Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Daedalus’s Eye

So for a while I have been thinking a lot about aerial photography. There are a few different ways to go about this… RC airplanes, kites, blimps etc (or if you have the money, rent an actual aircraft or hot air balloon). After much consideration and toying with some pretty funky ideas, I finally decided that the most practical solution would be to simply attach a compact digital camera to a helium balloon. Since I do not have a remote control camera, the challenge was to adapt a RC servo motor to press down on the shutter, thus taking the picture remotely. After several modifications I have gotten this to work fairly reliably. I have ordered a weather balloon and am waiting for it to arrive in the mail. However today I was able to pick up a 3 foot diameter balloon (8 bucks) at a store and according to my very fuzzy mathematic calculations… this should be enough (although I am not 100% confident since the temperature has an effect on how many metric meters of helium are needed). Anyway I will be attempting my first aerial shoot tomorrow… providing that the weather allows it. I am crossing my fingers that the balloon will not pop and that my chord won’t break… *sigh* there are so many things that could go horribly wrong…so I guess all I can do is hope for the best. The whole thing weighs about 500g and cost about 80 bucks to put together (not including the camera). Anyway here are some photos of the set up… if you have any suggestions, do not agree with my math, or have experience with anything resembling this, please drop me a line. I will post the results of the first test as soon as I can.

I sure hope the “Daedalus’s Eye” does not suffer the same fate as its namesake.


MaskMarvl said...

Sounds like a fun idea. Actually, I've thought of this myself but never got around to doing it. :)

From the looks of the hardware and the green balloon you have there, I suspect that it may be too heavy for it to be able to lift everything. But I'm not sure, I may be wrong.

I have an idea to protect your investment in case the balloon were to burst. I suggest you make a light parachute to go on top of the balloon in case it "pops". Unfortunately this would add a little more weight to the setup. Also, keep in mind that the string you use to keep it all teathered will also add some weight as will the wind drag on the string itself.

In any case, good luck! Can't wait to hear how it went and see some pictures! :D

Carlos Rosado said...

I agree... its quite likely that the on balloon will, not be enough... I think I will end up using two balloons at 3/4 capacity to make it less likely that they blow up on me... also that way I will have a back up if a single one pops... I figure I could just bring it down slowly if that happened.

Anonymous said...

It was a pleasure meeting you, Carlos, and I must say, your experiment looked like a lot of fun! It's not every day you see someone walking down the street with 3 huge helium balloons above him. My girlfriend and I just did a double take, and I'm glad I went to talk to you afterwards.

Oh.. and hopefully that yellow balloon I gave you gets you back into the air after that one popped on you (huge bummer). Admittedly, I actually have access to a few more if you need them, including the larger ones than that.

Drop me a line anytime! aphinity at! If you wanna join us bunch of geeks, we're actually hitting up red robin in metrotown later tonight, if you care to join us. Just email me and let me know :)


-Rob Harrison
North Vancouver