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Build Your Own KiteCam 168

Posted by michael
from the sacrifices-necessary-in-the-cause-of-Science dept.
wally writes "Paul Mutton successfully managed to kill an expensive digital camera taking aerial photos using a kite, parcel tape and some bubble wrap. The geek explains the ups and downs (excuse the pun) of his attempt to take some aerial photographs with a friend using a Casio EX-Z3 digital camera attached to a kite in good ol' Blue Peter style bubble wrap and parcel tape. Paul did however manage to take 2 or 3 pretty photos of Kent University before his precious camera speed to the ground at a speed with enough force to render it quite unusable. Out of bits left intact was the flash card and a 30 second clip leading up to the crash. Remember children: Don't try this at home!"
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Build Your Own KiteCam

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  • Just fit the camera with a parachute, and you're sorted ;) Not using a really expensive camera would also probably be top of the list :P
    • Re:Well... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by azadam (250783)
      Seems like the drag of the parachute might manifest a crash of its own. ;)
      • Maybe some kind of spring-loaded rigging could be set up where if the tension between the ground and the kite gets too low that it actuates and lets a parachute deploy. Maybe it could even cut the kite loose to keep the kite and chute from interfering with each other.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Informative)

      by JWSmythe (446288)
      We have a mirror HERE [lmlinux.com], and mirrors of most other story links here [lmlinux.com]

  • Wait, did you mean the kite or the server?
  • camera fund (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:16AM (#9537478)
    I hate to be a dick, but I'm not going to donate money to this guy's "camera fund". If it had been stolen or something, that might generate some sympathy - but the dude damaged his own camera in an idiotic "Tim the Tool-Man Taylor" sort of way... Next time... well... don't do that.
    • Re:camera fund (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GoRK (10018) <(moc.ocbrulb) (ta) (lnhoj)> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:35AM (#9537595) Homepage Journal
      Not to mention that he's trying to raise the money to replace the camera. The last time I dropped an $800 digital camera from a kite, it only cost $100 to have repaired and it was equally as trashed as this dude's.
    • Re:camera fund (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBCook (132727)
      See, that's odd. I am MORE willing to donate to this guy's fund than if it was stolen. He did something interesting and a little bit humorous. I could see myself giving the guy a pound or a dollar or two.

      On the other hand, if it was stollen, I get a whole "poor me someone help me" feeling from it, and I wouldn't donate.

      He damanged it doing something cool. I won't give him 150 pounds, but I could give him one or two.

      PS: No, I won't actually be donating because I'm broke and cheap.

      • Re:camera fund (Score:4, Insightful)

        by stienman (51024) <[adavis] [at] [ubasics.com]> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:41PM (#9537963) Homepage Journal
        I could give him one or two.

        PS: No, I won't actually be donating because I'm broke and cheap.


        Typical response - "I'm more likely to donate to X than Y but I'm not donating to either because of Z"

        You could be infinitely more likely to donate to one than the other and still have the same result if you didn't plan on donating to either in the first place.

        It's always easier said than done, isn't it?

        Not to pick on you personally, but it is disheartening to see this lack of action that is so common on message boards such as slashdot.

        -Adam
        • Quite right.

          Personally, I'm not giving this guy any money because I don't give a damn about the guy, his camera, or how much it cost. I'll donate to something more worthwhile (and I do, too.)

          Cool hobby though.
        • Well would you donate to an overclocker who stupidly fried a 300 dollar CPU and broke out the collection plate to replace it?
    • Later on today, I'm going to buy an expensive video camera, wrap it in a little duct tape and bubble wrap, the throw it out of the tallest building I can find. I should get some REALLY cool pictures on the way down. Not to mention the impressive crash footage.

      I doubt anything bad will happen, but just in case... I'll have my PayPal link set up and ready.
  • (and I won't grouse about my week old rejected submission either.)

    Go look up Kite Aerial Photography on google, and check out this guy's 3-d panoramas:
    http://scotthaefner.com/kap/360panos/

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Blue Peter [bbc.co.uk] style is stickyback plastic and sellotape, not bubblewrap,
    perhaps they should teach more observation skills
    • Actually, for projects requiring a layer of padding they always suggested using a wig to put between the stickyback plastic and the object, after asking a parent or grandparent for permission first of course.

      Oh, how we would laugh when granny would go off to the shops wearing our latest project on her head because she couldn't get the stickyback plastic off.
    • Oi! Stickybacked plastic *is* sellotape! Sellotape, as all good trademark respecting peoples know, a trademark, and therefore should be referred to in the generic as sticky tape or sticky backed plastic. So there.

      And besides, you left out loo roll tubes. They are more important even than sticky backed plastic.

    • Blue Peter style is stickyback plastic and sellotape

      IIRC stickyback-plastic==Cellotape. They called it stickbacked-plastic because using its brand name would be advertising, and that wasn't allowed.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I haven't seen the video yet, but judging by the summary, I half expect to catch a glimpse of Charlie Brown on the other end of that string...
  • Also... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Machitis (597087) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:21AM (#9537511)
    My brother had strapped a cheap digital camera to a remote control airplane and took some pictures. Simply incredible what he did with that. He also got some great crash footage that was priceless. :)
    • mate, don't just tell us, upload it somewhere and get that site slashdotted too. oh yeah, tell me before you get it slashdotted so i can actually get it too please. ;-)
  • Did it myself... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GoRK (10018) <(moc.ocbrulb) (ta) (lnhoj)> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:23AM (#9537520) Homepage Journal
    I crashed my kite rig [blurbco.com] once too. I think it's kind of a rite of passage in the hobby. Lots of things can go wrong. This crash cost about $1 per foot fallen for the camera repair luckily. The camera was a Canon Powershot G2.

    This has been a really fun hobby. I got into it after seeing a very old /. article about it. Unfortunately, I haven't had a lot of time to get out and do it for about a year, but I'm not done by far :)

    BTW to the person who submitted about the 360deg aerials, I have made one [blurbco.com] as well. They are pretty difficult to get right, but they are singlehandedly the most awesome photos I have ever been able to take on a fairly shoestring photography budget.

    More of my KAP stuff here [blurbco.com] for those curious.
    • Re:Did it myself... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GoRK (10018) <(moc.ocbrulb) (ta) (lnhoj)> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:30AM (#9537566) Homepage Journal
      On second thought this guy really had it coming. His rig was not adequate for the task he was trying to do. Most people in this type of shoestring setup of taping the camera to the kiteline opt for very cheap ($10) film cameras or disposables with small mechanical shutter releases. Hopefully, this setback won't discourage him from further attempts to do some kite photography, but hopefully at least next time he will use a proper rig with a proper suspension if he wants to send up a couple hundred bucks worth of camera equipment.

      BTW any KAP'ers who happen to be on Orkut, there is a group called Kite Aerial Photography I am trying to start up over there.
    • The camera was a Canon Powershot G2.
      Ouch, I'm sorry. That's a nice camera to get smashed, even though it is a slightly older model. For my recent purchase, I was looking at a G5 actually but ended up settling for the A80.

      Just curious.... How much was it to get repaired?
      • Re:Did it myself... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GoRK (10018)
        The total bill with shipping came to about $150. For a drop of as many feet, it was a good deal. BTW this was back before the G3 was even out. The G2 was still selling for >$800, and so we had dropped basically a top of the line camera! Canon's support and repair services were absolutely excellent, and I have encouraged the purchase of very little but Canon since.

        Canon's new S1 IS is an awesome little camera. My dad just got one. It's not even a 4 megapixel camera, but buying a point and shoot on this r
    • In case dude doesn't get enough donations, I've thought of some other ways he can collect some dough through this experience:

      1) Become an official bubble wrap tester for Federal Express.

      2) Become a mispackaged items claims expert at eBay.

      3) Charge neighbourhood kids $3 each to see their favourite He-Man or Pokeemon toy smashed to smitherines from 200 feet.
  • kittycam? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mr.scoot (745046) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:23AM (#9537521)
    On first look, I read that as "Build your own kittycam". I began to wonder what kind of monster image stabilization system you would need to couteract a pissed off bundle of fur and claws spinning at 120rpm.
  • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:24AM (#9537526) Journal
    Just 2 comments (at +2) and the server is already dead. A new record? Anyway....

    Why use such an expensive camera? There's loads of R/C airplane pilots taking aerial pictures, now that the price for a decent digital camera has dropped. These days, a nice 2-3 megapixel cheapo camera will cost less than the radio gear in a typical plane. Use that rather than one that costs 300 pounds.

    So... I won't be contributing to his fund for a new camera. As any aeromodeller will confirm, crashing is part of the hobby.
    • The Dakota cameras from Ritz/Wolf Cameras are still pretty cheap, and it wouldn't take a lot to hook up the shutter release to a servo. It's just a couple of brass contacts with a sprung plastic button... A sliding metal plate on a servo arm ought to do it.
  • Full Article Here (Score:5, Informative)

    by bugmenot (788326) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:27AM (#9537547) Homepage Journal
    Here is the full article from their page before it gets /.'ed.

    The Day I Broke My Camera
    One sunny day, a friend of mine had this crazy idea of sending a camera up on my kite to take some aerial photos. He was unwilling to use his camera, so I foolishly used my own. The end result was that I broke my digital camera worth over 300. If you're thinking of trying something similar, this story may make you think about planning it a bit better than we did.

    The Kite
    The kite we used was a Flexifoil Super 10. This has a parachute-like appearance and has a span of 10ft. It would have no trouble lifting most cameras, although if it gets too windy, it pulls very hard and it's difficult to stand still.

    The Camera
    My camera is (was?) a Casio EX-Z3. This is a very small and light digital camera that seemed suitable for airborne photography. It is capable of taking a sequence of three photos after a ten second delay, which gives plenty of time for the kite to get into its highest position from a standing launch. Andy was kindly responsible for pressing the shutter button and launching the kite while I held the control lines. It was also his idea to do this in the first place. Perhaps I shouldn't have listened to him!

    Protecting the Camera
    Obviously, my main concern was that I'd paid over 300 for the camera and I didn't want to break it. I put on my Blue Peter hat and cunningly crafted a fine blend of bubblewrap, toilet roll and parcel tape. The idea was that even if the camera fell from a great height, the camera would be safe. Maybe I should have used more bubblewrap...

    Testing the Camera Protection
    I slotted the camera into its impromptu bubblewrap casing and it looked like it felt at home. Elastic bands and some string kept it from falling out. I tested it out by throwing it around the room while it counted down from ten and took some photos. The lens was able to get a good, unobscured view courtesy of my patented Toilet Roll/Bubblewrap Hybrid Lens Protection System (TM). (That's a joke, by the way, in case someone else has already patented it...)

    Weather Conditions
    We were getting excited, because the wind looked a lot better than it had the day before. There seemed to be enough, but not too much. It was a very hot day! Towards the end of the aerial photography session, the wind died down a bit and it became increasingly difficult to fly.

    The First Flight!
    The first flight was quite successful, but in the bright sun it was difficult to see how well the photos had come out. The only way of attaching the camera to the Flexifoil was to suspend it on a 10ft piece of string between each end of the carbon fibre leading edge spar, so I was a bit worried about how "steady" the camera would be during flight. It did seem to wobble about quite a bit (particularly when I performed a few loops) but it was a lovely bright day, so the exposure time was pretty short.

    Taking More Photos
    The bubblewrap casing seemed to be doing a good job of protecting the camera. None of the landings had been particularly heavy so far, so we sent the kite up a few more times to take some more photos. The next photo shows Eliot College at the University of Kent. The pointy building in the distance is the Electronics lab. You can also see The Venue, Keynes College and Beckett Court in this photo.

    Taking Even More Photos
    It was a bit of a gamble taking the photos. Some of them were just bits of grass and most were taken at weird angles. But we carried on taking a few more before moving on to taking some short video clips.

    Pushing the Envelope
    While we were trying to take the video clips, the wind had died down to a level that made it almost impossible to control the kite. However, every now and then, a gust of wind would come along that made it possible to launch the kite and camera combo. During one particularly gusty session, the wind seemed to totally disappear and the kite ended up facing towards th
    • A Flexifoil??? (Score:5, Informative)

      by droopus (33472) * on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:03PM (#9537744)
      He used a Flexifoil? Then the guy is simply an idiot.

      I've been flying multi line kits for almost twenty years. A Flexi [flexifoil.com] is a fast moving kite two-line with tons of pull. I have three ten footers, and even in a light wind ONE is enough to work my arms out. In 15 mph + it will drag me down the beach.

      Flexifoils are commonly used in buggying [kites.org] and speed and pull are the reason they are used.

      In light winds I've stacked the three ten footers and they literally lifted my 175 pounds right off the ground like a bug.

      Kite cams are nothing new...we were doing kite photography in the 80's. But we would NEVER have used a Flexi for that, Kite cams are best on single line kites, perhaps a large delta.

      I don't donate to people who use the wrong equipment for something that was done much better 15 years ago.

      Seems a little loose for a /. story. Must be a light news day.

      Visit Steve Winwood's site [accesshollywood.com] for free music and video!
  • by mi (197448)
    A few minutes of SlashDot fame...
  • I see a similarity here - no matter how much you spend on bubble wrap - if you drop it from high enough, it WILL break.
  • Hmm... 3Mb AVI * 100k Downloads = Uhoh (Not to mention the page views.)

    I hope his ISP doesn't charge too much. :)

    I can just see the net loss of this whole endeavor sky rocketing further. I hope it wasn't his "friend" who submitted this one.
    • Looks like he knows almost as much about encoding video as he does about sending a camera up on a kite without trashing it.

      In future I'd recommend downloading a little app from Microsoft called Windows Media Encoder and messing around with the settings until you get a really small file that plays back double size.

      Better still, upgrade a copy of QuickTime to the pro version and make a 160x120 12fps movie using sorensons codec with an avg bit rate of around 40k and set it to play back double size.

      A l
  • Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by trainsnpep (608418) <mikebenza.gmail@com> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:32AM (#9537580)
    Don't see what all the fuss is about: Charlie Benton [berkeley.edu] has been doing it for years....only thing is, he hasn't been wrecking 'em.
  • SlashCam (Score:5, Funny)

    by Konster (252488) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:33AM (#9537584)
    I have invented the SlashCam, an open source project that acts as a plug-in to Slashdot that allows the viewers to see (in real time!)your server go down in flames seconds after an article containing your address is posted!

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/microsoft/iis/sl as hcam

    • Re:SlashCam (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Chatmag (646500)
      Damn, no mod points, just when I needed to mod the parent, funnier than hell.
    • You know, a "SlashCam" can be construed as one of two things: a web-based camera to view Slashdottings...or a web-based camera to view gay pr0n. For future use of the above idea, a less ambiguous name might be preferable.
  • by pm (11079) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:34AM (#9537589)
    There are several pretty good, really cheap cameras out there that take decent pictures and don't weigh a lot that would work better in this application.

    For example, the AIPTek Pencam 1.3 [aiptekusa.com] weighs 2.4oz and takes 1.3MP pictures. The imager is CMOS (rather than CCD) and so the pictures are sensitive to the lighting, but they usually come out pretty good. AIPTek also makes several other models that work well. You can buy them at Circuit City and Walmart and if you hit the sales right, you can buy one for $50.

    The Mustek Mini 3 [mustek.com] is also very light and takes pretty good pictures and can be purchased for less than $100.

    A good resource for aerial photography - although aimed at R/C airplane aerial photography - is the aerial photography [rcgroups.com]forum at RCGroups.Com. Check out the thread at the top labelled "Digital Cameras under 5oz for aerial photography".

    For triggering, you could rig an R/C servo to the switch, or use some form of PIC circuit to trigger it on a timed basis. Some projects like this are listed here [rc-cam.com].
  • I've looked around on Google for info about building an actual digital camera but came up with nothing. Wouldn't it be cool to build an extremely minimal digital camera that could survive a kite crash? Building a digital camera from scratch seems daunting, but what about cannibalizing a low-priced camera, removing nonessential parts? Anybody done anything like this?
    • A much easier solution is to get one of those so called "disposable digitals" from Ritz camera or Walgreens. They are very cheap and you can hack them to extract the photos, change batteries, etc. They are really quite ideal cameras for KAP. They don't have a screen, but you don't need it!
  • Kites... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by k4_pacific (736911) <k4_pacific@noSpAM.yahoo.com> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:38AM (#9537616) Homepage Journal
    One of things I've learned about kites in my life is that they tend to hit the ground at blistering speeds with alarming frequency. I've toyed with the idea of trying something along these lines with a digital camera, except I always planned on using a balloon filled with Helium with a string running back to the ground. This way, if the wind changes suddenly, its not going to slam the kite into the ground from an altitude of several hundred feet. Still, you have the danger of the string breaking, but in this case, you can include on your balloon probe a small form factor motherboard, a cellphone modem card, a GPS receiver and an RS-232 interfaced control valve to bleed the helium. This way, if it gets away, you can call it, ask it where it is and tell it to land.

    • Re:Kites... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192)
      Why not use a simple single string parafoil kite for this kind of thing? I have one of these, it's so stable I can tie it to a post and leave. It's almost boring, but I prefer to think of it as serene. The only way it hits the ground is if the wind stops.
    • The cell modem won't work above a certain altitude, because antennas on base stations are pointed down at the ground. You'd probably want an altimeter in that setup that removes some of the helium in case of excessive altitude. Of course, if you hit an updraft, release helium, and hit the corresponding downdraft, then that's probably not too happy.
  • by iantri (687643)
    Well, his site is holding up okay so far...

    I can't seem to open the AVI file -- what codec is used for the video?

  • RC Heli Photography (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TimeTrip (254631) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:42AM (#9537632) Homepage
    If you think Kite photos are cool, check out some of the pix taken by RC heli pilots with their rigs:
    Pictures here [runryder.com]
  • X10 cam? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cheerio Boy (82178) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:42AM (#9537635) Homepage Journal
    I gotta ask - isn't this the sort of thing those damn X10 cameras would be good for? A kite can't be too far out of range of the wireless camera and a good laptop.

    What's the resolution on those things anyway. I was so annoyed by their advertising schemes that I forgot that they might possibly be useful in some way.
    • My mistake. I didn't know how heavy those thing actually were.

      The ads make them look so small! One more person suckered by advertising... ;-)
    • Re:X10 cam? (Score:4, Informative)

      by GoRK (10018) <(moc.ocbrulb) (ta) (lnhoj)> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:49AM (#9537673) Homepage Journal
      I have an X10 camera on my rig as a spotting camera. I modified it to accept external video input so I can hook it to the A/V output of the digicam and see exactly what picture I'm taking. If I'm using a cheaper camera or a film camera I can use the original X10 cam to see where it is pointing as well. The camera runs on a rechargable 9V battery run through a small 12V DCDC converter. The receiver runs on a 2AH Gel Cell worn in a pack. The video screen is a small 2" LCD with a sun hood that is attached to the R/C controller.
    • If you buy from X10, you are supporting email spammers.
      • If you buy from X10, you are supporting email spammers.

        While I can agree with this the discussion was about potentially usable technology for the task at hand.

        If I get it off of E-Bay I don't feel that I'm supporting spammers but helping some poor but hopefully wiser person recoup their losses from being spammed to death.

        I realy gotta stop feeding the trolls...
  • Academic slant... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jim_deane (63059) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:42AM (#9537637) Journal
    I don't mean to shill for my university, but I am a graduate student in the physical sciences at Emporia State University, where we have a Geospatial Analysis program. One of our professors is heavily into KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) and other SFAP (Small Format Aerial Photography) including anchored baloons and more conventional planes and helicopters.

    We generally use both color film and color-infrared, and have begun to use some digital. The hard part (aside from not crashing the kite) is the image processing. We use ground markers and GPS units to determine some reference points, and use Idrisi software to do a rubber-sheet transform on the image. We then use the same software to stitch the images together and do more detailed analysis (color channel seperation, specialized boolean operations, etc.).

    Using color and infrared images, we can make high-resolution images similar to the comparitively low-resolution satellite (see: Landsat) images. Through the analysis, we can identify land usage, soil moisture, vegetation types, vegetation/crop health, and many other factors.

    Now the fun part: if you like science, we have graduate and undergraduate programs in the physical sciences department where you can specialize in Geospatial Analysis. The other best part--you can do it on-line if you wish.

    See The Emporia State University GSA homepage [emporia.edu] or the Physical Sciences homepage [emporia.edu] for more information.

    And we're not the only university that has such programs--do a search for "Geographic Information Systems site:.edu" or "Geospatial Analysis" and you'll find several more.

    (I don't consider this too much of an ad, because anyone who thinks the kite photography is cool should see that there are education opportunities and careers to be made that involve this kind of work.)
    • Again, I reply to my own post, thereby reinforcing the absent-minded professor stereotype.

      This link [emporia.edu] goes to the syllabus for the Small Format Aerial Photography (SFAP) course I alluded to above.

      If you go into the Course Schedule [emporia.edu] you can go through some of the web lectures and information on SFAP.

      Jim
  • If you're interested in either learning to take great aerial photographs with a kite, or else just seeing a bunch of terrific images, Charles Benton's KAP site [berkeley.edu] is the place to go.

    Benton is a professor of architecture at UC Berkeley. Living in northern California, he's got no end of interesting places to photograph. And I think his photography is probably aided by his architectural training and a strong ability to imagine what a shot will look like even though he's not looking directly through the camera.

    I
  • Do they always post all of the popular science magazine articles in here? This was in this months issue. Just curious.
  • "Paul Mutton successfully managed to kill an expensive digital camera taking aerial photos using a kite, parcel tape and some bubble wrap."

    High Power Rocketry folks [tripoli.org] have known for years that the probability of a successful flight is inversely proportional to the cost of the payload divided by the average cost of payloads being flown. For many years, expensive video cameras ensured failure.

    It's only been through the addition of multiple onboard altimeters, accelerometers, computers, amateur radio transm

  • IIRC (Score:3, Informative)

    by c0dedude (587568) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:00PM (#9537730)
    IIRC, Scientific American had an article a few years back about how to make a stable kite cam with a disposible (read: invincible) camera. Here's a link [sciamdigital.com], but it costs $$$.
  • /.ed ? (Score:2, Informative)

    by propus (791608)
    Google's cache [216.239.39.104] for those who can't access the site.
    • Cheers for that.

      Yet again whoring your website on here to recieve the slashdot effect proves to be the best load testing tool on the market. :-)
  • pfffft (Score:4, Funny)

    by Timesprout (579035) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:05PM (#9537759)
    A real nerd would build and launch his own satellite camera rig. Then when it crashed he would launch a global appeal fund to rebuild downtown LA.
  • Don't overestimate the resilience of digital cameras. I trashed my Nikon Coolpix 950 simply by dropping it four feet onto a thich rug carpet while it was switched on... the batteries popped out, and the lens drive motor system was frazzled (every time I switch it on, the motor can only go in one direction). So far, I haven't found any camera shop willing to to the repairs.
    Ironically this camera survived three years after a tumble down rocky hill.
  • by rainer_d (115765) * on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:16PM (#9537830) Homepage
    According to Netcraft, the site is hosted by NotNet Ltd.
    http://www.notnet.co.uk.
    They have several hosting-schemes: 1, 2, 4, 8 and 20 GB transfer per month, with additional bandwidth for 5 GB-pounds per month per GB or 20 GBP for 5 GB...
    The domain itself responds with a errorcode 500 now...
    But at least, the hosting-provider is up-front about not offering any kind of "unlimited" hosting-schemes...

  • Or is that too easy to be considered "geek" worthy (or maybe wind is a factor?).
  • I always thought about making some helium balloon setup so that the camera could fly a lot higher. The problem is, getting the pictures back. You'd have to follow the balloon until it came down or have a really good wireless connection. But that wouldn't be cost effective.

    There was another guy who had a kite cam page on the net, he didn't get his kite very high though.
    • I remember reading somewhere about a project that launched a weather balloon, and had an embedded 486 running Linux. Control was via packet radio (the 486 board was connected to a servo to deploy a parachute, and cut a line), and when it came back down through 17,000 feet, a flashing light and loud siren went off on it, in addition to the 486 feeding GPS coordinates to the team. Apparently, it landed too hard, and the board got shorted out, but they did find it.
  • So it fell 960 feet?

    32 (feet/s) X 30s = 960 feet

    That would be "really hard" as he said.
    • Not exactly. Acceleration due to gravity is 32 f/s^2 (feet per second squared). But you must also account for the drag generated by the kite. Based on what the article said, there is no way to mathematically determine how far or hard it fell.
  • It may be a good idea to spend a bit extra for a warranty like this [ritzcamera.com] if you're doing this kind of photography.
  • It would be more pragmatic to mount a camera on a model airplane and fly that around. Kites are known for falling when there isn't enough of a breeze to support them.

    If you do wish to take the risk and mount a camera on a kite, it would be best to build a small parachute that attaches to the camera. Unless it's really big, it won't bring the camera down slowly, but if made correctly, it might slow it down just enough that the camera will still function. If it falls on something soft, that is.

    This post is no

    • Not to be redundant, but get a Ritz/Wolf Dakota Digital camera (not the PV2), and strap THAT on there (after hacking in a USB plug). DON'T get the Walgreen's one - the USB hack doesn't work, so you'll have to do a SmartMedia hack, which could be disastrous (no door...)
  • The guys an idiot who did something stupid and now he expects everyone else to give him money so he can do it again.
  • My wife scoffs at my many-hundred dollar several-year-old 1 (count 'em 1) megapixel camera with lousy color balance. And she blythely uses her disposable Fuji camera for all her snaps.

    I think the idea of using a kit to do some aerial photos sounds like a fun hack. I have donated $10 to the lad in this story because I've done stupid stuff, too.

    And I think my donation should cover the purchase of a replacement DISPOSABLE film camera for him to loft in subsequent experiments. Maybe replace the bubble-wrap wi
  • Why didn't this guy or for that matter anyone else who wants to do something stupid with a digital camera just go buy a cheap one? Instead of detroying a $600 camera why not destroy a $90 Kodak CX6200? It is not like the CX6200 is hard to find, many local and online retailers carry at the price of $90. The fact that the CX6200 is a fixed focus camera with no optical zoom is not a disadvantage at these heights or in most applications similar to this.
  • if he built and put a lightweight server on a kite, and it survived a slashdotting instead of a fall

    and no, i'm not thinking about a wireless server.... this is a kite after all ;-)
  • dup! (Score:3, Informative)

    by bandy (99800) <andrew.beals+slashdot@gmail.com> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @11:00PM (#9540672) Homepage Journal
    This has been covered twice on /. before. December 2003 [slashdot.org] and November 2002 [slashdot.org]

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