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Grasshopper
07-12-2006, 10:23 PM
Hello to all you Shutter Bugs,

I'm not new to RC but I am new to using it for pictures. I would like to build a plane (ARF or kit) to take still pictures and video. I would like to put it on my Spektrum DX6 with the rest of my planes. Right now all I have is a PZ J3 Cub and the rest are warbirds. I don't think my P-47 with a Park 450 will be a good photo platform though.

I am not new to photography and have been in digital for several years now. Photography is my other expensive hobby and it would be great to combine the two to make one big money pit. I would be buying a new camera since I don't want to send my Canon 20D SLR up in the air, nor do I want to pay for a plane and batteries that could carry it.

So here's the question: What is the ideal set up for stills and video? If you had a clean slate, which plane and camera would you buy. If money is not an issue (not saying it's not but let's leave that out for now), what set up would you use? I don't necessarily want to send photos or video to a unit on the ground, just to the memory card in the camera.

Thanks for the advice,

Tom

aviatordave
07-13-2006, 04:38 AM
there are 3 planes that most people use.

1.) GWS Slow Stick (needs mods to carry camera)
2.) Mountain Models Magpie AP
3.) Easy Star (little mods needed)

theres alot more...cant think....

Cameras -well..

Nikon
3700 (good vid), 4600, 5600, 7600, 7900 (good vid), servo operated shutter, but I believe a USB control is being devolped.

Pentax
Optio series, most have IR control and a IR switch is available, S4, S5...check video qualities some have 30fps (fluid), some have 15 fps (choppy)......S6 & A10 have had some probs with picture

Cannon

S80 ($$ but awesome pics), A620 (replacement for the S80, $$)

Kodak, Aiptek, HP, blipcam - some good some bad, have not really done much search on these as not too many people have used these, but some have and some have had really good results.


There are alot more...mayby some guys will chime in and add where I didnt specify.

Basically look for a camera that has the MP size you want, has the ability to adjust picture, speed, and light conditions, weighs about 5 ish oz's, and video is 30 frames per second (FPS)

good luck - Dave

Grasshopper
07-13-2006, 04:47 AM
Hi Dave,

I've seen that the three planes you mentioned seem to be the most popular. I would probably have to look at the Easy star or Magpie. I still can't quite bring myself to buying an aluminum stick with a wing.

I'm sure i'm going to have a lot of questions so please bear with me. Here's a camera I was looking at. Does it look like it would fit the bill?


http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Panasonic/panasonic_dmcfx9.asp

aviatordave
07-13-2006, 05:02 AM
Yea..thats a good camera...totally forgot about that one.

Kosh just bought a Lumix, he will prob chime in and let you know more about it.

When you do get a camera, you prob already know this, but make sure your SD cards have a fast write speed for video, and faster shooting at high res. settings

Just ask the questions - there are alot of us with several different platforms

Dave

Grasshopper
07-13-2006, 05:09 AM
Thanks a lot for the help. I read Kosh's thread on the Lumix and it looks good too. I'm a little nervous about sending several hundred dollars of camera up on a plane. I'm even more nervous that I'll get reaquainted with my camera in court when the prosecutor shows the video from my plane going through my neighbors picture window into their living room.

aviatordave
07-13-2006, 05:18 AM
I was nervous also about sending alot of $$$ in the air. I calmed myself by buying a cheapo 3 mp Kodak (C7310) to try out the aerial photo 'thing'..... actually that cheap camera took decent pictures and I got more comfortable flying around objects of interest. I upgraded to a Pentax optio s5z and really dont worry too much anymore.

Kosh
07-13-2006, 05:45 AM
Heres my take on the Lumix and Dave is right on about the hi-speed cards needed to make them work right. Once I bought a pair of 2 gig hi-speed cards I was able to get non jerky video finally. Till now the cam was just ok but was unusable for all but very short videos on what I thought was a very good SD card. I like the camera but its lack of a more powerfull zoom and keeps it from being my everyday all around just grab and go digital.
Now don't get me wrong it nice but if you are only going to buy 1 camera todo everything opt for more zoom with 6x as worthy goal. Think about a camera thats better for your all around use as its time in the air is very limited compared normal use. I'm sure you get my drift and can find lots close to that price range but think how its going to be triggered also.

Grasshopper
07-13-2006, 05:51 AM
Thanks Kosh. I have several other digital cameras so this one would most likely stay with the plane. What is the best way to trigger one? Most of the cameras I'm finding in the 5 to 6 oz. weight range are 3X zoom. One thing I have found is that you want to make sure it is optical zoom and not digital.

adhoc
07-13-2006, 05:52 AM
I've had good results using my Multiplex Twin Star II. Big, stable platform, twin engines, etc. I'm still running stock motors and props, and 7-cell NiMH battery packs, and I can get up to 500+ feet in a minute and stay up for 10 minutes or so. I'm using an Oregon Scientific ATC-1000 sport camera; I don't bother with stills, I just start video recording and capture the whole flight...

I'd point you to some of my videos, but my ISP lost ALL of our online data last weekend... :mad:

p.s. I own an Easy Star, too, and love it, but I'm a bit skeptical about carrying a camera in it. Obviously some people do, but I wouldn't...

Kosh
07-13-2006, 06:21 AM
I just have a servo shoe gooed on my Nikon 3700 that works fine but thats not really practical on the Lumix as its top is much smaller. I have tested a few ways to trigger the Lumix but nothing I can count on in the field without doing lots of tests. My thought now is to make a small box with a servo to mount inside the normal camera mount that will fit all my planes made to carry a digital. Still testing ways to trigger camera and will post my results soon.

Grasshopper
07-13-2006, 01:24 PM
I just have a servo shoe gooed on my Nikon 3700 that works fine but thats not really practical on the Lumix as its top is much smaller. I have tested a few ways to trigger the Lumix but nothing I can count on in the field without doing lots of tests. My thought now is to make a small box with a servo to mount inside the normal camera mount that will fit all my planes made to carry a digital. Still testing ways to trigger camera and will post my results soon.

Look forward to seeing what you come up with. On my DX6 transmitter, I assume you would I use either the flaps or retracts switch to trigger the camera? How strong of a servo do you need to push the button? Again, I assume it would depend if you used linkages or a straight push?

Grasshopper
07-13-2006, 01:25 PM
I've had good results using my Multiplex Twin Star II. Big, stable platform, twin engines, etc. I'm still running stock motors and props, and 7-cell NiMH battery packs, and I can get up to 500+ feet in a minute and stay up for 10 minutes or so. I'm using an Oregon Scientific ATC-1000 sport camera; I don't bother with stills, I just start video recording and capture the whole flight...

I'd point you to some of my videos, but my ISP lost ALL of our online data last weekend... :mad:

p.s. I own an Easy Star, too, and love it, but I'm a bit skeptical about carrying a camera in it. Obviously some people do, but I wouldn't...

Thanks adhoc, I'll take a look at those planes too.

Kosh
07-13-2006, 08:42 PM
Grasshopper, Trigger the servo on a spare channel. I use channel 5 and the servo arm will stay down taking photos or video as long as needed.
Just use the "EPA" End Point Adjustment to give the servo just enough throw to trigger the shutter. Once set you it up it shouldn't need further adjustment.

Grasshopper
07-13-2006, 08:56 PM
Thanks Kosh! It doesn't get any more simple than that. After doing mechanical design for almost 20 years, I had a pretty elaborate system worked out in my head. It only had 57 moving parts, three transistors and a hampster in a wheel.

Kosh
07-13-2006, 09:10 PM
I tried the hampster in wheel thing but he kept getting air sick. :p

Grasshopper
07-13-2006, 09:16 PM
Lol!!!!

Grasshopper
07-19-2006, 04:14 PM
I've decided to go with the Magpie AP. I assume the only place I can buy this is from Mountain Models? Now I need some advice on a power system. I definitely want a brushless system on Lipos so I need some suggestions on what size motor I should use. I haven't narrowed down the camera yet but it should be a maximum of 6 oz. and most likely in the 5 to 5 1/2 oz. range. I also plan on using a rotating camera tray.

Any help here is greatly appreciated.

Tom

aviatordave
07-19-2006, 06:19 PM
Tom,

Here is what I am using...except I upgraded to a Pentax Optio S5Z camera and modified the landing gear and camera tray since these pics were taken. As far as motors go, alot of guys shy away from gearbox's like mine due to noise, vibration, maint. - but I have never had any problems and have just left it....worry free for me (knock on wood)

Here is my magpie with camera tray mods - Forward Facing Camera (http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7360)


Mountain Models Magpie AP kit -
Kokam 11.1 volt 2000mah lipo - Deans plug/(3)HS-55/(2) 2 3/4 lite wheel/(2) 12x8 prop/ - (www.hobbypeople.net (http://www.hobbypeople.net/))
Himax 2025/4200 w/ CC25 ESC - (www.rctoys.com (http://www.rctoys.com/))
1 roll white solite/1 roll orange trim - (www.balsapr.com (http://www.balsapr.com/))
CVS Hacked video cam -
Kodak C7310 3.2 mega pixel - (www.geeks.com (http://www.geeks.com/))


-Dave http://static.rcgroups.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif

Kosh
07-19-2006, 07:49 PM
If I had to do it over again I think I would opt for the E-Flight Park 450 outrunner with 10x7 or 10x8 prop on the MagpieAP. Daves setup is really the best of both worlds as his camera can look forward and to both sides.
The Magpie is a great flier and would haul up a 10 ounce camera without any real drama. The camera bay can be modded to fit your needs very easy as well as the rest of the plane. Bigger wheels on the landing gear is a must if your going to land on grass or dirt strips. The last thing I can tell you is to stay away from hampsters as they just dont hold up well. :D

Grasshopper
07-19-2006, 09:17 PM
Thanks Kosh! Since this plane has a bigger wing, I was thinking more of a Guinea Pig. I probably would want to go with bigger wheels for grass. Is the Magpie able to be hand launched if needed?

I'm guessing with the Park 450, I could go with 3S 2100 lipos too? That would be great since that's what I'm trying to standardize on with my other planes.

Dave, I can't open any of the bottom links. I get a blank page that says "403 Forbidden"

Kosh
07-19-2006, 09:49 PM
The Guinea Pig might work better but getting there crash helmet to stay on requires some 20 minute epoxy. The 3S 2100 lipos is a great match for the plane and motor. I have hand launched it a few times now without problems but the first time I tried was scary. Torque roll from the prop almost did me in so stay away from full throttle. I only hand launch if I really have to now but it is fairly easy to pull off. The plane glides so well that most landings are a breeze, Circling around your chosen landing spot without power just doesn't get any easier. I take the camera off and fly the plane just for fun all the time and its been holding up great after a over a year of rugged use.

Grasshopper
07-19-2006, 10:08 PM
Thanks Kosh! I'm getting really anxious to get one of these. Is Mountain Models the only place I can buy one?

Kosh
07-19-2006, 10:53 PM
Yep, Have no fear. There great people to work with and will make it right should some part be missing from a kit. You can go to there site and download the PDF file for the standard Magpie build to give you a idea how it all goes together.

Grasshopper
07-19-2006, 10:56 PM
Great! I already have two planes on order. What's one more huh?

Kosh
07-19-2006, 11:06 PM
Its only money, Right? What good is it doing sitting in the bank when it could be out soaring around the sky. :D

Grasshopper
07-20-2006, 03:53 AM
Here's the motor I would like to use. You guys that are flying these birds see any issues with it?

Tom



2908-10
[TPBM2908-10]
https://st86.startlogic.com/~rcepower/osCommerce/catalog/images/pixel_trans.gifhttps://st86.startlogic.com/~rcepower/osCommerce/catalog/images/2908-10.jpg
Click to enlarge (javascript:popupWindow('https://st86.startlogic.com/~rcepower/osCommerce/catalog/popup_image.php?pID=38&osCsid=8221876f171be6f2b9f6c00a317109d4')) images/2908-10.jpg
Click to enlarge (https://st86.startlogic.com/~rcepower/osCommerce/catalog/images/2908-10.jpg?osCsid=8221876f171be6f2b9f6c00a317109d4)290 8-10 Rated for 2-3 pound planes this is the next level for brushless motors! When coupled with a 30A or higher brushless esc you will be amazed by the performance of this motor! Included in the package is motor mount and 5mm prop adapter!

Specs:
DIMENSION: 36.4*51.7
WEIGHT: 91g
MAX EFFICIENCY: 90%
BATTERY: 3LIPO
KV: 1100
PROP: 10*6/11*6APC-E
CURRENT: 1.7A-25A
VOLTAGE: 7.2-12.6

Kosh
07-20-2006, 05:55 AM
While I have never seen that motor in action the specs say it should work fine. You may have to drill a hole in the center of the motor mount for clearance but that not a problem. Looks like it will turn a 10x7 or 10x8 prop fairly easy. Its nice to have the extra power but I can count on one hand how many times I have hit full throttle as the plane. I think it would be a rare day you held it at full for more than 30 seconds myself.

Grasshopper
07-20-2006, 06:06 AM
Thanks for the response Kosh,

I ordered the Magpie AP this evening. Not sure how long they normally take to ship. I probably won't run the throttle open very often, but I didn't want to have it marginally powered. I kind of like having some extra when one of those stinkin trees jumps out at it and you need to get away in a hurry.

Ok, now the questions are really going to start:

Do I need to build in down and or right thrust to the motor mount?
About how high on avaerage do you fly for pictures?

Kosh
07-20-2006, 06:51 AM
Power wont be one of the problems you have to worry about thankfully.
The wooden motor mount slides into a precut groove in the nose that has the down thrust accounted for and if you just put a slight right turn then tape or glue into place and its fine. Most times I send the plane up 400 to 500 feet and kill the motor, Hit the shutter button and work my way back down doing a BIG circle around the target. Once I'm just above the trees turn the motor to 1/4 throttle and get the lower shots needed. After you have gone around 8 to 10 times most shots are just copies and a 6 minute flight yields around 200 photos for me. Of the 200 pics about 40 to 50 are just not in focus or show nothing of interest and its pretty rare I dont get close to 50 keepers. I think its more about being smooth with the controls and keeping the camera on target. After a dozen flights you will know where the camera is shooting and not even think about it.

Next question

Grasshopper
07-21-2006, 05:45 AM
OK, the Magpie and power system has been ordered. Cameras are on the way and we're off to the races! Now to start the string of questions again.

1. When you are up taking photos, is there a focal length you find to work the best? Is it zoomed all the way out or as I would assume, it will depend on what you're photographing and what effect you're after.

2. I would also assume (doing a lot of that assuming thing here) that you typically use the fastest shutter speed you can to reduce blur?

3. Since most cameras have the feature of pressing the shutter button half way to take a meter reading and pre-focus, can you use that or do you just have to depress the button all the way at once?

4. Do you use the camera's zoom feature in the air or do you pick a focal length for that flight and leave it?

I don't think I'm going to put a servo driven camera tray on it. I think the manual tilt adjustment on the ground sounds easier. Just one less thing to go wrong in my opinion.

Thanks,

Tom

Kosh
07-21-2006, 06:22 AM
1: Really depends on the camera but for the most part I don't use zoom. I have tried it a few times but my camera has a hard to focusing with zoom.

2: Correct, Most just use the sports setting but don't be afraid other setting and see what works for your camera. Good lighting is your best friend here.

3: Just mash the shutter button down and forget about prefocus. You might be able to program your TX to use the prefocus but its usefulness is really in dought.

4:No zoom and no adjustment, There no reason you cant land and make a quick change or switch to video. I use the plane its self as the zoom, Fly low for closeups and fly hi for wide angle.

5: Tilt adjustment, I like just setting on the ground and leaving it. Its cool to see the servo tilt it but once in the air your second guessing where the camera is really pointed because of it.

TeslaWinger
04-14-2007, 03:48 AM
I was nervous also about sending alot of $$$ in the air.

Had to laugh about that one, Dave! Reminded me of when I started flying with a camcorder yrs ago on an ultralight! I would do a test flight and once I was comfy I would land and strap on the camcorder. Funny how we rationalize these things! Sure wouldn't wanna bust the camera! :D

Haven't yet gotten a good still digicam for RC (that's why I suck up all the posts about cameras here) but have tons of hrs flying with the downlinked video and am very comfortable with it. Once you get past the Dollar Panic you find yourself doing (photo) "setups" all the time- and come home with lots of good footage- or images. Practice, man!

Having made the first (far as I know) ZAGI-CAM 8 yrs ago I think ANYTHING with a TAIL and enough power is GOOD! 2 meter E-Gliders are great! Airsickness is a real factor with Zagivids!

The more 'zoomed in' (longer) the lens, the more sensitive to motion it becomes, demanding a higher shutter speed- and a smooth glide for clear shots.

Smile- SNAP!