Public Lab Research note

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Using video tracking software for monitoring kites

by Ecta64 |

Earlier today (5/15/17) I found a interesting video tracking program called Kinovea ( It's intended purpose was obviously to track various body movements related to sports. Having read about video tracking of kites for airborne wind energy purposes (as a method to guide the kite) I decided to see how well this freeware program could track a kite. The conditions to fly in were rough as evidenced in the data (more on that in a bit) but I was also worried how well a white kite could be tracked against a overcast sky. I was not disappointed. The track in the above photo is nearly dead on to a frame by frame analysis. The flight took place at about 80 or so feet and the kite size on the video was barely 10 pixels across but the software tracked the flight with amazing precision. The output of a 30 second track is attached and Kinovea does allow for tracking of distance and speed though accuracy can not be 100%. My goal in this was looking for a possible means to analyze wind conditions at high altitudes by observing the kite. Even at this early point the sheer amount of wind direction changes are evident. The bad conditions with dramatic wind shifts were also noted by a nearby airport monitoring station.


While there are other freeware tracking programs that I have yet to test, I do recommend this type of program (and Kinovea itself) as being able to add a interesting dimension to kite or balloon flights. During a mapping flight a unattended camera on a tripod can record your aerial platform and then be used to plot your flight. Many applications are possible (I really want to try this with tracking a pilot balloon flight, at least until the pixels are too small to track).

Below: A different non-annotated 30 second flight path with associated data in a .pdf.image description

__ tala_optical_1_-_Copy.pdf

kite anemometer


Wow this is really neat. cc @nshapiro re: "signature"

Thanks. I got the idea from watching a TED video on kite wind power:

Finding a freeware software with the needed sophistication and accuracy was what broke the ice. Frankly I'm still shocked at how accurate it was given the conditions (Kinovea).

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