Camera Test Flight

This was a flight to test some cameras under the demanding conditions of near space.

First, I was sent a prototype of a 360-degree camera which is the subject of a KickStarter campaign.

I installed this plus a large external battery (to extend the run time) in a foam polystyrene ball:

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I was also sent a pair of 1080 XD Mini cameras by ReplayXD. These are small and very neat action cameras that can record 1080 line HD video at 25fps, or 720 line at 50fps. We chose the former, and I fitted one camera looking outwards and one upwards to capture the balloon burst. I used my new modular payload system which makes it easy to mix and match different cameras and trackers without having to build a new payload box each time:

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We used one large backup battery and one small one. Even the small battery was enough for the flight so the larger battery would not normally be needed for a balloon flight. Here’s everything including one of Anthony Stirk’s early radio tracker boards:

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A third payload was added, with a second radio tracker, and we also added a small GSM tracker. It took several people to hold all the payloads when we launched:

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and it made an impressive sight as it rose in the sky:

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The flight landed in a field about 2 miles from the launch site, though it travelled a long way horizontally as well as vertically to get there! We arrived just in time to rescue it before the cameras were gobbled up by some farm machinery …

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We were eager to get the cameras back home to have a look at the images, some of which are truly stunning. First, from the Centr camera:

Still 1

Still 2

Of course, those are just single camera still views from the 360-degree video; I’ll post links to the stitched footage when available.

Meanwhile both ReplayXD cameras were working well, with the outward-facing camera capturing this shot of the Centr camera shortly after burst!

Centr

Just before burst, the upward-facing camera got this great shot showing how translucent the balloon is when it’s about to burst:

Translucent
and here’s the burst, all over in about 1/10th of a second:

Burst 1

Burst 2

Burst 3

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4 Responses to Camera Test Flight

  1. Steven Dodd says:

    Amazing pictures, the burst pictures are fabulous. Can you elaborate about your modular payload system please?

    • dave says:

      It’s just a box where all the sides are the same, soI can make lots at once and then cut them to hold trackers/cameras/etc. Then for a launch I just select the sides I need that time.

  2. qzxcvbnm says:

    Burst pictures are perfect!

  3. suresh says:

    amazing!

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