Public Lab Wiki documentation

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Aerial Photography

This is an open source community effort to develop simple, low-cost aerial photography methods for a range of conditions. All accessible hardware and software efforts are welcome here!

There are several sub-categories:


You can join in by:


Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Pole NDVI of deer grazing experiment - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Graze anatomy experiment - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
DIY Mini Kite Kit first flight field-test - @mathew 1h easy 1 replications: Try it »
Floating camera rig build - @eustatic - - 0 replications: Try it »
Host a balloon mapping workshop - - @liz - - 35 replications: Try it »
PET Bottle & Rubber Band Rig build - @mathew 3h easy 1 replications: Try it »
Adding GPS logging to a kite or balloon aerial photography rig verify - @cfastie - medium 0 replications: Try it »
easy cut delta kite plans build - @mathew 3h easy 0 replications: Try it »
Use a rubber band and knotted string to trigger a camera build complete @mathew 15m easy 0 replications: Try it »
Easy Kites for Kite Trains build - @mathew - easy 0 replications: Try it »
Mylar delta kite design - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »
Youth Balloon Mapping Workshop Complete! - - @mjain26 - - 0 replications: Try it »

Add an activity  or request an activity

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Starter Kits

Public Lab’s Kits initiative offers starter kits for kite and balloon photography. The point of the kits is to provide a shared reference design for building experimental setups onto. You can also use our guides as a resource for building or purchasing materials of your own.

Public Lab Store's Aerial Photography and Mapping Kits


Ask a question about aerial photography

Title Author Updated Likes
please help! @ROCKETMAN 18 days ago
how do i get my old map @jgee7 about 1 month ago

Design philosophy

These tools are being developed to provide a low cost, easy to use, and safe methods for making maps and aerial images. Over the last few years, we’ve built a global community of mappers who are engaged in discussion around the development and use of this tool and others.

Normally aerial maps are made from satellites and airplanes. The balloon and kite ground-based approach introduces an on-demand capability where events or environmental conditions are mapped at a specific moment in time. Our community is particularly interested in applying this to civic and environmental issues.

Maps are often used by those in power to exert influence over territory, or control territorial narratives. "Grassroots mapping" attempts to invert this dynamic by using maps as a mode of communication and as evidence for an alternative, community-owned definition of a territory. To date, our tools have been used to contest official maps or rhetoric by enabling communities to map sites that are not included in official maps. In Lima Peru, members of an informal settlement developed maps of their community as evidence of their habitation, while on the Gulf Coast of the US, locally produced maps of oil are being used to document damage that is underreported by the state.

agriculture mining urban-planning fracking tool land-use industry method land-change oil-and-gas

activities:aerial-photography upgrades:aerial-photography