I 100% agree with Alex / Flyhalf above. AiM software is hot garbage to work with, their SmartyCam video camera is low quality (720P) and overpriced, and we need better camera and data analysis software options from AiM.
I do, however, love the AiM SOLO (we had a Race Technologies DL1 before and their lap readout was junk) and I won't make a lap on track without my Solo in the car. Real time readouts for predictive lap timing is a huge advantage - its like having a driving coach with you reading out corner-by-corner your performance.
In the last 2 years I've been testing more and more cameras, and I'm on my 5th video camera at the moment, and still not happy. The GoPro cameras all seem good on the "action cam" sports, but in a race car they pretty much suck - they are difficult to turn on remotely (wifi remotes kill batteries), you have to buy a bunch of extra doo-dads and modify the case to use an external mic (the internal mic is junk), and they won't work without a powered mic, from what I've seen. The GoPro5 also has better image stabilization than the 6 or 7, which have some serious "frame turning" issues when used in-car. After testing with it for a few events in 2019 I just know the GoPro ain't for me.
I am an AiM dealer and have used their systems for many years, digital dashes, etc. The AiM 720P SmartyCam only gives you real time integration with their data loggers, video quality suffers, and the included audio is also junk. If something goes wrong on the SmartyCam (doesn't auto-start, or battery dies or SD card fills up) you lose ALL data logging. Frustrating. It got so bad that I was running TWO Aim SOLOs when I was trying to make the SmartyCam work (see below). This camera is also shipped with a tiny SD card and it (like the GoPro) that fills up in like 20 minutes - and then it bricks your data logger. It is also picky about what brand/model memory cards it can work with. I lost all video from multiple events learning these lessons - which I have written about in our S197 and S550 build threads over the years. SmartyCam is not for me.
For years I have just used various high def video cameras (1080P) and merged the data with the video using RaceRender software (below). It is a pain staking process that you cannot do "track side", so I learn from my data / video days or weeks after an event. But it is better than other data+video merge packages I have used over the years. Once you make your own template prepare to spend hours on that) you can save time on future videos. I then take the merged video and trim it down and edit it in another software package.
This time consuming manual merging of data and video has some usable data, and video, but not as much data as I'd like. Frustrating to know that lots of CAN data is there in the car, but the AiM just doesn't interpret it well. I tried the integrated video/data software from AiM (below) with the SmartyCam, and... it just doesn't work as well... if at all.
I recently bought this Canon vid cam, looking for a better quality camera that 1) had an external mic port, 2) had a narrow FOV lens, and 3) had good image stabilization. Loaded it up with the best SD card I could fine... and it shoots great video in the shop, but won't work without a powered external mic, and the shaky-cam footage it makes in a race car is unusable. Image stabilization is junk.
The most reliable setup I have had was this 7 year old Sony vidcam below, which had a wired remote with lights that gave you feedback... turn it on, it lit up one LED. Start recording, another LED came on. Very handy and reassuring... but the camera is so old now that the video quality is dated and it has no external mic, which ends up with a lot of audio buffeting with the on-board mic. The nice thing about these narrow angle lens vidcams is you can position them on the harness bar of a cage behind the driver, then you can see ahead of the car and some flailing around by the driver. Try a wide angle camera mounted back there and you see mostly car interior with a thin sliver of the road ahead.
I've paid for Track Addict and Harry's Lap Timer phone apps, and while they are easy to use and give instant results, I have not seen their timing accuracy to be as good as the GPS on the AiM - relative to the AMB timing loop (what competitors live and die by). Where the phone apps fall short is they don't do predictive lap timing / real time readouts very well. Not to mention you are using sometimes a $1000-1200 personal cell phone in your race car, which has some risks. And again - you have to mount them at or on the windshield, so they can be very jittery in the mount.
Plus with a phone you have to use an OBD link to the phone for data, and hope the on-board mic works worth a damn. It pretty much limits you to mounting the phone at the windshield, to get usable video and to see any lap timer on the screen. This prohibits your "roll bar" mounted camera, so you can never see what the driver is doing.
Any windshield mounted camera / phone tends to suffer from a suction cup mount and weird viewing angle. I have used this Sony HDR-MV1 like this, with a suction cup mount, running the camera upside down and close to the windshield. VERY good video quality, it has a wired remote (but with a super short cord), and I can use an external mic. It works well, but again, its a wide angle lens and only works AT the windshield. And I have to manually flip the video in software before I can merge it in RaceRender... then edit it again one more time. Laborious process.
I tried this wide angle Sony HDR vidcam mounted at the roll bar behind me and the video was unwatchable. I always use an external mic with a "dead car" muffles out the buffeting - either powered or not works well on this Sony (the powered version is just one more thing to kill a battery on). I usually run the mic mounted at the center console, low in the cabin. You can here me yelling at the car, and the engine note, but not much wind noise.
Was just at the PRI 2019 show and saw the Vbox system in the Race Logic booth. REALLY nice video, integrates with data in real time (with 2 proper HD cameras), has a real time predictive readout... but it costs ~$3500 for two 1080P high def cameras + a lap timer box/logger. With the optional HDMI port you can stream merged data+video to a 4G enabled device that can feed FB, YouTube, etc. Handy for your crew in the pits or fans at home, maybe. Still, it is pretty pricey...
So I don't know if I am of any use - because I'm still looking for the video + data solution. I've got 3 different setups I use and none checks off all of the boxes. I will likely keep AiM Solo DL for data logging and predictive timing, keep looking for the right external vidcam solution with an external mic and narrow FOV lens, and just merge the two streams after the events. This is a huge time suck and not at all helpful for testing track side.
That is exactly where i am now.
Some extra info.
I use a android phone. And trackaddict.
Android phones relay on the gps AND cellular correction for accuracy. This means NO CONNECTION NO GOOD LAPTIME.
But when reception is good. Laptime is accurate(I've attached one example from last WE between traspomder and trackaddict)
Trackaddict gives you predict time.
Data is connected to the car with a bluetooth (amazon 20$) .
Rendering now is a little faster but still sometime a pain in the butt espevially without a ext mic to help you to sincro video and data.
On the other hand
Video still an issue (i don't even consider the one you can do with the phone. )
Last WE on board camera gopro5 stopped to work. Still don't know why.
The session 5 outside recorded but with manual on off press button thing.
And audio sucked. Of course.
Microphone. I tried the 001 base , the olympus stereo, a new one sponsor by amazon. All cracking with high pitch. Mic tried behind the car with many wind covers. Maybe is the borla to highpitch.
I will try the garmin.
Not sure if it will be ok.
One side note
A VIDEOA WITH A GUY RECORDING AUDIO.. WITH EARPHONES OF THE IPHONE. HE RECORDED THE VIDEO (PLACING AN 100$ IPHONE5) IN THE TRUMK AND THE EARPHONE OUTSIDE ON THE BUMPER.
Guys the quality was really good.
But the you need even more time to render
1or 2 camera+data+a 2nd phone video for the audio...
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