An alternative view? – from the Branor Systems Cam Truck
Cam Truck Branor Systems Camera Truck
By chance I had stumbled upon a video on YouTube which had been made using the Branor Systems Cam Truck. I was impressed and I thought that I would investigate further. In fact I have purchased truck No. 230.
Branor Systems Cam Truck
I have swapped the standard Hornby couplings for the older Mainline type with a shorter hook. I think this gives better control when being pushed up and down the gradients on my layout. All my rolling stock has metal wheels so I have also fitted turned brass wheels. This may have enhanced the ‘ride’ – it has certainly changed the track noises being recorded.
The Cam Truck is equipped with a 120 degree wide angle (fish eye) lens which is coupled to a sensor which gives full HD 1280 by 720 pixel definition and 30 frames per second MOV file video.
The truck is completely self contained and there are more details on the maker, Bruce Piggott’s website. Briefly the truck contains a rechargeable power pack and there is onboard digital storage provided by a standard 4GBMicro SD card which is visible (and removable if required) through the slot cut into the large letter ‘E’.
Downloading / charging the Cam Truck
Downloading of data and battery charging is carried out by connecting the truck to a computer in the same manner that data is accessed from a conventional digital camera. The slot for the USB connector is cut into the large letter ‘N’.
The operating stick
The Cam Truck is controlled by two internal switches (a power switch and a video on / off switch). An ‘operating stick’ is provided to access the switches through the truck roof. The truck roof also contains an LED which has three colours to indicate the current operating mode.
Ready to go
Steady orange for ‘standbye’, flashing orange for recording. Bruce Piggott suggests twenty eight minutes recording time – certainly the fact that the light stops flashing when the memory is full is very useful.
What is the output like? I am well pleased and would direct you to look at two of my videos on YouTube (Long Sheds):
Round and round the full mainline (dumbell)
The ex GWR Branchline to 'Goathland in Wales'
What do I think? The Cam Truck does exactly what it says 'on the box’. Branor Sytems recommend good lighting for precise focus. I am amazed at what the camera picks up in the dark and hidden corners of my layout even with the low light levels.
What are the uses of the truck? Well it is all rather sobering – I have a lot of scenic work to undertake. However I would hasten to add that the layout was designed to be viewed from the front and that the reversing loops and storage sidings were intended to remain out of site ‘behind scenes’ (and will remain unballasted).
The ‘on board’ microphone seems suitably sensitive. It might be educational for those of you contemplating ballasting / gluing of the track to listen to the change in wheel noise as the truck traverses from unballasted floating track on the reversing loops, to paste and poppy seed ballast on the scenic sections.
Points to note – well I had to plan ahead if I did not want to appear in the video. I also spent quite some time trying out and selecting suitable motive power. For relaxed viewing the Cam Truck must be propelled I would say very slowly. Choosing a locomotive that doesn’t have annoying clicking or whirring noises is one challenge. Finding an engine that runs smoothly at a constant low speed is another. My top choice to date is an elderly Bachmann WD 2-8-0 – although it does rather sound like a prototype DMU in the background. My Heljan Hymek was suitably smooth and quiet but on viewing the resulting video I had reservations as to whether the speed was sufficiently steady - it seemed to be constantly surging - made me feel sea sick!
Branor Systems Cam Truck
Thank you Bruce – I had better get on and address some of the scenic issues raised!