The time has come to install my dashboard camera so I can record all the madness that driving in Slovakia has to offer. Actually, most drivers in Slovakia are fine, but there is a small group of idiots that do some pretty stupid things when big cars and bigger egos combine.
In Slovak they’re called “Cestni piráti” (road pirates) and they do some very dangerous things, such as overtaking into oncoming traffic, zig-zagging lines of cars to get one space ahead, and generally driving 50 km/h above the speed limit because they have an expensive car – therefore they feel the law does not apply to them.
This is the dashboard camera that I’m using. It’s called an 808 spy camera, and despite its tiny size, it records in high quality 720p High Definition. It’s not a Go-Pro, but for its price and size it comes pretty close.
You can buy them off eBay for around $30 USD, but make sure it’s a number 16 model. There are many models of 808 cameras, but only the #16 model offers high quality – hence its higher cost.
The camera takes a micro-SD card (I use an 8GB card – enough for around 3 hours of footage) and the battery lasts around 45 minutes when recording. Perfect for my trip to work and back each day.
The big problem is trying to find a way to connect the camera to the dash board, so that it can have a good view in front of the car and is easy to install and remove when I get in and out. My solution was to install a magnet on top of the camera (visible on the top photo) and a magnet under the rear view mirror.
Because the underside of the mirror is not flat, I had to make a simple ramp to make it flat and level. I took a small piece of wood, cut it into a triangle, and the sanded it down until it was the perfect size and angle.
Once I had the right size and angle, I put another high power (but ultra-thin) magnet under it and painted it black. When dry, I glued it under the rear view mirror.
When installing a dash camera it’s also important to make sure that the camera looks out the windshield in a place where the windshield wipers can wipe away the water. It’s tempting to put the camera at the very top of the windshield but trust me, if the wipers don’t wipe that part of the glass, then the raindrops will make it impossible for the camera to see.
A dashboard camera is like car insurance: you pay for it, but you hope you never need it! Fortunately I consider myself a reasonably safe driver who has done a lot of driving testing (I have a car, motorcycle, and bus license). I drive at a safe speed, because I want to get home alive and without damage to myself or my car.
Unfortunately some drivers in Slovakia want to drive much faster than the speed limit even when it is dangerous to do so. This means I really need to have a camera just in case they lose control and have an accident and try to blame me. I like to think of my dashcam as basically insurance for my insurance.
As you can see, driving in Slovakia is quite different to driving in New Zealand or the United Kingdom. I have only lived here for a year and a half, yet I have already seen a number of severe crashes. I made this YouTube video when I had my previous Daewoo. In the above video the dashcam was on the dashboard at the base of the windscreen.
The new position in the Suzuki Swift is much better, and if you’re thinking of buying a dash camera (and if you have a Suzuki Swift) then I recommend putting the dashcam under the rear vision mirror.
I hope you have a happy journey, and please drive safely. 😀
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