Public Lab Wiki documentation


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This is one of a series of guides for collaborative environmental research and advocacy projects. Pole Mapping is an easy way to get a view of your garden from above. This guide will cover how to make or purchase your own pole and affix a camera to it.

Planning this event

Ahead of time:

  • Take a look at the types of poles available, check out the pictures on the wiki page!
  • Consider the pros and cons of making, borrowing, or buying a pole.
    • If you want to make a pole, assess what you have locally available at hand to work with. Perhaps bamboo is readily available in your area, or perhaps a hardware store with long PVC is more your speed.
    • If purchasing a pole, I recommend a lightweight carbon fiber one like this, but be careful, unsupervised kids can easily break these delicate but high-tech rods (and yes they are a little pricey):
  • Make a decision on what kind of pole sourcing endeavor you will embark on

Materials to have on hand:

  • A camera
  • an SD card that fits in the camera
  • charged battery(s) for the camera
  • rubber bands (15x)
  • wide tape (usually packing tape, masking tape or painters tape)
  • Note: depending on your decisions above, pole materials will vary widely

Activity 1: If you are going to buy a pole

Activity 2: If you are going to make a pole

Activity 3: Affixing a camera to the pole

  • set your camera to take pictures automatically (insert link)
  • put your camera into a soda bottle rig (to protect it from hitting against the pole, or the ground while the pole is lying down)
  • hang it on the end of the pole,
    • Note: if using a fishing pole, you may want to not use the very thin end sections that would bend over or snap under the weight. Carbon fiber sections with at least a 1/4" diameter should be strong enough.

Activity 4: Getting good images

  • Lay the pole horizontally on the ground
    • note how long it is as compared to the landscape that you are going to photograph because there's a rule of thumb: as far up as the camera is above the ground is the same horizontal extent on the ground that any given picture can capture.

[insert GM diagram]

  • Attach the soda bottle housing -- with camera inside -- to the end of the pole.
  • Make sure the camera is on and taking pictures
  • Get your stance right: stand at the base of the pole and brace the base of the pole into the inside of your right foot (or whichever foot you tend to lead with)

[get picture for this]

  • Lean over and grasp the pole with your hands and begin lifting the pole up, keeping the base braced into your foot. Keep your stance strong.
  • Bring the pole to as near vertical as possible to minimize the unwieldy weight (it's like holding a ladder -- straight up is easier and "seems lighter")

[insert picture of Frank in Newark]

  • Check out Ecta64's research note on using the Public Lab carp pole (coming soon to the store).