I really dislike the bevvy of cams made for R/C pilots to stick on their planes. It seems like every one of them is overly complex, with a number of different operational modes and very little indication as to what mode they’re in, or even if they are recording. I have a FlyCam and a FlyCam 2, and I have a MiniDV and a couple of no-name jobs that I scarfed online for cheap prices. But all of them are annoying. Why can’t anyone make a cam that you have a single switch, that when you flip it and the camera is recording, that I turns on a little LED? A single glance, even at a distance, will tell you immediately if the thing is working or not. So many times I have been absolutely sure that I was in recording mode, only to find out after the flight that the stupid camera was in some mode – -like motion detection or some crap and that I have no video to show for my flight.

This kind of stuff pisses me off because first of all, the more complex an item is, the more likely it will be to experience a failure of some kind. The more opportunities for failure a thing has, the more it is likely to fail. Also, using tiny LCD displays is stupid because you have to look at them from a certain angle in the right light or you can’t see anything at all. A nice little bright LED would do a much better job of providing feedback as to the cameras state.

I had a discussion with one of the makers of a cheapo cam I had. It was able to do a whole lot of things, according to the propaganda that came with it, but the fact was that I could never get it to work at what I wanted it to do and as a result it was useless to me. I commented so in a review I made for the camera. This was what prompted the manufacturer to contact me, outraged that I would demean their very capable camera. I told them that their camera was only useful if it was made to work easily with simple and unmistakable feedback for the operator. They disagreed, talking about the wonderful circuitry they employed. All of which was irrelevant.

I think, in this day and age, with the technology available like surface mount components of ant-like proportions, that someone should be able to make a video camera that had a lens, a single switch that was on or off, and an LED to say when it was on. I would pay $100 for this simple and reliable device and love it a lot more than a $79 camera that would prefer to do as it pleased with all of the unnecessary capabilities some gadget obsessed engineer conjured up.

Too many designers these days seem to lose sight of the purpose of the device they are creating, wanting to give it this or that feature so that it “stomps the competition” by employing everything but the kitchen sink. Screw that. Much better is a simple and completely reliable device –the only bell and whistle I give a damn about.