Recording, Streaming, and Recruiting for Softball or Baseball

How to keep your GoPro from overheating while recoding softball games or baseball games
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Pictured is 2.0, check out version 3.0

In six years of softball, I’ve learned a lot and I’m sure there is much more to learn in the next six before we are done. We have three daughters who play year-round with one heading to college to play and the youngest in 6th grade. Hopefully, what I have learned can help you if you are getting started or a seasoned veteran.

First, I am not affiliated with GoPro, Logitech, GameChanger, or Apple so my opinion and views are my own and not subject to their approval. I must say that I have a love/hate relationship with GoPro. We play year-round in the Phoenix area so the temperature is always an issue. I recall 118 degrees is the hottest game they have played in… sometimes I wished they would have picked an indoor sport.

In a quest to keep our GoPro and Smartphones from overheating while recording games, I’ve tried just about everything. This included shade devices, wet towels, and ice bags, and was about to give up when I thought about an active cooling solution.  So I started with a lot of research and developed a camera cooling system that no one else is currently offering.  When I say camera cooling, I don’t mean refrigeration cooling. I looked at thermoelectric cooler Peltier devices, but they draw large amounts of power and are only about 2 percent efficient. That would be fine if every ballpark had an electrical plug behind every backstop, it worked, and you could beat out every other parent there for access. According to GoPro and Logitech, these cameras need airflow movement to “wick” the heat away. A static environment with only a shade covering isn’t going to be sufficient.

To tackle and alleviate the difficulties and inefficiencies that arise as a result of heat, engineers employ different cooling systems to manage conditions.

  • Passive cooling achieves natural convection and heat dissipation by utilizing the case of the camera for radiation and convection heat transfer modes. These methods are not effective when utilizing an action camera to record a sporting event on a chain-link fence on a warm summer day. A shade cover may help, but it will probably not be a reliable solution.
  • Active cooling, on the other hand, refers to cooling technologies that rely on an external device to enhance heat transfer. Through active cooling technologies, the rate of fluid flow increases during convection, which dramatically increases the rate of heat removal. Active cooling solutions include forced air through a fan or blowers like those deployed with our camera cooling systems have shown to be very effective.
  • GoPro admits “lack of airflow” is an issue to Digital Camera World  “So for the filming scenario when long clips at highest resolutions in a static environment are required, we recommend taking the necessary steps to provide some airflow. This will improve the camera’s thermal performance and allow for longer video capture.”

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Heat Torture Testing

A quick search on Google or YouTube reveals several torture tests of every variant of GoPro with varying details of how to remedy the issue. Until recently, no one was talking about a lack of airflow as being an issue, especially GoPro. It’s almost like they didn’t want to admit there may be an issue, but the sport’s recording crowd has known about this issue for a long time and many have abandoned their GoPro cameras because of it.

We’ve been doing this for two years, but the only proof I had to show the effectiveness of the camera cooler is the weekend after weekend of recorded game videos with no camera overheats.  However, there is no golden ticket and if it gets hot enough, the cooling compacity of any system could be exceeded especially when recording for long periods. 

As it gets warmer this summer we’ll be posting more videos to show the effectiveness of our camera cooling systems. Below are a few of the details and videos of the tests conducted so far. None of these settings are recommended for recording a game, but I wanted to push the cameras as much as possible. The Hero10 had the front screen on and was much warmer than the camera body. 

Test 3 vs. Test 4 show that in similar conditions, the GoPro Cooler Fans make all the difference!
Hero10 Black recorded for 7+ hours at 5.3K and 60 fps with our GoPro Cooler Fans versus 25 minutes without.

Test 1:  4/18/2022

  • Hero10 Black | 5.3k | 60 | L+
  • With Cooler Fans
  • Outside Temp: 95° F

Results: Overheated

  • Runtime: 8 mins & 54 secs
  • Ended by overheat
  • 4.1 GB

Notes: Battery was installed, but at 1% so probably not ideal to have it charging. This camera was sitting right next to the Hero8 in direct sunlight.

Test 2: 4/18/2022

  • Hero8 Black | 4K | 60 | Wide
  • With Cooler Fans
  • Outside Temp: 95° F

Results:  No Overheat

  • Runtime: 1 hr & 56 mins
  • Ended by the user
  • 52.7 GB

Notes: I was shocked it recorded this long and was expecting it to overheat.  Internal battery installed but charged to 100% before starting. 

Test 3:  4/19/2022

  • Hero10 Black | 5.3k | 60 | L+
  • With Cooler Fans 
  • Inside Temp: 78° F 

Results:  No Overheat

  • Runtime: 7 hr & 12 mins
  • Ended by the user
  • 194 GB

Notes: I didn’t expect the camera to record much longer than 30-40 minutes at that resolution. Internal battery installed but charged to 100% before starting.

Test 4:  4/19/2022

  • Hero10 Black | 5.3k | 60 | L+
  • NO Cooler Fans
  • Inside Temp: 75° F

Results: Overheated

  • Runtime: 25 mins & 12 secs
  • Ended by overheat
  • 11.4 GB

Notes: Internal battery installed but charged to 100% before starting. About the same time as reported by other users. I was expecting a bit longer run time.

Below is a list of games recorded with the Hero8 Black using the GoPro Cooler Fans and the daily temperature historical data. This should help give you an idea of how effective these Cooler Fans are. See more data here.

Game Video Links: 6/27/2021

https://www.wunderground.com/history/daily/KPHX/date/2021-6-27

7/8/2022. GoPro Cooler and Smartphone Cooler keep cameras cool during a softball game. Temperature 111 F

View the complete game video at:

https://gopro.com/v/o6nbLBXneLRRO 

https://www.wunderground.com/history/daily/us/az/phoenix/KPHX/date/2022-7-8

 

For game recording, I use 1080, 60, wide when recording games with no internal battery with the front and back screen set to timer off. I will leave the red LED light on so I can see it blinking to indicate the camera is still recording.

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How the GoPro Cooler and Universal Fence Mount were born

The first GoPro cooler was built in my garage using Kydex and a heat gun bending the Kydex into a bulky plastic box that encased the GoPro completely. It was also a GoPro Fence mount that used hooks milled from Kydex. The fans pulled air in and forced the air out around the GoPro. This design was effective and pretty much eliminated the overheating issues. The bottom open area was for ice packs as it was initially thought that extra cooling would be needed. After serval late afternoon games when the ice packs had melted, it became apparent that it wasn’t needed and the movement of the air was sufficient for cooling. Also, several early testers modified this area to hold the external battery brick instead of ice as they found out the ice wasn’t needed. 

I thought I was onto something special, an all-in-one type of device. At every tournament, I was asked where did I buy the cooler or could I build one for them. I kind of laughed in my head thinking “I already have a full-time job and I didn’t need another”. Then it hit me, if people are willing to buy something that didn’t look all that good, as the first design was pretty rough, there must be a demand for a better-designed product. Then reality set in and it became apparent that mass-producing these in my garage and being able to produce a repeatable quality product wasn’t going to happen. There had to be a better way without outsourcing the manufacturing to China.

After researching manufacturing methods, I decided that 3D printing was the most reliable and fastest method for producing a quality product to start. Purchasing a 3D printer wasn’t cheap, but I went to work upgrading the materials and manufacturing processes while trying to keep your end costs to a reasonable level. At this point the bulky box had to be broken apart into separate pieces, thus evolving into the Universal Fence Mount and the GoPro Cooler as separate devices.  The final compact devices are now ready and being sold on our webpage and Etsy store.   https://camcooler.com/

IMG_4312
Original Design - All-in-one Fence Mount and GoPro Cooler
Desperation! Overheated in 15 minutes.
GoPro Camera Cooler $45

How to keep your GoPro from overheating? These camera coolers work as a shade cover and the active cooling fans will help reduce the operating temperatures of your device to keep it recording. However, due to various atmospheric conditions, we cannot guarantee that your device will not overheat and shut off.

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Mevo Start Camera Cooler $45

The Mevo Start Camera Cooler system was recently added to the production line.  I don’t have this camera, but I’m told it suffers from the same overheating issues, especially when streaming the video. The Mevo Start Camera Cooler sits over the Mevo camera and the dual fan design provides active cooling.

Recording, Streaming, and Recruiting

My philosophy is the recorded video is the gold standard and what I use for making recruiting videos. The live streaming video, although nice to have for parents not attending, is secondary.

College coaches love to see actual game footage for recruiting. Everyone films their kid while batting, but what about those defensive plays that are missed?  Offensive Stats are very easy to verify by coaches as hits and home runs show up in the box score. What doesn’t show up is a great throw from the outfield to get the runner out at home or a great snag by an infielder. Therefore, I believe the complete game needs to be recorded.

I’ve seen many poor recruiting videos on FieldLevel or SportsRecruits that seem almost unusable to a college coach. Having the camera positioned without the chain link fence or netting in the frame is a must.  Also, label and highlight your kid in each video so coaches can easily see who and what they a looking at. They watch a lot of videos, especially since COVID, so make it easier on them. 

Using a good mount poorly leads to disappointing game videos.

Properly Positioned Camera. In the center and close to the fence for best recording views.
Poorly Positioned Camera. Not centered and too far away from the fence.

Where should I place my camera is a question I get asked all the time and the answer is… It depends. If you are intending the video to be used for recruiting films or streamed live for coaches to watch, then the best place would probably be behind the batter’s side of home plate so coaches can see the mechanics of each swing without the umpire blocking the view. If your primary audience is family members watching the live stream, I prefer to have the camera opposite the batter so the viewer gets a better view of the ball crossing the plate.   

What is FieldLevel or SportsRecruits? They are college recruiting websites that are created for student-athletes and organizations to take control of their recruiting process. You can host all of your athletic information, academic information, and recruiting videos in one place for college coaches to see in just one click!

It is never too early to start if your child wants to play in college.  They both offer free accounts so coaches can see your information, but the paid version allows direct communication and the ability to see what specific college has viewed your profile and/or videos.

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Alright, back to the love/hate relationship I have with GoPro. 

Currently, I have upgraded to the Hero10 Black and I’m very impressed so far, but most of my experience is with the Hero8 Black. Once the overheating issues were solved, I started to enjoy the GoPro. I use 1080, 60 fps, wide, and both screens off with great results.  I don’t film in 4K due to the large file size and the extra heat that is produced by working the processor that hard.  1080/60 is an acceptable resolution for highlight films and uploading to the cloud. However, expect about a 40 GB video file when the complete game is recorded.

Also, you may want to consider the Pro 3.5mm Mic Adapter from GoPro if using our Cooling Fans as they may overwhelm the sounds from the game a little. However, I’ve been told by many college coaches they don’t listen to the sound anyway when viewing recruiting videos. The Hero10 seems to do a better job than the Hero8 did, but I like using a MOVO VXR10 unpowered mic from Amazon. Just ensure the mic uses a TRS cable. (the cable that has 2 black barbs instead of 3)  Next, you may want to consider a pass-thru battery door to help keep the dust out when recording without the internal battery. GoPro finally deployed this door for the 9 and 10, but I’ve had good luck with the lesser expensive ones found on Amazon.

The GoPro Subscription in my opinion is the best service available. It is $50 a year for unlimited cloud storage and it’s also the camera warranty. One of the key features of a GoPro Subscription is unlimited cloud backup. Members can save all footage shot with a compatible GoPro camera to the cloud, in full original quality. Subscribers can do this either via the Quik app on their smartphone, through the GoPro web interface, or by configuring Auto Upload. I probably have terabytes of game video stored there. I’m not aware of another service offering anything similar.

For our club teams, we use a GoPro Hero8 Black or Hero10 Black for recording the complete game. Recorded on a Lexar 512GB U3 A2 1066x microSD card at 1080P with 60 fps. I know the 512 is expensive, but it allows for the whole tournament to be recorded. If the 512GB doesn’t fit into your budget, buy a smaller size, but don’t ever sacrifice the speed rating of the microSD card.

See GoPro for the recommended sdcards… just don’t use the cheap ones or purchase from unauthorized resellers as you won’t like the results. Trust me, I’ve been down that road.

  • Recommended cards:
    • Sandisk Extreme, Extreme Plus, Extreme Pro: 32/64/128/256/512GB
    • Lexar Professional 1066x Silver Series: 64/128/256/512GB
Example of GoPro Shared Links

After the tournament, I upload the complete game videos to the GoPro cloud automatically when the GoPro joins my home WiFi. I do not edit any of the footage and the GoPro cloud service stitches the game footage into one full-length game video. What a time saver!

I then share the link of each game with all players and parents so they can watch or download the video for their highlight reels. The shared links require no login; therefore they only have access to what you share with them and no other uploaded videos.

GameChanger Team Manager Live Streaming Video

As for streaming the game live, I use my kid’s smartphone that is playing to broadcast the game live via GameChanger Team Manager. I’m not using my data for this, sorry kids. Recently, I noticed GameChanger automatically clips the video of hits and putouts and saves it to a link under each player, assuming the scorer was active and current scoring the game.  This is why I developed the Smartphone cooler.  It helps to keep the smartphone cool.

I’ve tried other methods and cameras, but getting the GoPro to link to a hotspot and/or streaming service can be troublesome and problematic. I like the simple approach using the direct communication of the smartphone. Also, if you are streaming with GoPro and probably the Mevo Start, the recording has to be stopped to get the live streaming going again.

GameChanger Live Video Feed
GameChanger Video Clips of hits
Smartphone Cooler $45

Portable Charger Battery Banks

We recommend using a Portable Charger Battery Bank with at least 20000mAh capacity. This will run your camera and cooling fans for almost all day as the fans draw very little power. I’ve recorded 5 games once and still had power remaining. (your results may vary)  These can be purchased for $30 to $100 and I’ve had great success with the lesser expensive ones, but have switched to the Crave Plus PRO. I prefer to have a battery with the new style USB C (PD In/Out) and 3 power outlets.

For the GoPro 9 and later we recommend using a USB C to USB C cable and a Portable Charger Battery Bank with a USB C (PD Out) port.

Crave Plus Pro 20,000mAh
IXNINE Power Bank 26800mAh
GoPro Battery In or Out?

The majority of the time, I operate the GoPro without the internal battery in the camera, especially when it gets over 100 degrees. The goal is to keep the camera within its operating limits so there is no need to add additional heat an internal battery creates. 

For the GoPro 9 and later we recommend using a USB C to USB C cable and a Portable Charger Battery Bank with a USB C (PD Out) port. USB-C supports the USB Power Delivery (USB PD) specification. The older USB ports can deliver just 2.5 to 15 watts of power and your GoPro might not operate with that depending on the firmware version installed. But USB PD can deliver up to 100 watts of power, more than six times what older USB ports can do.

  • Note: Remember to set the date and time before recording or when it auto uploads, it will be out of order on the GoPro cloud backup.
  • Our cooling fans require minimal power and will operate with the older less powerful USB ports.

If you must operate the GoPro with the internal battery installed, for better results and lower heat output from your device, ensure it is fully charged so it does not generate extra heat to charge the internal battery. Also, record only in 1080p or less, 30fps or less, turn off GPS and Hypersmooth Video Stabilization.

Finally, don’t start out using a camera that has been heat-soaked sitting in the sun in your bag before the game starts.  Keep those cameras in the shade or a ziplock bag in the ice cooler.

Most portable charger battery banks have an auto-off timer to turn off the battery when not enough current is being drawn or utilized. This can be a problem with operating a GoPro with an internal battery that probably only lasts for about 45 minutes and expecting the portable charger battery bank to keep the GoPro powered when its internal battery runs dead. When the internal battery goes dead, the external portable charger battery bank isn’t on and now the GoPro shuts off losing that valuable game footage.

However, our cooling fans draw enough current to keep the portable charger battery bank always on so they don’t auto-shutoff.

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Fence Mounts

We have also tried just about every fence mount on the market. The cheap GoPro fence mounts DIY products don’t work and the high-quality stainless steel GoPro mounts are great but way overpriced. The metal mounts get very hot sitting in direct sunlight and can be too hot to handle without gloves. Yes, I have seen gloves being used to remove a metal fence mount. I’ve seen umpires require metal mounts to be removed and repositioned if the pitcher doesn’t like the reflectiveness of the stainless steel metal. Other mounts that squeeze between the chain-link fences don’t work on the smaller fence pattern, like the fences in Las Vegas where the City of Lights Showcase is held. (Found that out the hard way a few years back)

We believe our Universal Fence Mount is just right for the price and functionality. The Universal Fence Mount is an affordable all-in-one device that is a great backstop camera mount as a GoPro fence clip mount, Smartphone fence mount, Mevo Start fence mount, or all three at the same time. It will keep your action camera or smartphone close to the fence and held firmly in place while recording softball, baseball, or any other sports where fencing is restricting your view.

The previous PETG Carbon Fiber mount was strong, but the new Polycarbonate is even stronger with better impact resistance. Printed with PolyMax™ PC, an engineered PC filament,  it has excellent strength, toughness, and heat resistance. It is the ideal choice for a wide range of engineering applications

Revision 3.0 is going to be a bit more expensive than the previous one, but these upgrades are always included at no additional charge:

  • J-Hook Design Buckle with an upgraded aluminum thumb screw for GoPro. Camera placement is everything and we want you to use the best buckle for recording so we include it at no additional charge. 
  • Built-in bubble level to ensure the mount is level.
  • Mevo Start Camera mounting plate is now built into the fence mount. 

You’ll need to provide a method for attaching the Mevo Start Camera to the fence mount and we recommend the Multi-Function Double Ball Head or the Smallrig 11″ Magic Arm for the greatest flexibility or the 1/4″ Flash Hot Shoe Mount With Double Nuts for the lowest budget option.

There is one 3/8 inch mounting hole for other cameras or accessories mounting options like the SMALLRIG 11 inch Adjustable Articulating Magic Arm (not included) coupled with an Ulanzi ST-02S Phone Tripod Mount (not included) will provide a superior smartphone camera mounting option.

Using the cold-shoe adapter mount with a 1/4″ or 3/8″ adapter will provide an excellent mount for a Mevo Start, Smartphone, microphone, pocket radar, or battery from the bottom Universal Fence.

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About Us

We are a new startup family business in Gilbert, AZ.  Our materials and manufacturing processes are high quality while keeping your cost to a reasonable level.

We get it. We understand how expensive these sports are.

https://camcooler.com/

Universal Fence Mount $50
Softball and Baseball is a game of frustration and failure in many ways.

The mental aspects of Softball are by far the most mentally challenging and demanding of any sport. Demanding, because there is so much dead time compared to other sports. Deadtime gives players lots of time to think, and thinking is often at the root of tension, pressure, and anxiety.

The game of softball demands a unique mental attitude separate from other team sports. The pace of the game fools individuals into thinking that the game is laid back and slow. This could not be further from the truth. The speed and reaction time in softball is second to none.

The ability to turn on physical tools in a split second starts with the mental outlook of the player. Many peaks and valleys take place in one game, let alone an entire season. The player must learn to have an iron will and never get too high or too low, as this game will always give a chance at redemption.

Below is a quote from my uncle Gary’s book, Breaking The Performance Trap, and the book is very informative and will help a player or anyone struggling with the mental aspects of life.

“Our worth and value are not determined by our performance. We can feel good about a positive performance and we can be frustrated regarding a negative performance. We can work to replicate the positive ones and improve the negative ones. However, neither performance changes our value as people.”

Gary Potter: Breaking The Performance Trap

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