Public Lab Research note

This is an attempt to replicate an activity.
  • 1

Fly a small camera on a very portable (squid-shaped) sled kite

by warren |

What I want to do

I set out to test out a setup pretty similar to the Mini Kite Kit the Public Lab Kits initiative has been piloting -- which folds up into a fabric bag, and is really easy to pack in a bag.

I don't have that kit, but @liz gave me a beautiful squid shaped kite which seems to be of similar construction -- a sled shape, though with far more tails. She said it cost $4 in Taiwan -- Liz, is that correct???

(Update: apparently $2 ??? See link/comment below)

And it's a bit bigger, but still packs down real small with no spars. I'm happy to post this as its own activity if it's not close enough to the original, but I thought it could add confidence to the idea of a highly portable kite mapping kit built around a #mobius camera and a sled-type kite.


My attempt and results

I flew at George Island in the Boston harbor, so I had really clear, 10-15mph wind -- flags were mostly extended in the wind, although it started out a bit calmer.

We'd had trouble flying this kite at #LEAFFEST a few weeks ago in inconsistent, gusty wind in a mountainside clearing, so I was nervous. But it was SO GREAT -- easy to get into the air by myself, stable enough to walk around with slowly, even at only 20-30 feet up.

Camera setup

It easily carried the 40 gram Mobius camera, although I did something wrong with the settings so I don't have any good pictures. I put the Mobius on a piece of taped-up foam core, with a carabiner attached via a key ring. The Mobius is rubber-banded to the board, with a piece of tape inside-out between it and the board. This is really secure and easy. See detail in the main image above.

Questions and next steps

I'd love to repeat and take pictures -- I've done this with rigid kites, like this flight in Barcelona, but it'd be great to see it with a cheaper, more portable setup.

I also used a 1000 foot reel of 50 pound kite string, instead of my usual 100 pound string. This is lighter, and with a narrower profile, may have less drag and fly at a steeper angle than the thicker string. I think it's viable for this kite -- maybe with some wind speed guidelines.


Why I'm interested

Testing out/replicating the mini kite kit, so more people can give it a try! My whole setup, laid out in the lead image, is really compact now.

Try it yourself

If you have a Mini Kite Kit, please try this out and try it out yourself, posting photos and noting any tweaks you made, or difficulties you encountered!

kite-mapping kap leaffest mobius kap-rigs diy-mount-kit mini-kite-kit portability



The 5.5M kite was ~USD$4 on taobao in mainland China -- @shanlter can you post the link to the taobao store that you helped me buy from?

omg you're kidding me that is so cheap this kite is so awesome

The delivery was convenient too -- we bought a dozen, and they were shipped in a tape-wrapped tarp to a local mini-mart in Guangzhou where we picked it up:


The squid looks so nice in the sky! Here is the link: (the 4 meter purple one only cost $2! ^-)

Thanks for the link! So many colors :-) --


You had me at "squid-shaped kite."

I've been using the DIY Mini Kite Kit but for the life of me cannot seem to get the Mobius camera to go into time lapse mode. I tried the setup app and the settings look right, but doesn't seem to work. Anyone else had issues with this?

Hmm, i have an older one, so the firmware may have changed. Maybe best to ask about this on the main Grassroots Mapping list, as I think I remember other folks talking about the changes?

I often get tripped up on the firmware upload stage;

The camera is either in "firmware download" or "firmware upload" mode. If its generating a config file, that is the download mode. The next time the button combo is use, the firmware should upload.

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