If you are a heli freak like me, read this: Some time ago I have ordered a wide angle key chain camera and have attached it with tape to the canope at the front of my Blade 450 helicopter. After some flights the idea came up to improve the camera installation and adjust the angle of view without tape-technology. As a result I have designed a 2-axis variable camera mount printed on a 3D printer. The angle of view can be adjusted before each flight manually so no changes in-flight. This camera is a nice first and cheap step to get into aerial photography before heading to more expensive and professional systems. The costs for the 3D printed parts where about 18€ and 30€ for the key cam. To see examples of view angles click the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmuT8nY4gHQ&feature=youtu.be
Step 1: Printing 3D
-Never printed 3D? Now it's time!
-You don't own a 3D printer? No problem: go to http://www.3dhubs.com/ , register and select a 3D printer in your neighborhood. Pay online and grab it later. Works fantastic. Print your parts with ABS in medium resolution, thickness 0,2mm, low speed. Check at the 3D printers Hub what color they offer for printing.
My camera mount parts where printed at Oliver's Hub in Zurich (Switzerland) on a Up-Mini 3D printer. To achieve best results, the orientation of how the parts shall be printed is attached.
For those who don't need the two holes for the front navigation LEDs, I have attached a model without cutouts.
Step 2: Surface Treat Your Parts
Smooth the surface of the parts with an acetone steam bath. Instruction is attached as PDF file. After treatment, drill the holes according to the screw DIN M3 diameter.
Step 3: Assembly and Installation
Assemble the parts according to the attached pictures. The part which will be attached to the helicopter canope needs to be reworked with a cutter.
-2ea screws M3x12mm
-3ea self-locking M3 nuts
-2ea washer for M3
-1ea screw M3x8mm
-hot glue to fill in the gaps between the helicopter canope and the camera mount. I know it's a dirty technique but ... because hot glue is not the best process/mean to attach things to a vibrating vehicle like a helicopter, I have secured the cam mount with an extra screw to the canope of the heli. See pictures.
-wide angle key camera (DV20 808 # 20 HD video recorder for 30€ at eBay from a Hongkong based seller)
-thick, flexible double tape to attach the cam to the bracket
Step 4: Testing and Lift-off
PRE-FLIGHT CHECK: Check if the modification has a negative impact on your heli model (e.g. too long screws chafing on the heli batterie or cables etc.)
PRECAUTION: nothing special. The heli weight is about 700grams and the camera mount add about 57grams including camera. Although the installation causes an imbalance for the helicopter (the mass is installed outside the center of gravity of the heli), only little control trimming was required on my heli. Evaluate your heli configuration.
BEST PRACTICE : check the film quality in hover position. If the film is wiggly, change the attachment of the key cam in the bracket. Tie it harder or less. As said, this is a cheap but enjoyable thing so do not expect perfect movies. Enjoy!