I'm posting this to share what I've discovered on this topic, but also hoping many of you have different experiences and insights to share.
I like to video record my off-road trips and I've played around with a few different tools over the years for this. For the most part, just throwing a GoPro on the windshield or outside the vehicle works great
, but I always wanted to add some more data or have multiple camera views at once.
For a while, I used an application called DashWare
, which only runs on Windows, to do telemetry overlay on videos. I'd use a GPS logger (usually with an app running on an smartphone), combine it with the video, and get the final result. The problem is it was an awful lot of video editing and work for something fun. DashWare is awesome and worth checking out if you like a lot of control. I don't have a car video with it uploaded right now, but if you mosey over to my YouTube page you can see some videos of bike rides with telemetry overlays to get an idea (recording bike rides is super nerdy, but also helps save your bacon when a car tries to kill you).
Last year I came across an app for iOS devices and Android that is made primarily for track racing: Harry's LapTimer
. It is pretty amazing what the guy that develops it has been able to squeeze out of a smartphone. This app does video recording, couples it with GPS data, uses the accelerometer to calculate G-forces and lean angles, and even record ODB-II diagnostic data and then can combine all of that to calculate best efforts on laps/tracks, and then render the final result to a video for sharing lately. There's some great stuff from the Nürburgring that you can find on YouTube made with it.
I realized recently that this app would also be great for off-roading. While you don't need many of its features for lower speed rock crawling, it is fun to see GPS overlay of trails along with your car's diagnostic data while off-roading. Also, it has a feature where multiple video sources (say from multiple iPhones or GoPro cameras) can be combined into the final rendering - that's compelling.
So this weekend I did an experiment with it in the Jeep after the blizzards we've been getting here all week. The video is not exciting at all (unless you like looking at snow, mountains and ski resorts), but it gives you an idea of what you can do with the app. I'm looking forward to some snow-wheeling or summer to really give it a go.
The telemetry overlay is showing a few different things:
- bottom-right: RPM gauge and current gear
- bottom-mid-right: throttle percentage and RPM indicator
- bottom-middle: GPS map overlay of course
- bottom-left-middle: lap/course time and speed
- bottom-left: g-force meter
- top-right: embedded video from a GoPro pointed at the driver's side rear wheel
- top-left: the speed at which you went through the last corner or straight, which makes a whole lot more sense in a track situation
I'm kinda hoping if enough off-roaders like this app we could convince Harry to add some off-road specific features, like an inclinometer.
One thing I really like about Harry's LapTimer is it is very little work to use (at first). All of the work is done inside of your iOS or Android device (right now the iOS version is more advanced than the android one). The recording, the video rendering, the works. It's a heck of a lot easier than using DashWare and doing the video work yourself.
That said, the one thing that is still hard is if you want to use an GoPro as well. The software will control a WiFi enabled GoPro just fine, but you have to manually tag those GoPro video files and import them into the phone in order for the app to be able to combine and render the final result. Not a huge deal, but it is an extra step. If you record using other iOS devices, it works even better because it can use iCloud and auto-tag the files to import the different video files.
If you are interested in the actual hardware setup I've used:
- iPhone 5 - main camera view and Harry's LapTimer master
- Dual XGPS150A high-resolution GPS receiver - this GPS records a 4-5 Hz GPS signal instead of the iPhone's 1 Hz, so you get higher accuracy in a high-speed situation (this actually makes a huge difference)
- GoPoint BT1 - an OBD-II to Bluetooth dongle, so you can get RPM, throttle, etc. recorded
- RAM mounting system for the iPhone, RAM-B-166U and Universal X-Grip
- GoPro Hero3+ with a suction cup mount
Harry's site also lists different hardware suggestions that he knows works well.
The last interesting tidbit is that for Harry's LapTimer to calculate your manual gear selection you have to properly tell it the gear ratios, final drive ratio, and tire size for your vehicle (it's not getting that via ODB-II).
p.s. I have zero affiliation with any of these companies; I just like their solutions.