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Raptor UK canoe sailing

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July 2010

firmware upgrade ($9.99). I used the 'Twilight/Enhanced' setting during the Five Lochs expedition, which certainly increased the brightness of the video footage. Unfortunately the sunny conditions often made the video over-bright, so that the sky was completely washed out and just became a white glare, with no cloud detail being visible. I tried the 'Detail Optimized' setting during the Ullswater meet (where the sun scarcely made an appearance) and video footage was again a little dark. So it seems that the 'Twilight/Enhanced' setting may be best for typical (cloudy) UK sailing conditions and the 'Detail Optimized' setting best for sunny conditions.

Another problem I've had with my POV.1.5 is that the microphone is not totally waterproof. The

H2O pouch doesn't help as the mike lies outside of it. The mike has a 3mm opening that water can enter, resulting in severe sound attenuation. Fortunately the water entry does not appear to damage the microphone, which functions normally again once it has dried out. I first noticed this problem during the August 2009 Loch Lomond meet. Initially, recorded sound became muffled after water splashed onto the mike during a wet sail north (but then returned to normal as the wind cleared the water from the aperture). However, a later capsize resulted in renewed flooding of the microphone and the sound again deteriorated severely. This time the sound quality did not return to normal for the

Microphone aperture.

remainder of the meet, as very wet (and humid) conditions meant that the mike never had a chance to dry out. I contacted VIO and they agreed that the mike had been affected by the water and requested I return the equipment for inspection. I elected not to bother as the mike worked fine after it had dried out. VIO told me they were looking at improving the microphone in future models of their POV video system. This problem reoccurred during the recent Ullswater meet. This time the cause was simply heavy rain. You can hear the exact moment that a raindrop enters the microphone aperture during my sail south on Saturday. Once again, the very wet conditions over the weekend prevented the microphone from drying, so that sound quality was still very poor the

next day. This prompted me to come up with a solution, which will allow me to dry the microphone during future meets. I bought a click-seal plastic box and some desiccant powder, so that I can store my POV.1.5 and dry it out overnight while camping, whatever the weather conditions. This won't prevent the problem reoccurring each day but should, at least, prevent a single flooding incident spoiling several days' video. The photo above shows another (lesser) quality problem: the press stud used by VIO for their cable clip is not stainless steel, so quickly corroded. I now just use a rubber band to attach the cable to my life vest.

Desiccant container.

The POV.1.5 can record onto 8GB SDHC cards, which allow over 5 hours recording time at maximum resolution. I bought an 8GB SanDisk Extreme III card last year and it has worked well, so bought another five 8GB SanDisk cards for the Five Lochs expedition (to use one per day). SanDisk have replaced the Extreme III with the Extreme card but both are rated at 30MB/s data rate. A limitation of the POV.1.5 video system, which is not mentioned on their website nor in the user manual, is that the maximum file size is 4GB. This is equivalent to a maximum resolution clip of 3 hours' duration. So after 3 hours the recorder will stop. This affected me during the sail from Lochgoilhead to Arrochar on Thursday, 20 May and resulted in me not recording our arrival at Arrochar. I thought the card was full and it was only when I was editing the video that I discovered the reason for the shut-down. Hopefully future versions of VIO's POV video system will not have this 4GB limitation as it would result in even shorter duration recording being possible at higher (e.g. HD) resolutions. In the meantime I will have to set my watch to sound an alarm after 3 hours, so that I remember to restart recording. The 8GB SDHC cards' 5 hours maximum recording time (at maximum quality) means that the card will be full (and so recording will stop) before the end of a long day's sailing, so some action may be missed. There are various ways around this. One is to record at lower quality, but this doesn't appeal to me. Another is to be more selective and only record 'interesting' scenes, but this guarantees that you will miss some unexpected action, as you won't have time to hit the record button. Possibly the best strategy in order not to miss any action during a long day would be to install an additional blank card half-way through the day, after the first one is full.

It seems that some visitors to my site don't wish to install QuickTime onto their computers, for whatever reason, so they will be unable to watch any of my video clips, unless they are Mac-users (who will have QuickTime already installed). Some might wish that I used Flash rather than QuickTime, since most people are able to watch Flash movies, regardless of platform. Apart from the cost to me of buying Flash-authoring software, there is some debate as to the merits of Flash, so I think I'll just wait for HTML5 to become more widely used, by which time I should have built up a large video library to upload in this new format.

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