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Pick of the Camera Reviews

(Click the pictures for reviews & links) 

ACTION CAMS

Yi 2 - Best Budget 4K

 

Drift Stealth 2

Gitup Git2 (My Pick)

 

Xiaomi Yi

Dazzne P2

SJCAM M10+
 
DASH-CAMS (CAR DVRs)
DDPai M6 Plus (My Pick)
 

A119

Transcend DrivePro 220
MINI CAMERAS
(The Mobius also works as a dashcam)
Mobius
Polaroid Cube+

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.

VERY IMPORTANT. These links go to the product, but 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 going rate for a real item against the price of a fake one that won't work.

As an example of the extent of the problem of fake goods online...In a recent survey by Apple - 90% of the 'Apple' chargers sold by Amazon - using the other the two methods..which includes the "Fulfilled by Amazon" option -  were found to be counterfeit....90%! 

UK & US LINKS & PRICES BELOW

RECOMMENDED CARDS

CLASS 10 UHS-1 CARDS (For HD Cameras)

 

U3 CARD (For 4K cameras)

 

 

 

            

 

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

Friday
Aug052016

Assembled Nixie Clock Shootout

I've spent the last few years looking for a ready-made nixie tube clock that is well constructed, affordable and produced in sufficient quantity to make linking to it worthwhile. In the video below you can see how I got on.

 

  
Purchasing Links
  
MILLCLOCK - This is the smaller, less expensive clock with no alarm
(If this specific model is sold out, see what else the seller has in their store - as they make a few different designs)
Click your Country:
UK   US   CA   DE   AU   NL

CHRONIX - This is the bigger clock with an alarm
(They make a number of designs, so this link goes to the store).
Click your Country:
UK   US   CA   DE   AU   NL 

 

Tuesday
Aug022016

Car Stereo Cassette Adapters - the circle of life

What do you do when new releases dry up for your car stereo's tape format but you don't want to install a whole new head unit? The answer is to buy an adapter.  In the video below you can see two adapters. One that ushered in the compact cassette age and the other that saw them out again 25 years later.

You can find the MP3 cassette player on eBay - but I should warn you that it is a cheap plasticy novelty gadget rather than a quality device. 

UPDATE - 3rd August 

I have been informed that I have STOLEN the idea for this video from a video that until yesterday I'd never seen - here is that video  (I was avoiding reading youtube comments - but this one was tweeted to me).
  
The idea for this video came from a 31/3/16 Tweet from Mike Finnell. I then purchased the items I'd need to make this video  - here's a picture of my ebay order history but it's really no surprise to me that this idea has been done before - after all they sold Cassette to 8-Track adaptors and they also sold MP3 to Cassette adaptors....both are still freely available on ebay so guess what anyone who makes videos about old tech and also owns both adaptors and an 8-track player is going to do. To be honest I expected there would be half a dozen videos on youtube doing this. The fact there is just one other was a surprise.
  
See The Simpsons already did it...for more about how many obvious situations or ideas have been done before.
 
People have been messing with MP3s and 8-tracks for years...here's one video I remember seeing in 2013 when I was first getting into 8-track  - it's from 2010 where a chap has modded an 8-track cart to fit an iPod inside. 
..and here's an earlier article from 2009 about doing the same thing with a different MP3 player.
 
I don't search youtube to see if someone has made a video on the same topics as I am working on, so similar coincidences will very probably happen again....in fact I guarantee that many of the subjects of my videos will have been discussed by someone at some time somewhere.
 
I know that I've seen more than one person making a video about the Commodore 64 and listing the best games for it - I never considered that these people had Stolen the idea for these videos from each other - but perhaps that's because my brain is functioning normally. 
 
I have a room full of old tech, bought just to be used in future videos. I'm sure many other people will also own these same things and may also make videos about them. If the idea of two or more people making videos about the same gadgets from the past is in some way traumatising for you - it may be best to avoid my videos as I can't promise that all my consumer electronics items are unique (because consumer electronics items aren't unique).

 

Saturday
Jul302016

Sample Clips are down...and no it's not a heist.

There is a problem with the video sample download files - the traffic has been too high, too many people want to download the clips. A number of people have brought this to my attention - but there is nothing I can think to do right now. I'm out of options. I have tried for years to find a reliable hosting company for my video sample files. I have tried all the big hosting names*, and they are all restricted in some way, e.g. by file size, traffic, file type (videos are often auto-flagged as potential pirated material), I've had files auto-deleted, companies had closed, blocks have been put on my account - it's cost me hundreds of pounds over the last few years. 

A couple of years ago PCloud offered to host the files - and it was all going well until last week when the 4K samples triggered some kind of high traffic volume flag. Hopefully it will time-out and it will start working again soon - but if you plan on leaving me offensive finger-pointing comments like the one I've pasted below,  please don't.

...I tried to download your sample file and PCcloud won't allow it. It mentions that traffic was too high and suggests that I get a PCcloud account to access it. Why choose a service that is limited and uses your (you the reviewer) resources to get people to sign up for their monetary gain? Is there something in it for you? It seems to be some sort of deceptive round-a-bout advertising going on here. I'm just looking for honest reviews so that I can be informed when I make a purchase - yours I thought was honest until I got to this point.....

So it seems like it's all a scam - I'm attempting to steal your money using a very unusual technique. The trick is to spend a couple of months making a video - then hoping that people who watch the (free) video, try and download optional (free) video samples...when this doesn't work and you are asked to sign up for a free account on a file sharing service...I get a cut of the takings of this deception (which are....zero). 

It looks like I'll have to forget about the sample clips on future videos unless this issue resolves itself, so my apologies for that, but these things just don't scale well. There was always going to be a point where the traffic was unsustainable for any file hosting company except probably Amazon AWS S3, but I can't afford them (I tested hosting a couple of files on AWS one month and the projected total bill was way beyond my means).

*Dropbox, Mega, AWS...are the most recent three I can remember. 

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