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Old May 05, 2003, 10:46 PM
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Ocala, Florida
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Some thoughts and ideas

Hi Folks, These pictures were shot in my neighborhood this evening about 5:30PM. The first four pictures were taken on the way up to altitude under full power. The fifth picture was taken on the way back down with power off. I took 25 pictures total and all of the pictures taken under power seem to be sharper than the ones I took with power off.

I really like this first picture just because of the sun angle.
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Old May 05, 2003, 10:48 PM
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Ocala, Florida
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Some thoughts and ideas

Looking South towards Orlando (about 70 miles away).
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Old May 05, 2003, 10:49 PM
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Some thoughts and ideas

This is part of our 18 hole golf course (runway to me).
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Old May 05, 2003, 10:49 PM
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Some thoughts and ideas

This is the maximum altitude I reached (about 1000 ft) still under power.
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Old May 05, 2003, 10:50 PM
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Some thoughts and ideas

This one is on the way down with no power. It seems to have some fuzzy spots not present in the other pictures.
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Old May 05, 2003, 10:51 PM
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Some thoughts and ideas

I have been trying to figure out why I can get shots under power without the jaggies. I have had considerable experience with downlink video from model helicopters and learned a lot about real jaggies from that. For a long time I tried to find softer ways to mount the video camera as soft as possible. This is a Panasonic board camera which is very small and has no mass at all. It is smaller and lighter than a Pencam with no batteries. Everytime I would come up with a foam within foam softer mount the more jaggies I would get

I finally glued a 35mm film cannister in the nose of my helicopter canopy and set the camera in it and packed it pretty tightly with small pieces of foam jammed in until all the space was filled and the camera was fairly rigid. Most of the big jaggies went away but I still had some small harsh vibration lines. It took a long time to find out that this vibration was from the camera lens where it screwed on the front of the mount for focusing. It could wiggle just a little. I got the focus I wanted and glued the lens threads - no more vibration.

Of course this was after I had balanced everything else on the helicopter and had no apparant vipration at all. The moral of the story is do not mount your camera softly! My pencam is attached to an aluminum bracket which is screwed directly to the SS fuselage tube. The camera only has 1/4 inch of light foam between it and the bracket and this is just to prevent scuffing the camera. I cinch it tightly to the bracket with velcro so it cannot move. It is mounted firmly.

I did some testing of this mounting theory with my engraving pen and my Pencam. If I held the camera firmly and put the engraver against it I would get a much clearer picture than if I held it loosely. Also, If I held the engraver against the camera closer to the top (lens) of the camera I got clearer pictures than if I held it against the bottom of the camera. All the above discussion pertains to taking pictures with the power on. The following is applicable regardless of power setting.

Another thing to pay close attention to is to keep the lense of the camera as close to the longitudinal axis (on the SS this is the fuselage tube) of the aircraft as possible. This will reduce the moment arm of any movement and reduce the effects of that movement whether it be vibration or manuevering. In that regard, you have to try to reduce any aircraft movement relative to the subject as much as possible. This does not mean you have to stop the aircraft, it is relative movement we are concerned about.

When my plane is climbing out I am usually circling gently to the left. The camera is mounted on the left side of the fuselage. The gradual left turn tends to keep the picture still in the viewfinder long enough to get a sharper image. If it is breezy and the plane is just climbing straight up like an elevator, I still turn slightly to the left as I snap the picture. I think this is true because I take most of my pictures on the climb portion of the flight and I am paying close attention to these things. Once I power off and start my descent, I am into the fun part of the flight and I snap a few pictures on the way down just for the heck of it.

I think that is why I personally get better pictures power on than power off. Sorry to get long winded but maybe all this will help someone get on the right track and maybe they will come up with improvements we can all benefit from.

Regards, John
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Old May 06, 2003, 07:31 AM
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Toronto, Canada
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John:

Thank you for that excellent discussion. Gives food for thought.

I always wondered how World War One photo recon planes were able to get such crisp photos of trench lines using wet plate cameras with not-so-fast shutter speeds.

I found out that they simply bolted the camera to the side of the fuselage.

I can only theorize that the vibration at the camera displaced it so minutely that the subtended angle from 5,000 feet amounted no practically no displacement on the ground = a sharp image.

In effect, you have bolted your camera to the fuselage.

Obviously, with CMOS cameras there may be other things happening.

David
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Old May 06, 2003, 07:53 AM
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Ocala, Florida
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Vibration

Hi David, Talk about vibration! WW1 aircraft invented it. However, in addition to bolting the camera onto the fuselage, they also had the advantage of a brave fellow hanging onto the camera which dampened the vibration considerably. I have put considerable thought into a good way to replicate someone holding onto the camera the way a person would but I have come up with no reasonable solutions yet. That's what makes it fun. Heck! if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
John
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Old May 06, 2003, 09:08 AM
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Toronto, Canada
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John:

Could you post a photo of your camera mounted on the Slow Stick?

You have certainly got my attention.

David
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Old May 06, 2003, 09:22 AM
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dev

There's still alotta room for development in Florida from all the forest visible in your photo. Time for another theme park!!!
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Old May 06, 2003, 11:07 AM
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Ocala, Florida
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Camera Setup

Here are some pictures of my installation. This is basically a stock SS with the original motor. I have another motor in which I have installed Mikey's Modification to get a little more power. The camera mount is a piece of aluminum the same thickness as aluminum siding so it is easy to work with and all the bends were made with pliers. You can see the mounting screws holding the bracked to the side of the fuselage. I put the v-bend in the top of the bracket to change the angle of the camera after I first tried it. There is an optical illusion in this photo. It looks like the mounting screw goes right through my camera lead. I had to go look at it to make sure it doesn't. It actually curves and goes back across the top of the fuselage. This is the lead to the "Wild Moose" Backpack Switch. Works really well and has never failed me.
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Old May 06, 2003, 11:08 AM
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Camera Setup

The second photo shows the bracket from the rear. You can see how thin the foam is. I use the foam primarily to keep from scuffing the camera, to keep the camera from shifting, and to avoid pressent the "mode" switch when I mount the camera. Absorbing vibration was not one of the main reasons for the foam, I think the setup would work as well without it.
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Old May 06, 2003, 11:09 AM
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Camera Setup

This picture shows the camera strapped in place. I forgot to plug in the switch but it is hanging around the landing gear. I snug it down pretty tight with that velcro, I can feel the foam compressing when I tighten it so I know it is firmly in place.
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Old May 06, 2003, 11:10 AM
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Ocala, Florida
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Camera Setup

This picture shows the angle at which I mount the camera so when I take pictures in a climb attitude the picture will be close to level. This works well for me since I take the pictures I think are the best on the way up. Once I shut the motor down and start back down the pictures are really angled because of the nose-down attitude. Of course, if I decide I am in a good position for a photo I can always power back up and get the nose up.
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Old May 06, 2003, 11:12 AM
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Ocala, Florida
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Camera Setup

This mount has worked out alright for a first attempt. There is a lot of room for improvement thouhg. I am going to make another one with the nose-up correction built in. I can also remove the v-bend in the top of the bracket now that I know the correct measurements. More importantly, I am going to put the next bracket around the fuselage instead of just against the side of it. This will significantly reduce the lens to fuselage distance. This moment arm is one of the main reasons for zaggies.

The only other thing I can add is work on your flying. The smoother and more precise you can fly, the better pictures you will take. It's just like when you are holding a camera, just before you snap the shutter you take a breath and try to hold everything still. This is what you have to do with your plane, if you kick it aroung with rudder to line it up and try to get the picture "on the fly", the results are going to show it. Smooth and precise piloting added to the photographic skills required are what make this hobby so exciting and challenging. Have fun, I hope all this helps.
Regards, John
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