Building A Gimballed Motorcycle Helmet Camera From Scratch

[Nixie Guy] has hit all of important design elements in a single motorcycle helmet-cam project which packs in so much that the build log spans three posts. These cameras need to stand up to the elements and also to being pelted by insects at 80 MPH. They need to attach securely to the helmet without interfering with vision or movement of the head. And you should be able to adjust where they are pointing. The balance of features and cost available in consumer cameras make this list hard to satisfy — but with skills like these the bootstrapped camera came out great!

Where can you get a small, high quality camera? The drone industry has been iterating on this problem for a decade now and that’s where the guts of this creation come from. That produced an interesting issue, the board of the CADDX Turtle V2 camera gets really hot when in use and needs to have air flowing over it. So he threw a custom-milled heat sink into the side of the SLA resin printed housing to keep things somewhat cool.

Since the mill was already warmed up, why not do some mold making? Having already been working on a project to use a casting process for soft PCB membranes, this was the perfect technique to keep the buttons and the SD card slots weather tight on the helmet cam. A little pouch battery inside provides power, and the charging port on the back is a nice little magnet job.

Everything came together incredibly well. [Nixie Guy] does lament the color of the resin case, but that could be easily fixed by reprinting with colored resin.

While you’re bolting stuff onto your helmet, maybe some excessive bling is in order?

10 thoughts on “Building A Gimballed Motorcycle Helmet Camera From Scratch

  1. A good looking, rather polished end result.
    That said I always am a little nervous about buggering around with safety equipment – come down on a helmet mount at just the wrong angle and watch it punch right through the shell for much worse injuries.

    That said I do think this is a good design, positioned where the worst the mod is likely to do is cause extra stress on the neck and more busted teeth/jaw which on the whole really doesn’t matter that much if you do have that unfortunate accident impact vector, while still able to do the designed job well.

    1. If you check his blog he mentions it’s attached with double sticky 3M and its ‘designed’ (intended?) to crumble on impact.

      Looks much safer than any other action cam I’ve seen, certainly sticks out less than a GoPro, with a less solid mount as well

      1. Yeah I agree entirely it doesn’t look bad at all.. I just find modifications to high energy crash protective gear makes me a little uncomfortable.

        But its their life – this poses basically no risk to anybody but the user and it is probably the best system I’ve seen. So if you are willing to take the probably really quite small increased risk no arguments from me on this one. Just make sure if you are modifying safety equipment especially the high energy ones to think it through properly!

  2. I would like a camera when riding my bike but the thought of sticking appendages to the helmet that was professionally designed to protect one of my most vital organs seems somewhat reckless however well it is designed. I would not even attach stickers to my helmet.

    1. Most U.S. helmets (caveat: I haven’t researched this one in particular) are mostly designed to appeal to their target audience, not protect the brain. Are they better than nothing? Sure. But the DOT standard is a mostly political designation largely unchanged since its inception in the ’70s. It was born out of car crash data, and was not motorcycle specific.

      The idea that a sticker could change helmet performance in any measurable way whatsoever is massively misplaced trust in a woefully misunderstood certification. Engineering is not magic, and unskeptical trust in “professionals” is counterproductive to improvement. Odds are the helmet you hold in such high regard was never even tested against the DOT standard at all. It allows for manufacturer self-certification.

      (For posterity, look for ECE, Sharp, or Snell ratings, which should also be taken with a grain of salt but actually mean something)

      1. One fear I can see is the adhesive reacting to the helmet structure chemically.
        Seems really really unlikely but its certainly possible that the glue is going to weaken the shell.

  3. The grey is ideal if only 1 color is produced. Grey is semi-not a color, it is yet a fav ‘color’ of mine. Black is way overused. Nice looking. NOT what I call, gimboled, which implies to me in such a case, auto-uprighting, not merely, orientation-adjustable. I would buy it or a kit. Snell hit me at 14.

  4. I can attest that using a Ram mount x grip phone holder paired with a note 9 at 115 mph creates some really interesting video anomalies- a sinusoidal wave effect from the wind buffering made the camera deflect and spring back in perfect form- the video looks like a gumby world made of jello.

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