why are they becoming increasingly popular?

In a nutshell, it's a wide angled camera that attaches to your windscreen with a suction cap and continually sees and records what you see as you drive. It's relatively unobtrusive when attached. Here it is in my car alongside the rearview mirror.



In Russia almost every car has a dashcam, hence them being able to record amazing footage as the meteor streaked across their skies about 8 months ago. Another recent piece of footage caught on a dashcam was the horrific Pinetown truck accident:



So why would you want one in your car? Think of it as an insurance policy. Should you being involved in an accident you have a visual record of events to prove non-liability (if you are actually innocent!). It can also record criminal activity. Think about the next time that cop pulls you over. Not only do you get their face on camera, but with full audio recording, you get the soliciting of the bribe as well. Nice footage for Derek Watts on Carte Blanche! How about placing one in your teenager's car to monitor their driving. At this stage they don't have a live feed back to home base, and simply record onto SD card, but you can never have too little information when it comes to your kids.

In fact, depending on the model you go for, it's also great for business vehicle tracking as it also has full GPS recording, so you know the vehicle's speed and location while it's filming the visuals. Here's screenshot of the information you get (this is a still image taken from my dashcam at the scene of the horrific head-on collision of 2 motorbikes yesterday in Lanseria):


The model I have is the DOD LS430 (available from www.sacarcameras.co.za) for R2900. With it's 140 degree wide angle lens, it records in full 1080p and records in car audio as well. This is the quality of the actual footage, compressed here for web streaming (out of respect for the families of the fallen bikers, it's not the actual footage of the above accident scene):


The device comes with a really long power cable that plugs into a 12V socket/cigarette lighter. The camera automatically switches on and off with your car, so there's no fiddling with it to start recording. It also records in a continuous loop, so when your CD card is full, it starts recording from the beginning again. 

A dashcam is the kind of device you install and forget about... until one day something happens right in front of you.

This is not a paid-for endorsement of the product. Mark writes these gadget reviews because he simply LOVES gadgets!
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