Introduction: Stunt Kite On-Board Video
This Instructable details a 3D printed bracket to mount a "key fob" video camera on a multi-line stunt kite. The camera is positioned so that the lens is aimed just over the person flying the kite -- I was more interested in capturing the scenery and the motion than I was in making a self-portrait. :-)
This project was a natural choice for 3D printing. In order to attach the camera to the kite spars without having to make any holes in the kite fabric, the bracket needed to wrap partway around one spar, while bracing against another spar through the fabric. The result is a complex shape with several critical angles and dimensions. At the same time, it needed to be lightweight and reasonably rigid. I could have made it out of wood or machined plastic, but it would have been a lot more difficult to fabricate. Since I had access to 3D printing, that seemed the obvious way to go. (I made it at TechShop. www.techshop.ws )
The camera is an "808 Key Fob Micro Camera". These are tiny self-contained color video cameras, complete with battery, lens, microphone and flash card storage. They were originally marketed as "spy" cameras for surreptitious video capture, but they are frequently used on model rockets, radio controlled models and such. There are many models of 808 cameras, and each has it's quirks, capabilities and limitations. An excellent collection of information about these cameras is available on the following web site: http://www.chucklohr.com/808/index.shtml. The camera I used is one of the most primitive; these are available on eBay for under $10 including shipping.
I printed the bracket in PLA on a Makerbot 2, with a single shell and 10% infill. The STL file is included, as well as the Autodesk Inventor IPT file, in case you need to adjust the bracket dimensions to fit your particular kite. Both of these files are in the attached ZIP file.
The camera attaches to the bracket with double-sided foam tape. Interestingly, I tried Scotch Outdoor Mounting Tape and also Scotch Extreme Mounting Tape, but neither of these stuck to PLA as well as the old-fashioned white foam mounting tape.
A short demo from the camera's first flight is attached. There are a few missing frames, resulting in hesitations during playback. That's common with these very inexpensive cameras. However, a better camera such as a Go-Pro would have weighed too much for the kite. And if I crash the kite (yes, it happens) I don't have to worry about damaging this camera. Given the trade-offs, I find the results acceptable.