Aug 1, 2013 – Oshkosh – Technology: NFlightCam + Contour Disappointment

I’ll clean this up later…..

NFlightCam + Contour: Some video was captured, but overall the camera didn’t do what it should have. After extensive testing after the trip, I came to the conclusion that the best next steps are to purchase additional batteries and a cigarette lighter charger [charging must be done externally – read on]. I found those here: https://secure.bhphotovideo.com

Before I go any further – I heard from the NFlightCam people and they educated me further on this issue. Their words follow here:

“The reason the battery gets low with an external USB cable plugged into an external battery is because it is not charging at all. The camera requires a pull up resistor to turn on the charging circuit while filming this is a safety precaution to keep the camera from being shorted out. You can use the Contour 12v car charger but just a USB cord will not work and the battery will die.”

I am interpreting this to mean that I can still use my approach – buying two additional batteries and a charger. When one battery dies – put in a new one and charge the old one externally. Rotate the batteries basically, and avoid trying to charge the internal battery when the camera is running.

The NFlightCam people tell me that the camera is no longer supported, and acknowledge that there are issues and frustrations with it. I’m not sure what to say to that, having invested several hundred dollars in the unit.

They now recommend the GoPro. Their words: We now promote the use of the iPhone or GoPro cameras in the cockpit.

I am leaving the rest of this text here for awhile. If you have one of these cameras….   the link to the replacement batteries and the charger I plan to use is still here.

Testing: see the details on the attached workbook.  I think the camera is of high quality, but the battery it comes and the iPad based user interface is under-developed and inadequate. See NFlightCam+ Contour for details on the camera’s behavior at home.

My power management plan was to use the cigarette lighter USB charger to supplement the internal battery. What occurred, in my opinion, was that the camera draw was greater than the USB feed; drew down the internal battery; and caused the camera to stop responding.

Recovering from the this condition requires multiple steps as described in the attachment, and flying the airplane while performing these steps can be a challenge. Furthermore, it is difficult to tell if you’ve actually recovered the system. Finally – rebooting the iPad while relying on it for charts isn’t terribly appealing anyway.

I just now ordered two additional batteries (the original one I have is discontinued), and a compact USB cigarette lighter charger. My new plan then, is to have 3 charged batteries; monitor the power bars more closely, and swap out the batteries on the way. As I take the batteries out; I’ll cycle them to the charger.

We’ll see how this goes.  I may have purchased the Beta POV in the Beta/VHS decision process.

Other technology alerts:

  • Foreflight: while at KOSH, I could not get a briefing nor file a flight plan automatically. This could be because of my verizon cell coverage; the fact that thousands of pilots were tens of feet away from me; or some other obtuse reason.  I used my cell phone.
  • Cell phones (verizon): worked well, but the battery drained rapidly. Same for the iPad.
  • External batteries: worked well.  Could not keep the camera charged effectively.
  • Oshkosh Charging opportunities: you can drop off stuff to be charged at an attended station, or stand with it at the showers where there is outlets.
  • e-STMP: worked well, but as an application developer in a former life, we could do better.
  • XM Weather: worked well. Even over Canada.