Kite Camera Reel #3: A Day's Progress...

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Blog entry by CaptainSkully posted 11-14-2009 05:18 PM 1805 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Reel Pressure... Part 3 of Kite Camera Reel series Part 4: Almost Done! »

I finally got another day in the shop. We’re starting to run out of time. We leave in two weeks for the BVI and I’ve got sailing lessons almost every day until then. Regardless, we ran over to Rockler to get some knobs early in the morning (I gave my lathe to my buddy Eric when we moved to CA). We got back and made some progress:

^ Here’s the reel assembly put together with the hardware and knobs. Notice the knobs give you two options, slow, with torque, or fast without torque. It’s in effect a two-speed winch.

^ Here’s the start of the parallel linkage pendulum that will hang below the kite. The kite string will actually be wrapped around the top piece to seize it in place a few feet in front of the kite. The pendulum effect will stabilize the camera as the kite hunts in the wind. We’re still working on how to adjust the camera position, which is why the bottom runs out of frame. The cool thing about the parallel linkage is that no matter the angle of the kite string, the top and bottom members will stay parallel to keep the camera pointed down the string, which is by definition down towards the sailboat. My ME302 class in college “Synthesis of Mechanisms” is really kicking in on this project!

Notice the slots in the horizontal members, these let the vertical members pivot forward and backward, depending on the angle of the kite string. Also, we optimized the length of the pendulum to fit in our luggage.

We’ve got to finish designing and fabricating the camera mount and the handles on the top of the frame, but we can certainly see the finish line. I’m planning on using a marine varnish to seal both assemblies from the elements. Once we use these (we’re not even ready to go fly a kite yet), I can see the potential for all kinds of improvements, which will probably cause another round of design and fabrication to come up with 2.0.

The project is still mostly from scrap, which is nice. My girlfriend is still dilligently trying to find a waterproof enclosure for one of our cameras, or a camera for our waterproof enclosure. The nice thing is that the enclosures have that threaded hole in the bottom to mount it to our parallel linkage assembly.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

5 comments so far

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4044 days

#1 posted 11-14-2009 05:54 PM

you are building TWO right? One for the ??? moored in Napa…

This is really coming along…so who sails the boat while you are flying the kite???

Its going to be super cool—-this is to take video of your trips/outings right?

HOW WAS THE SHOW??? I leave in an hour…


-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3544 days

#2 posted 11-14-2009 07:01 PM

Looks cool unique project

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3132 days

#3 posted 11-14-2009 07:52 PM

Interesting mechanical and woodworking project….....our craft gets into everything….......

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3301 days

#4 posted 11-14-2009 08:08 PM

Fantastic project. The idea of taking aerial photos without a plane is new to me, but sure sound like an exciting idea.
I see this is blog #3. I missed the other two, but am going to look at them. Thanks for this interesting post.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View CaptainSkully's profile


1591 posts in 3526 days

#5 posted 11-15-2009 03:01 AM

We’re using 8 square foot kites to fly this off the back of the boats. Once you get it launched, you bungee cord it to the railing and let it fly behind you taking pics at intervals or video. The bungee acts as a shock absorber to keep the kite flying smoothly.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

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