15 August 2012

Balloon-borne camera, part 9: Finally, success (and a final post)

I'm happy to report that after a lot of unhelpful weather got in the way, we finally have successful video! Before we get to that, I have a few more details to fill you in on. The first is that, emboldened by the success of our tiny $4 kite, we invested in what can only be described as Kite Kong, Lord of the Kites, with a whopping 9 square feet of surface area. We also bought 500 feet of 150-lb rated kite line. We went with a delta-shaped kite because they have a reputation as being easy to fly and very stable, although this parafoil kite was also an option due to a similar reputation for stability and good performance in low wind conditions. In the end, the real difference maker was that giant kites look way more awesome, so if a big parafoil kite had been available, we may have gone with that.

Anyway, with the help of one of the camp counselors, on Monday we had our first successful video-capturing flight! Here's a short excerpt from the video - as you can tell from the audio, we were having a little trouble getting altitude and needed a little help from the campers :)

Edit: Nix that for now, I'm having trouble
getting an excerpt from the video.
Will add it later.

It was really helpful to have a second person with me. Winston did all the work attaching the camera rig to the kite line and making sure the camera was recording before takeoff, while I made sure the kite kept flying steadily. I have definitely learned that the process of kite aerial photography is as much practice as it is preparation.

On a final note, the video quality was limited by the fact that we flew an expendable camera. Now that we have refined our technique a little bit, we can hopefully go towards upgrading the camera. Also, maybe helium will be back on the market soon so we can switch back towards our friendly, reliable, non-crashing, wind-independent giant balloons! Balloons are seriously so much easier than kites, guys.

Man, it's been quite a saga trying to get this camp activity working! I'm glad we finally made it happen. Thanks for following along!

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