The video monitor viewing system

This is the instrument bar with the video monitor mounted on it

One of the things I noticed during the Ghost Lake test last Saturday was how difficult it was to see clearly out the front window. In fact, I remember Bob Stuart warned me about that many months ago and I didn't pay it any attention.

The video bullet camera mounted on a pivot tube glassed to the deck.

My solutions are to coat the window with an anti-rain solution, add a wind-shield wiper, or a video camera and monitor. I discussed the options with Rick and decided to try the video camera for a couple of reasons:

1. On the ocean, salt water will eventually cake the window with salt which probably would be shed away using one of the window coatings available.

2. A wiper would only allow me to see a small area directly in front of me, and I really need some way of watching for traffic 360 degrees around me

So - the video camera sounded like the best solution, as I can pan the camera around and spot for traffic or use it to assist with navigation during sea trials.

This is a view of the instrument bar from the cockpit seat. The instrument bar rotates around to tuck all of that stuff away against the deck wall when not being used.

Also - I happened to have a pretty decent camera that I bought back when I was building Critical Power streamliner for the 24 hour human powered distance record attempt. At the time, we wanted to recline my seat such that I would not require a canopy bubble to view out of, and instead, use a video monitor and camera. That didn't work out to well, as it was almost impossible to balance using only the 2D image from the camera screen.

The is a photo of the complex looking wiring harness for the video system!

It took me a few days of messing around, but I have something that I think will work. It's my low-light CCD camera mounted in a pivoting stainless steel tube that is glassed to the top deck just behind the front windshield. I can control where the camera points from inside twisting a knob connected to the pivot tube that holds the camera. The image is displayed on an LCD screen that conveniently mounted to my instrument bar. To turn in on and off, I mounted a 'push-once-one / push-again-off' switch on my steering handle. I wanted the switch to be within easy reach because viewing out using the camera isn't something that i would waste battery power on all of the time. I would use it occasionally, and wanted an easy way of switching it on and off again quickly for a look around.

The switch is mounted on top of the steering handle
I took the monitor apart and dipped the circuit board in plasti-dip to water proof it. Then I siliconed most of the joins in the plastic case, plus a silicon seal around the LCD monitor itself. All of the wires and connections are either coated with silicon or wrapped with the super cool tape that I found called AtomicTape. It's amazing stuff - water proof and it stretches and sticks to itself.

The pivot control is a knob that I can turn from the cockpit seat

Ben spread some fairing compound onto the floats in an attempt to "un-boulder-ize" them a bit. He also spend a couple of hours sanding them smooth-ish.

Next is paint.

This image shows the wood bar that locks the outriggers in
Oh - last thing. I was thinking about how the outriggers were slipping out during the jet-boat test the other day. I have pins to lock them in place so they won't inadvertently slide out, but inserting the pins is a pain and I just didn't want to bother. So during the wave test, I ended up talking to Joey with my cell phone in one hand and pulling on both of the outrigger pull cords with the other hand trying to keep them locked in as WiTHiN was slammed by waves. I had to work the rudder controls by dropping the phone, making a steering correction, then fumbling for the phone again.

Anyhow.. I needed an easier way to lock those floats in tight to the hull when not being used. I purchased a couple of cleat cams which I can run the pull cords through. Also as a fail-safe, I made a wood dowel that slips between the two handles on the sliders that lock the floats in place.


7 Responses to “The video monitor viewing system”

  1. # Anonymous Anonymous

    HI Greg,

    If the camera fails, would the window view be enough? Or would you have someone "fly in" a new camera (or whatever is broke)?
    Might be difficult to repair when you are underway....

    hmmmm, just a thought.

    Guus Bonnema.  

  2. # Blogger Adventures of Greg

    I woudn't consider the camera essenial, which is why I thought it would be ok to go electronic with it. We'll see how it lasts.


  3. # Blogger Rob Jansen


    I think the salt-cake is not that much of a problem. As long as the window gets enough water (on the outside :o) ) it will rinse clean.

    The camera only has a small lens/protective glass and I think that water drops may obstruct the view.
    But then, with the high temperatures inside and water flushing over the boat I guess it's hard to keep a clear vision

    Good luck,


  4. # Blogger Scott Ennis

    Hi Greg. I have a curiousity question. How big of an issue is it really to need to be aware of traffic in the middle of the ocean?
    Seems like any ships out there are going to be bigger and faster than you so it is more important for them to see you than for you to see them. Are you going to paint your craft with something high-visibility?  

  5. # Blogger hyz

    In F1, they use a rotating transparant screen in front of the camera's. Don't know how it works exactly. Is that something useful?


  6. # Blogger Adventures of Greg

    Scott: When I pass through shipping lanes, I am so small that it will be very difficult for other ships to see me (if they even bother to keep watch!). Even their radar will most likely fail to pick me up. It will be my responsibility to keep a close watch and make an attempt to stay out of the path of oncoming tankers, and contact them on radio to notify them of my position.  

  7. # Anonymous Anonymous

    My custom built mini-pontoon is relatively slow compared to motorized traffic. That is a hazard especially for me, because it is difficult to get out of the way fast enough. So you have a well founded concern about being run over from my experience. Even when larger and faster traffic sees you or knows of your presence, they rarely slow or alter course! Maybe an extremely loud air horn, or smoke flare would be prudent to keep from being run over at the last minute, when you can't pedal fast enough to get away...


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