View Full Version : Serious Lifting and/or Photo Platforms

12-12-2005, 07:37 PM
I have found several adds for photographers who use helicopters to lift their photo equipment; so far I have not found any ‘how to’ discussions. I have found long lists of electric helicopters and nary a hint about lift capability, stability, and station keeping abilities. I THINK I want to fly a small “point and shoot” digital – like the new Minolta 5meg pixel with image stabilization at 5 oz – give or take a little. I want to transmit the video out signal to the ground for positioning. Pitch control of the camera would be lovely (I have seen a unit that does this for the micro ‘spy’ cameras.) I need to control shutter (duh?) and would line to control a few other camera features, zoom for example. Exposure compensation may be impossible; one can dream. While dreaming, how about something like a training undercarriage with a couple of small flash units outboard? (Ah well…) Why all this stuff? I want to take photos suitable for what is called ‘skinning’ CAD models with the intent of creating photo-realistic paper models of historic sites.

Any clues about where to look? What to do next?

02-18-2006, 03:56 AM
What is your background with helis? Are you trying to go with as small a heli as possible, or are you okay with a larger one? I use an Ion-x for my work, one stock and one with 800mm blades. If you want to stay with smaller stuff, an Eraptor or most any 30 to 50 class electric would probably serve you well.

02-18-2006, 05:36 AM
I notice most folks prefer the Ion as well. MS composites makes a complete EP conversion for the Raptor .50.
- Shootfromabove,
Welcome to Wattflyer! where are you at in Alaska? If you live near Fairbanks, lets go flying! No one flies heli's here..
Take care,

02-19-2006, 02:57 AM
A guy name Stet made a AP platform from an eolo, very small but great shots!

02-19-2006, 04:17 AM
Pat asked about my experience with helos. I have zip, zilch, nada experience with helos. I do have some measure of perseverance. I don’t specifically want a small helo, but a monster wouldn’t work very well in tight spaces. I would err on the side of more size and lift it possible. Stability is also an issue. I hope to take overlapping shots of, say a building, starting at the ground floor and moving up (or the other way, doesn’t matter). I would like to operate about 20 – 40 feet away from the target. I would love to carry a camera that shoots RAW as that can provide High Dynamic Range (HDR) capabilities. That would phase 2, or 3, or 4…


02-19-2006, 06:25 AM
The simpest aproach is always the best and helos would be risky in a small space and require a lot of skill and investment.

When I was investigating microboard video cameras I found a project using helium balloons to lift a high quality microcam and microwave transmitter powered by a small 3 cell lipo battery. It had pan/tilt by RC or can be pointed with two lines.

A slowflyer of adequate size and power with a digital still camera 'firing broadside' could be possible with enough room but the framing would be a mere guess. Realtime video has the advantage of being able to be framed and steered by a monitor (remote piloting) to be sure you got the shot you wanted.

I have used a pan/tilt mount on the vertical stab of a 10 ft glider with a pair of HS-55s and a tiny CMOS camera. Would work with a digicam even better since CMOS images are too low quality to consider.

If you dont like the pix, erase them and send it back up- but realtime framing info is priceless and a 1/3rd inch CCD cam has over 500 lines resolution and excellent color and a far better autoexposure than a CMOS vidcam with only a one ounce weight and another ounce for the mw tx!

Once recorded on a camcorder from the mw rx, it can be framegrabbed and digitized in any format you need.

No fear of it flying out of control and damaging a property. Several small balloons would be easier to carry around than one large one but wind is a make or break factor to eliminate motion artifacts.

I made a promo video for a client yrs ago who had a system for wrap-around photo surfacing of 3D models. A framing square was laid somewhere in the picture of the object and the software would undo the lensing and perspective based on its orientation. What better way to achieve photo-realism in object surfacing than with real pictures!

Good luck.

02-19-2006, 06:44 AM
Good idea. Wind is clearly an issue, even with a heli (is it “heli” or “helo” ?) The attraction of the small point and shoot cameras is that some have a real-time video feed. Add a downlink and bingo. Resolution is an issue for what I am up to, 5 to 7 Meg pixels are needed so a video camera is a problem. As long as I can get close to my subject, a tethered balloon might work very nicely. Sure would beat ‘crashing until competent to operate in close quarters’ drill. Well worth considering a dual approach close in with a balloon and heli for what the balloon can’t cover, all it takes is money and time ;-). With a balloon, I would still use radio control as cables get heavy and tether lines can be light weight. Thanks for an ‘out of the box’ look.


02-19-2006, 08:53 AM
Yes, for close work a blimp or something like it might be your best bet. If you want to get into using a heli later for different shots from what you have been describing I would suggest something in the 50 size class. Having said that however the first thing I would recomend is to pick up a simulator from your local hobby shop! You can fly for hours on that to get used to the way a heli flys. And when you crash it costs you zip!!:D
It takes quite a bit of practice to become comfortable with flying, especially when you add another $1000 or so hanging under the heli and have customers watching.
Best of luck,

02-19-2006, 11:31 PM
Your logic is unassailable. Which simulator, or simulators, would you recommend? Do they all require a radio to work? I will need a bunch of channels in my radio and those puppies are not exactly free.

Thanks again Pat, thanks to all,