Yesterday I completed one of my goals in life: I flew a kite in front of Marianopolis College before graduating. And on that kite (or at least the string thereof,) I attached a camera, and with that camera, I took pictures. Awesome pictures. All of which are blurry.
The camera smacked into the ground a few times, and eventually damaged beyond repair the mechanism that retracts and extends the lens, so my suspicion is that early on in the flight the focusing mechanism was trashed. Despite the fact that the camera didn’t entirely work, I do have the pictures, and they’re pretty cool. You can’t see details, but you can tell that the camera was off the ground.
You can see that the pictures aren’t motion blurred, but rather it looks like they didn’t focus properly. Bummer.
What’s the plan now? I’m going to rebuild the rig, use a different camera, and this time I’m going to add some bumpers to keep the camera from getting obliterated if it happens to fall, which I’m sure it will. The wind was so strong yesterday that it snapped my clips (made of poplar, but in my haste to build them I had the grain going the wrong way,) so I’ll have to make more of those too. I’d like to have as many of the components as possible be Makerbot-able. Some of the brackets will be very easy to design and print in PLA, and even in this rig I did have two ABS brackets that held the cross-piece together. The next rig should be neater, lighter, and sturdier. I’m going to use the mounting hole for the camera to attach it to the rig and install two U brackets to keep it positioned properly, which should work much better than my “DIY clamp and lots of duct-tape” solution that I used on this rig. Another issue was that the servo that pressed the shutter button had to be positioned exactly properly or it wouldn’t actually press hard enough to trigger the shutter, which meant around 20 minutes of fighting with duct tape to get the camera just right. Depending on what camera I decide to use, I’ll either build the rig to fit that camera specifically and very precisely (the mounting hold and U brackets will keep it in one position very nicely,) or I’ll use an Arduino to hijack the electronics and control it via PWM from the RF receiver. This all depends on whether or not the next camera I use is expensive, because if it is then there’s not way I’m cracking it open and soldering around in the guts.
All in all it was enormously fun, and definitely one of the highlights of my time at Marianopolis. The wind was so strong that one of my friends was able to lie down on the ground and, with minimal scrunching, get the kite to pull him back upright. I jumped in the air once or twice, and the kite pulled me one to two feet forward both times. Today we tried to fly it again, and were successful for a while. We found a model house on the ground next to the trash, and we tied it to the line and flew it a few meters in the air. Also pretty exciting, but the wind died down soon after. It’s probably a good thing too, because if we had gotten the kite much higher then it might have dropped that house on a real house or, worse, a car. I can see the headline now, “Car struck my flying house; accident ensues.”
As for the camera, it looks as though the focusing mechanism is beyond repair. I took it apart, and I’m going to try to manually control the motor to get it unstuck, but even if I do I don’t think it will work. You see, there’s this thing about wire tapes, which I like to call, “Davoust’s Law of Devices with Small Wiretapes.” It says that the probability of a device with small wire tapes working properly when put back together is inversely proportional to 5 to the power of the number of wire tapes in the device. So if there aren’t any wire tapes, then the probability of it working is one. If there is one wire tape, then there’s a one in five chance that, if you’re very gentle with the wire tape, it will work. Much more than that and you’re screwed.