Kite Aerial Photographs of Armadale

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Kite Aerial Photographs of Armadale

The First Three Months

April - June 2007

First flight April 2007

We took out a kite that we had in storage and attached an 'old' Canon PowerShot A400 digital camera to the string at two points several metres from the kite. John set the camera's shutter delay to 10 seconds and launched the kite. Approximately 13 seconds into the flight (after the shutter had fired), just as the camera  was becoming stable, one of the kite's wooden dowelling spars snapped in a gust of wind and fell out of the sky (we will replace this old brittle wood with something synthetic). The kite looked a little sad, but the camera was undamaged!

Millennium Wood, Armadale.

(Apperley Rokkaku kite / Canon PowerShot A400 camera)

The result - a very blurred John at the bottom of the picture and the Hardhill Road at the top. The kite had no problem in lifting the 285gm camera in a gentle breeze. Dare we risk a better camera?  Probably the best approach, at least initially, is to use an old film camera with a wide angle lens. We are intending to use Quasar (UK) Ltd radio remote controls ( 1  2 ), both single and double channel depending on the camera. More powerful systems (range > 60m) may be considered later, as a kite flying at a height of ~60m at an angle of 45 degrees is ~85m away.

The next kite that we will try is a 2.42 x 1.13m  Power Sled 24


Second flight May 2007

To make the camera more stable, a simple Picavet rig was constructed for the Power Sled 24 kite. This was a 15 minute job costing less than 5, including the camera mount, which was the top of a small 1 camera tripod.

The camera was mounted further from the kite than last time ~14m (46 feet). The camera was an old compact Fuji DL-500 Wide, which has a 28mm lens and a maximum shutter speed of 1/250th second.

A single channel Quasar remote control was used to fire the shutter.

(It had been hoped that the remote receiver could be wired into the camera's shutter 'switch', but the camera was found not to have one! Under the shutter button there are three conducting contacts which short connections on a circuit board when the shutter button is pressed. However, it was discovered that once powered up, the shutter could be fired by disconnecting and then re-connecting the battery, as long as the shutter button was held down. So the remote receiver was wired into the battery circuit at one of the battery's terminals and a small aluminium clamp used to hold the shutter down. The remote was then used to transiently break the camera's power circuit to fire the shutter.)

Rosie and John in Millennium Wood, Armadale.

Southern entrance to Millennium Wood, Armadale. Brickworks chimney top left.

(Power Sled 24 / Fuji DL-500, Kodak VR Plus 400)

The Picavet rig was much simpler to make than we expected. It performed so well that pictures were sharp even during the ascent* Using the rig, pictures taken on a 10 second delay are possible (for those who want to try it without the expense of a remote control) as are movie clips using a digital camera. We may add a movie clip at a later date.

(* Our preferred method is to fly the kite initially with at least 30 metres of line. If the kite is stable, the line is then walked down as far as the attachment clips and the rig attached. The line is then slowly released by waking back to the reel which is either held or tethered)

In most areas, including Armadale,  you are limited to a maximum kite height of 60m (less than 197 feet). In other areas the restriction can be 30m.


Third flight June 2007

Looking west towards the centre of Armadale from the playing field east of Church Place / The Marches. East Main Street is at the right

travelling towards the centre of the image.

(Power Sled 24 / Fuji DL-500, Kodak VR Plus 200)

Power Sled 24 kite and Picavet rig with Fuji DL-500 Wide camera.


Fourth flight June 2007

Three views looking north to north-east over

 Avondale Crescent / Avondale Drive and

High Academy Street, Armadale.

(Power Sled 24 / Fuji DL-500, Fuji Superia 200)


2007: As we have found that light 35mm SLR cameras (eg Pentax MZ-50 / Canon EOS 300) and high-quality manual, wide-angle lenses can be obtained at minimal cost ('Old' camera bodies and lenses often about  10 each), we will continue to work with film. SLRs with electronic shutter-release sockets are easily wired into the Quasar wireless receiver using a cable release with  the button end cut off. Only the shutter and common wires are connected to the receiver. The lens is manually set to focus on infinity. We have a Power Sled 36 (3.23 x 1.5m) kite which makes the use of an SLR more practical and enables specific shutter speeds and apertures to be chosen. We intend to use lenses with focal lengths in the range 19-28mm. We no longer use the Fuji DL-500 film compact camera.

Dedicated generic wireless controllers (eg JJC WR-100 wireless controller or the Phottix Cleon Wireless Remote Control Set - 100m quoted maximum range) are now also available for most digital SLR cameras which have shutter release sockets, including some non-digital cameras like the Canon EOS 300. These can be cheaper in price (~ 22 to 30) than the basic Quasar unit and are therefore preferable. From June 2008, if needed, we will use WR-100 controllers on our EOS 300 35mm and Olympus E- 410 digital SLR cameras. However, for most applications we will use compact cameras.


Since 2008, we have used only compact digital cameras without any form of wireless control.

Only one of our KAP photos on this website was taken with an SLR.


A second rig was constructed using an aluminium ruler.

Since taking the above picture, we have also shortened the length

of the cross, replaced the control unit with a JJC WR-100 unit and made other modifications.



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