Just got home from a road trip from Denver to Yellowstone and used it as a test for collecting images for Mapillary. I thought I’d share some of my lessons learned that might be helpful to other newcomers.
I’m new to Mapillary and contribute for the joy of being part of a global open source community mapping movement (thus I don’t have any specific needs/requirements for the images).
Due to bad weather (rain, hail, AND snow), I ended-up mounting a GoPro Hero5 Black to the inside of my windshield, instead of outside on the hood as planned.
Here’s what went well, what didn’t, and what I’d change for next time:
I borrowed my brother’s GoPro Hero5 Black to test before investing in a camera myself (thanks Kevin!). Turns out it’s kind of addicting… we planned a route that maximized adding new green (unmapped) areas as well as improving upon existing imagery (ones that are either several years old or poorer quality). We had so much fun doing this and it got us on roads less traveled. If you’re just starting out and not sure you want to make a big investment in hardware, try borrowing a camera to see if it’s something you’ll stick with.
Inside windshield mounting worked well because the camera was easily accessible at all times. We purchased the GoPro suction cup mount and it was super sturdy. I would trust it on the outside hood of the car.
We drove a Honda Civic, which is a low sedan with a long hood. Worse, the glass windshield is angled at a steep pitch, making it very difficult to mount the camera without part of the car hood or the suction cup mount visible. If I mounted it flat on the dashboard, it was too low and got too much of the dashboard/car hood. I needed to mount it as high on the glass as I could get it, and still, some of the suction cup was visible. I tried to mount it “sideways” with the suction cup to the right (instead of below), but the angle of the glass windshield meant I couldn’t adjust the components to get the camera pointing straight with a horizontal horizon. Any advice here?
Also a result of our Honda Civic, I believe: glare. Bad glare. At some times of the day or when the sun was at certain azimuth, there was no glare, but if the road turned or I read a magazine with bright colors from the passenger seat, it reflected into the glass windshield which reflected into the camera. I deleted a lot of images due to this. Advice?
Changes for Next Time
For longer trips, and weather permitting, I’d try mounting it on the hood instead of the inside of the windshield. I think it would produce much better quality images.
I wasn’t sure how quickly my SD card would fill-up, so I set the time lapse to every 2 seconds and waited until a section of our trip that hadn’t yet been mapped to turn it on. Turns out, 128GB can handle a boatload of images. Next time, I’d set it to every 1 seconds and keep it running (I didn’t have my computer with me on this trip,so I couldn’t offload images as we went).
Next time, I will bring some glass cleaning wipes, to clear the windshield of bugs and dirt as needed. At times it got quite bad and unfortunately our windshield wipers don’t reach high enough to clean the view of the camera…
From the non-newbies, any other words of advice? Due to the rain, many of the images I loaded aren’t the best (I deleted a lot out due to rain and snow), but hopefully they’re better than no images, and I’ll improve my contributions as I go
Also, we saw a mama and baby black bear on our way up!