A Bird's Eye View

"You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky." - Amelia Earhart

I love looking at boats. Whether they be sailboats, rowboats, toy boats, powerboats or really any other floating contraption, I'm smitten. You'll often see me walking away from the dock or taking the dinghy to shore with my neck craned back, soaking in the boaty views. But I've never seen the shadow of our sailboat from the sky so I'm using this opportunity (and the winter doldrums) to cobble together a kite camera rig in hopes of getting some really cool and lofty kite cam sailing videos like this one

I initially thought building a rig suitable of attaching a camera to a kite would be easy, but I didn't anticipate the importance of stability. Both times I've flown my prototype rig were wintery, windy days which accentuated shifty movements and made the video footage dizzying to say the least. 

Here's a sample of what I've got so far (If you're reading this via email, you may need to check SailFarLiveFree.com to see the video):


As you can see, I need to create a steadier shot. My oldest daughter and I took a trip to the hardware store this afternoon and picked up a few odds and ends to produce our second kite camera rig prototype. We haven't flown this one yet, so the jury is still out. We changed the frame from a "T" shape to an "X" shape and added little I-bolts that allow the string to slide. We also added a lightweight hollow rod which the kite string will pass through. The intent of these additions is to add stabilization in two planes of motion. 

Our new and improved 2nd prototype kite camera rig

Our camera (Olympus Stylus Tough) isn't ideal either. While it's designed as a waterproof and ruggedized point-and-shoot, the video capture is only VGA (less than even 720 HD), so the footage is grainy and pixelated. Even so, it's better than using our heavy Nikon and risking having it crash into the water. A GoPro would be perfect because of its small size and WiFi controls, but we may settle for a much more affordable alternative like the Emerson Action Cam if we decide to upgrade. 

In any case, this is a fun little winter project and we've still got several months to perfect the set-up before we try it on our sailboat. Stay tuned for more prototype test videos!

6 comments:

  1. You are really working for the NSA, aren't you. How about a balloon or a remote controlled helicopter?

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    1. If you only knew Bruce, if you only knew!

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    2. Hanna should bumpa for a drone and a GoPro.
      Here is what you'll be able to achieve: (Near my old surfing grounds decades and decades ago)
      http://www.ibtimes.com/incredible-surfing-video-filmed-drone-gopro-captures-surfers-riding-hawaiis-pipeline-waves-1547769

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    3. Beautiful footage! Love the DJI quadcopter too! You're right, that would make an awesome filming platform for aerial sailing videos.

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  2. Wow, pretty cool! I can't wait to see more test videos. Keep em coming! -Kim

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    1. Thanks Kim. Yeah, we're having fun experimenting. It's fun to see my daughter's engineering though process.

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