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Launch and Landing Checklists
Flight Path Prediction
Photos and Videos
For this project, 4 cameras were used. Two still cameras, a Canon Powershot SD 600 carrying a 1Gb SD card and a Canon Powershot SD 630 carrying a 2 Gb SD card were loaded with CHKD software
), as well as the
Ultra Intervalometer Script
. The Cameras were set to take a photo every 30 seconds. To extend battery life, the LCD screens were turned off by plugging a disconnected male plug into the A/V port of the cameras. In addition, the cameras were set to "mute" mode.
After testing a number of cameras for use as movie cameras, it was finally decided that we would install a
High Def camera, as well as a Norcent X185.
The cameras were tested by putting them in a freezer and engaging the scripts, then allowing them to sit and run for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
300 photos should have been taken in that time period. This experiment revealed that the "on board" batteries were not up to the task of a 2.5 hour flight in low temperature conditions, at best recording 1 hour and 45 minutes worth of photos at -18C.
To fix this, the camera batteries were connected to external battery packs containing 3 AA batteries. A switch was installed to isolate the camera batteries from the external pack until just prior to launch. This configuration was tested in the same manner as before and it was found that the battery pack provided more than enough power to run the cameras. In fact, a single pack of batteries was used to power both both Canons.
All four cameras functioned well during the flight. One of the Canons did run out of memory, as there was some digital garbage files that were left on the memory card even after all test pictures were all deleted prior to flight. These appeared to have been left over from some of the early testing, and were numbered as pictures, but did not carry the .jpg extension and as such were not cleared from the memory card by doing a "delete all pictures" command. The Norcent worked beautifully, filming for 2:02:48. (Unfortunately, the flight lasted 2:05.52, so landing was not captured by this camera) The norcent did, however capture a wonderful series of pictures of the balloon bursting 30km up.
The Kodak also functioned flawlessly. It filmed the entire flight, including the landing, capturing an additional 15 minutes of the footage while hanging 40' up in a tree, waiting for recovery. There was a minor issue where a cable tie, used to secure the camera slipped in front of part of the lens during final preparations, and so part of the footage was obscured. This was fixed by cropping the video to remove the offending tie. Since the footage was in high definition, the cropping did not affect the picture quality, only the aspect ratio.
The image featured on the front page of this wiki was actually frame grab from the Kodak camera, taken seconds after the balloon burst.
In retrospect, given the high quality of video cameras available. If we were to do the project again, we might be tempted to put in a third video camera in place of one of the still cameras. Frame captures from the video cameras, especially the Kodak provided high enough quality pictures that they could be printed and blown up to 8"x10" size without a loss of quality.
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