By on November 2, 2008

When my esteemed editor suggested I review the RallyCam, I envisioned a simple one camera with a small recording device. Instead. the edgecameras.com people sent me their RallyCam 3000, a three-camera system with a sophisticated control unit integrated with a multi-use video recording device. The devices came packed tightly in their container. I was quickly overwhelmed by cables, clamps, remotes and plastic bags. The numerous instruction sheets were not very helpful. But TTAC’s Best and Brightest are persistent bastards, as are their legally-trained representatives. So away we go…

Eventually I figured out how to connect the three tube-style cameras to the control box along with the microphone. I then charged-up the small personal video recorder which integrates into the custom control box. This device uses sd memory cards (a 2 gig card was included). Since it’s a generic device, it has many features unrelated to recording racing video.

The recorder connects to the control box via a USB cable and a 3.5mm audio jack. Power for the control box comes via a 12-volt power source from the applicable vehicle. The cameras connect via four-prong connectors held in place by screw-down connectors with over seven-foot leads, allowing for extensive placement options.

You mount the cameras via a ball and clamp system that holds the camera in place but allows for easy rotating and adjustment. The various instruction manuals were silent on the subject of camera placement; I presume most end users would know enough to place the cameras on a roll bar for interior mounts, and avoid places where they could be smashed to smithereens, ripped-off by the wind and/or generally kill the driver.

I latched two cameras to my roadster’s roll bars and the third camera to the front wiper (due to a lack of other mounting points). This gave me three different views as I drove. With my son controlling the RallyCam controller, we sought a simulated rally type road to record my driving. The control unit supports up to four cameras and allows for substantial control over the cameras. Using the controls intuitively, my son was able to switch easily between the cameras, as well as enable split and quad view screens. We were less successful recording audio. Mounted inside the car, it did not adequately capture either our comments or the engine noise.

We initially recorded two interior views aiming left and right from the mounts.  We also experimented with aiming one camera rearward which would be useful to see the faces of the people you just past if you are a successful driver.

Once we completed several runs we returned home to view the videos. You can also view the recordings on the device but the screen was washed out by the sun in our open top vehicle.

Videos are recorded in the ‘.asf’ format at a 720 by 480 resolution and at 30 frames per second which is essentially dvd quality recording. This system requires approximately thirty-three megabytes of space for each minute of recorded video. A long rally will clearly need multi-gigabytes of storage since the included two gig card will only hold about one hour of video.

The RallyCam comes with software to view and convert the videos, but these are third rate products. Instead, anyone who is spending the kind of money that the RallyCam 3000 costs should use professional level video tools such as Adobe Premier.

[Since I'm not a pro, I used the included software to convert the file to the mpeg format which then allowed me to upload the file to, where else, youtube. For additional examples of 3000-hood click here.]

The RallyCam is sold in multiple configurations based on the number of cameras. You can add a maximum of four cameras to the system. The system we tested sells for $1,399; a two-camera system costs $1,199 and a four camera system $1,599. A one-camera system– which can not be upgraded to multiple cameras– sells for $669.99. All systems and support are available on Edge Cameras’ website.

Users who need this type of recording will be impressed with this bespoke kit.  The RallyCam is a quality unit with screw type connecters and a professional quality setup. The main control box is cleverly put together to incorporate the third part video recorder with a custom control board and control buttons. Two remotes are included, which we did not test but which would allow a solo driver to at least attempt to control the RallyCam during a solo drive (safety first!).

This is clearly a specialized product with a limited audience. However, if you’re interested in recording high quality video with multiple vehicle angles, the RallyCam 3000 certainly fits the bill and will provide decent quality videos of your rallying and racing.

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15 Comments on “Product Review: RallyCam 3000...”


  • avatar
    jjdaddyo

    Not enough drifting, Posner.

  • avatar

    And why is the video so dark?

  • avatar

    Thanks for the review. I’ve always cobbled together my own camera systems for my in & around car videos so I’ve been very curious about the value of these dedicated systems. They all seem very pricey so the question for me has always been if they are worth the extra cost.

    What I’d like to know:
    * You say the connector is USB; is that just on the computer end of things, or also the camera. In other words if I lose or damage a cable, will I have to buy a proprietary replacement. If so, what is the cost?

    * Do the cameras support a standard tripod attachment?

    * Do they support still photography other than frame grabs?

    * Is the software Windows-only? (I realize that Windows users think we live in a Windows-only world, so given how this review is presented I suspect so, but we still should be presented with system requirements in a computer-related product review)

    * Does it support direct-to-computer storage?

    * Does it do time-lapse video?

    * Did you try mounting the microphone in various locations?

    By the way: A photo of the mounting equipment and cameras themselves would have made this review much more useful.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    dolo54

    The mic seems like a serious issue. I imagine you can use a different mic, but that was pretty bad. Although dangling over the rearview is probably not the best placement, you should’ve heard more than that. I wonder if some sort of noise-cancelling was happening.

    Note to self: incorporate more hawaiian shirts into wardrobe.

  • avatar

    * You say the connector is USB; is that just on the computer end of things, or also the camera. In other words if I lose or damage a cable, will I have to buy a proprietary replacement. If so, what is the cost?

    No the system uses a standard min-usb to usb connector, though I recommend using an sd card reader to transfer the data.

    * Do the cameras support a standard tripod attachment?

    No, they are just cylinders that mount via clamps

    * Do they support still photography other than frame grabs?

    No, these are video cameras.

    * Is the software Windows-only? (I realize that Windows users think we live in a Windows-only world, so given how this review is presented I suspect so, but we still should be presented with system requirements in a computer-related product review)

    Yes the included software is windows only. But if you have a video editing program that can handle .asf files you can use them on the Mac (I assume you meant a Mac, not a Commodore 64)

    * Does it support direct-to-computer storage?

    No, the heart of the system is an inexpensive video recorder, though I suppose it could be used with a laptop with the right recording software.

    * Does it do time-lapse video? I did not see this feature offered by the recorder.

    * Did you try mounting the microphone in various locations? My bad, I let it flop around messing up the sound. I also think a non-convertible would have been better

    By the way: A photo of the mounting equipment and cameras themselves would have made this review much more useful.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    I remember when one of my brothers started doing track days in his BMW, usually at Road America, and would delightedly bring his most recent in-car video whenever he came to visit.

    It was like seeing a boring in-law’s tape of his most recent visit to Myrtle Beach to watch grass grow.

    Please, people, unless you really are thrillingly and truly competitive, keep these to yourself. Nobody else is interested. Unless you crash, that is. Then we’re there.

  • avatar
    chanman

    I don’t know Stephan, I can think of at least one more instance…. crusising around beaches when the colleges are out for spring break, maybe?

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I’d LOVE to have something like this that does HD video. With the price of HD camcorders coming down, I’ve seriously thought of doing a route-80 trip on a rented harley with the wife & some cameras attached. I don’t know if her parents will be able to make it to the USA in the near future, and I’m sure they’d love to see some beauty of the country. Doing say 30-40 hours of recording and cutting it down to a 2 hour dvd and adding subtitles in English (I’d probably have my wife narrate in her native language) would be a very nice gift for them.

  • avatar

    I don’t know, the video quality is horrible as it’s too dark & color-distorted; the cockpit shot isn’t too bad but its obviously discolored. Is this a software setting perhaps, as in is there an auto-white balance or brightness setting that needs to be enabled?

    I’ve gotten better results with the video-camera option on my cel phone than this dedicated setup, tbh.

  • avatar
    I_Like_Pie

    I think that this would be a great thing to have not as a rally recording tool, but as a security device.

    They would be crazy not to market another similar device to have motion triggers to combat vandalism or give a defense against a car wreck. ACLU would love it for police wrongdoings as well.

  • avatar

    what kind of car is that?

  • avatar

    BMW Z3.

  • avatar
    AuricTech

    Hmmm. Not too bad, though a bit pricey. It’s not a product in which I’d be interested, but I do know of some folks (rallycrossers and the like) who would like it.

    I do think that the next version of this needs a microphone jack that can be used with either a driver/co-driver throat mike, a sound pickup for the engine, or a sound pickup for the exhaust (with the latter two having some sort of algorithm for reducing wind noise). Two microphone jacks would be even better, if they could be selectively edited for comparative volume.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Stephan Wilkinson – I think that camera placement has a lot to do with it. If it is mounted between the front headrests, the camera is basically at the axis of rotation so the motion doesn’t feel that abrupt. If your brother were to mount it on his front bumper or fender, I’m sure it would seem more exciting.

  • avatar

    # cretinx :
    November 3rd, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    what kind of car is that?

    Not a Z3 per se, an M Roadster


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