DIY Smart Phone Bicycle Camera

by Bryan Mac Murray

According to the latest study performed by the US Department of Transportation, over 45,000 bicyclists are injured in crashes each year in the United States. This number has increased by 15% over the past 10 years, and is expected to climb higher.

While it is important to cycle safely, there are some dangerous situations that happen too quickly to avoid. Before you go on your next bicycle ride, consider taking your physical and financial safety into your own hands by recycling an old smart phone into a DIY dash cam for your bike.

Why Recycled Phones?

Using a smart phone as a bike security camera solves multiple problems. One of the best issues it addresses is that of unnecessary electronic waste, something you can combat easily by repurposing old technology.

According to Planet Green Recycle many people underestimate the energy potential that remains in old phones. In fact, only around 15% of recyclable phones ever actually get recycled, with the majority of them going to landfills where their contents can hurt the environment. All it takes is one lithium battery from an old smart phone to irreparably contaminate 60,000L of water. And yet, in 2015 alone, more than 135 million cellphones were thrown away.

Most people who replace their phones every few years (the majority of the cellphone-owning population) assume that old phones lose their usefulness after a replacement is bought. However, just 42 cellphones contain enough energy to power a house for an entire year. Why not take advantage of the good camera, battery, and unused storage space, while helping the environment at the same time? The benefits are too prominent to ignore.

Financial Benefits of Recycling Phones

The obvious financial benefit of a recycled smart phone dash cam is the fact that you wouldn’t need to buy a separate camera. However, having a camera on your bike can help you prove that you weren’t responsible for a traffic accident.

The worst bicycle crashes happen suddenly, and are almost impossible to avoid. Even the most experienced cyclists can get caught up in the moment and not now how an incident began. Especially if a crash leaves you with injuries and your bicycle with damage, it is important to know what happened and who was at fault in case you are eligible for compensation. This is where the dash cam comes in especially handy. With concrete video evidence, cyclists who are victim to painful crashes can get financial compensation more easily from the insurance of those responsible.

Making Your Recycled Phone Dash Cam

Using materials you may already have around the house, you could be a mere 15 minutes away from safer cycling.

For the phone camera:

• an old smart phone
• a dash cam app (available for iOS and Android)

For the mount:

• 2 pipe clamps
• 1 flat corner brace
• 2 strips of heavy-duty Velcro

First, you need to attach your phone to the corner brace. This is best done using heavy-duty strength Velcro (just in case you need to take your phone off of the mount at any time) though any sturdy mounting material can be used. It is also best to attach the phone while it is in a case to prevent damage to the phone backing.

Next, attach the bike clamps onto your handle bar where you want the dash cam to be situated. The best position is typically in the center of your bike, to capture a view most similar to your own while you ride. Afterwards, all that’s left to be done is secure the corner brace to the pipe clamps and tighten them well. Test your bike by moving it in sudden, jerky motions to ensure the camera stays in place properly. If it’s steady and secure, you're ready to use your dash cam!

Using Your Dash Cam

Make a habit of using your dash cam any time you go for a ride. Turn it on start up the app, hit record, and you’re ready to go. Should battery become an issue for those taking longer rides, portable chargers (especially those that are solar powered) can be another eco-friendly investment. Be sure to ride safe, plan ahead, and enjoy the security that a dash cam provides in the case of an emergency.

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