How are JAMAR Customers using the TDC Ultra's new Video Mode?
How does one record video of an intersection to be used with Video Mode?
There are several different ways to collect the video footage of the intersection. Below we will look at a couple of those ways.
There are some things to remember when choosing your system. First, what is the video quality of the camera? If the image is poor, it will make it that much harder to count. Also, you want to use a camera with a wide viewing angle. Some of the cameras have relatively narrow fields of view, which limits how much of an intersection you might be able to capture from a mounting point. You also need to be aware of battery life. These will be discussed as we look at the various kinds of cameras one might use.
Product descriptions on this page are for informational purposes and should not be considered a recommendation on the part of JAMAR. You should perform your own evaluation before purchasing any product.
Many customers have reported using the now very small action cams. These are generally used by athletes who want to record their sporting event, such as mountain bikers, motorcyclists, and skiers.
These new cameras are very small, very lightweight and give quite good video quality. With these you do need to be sure to check the viewing angle, some show a wider picture than others. The major issue with these action cams is the battery life. You get, at best, a couple of hours of recording time from them. This can be increased or decreased by altering the resolution of the video as it is recording.
But the small size and lightweight nature of these action cams makes them very easy to mount. In some cases you can simply place a strip of Velcro on a light pole, use a ladder to mount the camera up out of reach, and leave it for the few hours of the count. It is small enough that most people will not even notice it is there. You can of course find various ways of securing the devices. Some come with workable mounting brackets, you might also need to fashion your own from hardware, we put one on our Tachyon using "U" brackets and an O-Ring clamp kit.
A few of the cameras that we have seen here at JAMAR are the Tachyon Micro HD and the GoPro HD Hero. Both of these are very lightweight, small in size, they give great quality video. Both have viewing angles greater than 100 degrees so they make a good choice for taking video in a smaller time frame, like a couple hours. They will not be a good choice for long counts such as a full day, or even a 24 hour turning movement count as the battery life will not allow this length of time.
Another method that is being employed uses portable DVRs with security style cameras. These components can be picked up at an electronics store, and with a little know how, put together to allow you to have a portable recording station. As it happens we have had the opportunity to test out two such units already available.
First we have a Pole Mounted unit by L2 Data out of Boise, Idaho. Their unit has a case that has attached straps to buckle it to a light pole. The unit has a camera mounted on the top that can be adjusted to fit the needed angle to view traffic. Inside the unit is the electronics, and a hand held screen allows you to plug into, and monitor the recording, seeing exactly what the camera is seeing. This unit can then be left on the pole to record for up to about 30 hours, so you can very easily record a full 24 hour turning movement study, which previously had been all but a logistical impossibility. The battery itself should be good for around 72 hours. Our test was limited to 30 due to file size, file size is determined by the video resolution you choose.
The interface is easy to use, having a hand held screen that allows you to plug in and view the recording as it is coming in from the camera. This, of course is how you properly aim the top mounted camera to capture as much of the intersection as you require. To begin recording you simply hit one button on the DVR unit inside.
The data is stored on an SD card, in this test we have a 32 meg card that was close to full at the end of our 30 hour test. The video can be copied from the card via any type of card reader. We used a USB memory stick style card reader, but any SD interface will work, and you simply plug it in and copy your video files to your PC.
The files themselves are .ASP format and can be viewed in Windows Media player or any other standard video player you may have.
When viewing the video the viewing angle is quite wide, and we were easily able to see the traffic flow for all approaches and movements, on a pole that was fairly close the to road.
You can find further info on this camera at: L2 Data
The next unit we have tested is from Greater Traffic in Georgia. They have put together a system that is similar in its concept to L2's, but takes a bit different form. This unit has the same kind of camera mounted on an extendable pole, with the guts of the system being in a Pelican Case that sits on the ground, this case can then be chained to a pole or tree to secure it. The DVR in Greater Traffics system is almost the exact same one as used by L2, so all the files are the same '.ASP' format. Again they record onto an SD card, again we had a 32 gig card for our test.
The battery in the Greater Traffic unit is much bigger and the system can be deployed for significantly longer, you do still have the constraints of file space, but SD cards come in some pretty big sizes these days. You can also manage file size by adjusting the resolution on the DVR. The lower the resolution the smaller the file. We did test the system on the lowest resolution and the picture, while grainy, was perfectly viewable and usable for doing a Video Turning Movement count on a TDC Ultra.
The methodology for the PVDR begins with finding a location near a street sign, utility pole or mountable pole where you can see all the traffic and pedestrian movements that need to be captured. Once a location is found place the camera on top of the telescopic pole and secure it in place.
Connect the battery leads to give the unit power, and connect the camera cables both on the pole itself as well as the wire running from the pole to the plug on the side of the Pelican case. If needed raise the telescopic pole by twisting the couplers and adjust to you preferred height. With all the cables attached open the PVDR case and turn on the video monitor and DVR (SD card should be installed).
Check the camera position by viewing the video monitor and make adjustments if needed, you can also set the time on the DVR so the timestamp on the video is accurate, you can also set record times or just hit record to begin the unit recording, make sure to power off the video monitor (it will consume a lot of power and can also increase the temperature inside the case). Finish up by closing the case, and securing the pole and Pelican case to the light pole or sign that you are setup next to, with locks and chains.
Once you have allowed the unit to collect the needed video, you can unlock the system, power off the case and breakdown the installation. Back at the office, like before we just take the SD card and copy the .ASP files to your drive, and watch at your own convenience.
With the TDC Ultra's video mode allowing you to choose when you wish to progress the interval, you have the leisure of being able to run the video slower, if there is a lot of traffic and one person is doing it by themselves. Or you can play the video back faster, should there be light traffic and the counter wishes to complete the count in a shorter time than the study took.