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Electric Sailplane Video

Jan 1, 2005 - Got a BoosterVision Mini Gearcam for Christmas. Wanted to check it out in the air, so rigged it up to fly on my "Veet-1" Electric powered sailplane. Above are a couple of frames (I think I forgot to refocus it after doing some field of view tests aboard an R/C R/G where I set it so the tail would be in focus).

The flying site is one just west of Homewood. It used to be a better place to fly before summer 2003 when the big building at the lower left of the above image was built (still no tenants).

To the right are some pics showing the camera and battery attachment on the Veet. The GearCam camera is both camera and transmitter in one, the only other thing it needs aboard the model is an 8 to 9 volt power source.

Linked here is a 2.1 meg Quicktime movie clip of the sailplane gliding around (it was a bit windy), finally coming in low, then starting to climb back up (note the horizon angle tilt due to the pitch-up of the climb).

The range was pretty much as specified, around 600 feet. Actually better at times, but there also was some breakup even when closer as the antennas were not in the best orientation (the receiver antenna was mostly end-on during the approaches from downwind). So, I'll probably be going for a 14 DB high-gain antenna for the wireless receiver.

The sound of the Quicktime clip is odd, it's hollow and tinny compared to the original. Something didn't come out well in the conversion. Mostly what you'll hear is the sound of the air flowing past the camera. When the model stalls, the sound gets lower as it slows, then gets louder as it picks up speed. When the electric motor cuts in, it really makes a racket then. Sometimes you can make out a beeping sound. That's something I added to the electric model to warn me it was on, to try to prevent throttle-on accidents.

Of course, I didn't get this just to put in an electric sailplane, this was just good way to try it in the air for the first time. It'll be going into some rocket models for sure.


Camera attached to fuselage, looking out the right side. Camera, receiver, and TV set-up running at the time this pic was taken.


Nose view showing the angle the camera was set to for one of the flights.

Jan 9, 2005 - Made a few more flights. Camera better focused. Set up with the camera high above the wing, looking ahead and slightly down. Used a 14 DB hi-gain antenna to get better range. Put some tape over half of the slots that let the microphone hear, to try to reduce noise from air moving by. Also, by being pointed forward, rather than sideways, there was less air swirling so the sound during glide was better (easier to hear the beeping).

The video frames above were taken at over 1000 feet, the highest flight of the day. The one at the left is looking NorthEast, Downtown Birmingham is visible way off in the distance, over Red Mountain. The photo at the right shows a view looking to the SouthWest (A power line right of way is in both pictures).  Click here for Quicktime movie (900k).

Some more flying around, in the frames above. A car happened to be moving along a road during some of the flight, it might look as if it was being tracked real-time, but it was a coincidence (I'm not looking at the TV real-time). Click here for Quicktime movie (1.5 meg).

The day ended poorly. The model was flying along at about 400 feet or so when interference problems hit it. The electric motor came on by itself, and the model started to turn and dive by itself (the curved black horizontal dashes in the video and frames are from the spinning propeller, a sort of strobe effect). Came close to getting it to come back, but the interference took over again and made it go down towards a building. I wasn't sure if it went down in front of, behind, or on top of the building. To make a long story short....the videotape proved it was on top of the building (Onboard camera's battery had died by the time I was able to move the receiver/TV gear to the building for a "live" shot). The next day, Ron Witherspoon of the Birmingham Rocket Boys section got it off of the roof, using a ladder arranged by BRB member Steward Jones. Much thanks to Ron and Steward for thgeir help. As the video had indicated, the model had pulled out near the end, hitting a glancing blow and apparently bouncing/skipping for about 20 feet past where it first hit. The only damage was that a control horn had broken off from one of the V-tail surfaces. Click here for Quicktime movie (1.6 meg).


Forward looking mount, above wing.






Feb 19, 2005 - Made a flight at the Birmingham Rocket Boys launch.

Objective was to get a shot of a rocket taking off, as seen from the air. Mission accomplished.

Read more on the Cuda Video Flights page.


Quicktime Movie (348k)
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