Public Lab Research note

This is an attempt to replicate an activity.

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

by warren | September 28, 2016 22:52 28 Sep 22:52 | #13502 | #13502

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!

I did this Help out by offering feedback! Browse other activities for "aerial-photography"

People who did this (0)

None yet. Be the first to post one!


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?

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

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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:


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

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


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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?

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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?

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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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