In order to race for a full 24 hours, I have to add a lot of lights to the car. These include (a) headlights (b) emergency beacon (c) lighted numbers. In the picture below, you can see the additional headlights and beacon. The lights at the bottom are PIAA LED floods that are pointed outward as apex lights. The two on the hood are PIAA halogen bullets that are made for motorcycles. The beacon is the Jacques Advanced Warning System, which is a mandatory item. It blinks with about a 1 second periodicity.
Lighted number panels are expensive. I thought about shining a light on reflector tape, but it turns out reflector tape doesn’t disperse light as much as reflect it back at the source. So I came up with a new idea: LED strip lights and corrugated plastic. The lights were $19 from amazon. There are 2 chains of 100 lights. I taped them in a 12×8 grid to the corrugated plastic. I then used electrical tape to mask out the unwanted areas. It worked out okay. I’m going to mount these to the inside rear windows where they will be protected from rain (or contact). The power supply they came with is 4.5v, so I’ll connect them to USB.
Every racecar should have at least one video camera. Not only is it a great way to capture memories, but it’s also a critical tool for driver training and sorting out fault in an incident. In the past, I’ve used Mobius and Blackbox dashcams and a TomTom Bandit with varying success. This variation is generally user error. In the heat of the moment, it’s sometimes hard to remember to change the memory card or turn on the camera. With that in mind, I set out to build a camera that can record for at least 24 hours. And being both cheap and adventurous, I wanted to build it myself. Thankfully, this kind of thing has been done before. An ingenious racer, whose blog is titled externalhippocampus wrote a guide on how to turn a Raspberry Pi into a live streaming video device. I like the idea of streaming, but the quality is rarely very good. It’s more important for me to have high quality video than to watch live. So I modified the streaming instructions for a static video camera.
Here’s what you need to buy.
- Raspberry Pi 3 Model B with 2 heatsinks $40
- Raspberry Pi camera $14
- 64G micro SD card $24
- USB microphone $9
In addition, you’ll need typical computer stuff like USB keyboard and mouse, monitor (with HDMI port or an adapter), and headphones/speaker. This is just for installation, so borrow, don’t buy if you don’t have them handy. Eventually, you’ll have to figure out how to mount it in the car and provide it USB power. I have lots of RAM mounts and my car already has multiple USB outlets, so that was trivial for me, but it might incur some extra expense for you.
The instructions/log for the build is linked at the top of this page as RaceCam.
I just wanted to use “lights, camera, action” in the subtitle. There is no action. Maybe next time.