Public Lab Wiki documentation

KAPtery Aerial Rigs

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Chris Fastie designs and builds camera rigs for kite, balloon, and pole aerial photography. The rigs include parts which are manufactured on a 3D printer and are available as kits which can be assembled in a few hours. All of the designs are open source and all the information needed to build your own rigs is freely available through the KAPtery. The most up to date model files for 3D printing rig parts are at Thingiverse. Kits to build the Redstone Rig are available for purchase at the Public Lab Store.

Camera Rigs

Redstone Rig Kit


The Redstone Rig Kit includes all the parts to build a rig for holding a small point & shoot camera pointed at any angle. The kit includes four 3D printed parts and the hardware to hold them together. The articulated camera tray allows vertical shooting for mapping and also oblique photography, and the rig is balanced in either position. The camera is attached with a thumb screw into the tripod socket so it stays securely pointed in the same direction. The camera controls and LCD screen are always accessible. Protective legs and bumpers can be quickly configured in various ways for different needs. The rig can be easily suspended from the flying line using either a Picavet or pendulum system and requires one or the other for optimal operation. Some Public Lab research notes refer to the Redstone Rig.

Titan 2 Rig Kit


The Titan 2 Rig holds two small cameras pointed in the same direction for vegetation analysis (with normal and infrared cameras) or other applications for dual cameras. The raised lips at the back of the camera platforms allow both cameras to be easily attached and automatically aligned for capturing the same scene. The tilting tray allows oblique photography as well as vertical mapping photos. All camera controls and the LCD are always accessible. Twelve brackets allow quick attachment and removal of protective legs and bumpers. A single-camera tray can replace the dual tray for flying a lightweight rig with one camera. The Titan 2 Rig is easily attached to either a Picavet or pendulum suspension, and requires one or the other for optimal operation. Some Public Lab research notes refer to the Titan 2 Rig.

Saturn V Rig Kit


The Saturn V Rig is a kite aerial photography rig designed to use two micro servos (small motors) to adjust the pan and tilt angles of the camera. The servos can be operated autonomously by an on-board microcontroller or remotely via radio control. With a camera capable of being triggered remotely you can systematically capture photos to stitch into high resolution panoramas or just take lots of photos in all directions.

Saturn V Rig Kits include everything to make a working autoKAP rig except the camera. The standard configuration is intended for small Canon PowerShot cameras, but the hardware and software can be modified to work with other cameras. Kits include a SkyShield autoKAP controller based on the Arduino Nano that is programmed to point and shoot a CHDK enabled PowerShot camera. Any of eight different pan/tilt/shoot regimes can be selected in the field, and the Arduino sketch is easy to modify for custom shooting.

Kits also include the 3D printed pan/tilt rig parts, Picavet suspension, two micro servos, a gear set, battery case, cables, and all the straps, legs, and bumpers. Some Public Lab research notes refer to the Saturn V Rig.





The Picavet has two attachment points to the kite line about five feet apart, and the Picavet lines pass through four eyes on the Picavet cross. These multiple attachments reduce rotation of the rig and swinging of the rig along the axis of the kite line. The three inch shaft between the cross and the rig acts as a moment arm and allows the mass of the camera to level the rig. The star on the top of the Picavet cross allows the attached rig to be pointed in any of 16 directions.

Picavet Kits Include a 3D printed Picavet cross, two stainless steel KAP'n Hooks for securing the Picavet lines to the kite line, 30 feet of 50 pound braided Dacron line, and all other hardware. Here is the research note introducing the KAPtery Picavet.



A pendulum suspension is a rigid rod with a flexible attachment to the flying line. It works great on balloon flights because the flexible damping tube holds the camera away from the line. Just wrap the flying line several times around the stiff wire at the top (the spiral on one half should be in the same direction as the spiral on the other half). A 38 cm long G50 fiberglass tube tends to hang vertically to keep the camera rig steady and completely eliminates camera spinning. It attaches easily to the Redstone and Titan 2 rigs. Materials for a safety lanyard are included for a redundant connection between flying line and camera. There are no 3D printed parts in this suspension.

More information

To learn more about each of the rigs and suspensions see the descriptions at the KAPtery and also the assembly guides and user manuals for each rig.