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Drunkonunleaded HalfDork
8/12/19 11:24 a.m.

Based upon many recommends on the forum, I've recently acquired a Virb Ultra 30.  Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a strong community for these units.  It does seem as though there's quite a few people here using them (including JG).  Hopefully this thread can serve as a place where we can all come together and share best practices.

As for my experience, the plan is to record Auto-X runs and track days.  I have a RAM roll bar mount to record hand position and track.  Will be adding a second camera to a RAM suction cup mount on the roof.  I'm looking to pick up the "powered mount" kit for inside the car, and running the external off of battery power.  

When mounting the camera externally, I've been using basic cable tethers that are clipped into these mounts: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CTD41Y8

They're fairly strong (neo magnets) and have yet to give me an issue.  I much prefer this style to looping around a mirror or similar.

As for my videos themselves, they leave a lot to be desired.  After 20+ solo runs, I've only gotten one "complete" recording.  For whatever reason, the video seems to clip right around the one minute mark.  Additionally, the GPS data seems to lag about 20 second behind the video.   I'm thinking the MicroSD card which was included (purchased used) simply does not have the write speed to keep up.  Garmin seems to have a "recommended card" list, but that seems to be a few years out of date.

I will say, however, that when everything works, it works very well.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc SuperDork
8/12/19 11:55 a.m.

The VIRB has been on my list of future purchases for autocross, especially after talking to J.G.

I'm not encouraged to hear that you're having some glitches. If I was okay with a buggy product, I would keep using my gopro hero 4. It's a little small for a paperweight, but that seems to be what it does best, and if that's what I have in mind, it works every time.

I'm hoping to get a reliable video action camera to expand into a data logging system without ever purchasing another gopro product.

It seems to me that the GPS lagging by 20 seconds renders that function useless for autocross.

I'll be watching this thread, and I thank you for starting it. I really want to see some good reports from other users.

Drunkonunleaded HalfDork
8/12/19 12:40 p.m.

Agreed.  The driving factor behind its purchase was use as a "cheapish" data logger.  These issues could easily be related to the SD card "issue".  I'm hoping to get some feedback (whether here or elsewhere) on which to purchase so I can do further testing.  Unfortunately, my next event isn't until September 8, so it'll be difficult to test it under similar conditions until then.  It should also be noted that both events were at the same location, so the GPS issue could be related to that specific area, although I suspect it is simply due to the card lagging.

My main concern is even if/when this gets sorted out, what things look like as far as multi-camera support.  I'll ideally be running 2-3 cameras, and am curious as to how the Virb app handles that.

FWIW, this is my first foray into action cameras, so I have nothing to compare this experience to.  I shied away from a GoPro due to the numerous complaints and lack of features compared to the Virb.  I'd be interested in checking out the DJI Osmo Action, but that is still a fairly new unit.  My whole approach to this has been not unlike buying cordless power tools: "Which ecosystem do you want to buy into?"

ShinnyGroove Reader
8/13/19 11:05 a.m.

I'm tottering on the edge of buying one of these- not encouraged to hear that people are having bugginess issues.  The cheapo $80 Amazon cam I bought has lousy picture quality.


I would love to have one of these cool setups that logs data, links to Canbus and overlays performance data on top of decent quality video.  Seemed like the Virb was a good starting point. 

Floating Doc
Floating Doc SuperDork
8/13/19 11:15 a.m.

In reply to ShinnyGroove :

Data logging on video is my ultimate goal. I don't know if I'll be able to afford to put it together, and I sure can't afford to buy more stuff that doesn't work.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
8/13/19 12:15 p.m.

First thing I'd try would be a different card. Even if it's not on the recommended card list, just getting a different reacion from the camera (or not) will tell you something about what's going on. 

And, yeah, I'm all about my Garmins. Image quality as at or near GoPro levels in most cases, while usability far surpasses GoPro in every way.

RevRico PowerDork
8/13/19 12:24 p.m.

Sd cards are dirt cheap. Get a class 10, which will have the fastest writing ability available. Sandisc or Samsung, they've both been really good to me. Amazon is half the price of best buy.

cbaclawski New Reader
8/13/19 9:21 p.m.

My $.02:

I bought the VIRB with the obd2 wireless connector.  It looked great on paper, had tracks already loaded, and could overlay sensor data on the video.

It does take high quality videos.


1-The software sucks, It doesn't recognize tracks as I was led to believe it did, (though it does pick up on laps, but you have to set the start/finish line for it to get laptimes, which is hard to get exactly at the actual start/finish of the track)

2-I have a fast card, but the data recorded does not sync with the video, you can still figure out your minimum/max speeds for the most part, but they don't match the video all that well..

3-The wireless obd2 plug is worthless. It constantly drops connection, and like the GPS data, even when it does work, it doesn't sync with the video either.  I used it once and put it in a drawer.

4-did I mention that the software is garbage?  There are templates for overlaying data but they are poorly arranged, and it's not obvious what data will show up when choosing one.  

5- It uses a proprietary charging/access cable - don't lose it!

6-to connect with the phone app, you have to connect via wifi, going in to your phone settings and changing networks, after fiddling with the obtuse menu's on the camera itself to turn on the transmitter - difficult when the camera is mounted, and hardly worth the trouble other than making sure it's pointed the right way...

Again it does take nice video's, but I would never buy again.  Get "track addict" for your phone and a decent mount.  Put the $300 bucks toward tires.

SnowMongoose SuperDork
8/13/19 9:43 p.m.

I've had mine for over a year now, used it exclusively for AX with SoloStorm...  

been flawless other than sub-optimal battery life.

dual driving means swapping in a new battery at lunch, other option would be punching a hole in the case to run a power cable

That being said, was able to get a charger with two more batteries from Amazon for under $20 iirc

Also worth noting that the charging/access cable is *NOT* proprietary.

Drunkonunleaded HalfDork
8/13/19 10:21 p.m.

I've learned to accept the battery issues (for now).  Honestly, the thing hasn't worked long enough for me to even test battery life, but I did spring for the Amazon batteries/charger awhile back.

The charging cable is a basic Mini USB, no big deal.  If I could get the thing to work the way I wanted, I would have no problem investing in the hardwire mount.

While the app (both desktop and phone) leave a lot to be desired, how does it compare to the GoPro or DJI apps?  Based upon my experience in other industries, mobile apps for these types of electronics never seem to meet expectations.

It's kind of discouraging to hear that the OBD connection regularly fails.  This, and the built-in data overlays, were the biggest selling points of the camera.  

I picked up a Samsung UHS-I card, so hopefully that fixes the issues with missed footage.  However, the data lag is concerning.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc SuperDork
8/13/19 10:32 p.m.

I'm glad to see this discussion before I get to the point of buying another camera. 

ShinnyGroove Reader
8/14/19 7:08 a.m.

All of this is enough to keep me from buying one for now.  It's enough work to keep the car running well, I don't need more headaches with getting decent video.  $350 can buy me three sets of brake pads or 3/4 of a set of tires.  I will look into TrackAddict, the camera on my Iphone 10 is actually quite good.

Drunkonunleaded HalfDork
8/14/19 9:08 a.m.
ShinnyGroove said:

All of this is enough to keep me from buying one for now.  It's enough work to keep the car running well, I don't need more headaches with getting decent video.  $350 can buy me three sets of brake pads or 3/4 of a set of tires.  I will look into TrackAddict, the camera on my Iphone 10 is actually quite good.

I think that's my real frustration.  I RARELY drive this car, and have been trailering it to events.  When you only have four runs to get things right, the last thing you want to worry about is the camera.

While I could "test" the camera on my morning commute, etc. it really doesn't replicate the "locality" of running on an Auto-X course.  Part of my concern with the GPS data is that it's partly due to the site we run.

cbaclawski New Reader
8/14/19 5:34 p.m.
SnowMongoose said:


Also worth noting that the charging/access cable is *NOT* proprietary.


Interesting, Mine most certainly is, and while it works well, it's a pain to keep track of...I would guess mine is 1yr-18 months old, so maybe they've updated it?  Maybe a different version?

I have the one that came as the "motorsports" package...

It can be for sale if you want it...  (cheapish too, and not you specifically, anyone really)

mine was called the "Garmin Virb XE Auto Racing Bundle "



Floating Doc
Floating Doc SuperDork
8/14/19 9:33 p.m.

There's the VIRB X and VIRB Ultra 30. We can, and should, discuss both of them in this thread, but we really ought to specify which camera we're talking about when posting.

A good point was made above about the distractions of messing with cameras. I bought my first two action cameras when I started autocross. I found out that neither of them were reliable, but focusing on them as I'm about to head up to the starter meant that I lacked enough concentration to successfully complete a good run.

That's a major reason why I need something that just plain works.

SnowMongoose SuperDork
8/15/19 5:58 p.m.

Oooooh, not the same Virb I have, gotcha.  

Still weird that they'd go proprietary, I assume it would be cheaper for them to go off the shelf.  

Prior to this camera I was team GoPro, but after having issues with the last one I asked Mike (Mr. Solostorm) which camera played best with his software, he said Virb U30 so that's what I bought.

On the topic of reliable, easy cameras, Solostorm + Virb U30 has been outstanding.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc SuperDork
9/27/19 10:02 p.m.

I'm getting close to buying a VIRB Ultra 30. Any more comments?

Knurled. MegaDork
9/28/19 3:04 a.m.

Charging my VURB X right now for its second event in use.


Brain dump on the learning curve:  The "flip the lever to turn on and start recording" feature is very nice but you'll want to flip the lever a good 20-30 seconds before your run, as it takes time for the camera to capture GPS signals.  My first run with it, I had the starter flip the camera on, and I had no GPS related metrics data until the end of the run.  Fortunately for the rest of my recorded runs, I decided that with a 128 gigabyle microSD card, I could afford to record a bit excess so I flipped the camera on in grid just before strapping myself back into the car.

The GPS-recorded speed has a fair amount of lag factor, maybe half a second or so, and it would also do things like show 3-5mph when I was sitting still.  Not that big of a deal to me since it's more of a novelty than anything, I'm not using it to datalog for tuning purposes.  The data from the internal accelerometer seems to be reasonably well synced.

The charging cable is annoying, it has a proprietary "pad" on the camera end, so you can't use just any old USB cable.


First runs I made with the unit


Finding that video, it also reminded me of a minor annoyance with the VIRB Edit software.  I found the metrics layout tools to be fairly intuitive, but I couldn't find any way to force a scale on things like the G bubble gauge.  On that video, one of my runs had some spikes to 2.5-2.6g, so the G bubble set itself to the 4 G scale.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc SuperDork
9/28/19 1:28 p.m.

In reply to Knurled. :

VIRB X had a 1 hz refresh rate for the GPS, the same as a cell phone. The VIRB ULTRA 30 is 10hz.

accordionfolder Dork
9/28/19 2:38 p.m.

Minor, semi related tangent. Harry's laptimer now supports APEX pro device as an external 10hz gps (iOS out, Android soon to be out). I think the App+GoPro overlay support built into the app + APEX pro in video frame supplying information on potential grip vs utilized grip is going to be a fantastic data logging and analysis suite...


Having my Apex in video frame is always helpful since it helps remind you how hard you were pushing/what's left on the table for a particular session, so I think if I can bundle all that - iterating rapidly on track seems very attainable...

ShinnyGroove Reader
9/28/19 10:00 p.m.

Just to circle back to this thread.... I got a Garmin GLO 2 bluetooth GPS receiver and installed Track Addicts on my Iphone.  Mounted both the receiver and the phone to the windshield with suction cup mounts and recorded my session with the Iphone camera.  I run Megasquirt, but if I had an OBD2 car I could hook up a bluetooth monitor and Track Addicts would also be able to record the ECU data.

I put Race Render on my desktop and imported the .mov file from the phone, which has the GPS and accelerometer data from the Iphone embedded.  Race Render lets you do screen overlays just like the expensive systems.  Overall the result is excellent; GPS data seems dead accurate and the accelerometer data gives you a good feel for G’s in the corners, brake points, etc.  Overall it accomplishes 95% of what I wanted from a data acquisition system.  The Iphone video is much better than action cam footage, because it doesn’t have the super-wide field of view that makes all the other cars look far away.

Overall 9/10.  The only challenge is finding a windshield mount that’s stable enough to get good Iphone footage, and I think I’ve got that solved now too.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc SuperDork
10/6/19 6:56 p.m.

Update: I returned my Sony handycam for a store credit, and applied that towards the purchase of a Garmin virb Ultra 30.

I got a discount of $60 with the price matching policy at Best buy.

I'll update my initial thoughts on the Garmin after my next event, which is next Sunday.

There was an scca solo event at Daytona between when I returned the handycam, and took delivery of the Garmin.

I set up my GoPro hero 4, in case I might be able to get it to work. It locked up, and never started. It didn't get a single video in six runs. Fortunately, I also set up my phone with track addict and got video of some of the runs.

Using Race Render, I've tried to export them from the phone to my computer and on to YouTube, but Race Render doesn't seem to be recognizing the videos for import.

It's kind of frustrating, since I had a breakthrough day, finishing second in an 11 car ES field. I paxed 12th overall, not bad for a 64 year old with one year of experience in autocross. 

ShinnyGroove Reader
10/6/19 7:52 p.m.

I had the same problem with Race Render.  It needs some fancy new codecs that only come on newer operating systems.  I failed with Windows 7 and Windows 10, and finally got it working on the newest iOS.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc SuperDork
10/13/19 9:28 p.m.

First event today. I've still got to figure out the VIRB editing program, but I fumbled around enough to get this uploaded.

Fumbling is a good description of my driving style today, so I guess that's appropriate cheeky


Drunkonunleaded HalfDork
3/5/20 9:47 p.m.

Bumping this back up as it's almost race season....

I was originally exploring the "powered" mount to solve my battery issues in car.  In a perfect world, this setup would be ported over to an enduro car, but I'm far from that right now.  As it stands, I can't even get the stock battery to last a whole Auto-X event, and that's pretty unacceptable to me.

Unfortunately, that mount is $130+ shipping and appears to have been discontinued.  The "powered moount" combo is ~$200 more than the current Virb price ($269).  Instead I picked up a used housing off of eBay.  Considering that I am trying to hardwire for in-car video only, the plan is to simply Dremel a hole in one of the housings in order to run direct power to the unit.

Has anyone found a power adapter that also will allow for an external mic?  I know that Gopro has/had such a device, but IIRC it is not compatible with the Virb.  There was a more grassroots option that could be modified to go from Gopro > Virb, but that looks to have been discontinued.

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