02.22.2008 08:37 AM
Gophercam adds new perspective to NASCAR racing

For the recent 50th anniversary run of the Daytona 500, FOX Sports introduced the Gophercam. A pavement-mounted HD specialty camera, the Gophercam is based around new Sony 1/3in CMOS chip imaging technology and DPA microphone, built by Inertia Unlimited.

Placed within the pavement of the track on the apex of each turn, it gives viewers a gopher’s view of NASCAR racecars speeding by at more than 200m/h. Designed closely with NASCAR Media Group, the cameras are nearly flush with the track and less obtrusive than a lane reflector on a highway. The camera can be run over thousands of times.

Jeff Silverman, owner of Inertia Unlimited, said that HD point-of-view cameras until recently were multicore, making it difficult to get signals off the track at the necessary distances. But the Sony imager, with some modifications, worked. Inertia built a circuit board to output a component HD signal. The tiny 1080i/720p switchable camera was then fit into a cylinder that is 4in in diameter and about 4in tall.

The cameras have already been installed in tracks in California, Las Vegas and Daytona. Each camera requires a 4in core to be drilled into the track and a cylinder to be placed within the core. The camera is then dropped into the cylinder and connected to a 15-pin connector.

It then connects to an AJA box that converts the component signal to HD-SDI. A Telecast Fiber HD POV link then muxes audio, data and video into two strands of fiber that run back to the compound to another Telecast box.

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