Public Lab Research note

Evolution of a Picavet

by jbreen |

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My picavet started out as a bare bones, minimalist affair. Then it met up with an outfield fence. The picavet survived, but the camera lens...not so much. So then came Picavet 2.0, bigger, badder, heavier.

It's based on Paul Illsley's kite mapping gondola, which you can find here. I may gone a little overboard with this one. Paul's design uses a mini milk crate meant to hold CDs. I couldn't find one that size, so mine is sized to hold DVDs which are considerably larger. I also cheaped out on the nice foam that Paul uses and went with kitchen sponges wrapped in duct tape.

I took it for a test flight on Hilton Head with the assistance of my Dad and while it worked, there are some design flaws to be worked out. I put so much padding around the camera that it was difficult to operate the camera. In fact, the big piece of foam that holds the camera in from the top managed to activate the zoom when I was wedging it in place resulting in all of my aerial images being extreme closeups. (Oops.) It's also heavy, particularly for my underpowered delta kite. We managed to get it about 3 stories off the deck in a moderate wind, but it didn't want to go any higher. I was also a little concerned for the people walking on the beach should the kite and gondola decide to come crashing out of the sky. On the plus side, ensconced in foam padding, there was no way any harm was going to come to the camera even if it did fall out of the sky.

So I've gone back to the drawing board with plans for Picavet 2.5. I've managed to get a CD sized mini milk crate and I plan to cut it down a little to eliminate some weight. This version won't have the duct tape, though the kitchen sponges may stay...I'm having trouble locating foam similar to what Paul used. Everything I come up with is either way too thin or way too expensive. For now I'm not going to splurge on pulleys since the smooth rings I've been using have worked really well. The biggest change is that the back of the camera will be visible while it's in the gondola and the shutter button will be accessible. If I had been able to see the back of the camera on Hilton Head, I would have been able to see that the camera was zoomed in all the way.

A final note on the DVD milk crate gondola. I think this would be a great platform for building a two camera gondola, you're just gonna need a kite with some decent pull to get it airborne.

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near-infrared-camera kite-mapping picavet kite-aerial-photography photo-rig



this is really cool. My picavets went through some evolutions as well but I finally ended up with a professionally made one which I like very well. You're creations are very interesting.

Jesse-- I've always loved this mini milk crate design-- I think that container would mesh well with some of the techniques used in the FABArig

these two riggings mixe look like we're approaching a good kit for picavet.

Hi Jessi - any idea what your cost on your DIY picavet is?

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Which version, Adam? I think they've all been less than $10. The all metal one I think was closer to $5. The IKEA trash bin one is the most expensive since the bin itself is like $4 or $5.

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Awesome! Thanks!

Adam, Make a pendulum rig instead-- I'm finding them easier/steadier/less tangley

hmmmm... for downward facing, overhead shots? def. less tangley... not sure that would always face down though. does it?

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