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brad-- if you read my thread u will see that i had a bad monitor and tight budget at that time and needed something now--thats where my system came into play--i use it a lot with no issues---its great and works excellent-pm if u need help
most important thing to know---i use a ridgid seesnake--not a cheap imitation camera---if u are smart, you will save a little longer and buy the best---seesnake--you will thank me later and ridgid products make our life and job easier
Adding the "travel DVR adapter" ($50) enables this gizmo to become
a portable digital video recorder.
I have owned both a 200 Mini and a 325 Regular since
1998 and have used them on about 2000 inspections of
everything from electric conduits, water lines (after
disinfection of camera and cable), elevator hydraulic
lines, central vacuum systems, etc, etc, etc. And
of course good old sewers.
Started looking at digital recording about 3 years
1. Tired of wearing out portable VHS recorders.
2. Tired of poor quality control on blank VHS tapes -
about 1 out of 10 of the TDK HG's I was using was
just defective right out of the box.
3. Tape machines don't like really hot weather (I live
4. Tape machines use a lot of power (my setup is completely
portable using a 12V gel cell - NO POWER CORDS!!)
5. Recording to tape adds "noise" to the video.
6. Tapes are getting harder to find.
I looked at the Sony direct to DVD burner. I am not
a big fan of using optical recording media in the field -
often times I am in the bottom of a ditch with the equipment -
it's always dirty and often wet down there. Not a great
environment for a DVD recorder.
Also gave some thought to capturing video to disk with a
laptop. I have already been doing this for years - capturing
my VHS tapes at home and archiving them to CD then later, DVD.
Running a laptop this way in the field is a PITA. Stuff
gets in the keyboard. Too much fiddling around getting booted
up and capture app running. Laptops are too breakable.
I got the ARCHOS last October. It comes with a wireless remote
you can carry around in your pocket. Power it up, 2 clicks
of the remote, and you're recording. No muss, no fuss. No
farting around with XP or Vista. Runs for about 3 hours off
a battery charge, and as long as you wish if you use the power
adaptor. I just plug it in to the inverter in my cig. lighter
between jobs to top it off.
With the capture bitrate set to max (2500Kbit/sec) the ARCHOS
grabs flawless MPEG4 .AVI files. I have the 80G version and
can store 20 - 30 inspections, depending on length. Uses about
1 - 1.5 Gb of disk space per hour average. You can
create folders and store the inspections by job number or
whatever. .AVI video files are a whole lot easier to edit than
the MPEG2 files created by recording to DVD.
When you get to the shop, you can download the files wirelessly
via 802.11 to your desktop editing PC. I use VirtualDub
to edit then TMPEGENC to convert to MPEG2 and create DVD's when
customers request them. I burn the original source MPEG4 video to
data DVD's for archiving. DVD's are a LOT cheaper (19 cents) than good
VHS tapes - you can store 10+ inspections per DVD and they take
up a lot less space in the office than tapes do.
Customers are impressed when I grab the ARCHOS after an inspection
and review it with them right on their kitchen table. It uses a
touch screen for navigation - you can jump to any place in the
video by dragging the stylus on a progress bar. Pretty cool.
Device comes with A/V cables so that you can plug it into their
TV if you want to make popcorn and watch the show in their living room.
There were a couple quirks to using the thing initially, but I
have gotten used to them and have never looked back. Bought another
just to have as a spare, but I have never needed it. Gets rather
heavy use (several hours of recording per week) under often adverse
conditions. You don't have to treat it with kid gloves - just don't
throw it around. Like all video displays, it can be hard to see in bright
daylight, but you can shield it to get around this.
Attached image shows my setup - the case measures 24 x 18 x 8 and
originally came with my Radiodetection RD600. 12V / 7.5 aH gel
cell upper left, video titler upper right (for overlaying text comments
on the video - I much prefer that to audio comments), See Snake
power pack right middle, 400W 12VDC to 120VAC inverter for running
the power pack lower right. Weight about 20 lbs. - easy to get
up the ladder for those roof vent inspections. Gel cell runs
everything for 4 hours. I carry two and keep one charged all
the time. Top off low ones with inverter & charger in the truck
so I don't take them inside at night and forget them the next
For me, this is the ultimate solution. And the price is right.