Cloud4 Payload Build

This is the build of my latest photographic payload carrying, as usual, a Canon compact camera and a Kodak HD Video Camera. At less than 700g it’s my lightest yet with this configuration.

The tracker has UHF telemetry as usual, plus an SMS backup.

To help get the weight down, I made the box as small as I could whilst still holding the cameras and trackers, and still providing enough insulation and protection. I cut the pieces from 25mm and 500mm sheet polystyrene foam using a table-top foam cutter (makes it a lot easier to get a neat finish). Here’s the base piece which carries the aerial, 4-wire ground plane and radio transmitter:

The radio transmitter is the usual NTX2 model, and here’s a close-up showing the aerial connections on the left and the signal/power connections on the right.

The tracker electronics go into the lid, shown here up-side down. This was made in 3 layers of foam, the bottom layer being for protection and also holding the GPS antenna and the piezo buzzer. On top of that goes a second layer cut into compartments for (clockwise from bottom-left) GSM module, batteries, flight computer, GPS receiver and a level converter for the SMS module. Finally, a thin layer of high-density foam goes on top to hold everything in. That has a hole for the battery compartment and a flap over the compuetr compartment (to allow for firmware updates).

Here’s the completed lid with tracker, next to the main payload box with antenna base underneath. All the foam has been covered in duct tape for strength and protection.

The cameras go inside the main compartment. As on my previous large payload I have put the cameras inside carriers to hold them firmly and stop them slipping during flight. Main camera is a Canon A490 which is programmed to take 1 shot every 5 seconds, plus there’s a Kodak Zx1 HD camcorder with external batteries to extend its recording time. Both cameras will run for at least 5 hours – more than enough for any normal flight.

These carriers fit into the main compartment like so:

and then have small lids added to stop any vertical movement.

Finally, here’s the completed payload, weighing 667g including batteries:

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