A while ago I wrote about reasons for installing a dash cam in your Model S and then followed up with instructions on how to install one yourself. In this post I wanted to cover some of the basics of how I use the dash cam in my everyday use.
Capturing the moment
Whether you have a permanent 12V supply to your dash cam or switched power, you will want to preserve any interesting moments soon after they happen like this encounter with some deer in NJ:
Most dash cams will recycle space on the memory cards and your video only remains on the card for a short while. With a 32GB card in my dual channel BlackVue I generally get about a day’s worth of video for a normal driving day. This can be much less on a road trip since the car has less “boring time” in the garage. So if you’re out and about and something interesting happens you need a strategy for capturing the moment.
You’ll want to have a second memory card for your dash cam and keep that handy in the car. Make sure that it is formatted and in the format your dash cam can use. Also, with some dash cams, like the BlackVue, the settings are are stored on the card and you want to make sure those are correct.
The easiest way to set up a new card if you still have an old one is to copy the old card to the new card. Another option is to make a backup to your computer. Either way, I recommend testing the new card before you need to rely on it.
Test your second card
These micro SD cards are tiny and they can easily get misplaced. What I do is use the memory card reader that came with my dash cam to keep the extra memory handy. The card reader is a tiny USB device that takes a micro SD card:
I keep the extra memory inserted the card reader and then plugged into one of the USB ports in my Model S. The car can’t find any music on there and basically ignores the card. The nice thing is that its handy and will not slide around:
Once something interesting happens the process is pretty simple. You don’t have to rush since you probably have hours of video that can be captured before your moment disappears from memory but it helps to remember the time the event happened. A good time to do a swap is at a Supercharger stop or when you reach some kind of destination. The memory is small and fiddling with small things while driving isn’t very safe.
Don’t fiddle with the memory cards while driving.
First power down your dash cam by unplugging the power cord. Wait about 15 seconds for it to finish powering down then flip open the little door providing access to the memory card and pop it out:
Next swap the card with the moment on it with your spare and power back up your camera. If you’re following along you now have the card with the moment on the USB card reader and plugged back into your Model S USB port and your camera is back up and running with the other card. Your moment is now safe and preserved for when you have access to a computer.
When I get back to one of my computers I take the USB card reader and plug it in. If I don’t have time to process/view then I just copy off the “Record” folder from the memory card to some location I can access later.
The best way to find the video footage you want is to use your dash cam’s software. On OS X for my BlackVue thats the BlackVue viewer.
As a side note, the BlackVue viewer is also the best way to change camera settings as the camera interface over wifi is slow. Choose preferences from the file menu when your memory card is loaded. If you have 2 cards make sure you copy the settings or make the same changes.
Click the folder icon on the right of the screen the near file list and browse to the saved record folder or the USB reader to get started.
Next pick an event time that is just before the moment you wanted to capture and double click to start playing. It helps to use the speed selector to play at max speed to get things to move along quickly. Each clip defaults to a minute long but the player is smart in automatically moving to the next clip and playing the front view in one part of the screen and the rear view in another.
By playing clips and clicking through them you can find the clips that are interesting. As you find the clips that are interesting you want to load them into a video editor so you can add some more movie magic. On OS X thats iMovie.
After you’ve identified the clips that are interesting you should import them into your video editor. In iMovie choose File, Import Movies and create a new event to put the clips into. From here you use iMovie to trim, add titles, speed things up etc:
When you’re done with the USB card reader and memory, don’t forget to put it back in your Model S for your next moment.
Capturing moments with your dash cam is pretty simple if you’re prepared and the results can be some great vacation driving videos or captured events from your favorite Tesla Superchargers:
Note that while the manual and some people recommend periodic reformatting of cards, I don’t do that and it hasn’t been a problem for the last 8 months or so. I have a low maintenance car and fortunately the cameras are low maintenance too!
I’ve shared my dash cam videos on YouTube if you’re interested and if you have some to share too let me know in the comments below.