Instructables

Kite Aerial Photography (KAP)

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Design and manufacture your own mechanical intervolamerter trigger for your old digital camera.
In this project we'll see how to make your own camera trigger from recycled, reused, and re-purposed materials, many you may find laying around your home!



Prologue:
One starry night of sleepless lasagna-tummy, my mind wandered to my bloated Bolognese belly.
After the third antacid and mouthwash I had an epiphany. Maybe it was the double chese and garlic turf war, maybe the chalky effervescence creating a toxic nerve-gas, I don't know. I lost track of everything over the last 5 glasses of red.
I had a vision of my expanded belly carrying me upwards, all I was able to grab before my feet left the ground was my sunglasses and camera. I was carried to the sky photographing my way upwards. I had broken into the stratosphere when.... *blink*
It was over.

A quick look on Google the next morning revealed that apparently more than just me has a reaction to a cocktail of food, alcohol and medicine, and as far back as 100 years. Intrigued, I checked Instructables to see if anyone had done something similar, to my surprise (and to date of publish) they had not. I was inspired to create my own aerial photographs. Since I am not familiar with the methods of making my trigger from 555 timers, I needed to make a mechanical trigger. As a twist I would use recycled and re-purposed materials and combine it with an old abondoned digital camera to take photos from my kite.

While electronics may be second nature to some, to others (myself included) they are a mystery. I did not want wiring or programming to be a deterrent, for this project this element is removed entirely. In addition I wanted a design that would not compromise the camera housing. This rules out opening the camera to solder on a trigger.



My guidelines for this project were:



  • use as much recycled content as possible
  • budget of around $50
  • able to function with any digital camera
  • no special camera function (or special plug)
  • no specialty knowledge (eg: no electrical / arduino / 555 timers etc.)

With the ideas laid out, I was set to take some aerial photography, and maybe have an adventure along the way.

Enough talk...... let's build!
 
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CCube553 months ago
how did you find ur kite? iv try leting and cant track it well.
rread2 years ago
I've made a device to help steer a single line kite.
http://youtu.be/Q1o4mw0ug14
This is a really easy make and may help you with launch and landing.
It can also help put your kite in just the right spot to get the view you need.
rread2 years ago
Brilliant stuff, well done. This may help you get the prefect view angle... I needed to build a remote control to steer a single line lifter kite. http://youtu.be/Q1o4mw0ug14

I
'm hoping to use this in order that I can lift an airborne wind generator into the sky.

wish me luck
mikeasaurus (author)  rread2 years ago
Neat, and good luck!

You should watch this for more inspiration!
Ah yes thanks, Makani. Indeed. I think they even have a related instructables article on airborne wind energy.
Even though they're backed by google and ARPA-e, I fully intend to wipe the floor with that design.
heladoxa5 years ago
We did a similar exercise for a school project, and considered using a weather balloon or a kite. We tried both and the result was interesting and un-expected. With NO wind the balloon went up and was pretty stable. The kite did not go up, of course. On a windy day the KITE went up and with a smooth wind was stable, but the balloon wanted to be blown by the wind to the length of its tethering string and was therefore blown DOWN and was useless. Its horses for courses!
Well, why didn't you just attach the weather balloon to the top of the kite? Kit keeps things stable when windy, but when the wind dies, the weather balloon holds things up.
kcls4 years ago
Can you post a video of the button-pushing mechanism working? This is a great instructable!
mikeasaurus (author)  kcls4 years ago
Step 6 shows the mechanism turning, there are fins on the rotating wheel which trigger the push-button from the pen housing. Since the assembly was designed for a proof of concept only it has since crashed one too many times, regrettably it is no longer in operation.
You might want to use an inexpensive camera at least until you get the hang of it...

Marcos5 years ago
Now that's my kind of Instructable! Fun idea, clear, if somewhat arbitrary parameters, low budget, and simple. But couldn't you at least get some Knex or flashing LEDs in there? ;)

I built my bamboo monopod with similar parameters. All materials except the bamboo had to be on hand, no trips to the hardware store! I like the challenge of doing things that way, if forces me to think up solutions I might not have otherwise.
mikeasaurus (author)  Marcos5 years ago
Thanks for the support. Though the guidelines may seem arbitrary the idea was to present a project to the widest possible audience. The parameters were to guide the project away from certain areas (such as arduino and 55 timers), not so much on what to use. But you seem to have gotten the idea of what I was after, so thanks! Seems like you and I share the challenge of hunting for solutions.

Though I did not consider k'nex I did consider some LED's for some possible dusk photography, but found that the streamers I made stand out amazingly well against dark sky. The other part is that the already unstable shots only get worse during darker hours (version 2.0 may aim to solve this problem as well with better equipment).

Thanks for your comment! (I also liked the monopod and especially the trugs!)

dchall85 years ago
Your said, My choice was the delta conyne, if you follow the link you will see the plans I was going to use to build my kite.

Where is the link?

Where would you have found the rip stop nylon?

I know where I can get a delta conyne, but I was hoping to find a deal like you did. Only I was going to ask for a big discount being as how it was an old kite. I made a double delta conyne (my own design) about 10 years ago. It only flew successfully for about 10 seconds. It flew unsuccessfully for about a minute in all. I was very surprised at the power the kite had. Once I got it tuned up and aligned (nearly impossible), it shot up like a rocket. It went nose down hard into the ground many times in its brief life and finally was not reparable. I think the standard DC would be a good choice for carrying a relatively heavy load like a camera.
pdub77 dchall85 years ago
you can get rip stop nylon at larger fabric and craft stores like joanne fanrics. we have those in indianapolis. don't know if they are country wide.
Marcos pdub775 years ago
Has anyone tried Tyvek as a kite material? It's probably heavier than nylon, but it'll never rip.
Try looking up KITE SUPPLIES in yellow pages. Or a sailmaker, but their stuff might be too heavy. What about an umbrella manufacturer?. It's not ripstop, but it is strong, wind-tight and light. There you go, three places to try!
Joe426 dchall85 years ago
Don't miss out on this awesome kite info and pics:

http://hacknmod.com/hack/incredible-diy-aerial-kite-photoraphy/
mikeasaurus (author)  dchall85 years ago
dchall8, thanks for the comments:

Link:
The quote should have the words 'delta conyne' highlighted in orage, which is a link you can click and it should take you where I was referencing. But here's the link anyways:
http://images.google.ca/images?hl=en&q=delta+conyne&btnG=Search+Images&gbv=2

Nylon:
As for the rip-stop, I'm glad you asked. I found rip-stop nylon in a store that services backpacks and hiking gear. They supply just about every belt, clip, strap, and fabric imaginable. It was priced at $20/yard, I figured I would need about a yard and a half.
I haven't tried searching in a regular fabric store, but I imagine they'd have soemthing. A little sluthing around some industrial sites could also be profitable.

As for your kites, it sounds like I avoided a similar fate by buying instead of making attempting to make. Though making a larger DC from scratch is on the board for a future project someday.
The standard DC I think was a good choice based on it's simplicity, single line, and forgiving nature. Though, I'm sure there are some who would say otherwise.

Do you have any plans to try to build another?
I notice some water in your photos. Sail lofts (sailmakers) that make spinakers for sailboats are a good source for 3/4 oz resin coated ripstop nylon, the best kite material ever. The bright colors and odd shapes of the large baloon spinakers makes for a lot of waste material. I used to buy it by the pound here in Portland, Or. and 10 lbs of scrape makes you a lot of kites. My Delta-Conyne I made was 6 feet across the base and i used it to go sand skiing. I'm a little weeny guy at about 150 lbs. and in 20 mph wind you had to be careful not to launch youself too far in the air as it woud be a while for you to gat back to terra firma. Delta-Conynes are cool!
I've tried this a few times with a disposable film camera, and a 5' Delta Conyne kite I made out of dowels, the plastic made from disposable tablecloths (the kind that comes on a roll for banquets) and packing tape. The kite worked rather well for a number of times. It had such great lift, that I kept breaking cross beams. And finally the tape got brittle and came apart. One of the best things I've heard of for kite material is Tyvek. I found some scrap material at a worksite (the stiffer type is used for house wrap), and am planning on making a 6' Delta Conyne. I've also got a digital camera that someone gave me that has a broken LCD, still takes pictures though, so I don't have to worry about breaking it much more.
mikeasaurus (author)  cheeto44935 years ago
Thanks for reading! Funny you should mention your choice of building materials, as Tyvek was my original material of choice. The rip-stop nylon was going to blow my budget so I was scouting construction sites for Tyvek instead. And for rods, instead of dowels (which I originally thought to be too weak) I was going to use tent poles! Luckily I managed to find that deal on the kite, I figured one less science to worry about. The camera you mentioned sounds perfect for this! The link above that I gave dchall8 has plans for DC, the site is in German but that doesn't matter, just remember that the units are metric. I didn't think 6' would be large enough, but it worked pretty well, and on a gusty day can easily lift 2-4 times the weight of my rig. The best part about using a DC is they are very forgiving. If you build one I'd love to see your design, and you pictures!
Thanks for that link. It was the Twin Delta Conyne I made. No plans to build another. I'll check price at a kite shop near our condo and, if the price is under $50, I'll get it from him. Otherwise there is http://www.kiteandwind.com/Hazard_Delta_Conyne_p/nt50172.htm
heladoxa5 years ago
CONTINUED We did this before digital cameras. We used a Brownie Bos with 120 black and white film, a pice of cotton to hold the shutter closed, a piece of fuse to burn through the cotton and an elastic band to work the shutter. Even a 1/30th second at f 8 the results were remarkably crisp
dgrc5 years ago
Very cool. If you want to get the price closer to zero, build the kite from garbage bags (or some similar source of plastic sheeting) and wooden dowels. "Sew" the sails with tape. For connectors, use short lengths of tubing. I've built delta conyne kites for about US $0.30 that carried loads up to about a pound and flew stably in 5-15 mph winds. I'm working on trains for more lifting power. At some point, I'll do an Instructable. This approach is great for fast, cheap kite design prototyping.
mikeasaurus (author)  dgrc5 years ago
Thanks for the great ideas dgrc, The intent was to spend as little money as possible and still achieve the objective, though I set a budget of $50 I agree this could have been shaved down even further. See my reply to cheeto4493 below. Though I like your cheap manufacturing methods for producing prototypes. What a great way to test out new designs or materials. Your input is greatly appreciated and should be read by anyone interesting in getting started in KAP. Thanks!
Excellent Instructable. I am really impressed with what you have done with the materials you used. I made a KAP about six months ago with a basic stamp homework board and a digital camera so I somewhat know what you had to do to make this work.

http://forums.parallax.com/forums/default.aspx?f=21&m=331526&g=331882

I'd like to see more of your pictures,

Mike
I DO NOT suggest doing what I did: Take an old video-capable cameraphone with broken buttons, duct-tape it to a 2-string kite, and fly in excessive wind.


mikeasaurus (author)  benjaminhill5 years ago
if you can believe it, the first iteration of this project was something very similar to yours. however your video (despite crashing) was much better than mine as you were able to achieve flight (and even a few tricks!) Thanks for sharing your story and video!
Thank you! (But those weren't tricks. Those were frantic struggles to stay aloft)
wow! thats way awesome! its intense how you made that thing out of tacs! and your prologue was inspirational! keep up the good work!
fwjs285 years ago
its so simply complex...but it works! great, 5/5
SinAmos5 years ago
The simplicity of the mechanical gear from re-purposed pushpins hits close to home; as I am the consummate recycler of unused items. Your narrative qualities brought a lite, amicable touch to the piece. As far as the end result, I find it hit or miss, so if you intend to take the aerial photography to the next level, I suggest building a remote controlled plane from scratch for that one. I'd use a wireless camera and a range extender for the feed. Other than that, good first, and continue on. There truly are so many things to build.
DainiusGB5 years ago
Epic idea mate! But if you wanted to make a more serious version you could get a tiny but good quality camera and then make it like bluetooth or somehow rc to a little screen and then you could take pics or even vids! For the trigger stystem you could make it simpler by putting small rings along the kite string (this could take a while) and then have a string going through those and have that attached to some sort of trigger for the clicker and you pull on the string that goes through the loops to trigger the camera. It would be a hell of a lot lighter. I think i am really going to give this a shot!
mikeasaurus (author)  DainiusGB5 years ago
Thanks for the input DainiusGB, they really are some neat ideas.

If the objective was to just take pictures from the air, I would have got one of
these, but that's not really in the spirit of what I was aiming for.

What is not included in this instructable are the ideas that didn't make the cut. I did plenty of research before I committed to what you see here, I chose this path due mostly to simplicity, function, and weight.

The idea of IR or bluetooth was tossed due to range issues. While they would have worked to a certain point, the idea is to let the line out as far as you like and still achieve pictures. Besides, using a transmitting device would have required (some) electrical knowledge. If you read the intro you will see that this was outside the guidelines.
As for a separate line for a trigger, this idea was also explored, but why add additional weight of an second line? What if the line were to get tangled? What if it was 200' in the air and wouldn't take a picture? There were too many variables.

As I was researching my ideas I heard plenty of alternatives, many of which involved some derivative of what you suggested. While these ideas were good, they were too complicated, or too involved for a project the required plenty of QA and a deadline of less than 2 months. My reply to all these ideas was, and still is: "in version 2.0 we can do whatever we want. For version 1.0 to be a success it just has to work."

As for video, most digital cameras have the ability to do both still and video. This rig can accept this as well, simply by not activating the motor. I have shot some video on my rig, however the majority of it was very shaky. Again more on version 2.0 I guess.

If you are able to create a kite rig using your ideas I would really love to see it. This method wasn't too hard and has given me loads of ideas for future designs. My next version of this will involve a better cradle to achieve more stable shots, and a smaller motorized assembly to reduce engagement error.
chrisreeve5 years ago
I got two 50m kite lines with a 700lb breaking strain off ebay for £6 (about $10). These can easily lift me up in 25mph plus winds, so your camera would be fine!
rimar20005 years ago
Excellent!
SinAmos5 years ago
Quality stuff, but I don't have time to truly evaluate your work right now.