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Yet More Experiments

Posted by Tom Benedict on 11/06/2014

Since I wrote New Experiments I’ve accomplished three out of four of my goals: My Gopro has a frame case and a remote video/power cable, so I can use it with the video downlink on my KAP rig and on my airplanes. I built a set of parts that let me move my KAP rig from various suspensions to a pole and back. And I built a helmet cam that aims remarkably well, though that’s still a work in progress. Of the set I wrote about in New Experiments only one is still on my plate: the OrangeRX Flight Stabilizer Hack. And it’s well underway at this point.

I honestly thought these would take more time! So rather than sit on my thumbs I came up with a new list:

Project 1 – OrangeRX Flight Stabilizer Hack

Yeah, still on the top of the list. I now have three stabilizers in hand, one of which has been flashed to the Open Flight Stabilizer firmware. Given the functionality of OFS I think it’ll be a drop-in stabilizer for a KAP rig. How well it’ll stabilize the rig still remains to be seen. And that leads me to:

Project 2 – Passively Damped Parallelogram Pendulum Suspension

This is a return to an earlier project I never finished working on. But the time served me well. I think I’ve simplified the design enough to make it straightforward to build. I also think I may have at least partially solved a long-standing problem with pendulums and Picavets alike: Taking out sway around the kite line. If this works then both fore/aft and side-to-side sway will be reduced and slowed down enough that an RC flight stabilizer might actually stand a chance of keeping the camera from rocking and rolling. Details to come.

Project 3- R,G,B,NIR Imagery from a KAP Rig

This is hardly news. I know a handful of people who are doing this or who have done it in the past. Scott Armitage, Chris Fastie, and I’m pretty sure Ned Horning have all done this. I’m just following in their footsteps. The two big fab items on this are a dual camera mount (done!) and a GentLED-CHDK Y-splitter cable so I can trigger two cameras at once (parts on order). The big purchase with this is a second Canon A2200 to replace… no… to augment the one I converted to NIR (already in hand!) This should come together relatively quickly.

Project 4 – KAP Gear Consolidation

In many ways my current KAP setup has brought me exactly where I’ve wanted to be for a long time: I can use a range of cameras on the same rig. I can get video feedback from all of them. Gear failures in the field are at an all time low. I can adapt my gear to whatever the circumstances require.

And my bag weighs like a brick! I’ve got more KAP goobers in my bag than I can count. Setting up a kite? No problem. Setting up my rig? It’s a maze of batteries, cables, antennas, oh my! I want to consolidate my gear to make it easier to carry and use.

The biggest changes on the rig will be moving the video transmitter, changing the antenna to a permanently installed cloverleaf with a radome, and neatening up all my cables to make life easier. But the biggest change will be to my transmitter: I want to rebuild the back of my video monitor so I can bolt a little hand unit to either side for either left or right handed operation. The hand unit will include a single joystick and button, as well as the RF board and antenna from my existing transmitter and either an Arduino Mini or Baby Orangutan board as the brains. If I build it the way I’ve envisioned, it should be about as wide as the joystick and about as long as the monitor. I think I can get the depth to match the monitor as well. Once it’s installed on the monitor the monitor and transmitter should make a nice neat ready-to-use package that should cut down on the amount of gear I have to carry by a good bit.

This is by far the most invasive project, and will be the last one I take on. But if the damped pendulum and the rig stabilizer work out, it’ll be a welcome change.

– Tom

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