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Pick of the Camera Reviews

(Click the pictures for reviews & links) 

ACTION CAMS

Yi 2 - Best Budget 4K 

Gitup Git2 (My Pick)

Xiaomi Yi

Dazzne P2

SJCAM M10+
 
DASH-CAMS (CAR DVRs)
 
A119
DR02 D - Best Budget Dual Cam
Yi

Yi Ultra 2.7K
   
    MINI CAMERAS
Mobius (also works as a Dashcam)
Polaroid Cube+
    HELMET CAMERA
Sena Prism Tube

My favourite USB battery power Pack

This is the excellent USB power pack I use when I travel.

2 x 2.1amp outputs. 8400mAh capacity.

Two digit Led display shows battery level

 

What SD CARD should I buy?

If you want an SD Card for your camera - these are the ones I use and recommend. 

I'd strongly recommend not to buy any SD cards off ebay - I've heard about too many issues with counterfeit cards - often sold on by unwitting resellers. My inbox regularly gets messages from people who bought a £150 camera then cheaped out and bought a £3 memory card on ebay - Then when it doesn't worth they blame the camera! It doesn't make any sense. Good memory is cheaper than it's ever been - see the links above.

A lot of HD cameras will not work properly with cards larger than 32GB (cards over 32GB are usually SDXC rather than the SDHC standard used by 32GB cards. SDXC cards use the ex-FAT system rather than FAT32 - in short they are a different standard). - so don't just buy the biggest card you can afford - read the specs in the manual to see what it accepts.

UK & US LINKS & PRICES BELOW

RECOMMENDED CARDS (for action cams - see dashcams below)

CLASS 10 UHS-1 CARDS (For HD Cameras)

 

U3 CARD (For 4K cameras)

 

 

SPECIAL DASHCAM CARDS

The SD card in a dashcam is re-written over, more frequently than in other types of cameras. Some manufacturers void their guarantee if an SD card was used in a dashcam. So, no surprise, there are special High Endurance SD cards made just for dashcams...here's some.

 

VERY IMPORTANT. These links take you to the product, however Amazon have three different ways of selling. There's Amazon Direct - This means that you are only dealing with Amazon themselves, then there's other sellers that use Amazon's facilities - these show as Fulfilled By Amazon and finally there's Market Place sellers that advertise on Amazon, but operate independently.  I strongly recommend that you only use the first...the Amazon Direct - Sold By Amazon option. Even if it appears that you are paying a couple of £/$ more it is more than likely you are comparing the price of a real item against the price of a fake.

To give you an idea of the extent of the fake goods problem. In a 2016 survey by Apple - 90% of the 'Apple' chargers sold through Amazon - using the other the two methods..which includes the "Fulfilled by Amazon" option -  were found to be counterfeit....90%! 

 
Wednesday
Oct052016

Two faulty SX-64s vs one man with half a plan. 

I have a love/not-so-much-love relationship with old computers. I love some of the old designs, but when it comes to actually using one...they don't really do a lot. Unlike a classic car that can take you down to the shops on a sunny day, or an old hifi that can play new music...an old computer just sits there looking retro-cool, but doing nothing. 

Without high speed graphical internet access to any of the services I need, they're just a dumb beautiful piece of history. "But", I hear someone cry, "ACTUALLY..." (my most disliked word to start a statement with) "actually....you can get an old computer to tweet after installing a serial to ethernet connector combined with a custom o/s and an accelerator board, and a new rom chip, now you can't view pictures or gifs or videos or play mp3s, but I think you'll find that it does work, actually so ner..".... or I could just use my phone.  

The old computer designs I like the most are the Mac Classic and the Apple //c with it's Monitor and stand...in fact anything with a small purpose built monitor. I think it's because the monitor is the thing you look at...so it's out there in front of you. Attach an Atari ST to a new flat panel TV, and most of your experience is coming from the TV, you could put the ST in a cabinet then you're just watching a new TV...the retro part of the experience has been hidden away (apart from the lack of modern internet based usefulness, which is plain to see). So in effect you are getting a new TV experience combined with old computer usefulness...which is probably the worst of both worlds when it comes to retro-enjoyment. 

One of the first computers I remember seeing in a shop window was the Osbourne 1 and the idea of carrying around a computer with a built in screen fascinated me. The Commodore SX64 reminds me of the Osbourne, but with the added benefit of a catalogue of hundreds of games, colour display, joystick ports and a massive community of enthusiasts. 

Whilst 1980s people in the US were paying the equivalent of £40 for a 2K game Cartridge for their Atari VCS, and later the NES...people in the U.K. were paying £5.99 for games on tape. There were hundreds (thousands?) of games realised for the Commodore 64 and they can all now be had for the price of a £40 SD card reader...and a machine to play them on. Yes of course you could play these on an emulator...but getting back to my 1980s retro-computer experience package, by using an emulator you're turning that retro dial way down, so all you'd have left is old games that don't look too great on a brand new machine....with Twitter just a click away. 

So in this video, I get to experience the trading-places alternative 1980s that a much richer version of me would have lived with a Commodore SX-64 and all the games I could ever want. However dreams don't come easy....'if you want games, then games cost, and right here's where you start paying...with sweat'. 

Thursday
Sep292016

The Laserdock - The laser show for your home

If you've subscribed to my youtube channel for a while you'll have seen that I have an attraction to music visualisation. I've made a number of videos featuring different sound-to-light devices and the positive feedback I received from my recent SAE Oscilloscope Tuner video shows that there are a lot of other people out there who also enjoy having some visuals to go along with their audio.

The Laserdock takes the idea of music visualisation and turns it up to 11. It's a projector that anyone can use to generate coloured laser-drawn patterns synchronised to music. The images it displays are impressively bright, sharp and responsive.

The visualisation software for the projector resides on a Windows or Mac computer - and the more advanced users can use various software packages to create their own custom animations and laser shows. I'll be interested to see what applications are created for a home laser projector. I'd love to see an emulator for the Cinematronics style Vector arcade games. Just imagine playing the Star Wars arcade game...on the wall of a house.

Watch the video below to see the Laserdock in action. The hardware shown is the finished version however the software is an early beta.

Thursday
Sep222016

RCA Cartridge: The fail that shaped the future

In this video I'm looking at another forgotten format. This one is the RCA Victor Tape Cartridge, also known as the Sound Tape Cartridge and the Snap Load Cartridge.

I'll try to find out what RCA got right and wrong, attempt to repair a machine and finally demonstrate this 1950's cartridge system that introduced a number of new ideas which went on to become standards.

After you've watched the main video, you may want to listen to the Bel Canto demo tape in full - so that can be heard here.

You can also watch the 1958 RCA Cartridge introduction film which also contains an introduction to stereo which explains how a record can hold two tracks read by one stylus. 

Friday
Sep162016

My fave £99 action camera from 2013 is now £23 - is it still worth it?

The internet has a problem with undertanding the passage of time. You've seen those spammy articles  "Hey look how these Hollywood hearthrobs from the 1980s look now - number 15 will amaze you". It's somehow a surprise that people who are 35 years older.... look 35 years older

I get the same thing with reviews - videos I made five years ago are still on youtube - but the information is now out of date...the best action camera from 2010 is no longer the best in 2016. So all the comments on these videos say - "this camera is rubbish - the [insert camera that wasn't out when the video was made] is much better and cheaper."

I also came to realise that mentioning the price in a video was a bad idea, as people would write to me to say that the price had changed...or that the video was now wrong.

In 2013 I made a claim that the SVC200 was the best £100 action camera. It was. Now it isn't. However now it's £23 - does that make it a must buy - probably not...lets have a look. 

As the video shows - tech moves just as quickly as prices - if you want a current action camera with good video quality and mic-in - then look to your right. The side bar there lists my favourites. The GitUp Git2 is the best budget camera with a mic in, the Dazzne P2 is the cheapest camera with good performance and the Yi 4K is the best 4K action camera I've tested (and probably the best one full stop).

So where does this leave the SVC200/400...we'll it's still the cheapest action camera with mic-in...but it's probably worth saving up a few £s for a better more modern camera. 

If you want an SVC200/400 here's a few links. 

EBAY
UK  US  CA  DE  NL  AU  ES  FR  BE  
Tuesday
Sep132016

Cassettes: Filler video

The problem with working on ten things at once is that sometimes I find that none of them are ready. The last time I went a week without putting out a video someone kindly told the subscribers I was dead. so to avoid dying again - I've assembled a short video featuring three things connected around the theme of cassettes.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Techmoan apologises for this delay and any inconvenience caused. 

Tuesday
Sep062016

Retro Tech: Audio Timers

Audio timers were used in the 70s and 80s to automatically activate a tape recorder at a pre-determined time. Nowadays taping off the radio has fallen out of fashion but these timers can still be put to good use as a retro alarm clock or a way to automate electrical devices around the home. Watch the video below to see a new-old-stock late 1970s Pioneer JT-215A Digital audio timer in action.

Thursday
Sep012016

SAE Mk VI HiFi Tuner - as old as I am, but showing it less

When I first got into nixie tubes I bought a clock and a couple of years later picked up a nixie watch. I then went looking to see what other devices had been made that used the tubes.
 
Most commonly, nixies had been employed in scientific or industrial equipment, including multimeters and frequency counters. They were also to be found in in petrol pumps and the odd arcade machine, however my interests lie more in consumer electronics, where they didn’t get the chance to make as much of an impact. By the time consumer tech with digital displays had become affordable, nixie tubes had already been phased out in favour of segmented LED digital displays.
 
Nixies had briefly been used as a TV channel number indicator and in some in early electric calculators but of most interest to me was their inclusion in digital display radio tuners from the early 1970s.
The three models that spring to mind are the Revox A720, the Scott 433 and the SAE Mark 6. The Scott is particularly fascinating technology wise as it used programmable cards on which you could store preset stations. However the component that most appealed to me was the SAE as it also ticked another important retro box - Scope Displays. 
 
If you are into vintage HiFi, you’ll have seen that the Marantz 1970s receivers with oscilloscope displays are most sought after, commanding prices into the thousands on ebay. A slightly more affordable point of entry to scope displays is to get a Scope Radio Tuner, and again Marantz made a number of these models, that can usually be picked up for a few hundred pounds.
 
My HiFi has been in need of a tuner since I replaced my receiver with a new amplifier, so the SAE Mk6 with it’s nixies and scope would be ideal. The only problem is that they are very rare. Costing $1050 in 1971 (equivalent to $6240 today) they weren’t exactly a mass market item. On the flip side though, they were extremely well made, so if anyone still has one, it’s more than likely that it’s working.
  
So I’ve had an SAE MK6 in my Saved Searches on ebay for a few years…and a couple of months ago it finally got a hit. I snapped it up immediately (for a very reasonable price) and you can see it in the video below. 
 
There are a few things that attract me to vintage HiFi. The look is very important, to me many of these things are beautiful pieces of electronic art. However the most important feature is that vintage HiFi actually does something just as well, or often better than the modern equivalent.
 
Whilst I love the look of old computers, a Mac Classic from the 1990s is not very useful today where so much relies upon fast graphical internet access. Even my first iPad from 2010 is painfully slow to use nowadays. However I can buy a 1960s record player, and it will play a record that I bought last week. I can switch on a HiFi tuner that’s as old as I am, and listen to the same stereo FM radio stations as everyone else.
 
One analogy could be the classic car, they often look better than anything made today and can still perform the function they were originally designed for. However unlike most 1970s cars, HiFi equipment from that era can also out-perform its modern equivalent. 
 
If you were to spend £500 on modern HiFi equipment, you would be able to get a pretty reasonable system. However if you spend that same amount wisely assembling 1970s and 1980s HiFi components, you can put together something that could outperform a modern setup costing ten times as much. 
So if you are thinking of getting into vinyl, or setting up a system - just spend a while browsing around the HiFi components on ebay, you may be able to pick up a classic bargain. 
 
Friday
Aug262016

Netgear Arlo Wireless Battery-Powered Camera System

For the last few years I've been experimenting with different security camera setups to monitor my front and back garden. I'd like to be alerted when the parcel man arrives, if anyone is messing with the car, or if someone has hopped over the fence in the back. I need day and night shooting ability and the camera has to be waterproof and small enough not to draw attention.  I've tried a number of alternative solutions without getting the results I wanted.

A big issue was that I didn't want to drill holes through the walls or run wires along the outside of the house and even a wireless WiFi camera still needs to have a wired power supply.

After trying a few different and unsuccessful ideas, I discovered the Netgear Arlo - the only system on the market that uses 100% wire-free cameras. In the video below you can see the setup process and the results that I get from this compact battery-powered camera system.

If you like the look of the Netgear Arlo system and think it can work for you, the affiliated links below will direct you to the product on Amazon. 

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Amazon DE

Amazon IT

Amazon ES

Amazon FR

Saturday
Aug202016

120V 60Hz from a 230V 50Hz power supply

I really wanted to bring you something more interesting - but a number of equipment failures and DOA devices has resulted in me making a video about something that I'll be using in the future to attempt to more interesting videos than this one. 

The problem is as follows - I need a 120V 60Hz power supply to make old devices imported from the US work properly, however I'm in the UK, where the power supply is 230V 50Hz.

I expected that you could buy a simple all-in-one converter that could turn 230V 50Hz into 120V 60Hz, but unfortunately it's not as easy as that (or at least I couldn't find something that worked that way).

In the video below you can see my solution to this problem. It's definitely not elegant...but it works.

Purchasing (UK links)

5-15V DC Variable power supply is the PS201ADJT and can be bought here 

12V DC to AC 120V 60Hz Power Inverter was imported from B&H Photo in the US

 

Wednesday
Aug172016

Magnetic USB Cables

Recently I've been seeing a increasing number of companies selling magnetically attachable USB and Lightning cables. To find out what the big attraction was (deliberate pun) - I purchased a number of different cables..and in the video below you can see which performed the best. 

 

You can buy my preferred cable manufactured by WSKEN from one of these links which take you to both their Lightning & Micro USB B cables
UK  US   CA   DE    AU    NL  
The SweetLF Micro USB B magnetic Adaptor can be found below

 

 

Monday
Aug152016

This 1972 Panasonic RS296-US music machine plays with history

Imagine a device that can store twenty playlists containing songs of your choice that you access at the press of a button. A device that could play music for over thirty hours without repetition.

It really doesn’t require any imagination nowadays as most people already own a pocket sized gadget that can do just that, but what if you had to make this device using only the technology that was available in 1972.

If you did, it would probably look something like the fantastic machine in the video below. 

It's interesting to note that the 2.5 days of music that Panasonic quoted on their advert is roughly similar in play time to the 1000 songs in your pocket that the first 5GB Apple iPod boasted twenty four year later in 2001. However to play tape for 60 hours would require fragile 180min cassettes, so a more realistic play time using twenty 90 min cassettes would be half that.

The Antikythera Mechanism I mention at the beginning* is a 2000 year old computer that has been in a number of documentaries - someone has uploaded a BBC video about it here

You may have spotted two special cassettes in the video - a Back to the Future Replica "Edward Van Halen" tape and a Guardians of the Galaxy "Awesome Mix Tape Vol. 1" - both were provided by my good friend Hugo from Walkman Archive - you can find more info on his tapes here:
Back to The Future         Guardians of the Galaxy

My Akai "Auto-reverse the hard way" video can be found here