I'm happy to say that now we have new hobby - Kite Aerial Photography (in short KAP).
The main idea is very easy - you can place photo-camera on a kite and do snapshots from the sky.
If you camera is pretty good, you can create very interesting pictures.
The best KAP pictures are really exciting.
As you may know we are Java programmers and robot makers.
We created J2ME program, which can be used as a brain for small robot,
which use cell phone as hardware platform.
But then we found, that this program may be used for KAP, because it can do pictures and
save images in the phone's memory.
For us KAP is just a hobby.
We use for KAP cell phone (Siemens C75) and very simple and cheap (it costs about $94) camera Genius G-Shot D612.
In fact Genius G-Shot D612 is a kind of hybrid of web camera and photo camera.
It can work as a PC (and MAC) USB web camera (and it is really good as web camera)
and also it is possible to use it as photo-camera.
By the way, if you've ever seen Linux driver for this device (Genius G-Shot D612),
send me message, please.
Matrix size is 3Mp. Also there is option to enlarge digitally the size of the picture up to 12Mb.
The pictures are not very good quality.
But what you can expect of such a cheap camera?
We use this device only for testing the KAP technology.
It was gray day in in the late of Autumn.
We were trying to fly our flow form kite in no wind condition.
And it was hardly possible.
Nothing could help.
It was pretty dirty rap:
You can jump,
You can run,
You can turn you inside out
Nothing helps - nothing helps
Finally we were able to fly the kite.
And this video about how we move it down:
After first steps in the KAP we see that there are several directions in this outdoor sport:
1) Kites for children (they are mainly small and stupid)
2) Kites for sport - you can do aerobatics with such a kites.
Also you can take part in kite's battles - special competitions
3) Kites for flying on them (very exotic and dangerous sport)
4) Kites for Aerial Photography (pretty big kites, able to carry cameras and related things,
like R/C control, etc.)
5) Theatre kites. Special kites with very exotic forms and colors.
They imitates forms of animals, historical personages, etc.
6) Also I want to add one more category - kites with robotics on a board
We will try to add some robotics and avionics to kites.
For example, first thing I noticed was the fact kites sometimes tend to go strange trajectory -
the like to go clockwise or contra-clockwise and if the radius of this circle moving is big enough,
kite may go down up to the ground.
If we have place robot to the kite, this robotics brain may control kite's moving and prevent circle moving.
Ideally the kite for KAP must go very slow and must be able to hang at one place.
On-board robot brain may help in stabilization of the kite's moving.
Also kite's on-board robot can help in navigation.
Robot may use GPS or other ways of orientation, for example very simple robot algorithm "go to the light"
can help in orientation to the sun.
Usually it is possible to do Kite Aerial Photography in a sunny day,
when the sun is shining brightly and it is very easy to find it on the sky,
using very simple and cheap components.
Another idea how robot can help in KAP is the to put camera to the kite.
Usually people place camera to the kite's line, using special equipment 'picavet' - cross,
made of light metal, connected to the kite line.
See, for example: Picavet Suspension
But may be we should use something different?
For example something like my hand-made 'stabilizer'.
I'm not sure that picavet is the best way to connect rig of the camera to the kite.
Or, may be we can re-construct it a little.
I suppose we should try some other ways to attach the camera to the kite.
The idea of such a 'stabilization' is well-known from pre-historic time.
It uses principle of rope-walker.
Did you noticed, that rope-walkers use long-long sticks for stabilizing their moving.
Long stick in their hands helps them to minimize small amplitude vibration.
If you do not use long sticks, your rig with the camera do a lot of small movements
and you get pictures with 'motion blur' effect.
'Advanced' version of hand-made camera 'stabilizer'
It looks great, isn't it?
Also I suppose that there must be some more 'exotic' ways to move camera to the flying kite.
For example, we can use special robot, which can be able to go up and down along the kite's line.
The robot with the camera can go up to the kite, do some snapshots and go back.
In this case we can get block of pictures even without stopping kit's flight.
Robot can do actions, according to the simple program:
1) Go up to the kite
2) Do several panoramic snapshots in the highest point
3) Go back to the ground (to the operator)
Often people use radio control (RC) to do snapshots, but there are several problems in this approach.
For example - RC works in relatively short range - in theory their working rang is 300m (about 1000 ft)
in reality their working range is about 100m ( about 30 ft).
But some kites may fly up to 1-2 km.
How can you do snapshots from such a height?
Another problem in using RC is that fact you can not see the direction - where your camera targeting now.
You can just press the button a lot of time and that is all you can do.
With robot, which can do preliminary snapshots and send you them, using GPRS,
you can see what kind of pictures you can do from the place, where your kite now.
GPRS/TCP/IP way is not so limited.
Practically you can drive your kite even from the other side of the Globe,
not just from 300 meters from the kite.
We've just started to work in this direction, but we like this hobby very much.
Some problems with kite flight stabilization
I like to use delta kites and fly them in a train.
The size of white kite (the small one) is 1 m. It is upper kite.
The size of blue kite (the big one) is 1 m 45 sm. It is lower kite.
Two kites in train.
Problem - Upper kite go down and you can not help.
There is no way to control it from the ground, using kite lines.
May be some 'brain' - simple robot with gyrocompass on the upper kite may solve this problem.?