Recording Aerial Firefighting Missions at

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Old April 8th, 2009, 11:02 PM   #1
New Boot
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Columbia, California
Posts: 17
Recording Aerial Firefighting Missions

I would like help with a good cost effective way to video-record Aerial Fire Fighting. Missions are generally 4.5 hours long. A view out the front is needed when approaching the wildfire, and then out the side as we circle it. The result is desired on DVD.

Another plane already has a configuration of a Lipstick cam in the windshield and a camcorder out the right side. The two cameras feed in to a duplicate set of DVD recorders (for redundant backup) through a composite video switch. Only one camera at a time is recorded to both DVDs simultaneously. There is also a monitor for the pilot to look back at. This is a somewhat involved installation and maybe that is why only one pilot has it.

Iím wondering if a less expensive configuration could work almost as well: We already have a powerful Tablet PC on the lap of the right seat guy (Air Attack Group Supervisor). Could I simply hook several 640x480 webcams through a USB hub in to this tablet PC, and record low-qual mpeg to both the harddisk and integrated DVD drive? This would solve needing to install monitors, switches, extra power and so many wires.

Aircraft intercom and the 6 active radios also need to be recorded from a headset jack. Through a Beacktek box into a camcorder works fine, but for webcams is it possible to record line-in to the tablet PCís and have it married to the webcam video?

I already have nice HD 1920x1080 camcorders (Pano SD100), but this is too much for firefighters to deal with and archive (maybe next year). They want the simplicity of rushing from the plane to pop a DVD into the fire base's player, and then keeping the disk for archive. Looking out the front window and then switching to the back is needed, and unfortunately just turning the lipstick cam in the front window isnít working.

Iíd appreciate ideas on good ways to do this, or different ways. Once a system works I will publish it on my website Aerial Fire Tech ?(Aerial Fire Tech)? for other firefighters to use.

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Old April 9th, 2009, 05:01 AM   #2
Inner Circle
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 4,299
A security system might be worth a look. They do multi-camera these days I think. I'm not sure how good the resolution would be. Two more camera views, say a directly overhead plan view and a narrower view in centre of your other side-view camera straight down the radius of a turn would be a bonus or a tail cam as your message suggests.

There has been a whole new generation of recording methods since last I had a look at them about 6 years ago. The camera views may be even multiplexed to a common time display by now.

It might not be DVD but there are portable drives and carriers so these might be incorporated into security systems now.

There has also I think been a drift towards web based remote monitoring so they may not now be as useful, however enquiring with a security installer will not do any harm.

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 9th, 2009 at 05:05 AM. Reason: error
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Old April 18th, 2009, 09:05 AM   #3
New Boot
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Columbia, California
Posts: 17
I've followed up on this security system idea and have bought/tested several cameras. Cheap cameras don't handle motion very well, and have other cheap artifacts. I'm now ordering a higer quality camea.

Datatoys: In-Car & On-Board Digital Video Systems & Recorders. is an interesting source that my simplify my whole project.
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