Fire Helmet Camera - Product Review
The staff at VentEnterSearch.com recently field tested 2 of the Oregon Scientific ATC-2K helmet cameras. Brother Robert Schield, from Local 23 East St.Louis Firefighters, owner of FireHelmetCam.net provided these units for testing. During our evaluation period we captured live scene footage as well as numerous tests while conducting live fire training.
The camera which was developed for the use in extreme sports is one of the few, if not only, truly wireless and independent cameras available. The camera records both live video and audio, and depending on the size data card, it can store up to 2 hours of footage. The unit we tested comes with various methods of attachment; however they are geared more towards extreme sports then for fire department use. Robert Scheild at FireHelmetCam.net has developed a more substantial mounting bracket which has been designed for the fire service industry.
Both units tested were initially installed on the top of the helmets, using the rubber headband. This mount was used simply because it was the simplest and quickest method to install. Honestly, it was used because we had no patience and wanted to start testing immediately. We found the helmet band mount a little was a shaky in the conditions tested in. At the time of test, the pre-made helmet bracket was not available, so since we are crafty firemen like the rest of you, we made our own. Our attempt at a bracket was a small piece of aluminum that mounted the camera on the top of the helmet brim, which immediately cured the shaky video. The pre-made bracket now available from Robert mounts the camera under the helmet brim which is the optimal mounting location.
The video we captured was of good quality even at the recommended medium setting. The sound at times could be a little muted or hollow depending on location of the helmet. After contacting Robert, he advised us of some ways to increase the recorded volume using a very common program available on most personal computers. Utilizing this program you are also capable of developing still images taken from the video footage obtained though the camera.
When we say we put the fire helmet cam to the test we meant it! We tested these cams during live fire exercises with intention of finding its limits. We ran through numerous live training burns over a 3 day period. Initially the housing of the camera held up to some pretty extreme temperatures. Eventually, the housing deformed slightly, warped, and bubbled and still captured quality footage. The camera has been dropped from standing height on numerous occasions and eventually burned to near failure, but it is still operational! We thought we had killed this poor little camera, but apparently we only killed the display. We were able to retrieve all of the video, and even though the housing looks quite deformed, the camera is still functional. The fire service is an extreme abuse environment, so we intentionally took the camera to this point. The camera would have been protected much better if it was installed under the helmet brim like suggested by Robert. Regardless, we were quite impressed with its durability.
We managed to abtain some great video from live scene footage and great interior fire footage. The camera was definitely put into extremes that would not be found our normal daily firefighting conditions, and it faired remarkably well. Overall we were very pleased with the footage as well as the performance of this camera. We would highly recommend the fire helmet cam for anyone or any agency who wishes to capture footage which will provide excellent training opportunities.
Brother Robert Schield of FireHelmetCam.net has put together a package which includes the camera, 1 gig data card (Approx. 1 hour of footage), fire helmet mounting bracket, 4 rechargeable batteries and battery charger. This kit comes complete and ready to go. The price of this kit is very affordable, which is one of its great features given the conditions and damage we can do to this type of technology. Please take a minute to visit Robert at FireHelmetCam.net for more information or purchases.