We have been doing in flght video for some years now. Early attempts used video sender units that use 2.4GHz. These were great, but signal break up was a problem with the aircraft moving around in the sky a lot.

More recent videos (2000 to 2009) have been taken with Mustek DV3000, DV5000 and DV5200 digital cameras. These are cheap off Ebay for £20 or so, but are only useable at 320 x 240 resolution at 30 fps.

Latest developments are tests with a mini DV video camera with 720 x 480 resolution at 30fps. These are very small and lightweight cameras that be mounted on wing tips etc and cost £15 inc delivery from Ebay!

See the Video editing page for details on how the videos where edited. Please note that some of the videos are up to 10Mb in size and will take a while time to download.

Mini DV MD80 video camera


This is a great little camera at a very cheap price! It has potential for mounting in many locations (wing tips etc) to provide unique views of flights. Image quality of this camera is significantly better than the Mustek DV series at 30 frames per second!

Mounting of the camera is important. The first test flight had horrible image shake and distortion. This was attributed to it being mounted in foam within a housing off the top end of the rear fixed part of the rudder. With the engine running the camear would 'wobble' very quickly and was a 'blur' to the eye. Touching the camera very slightly with a finger would stop the wobble.

We have since done a number of trial videos at different positions with the camera 'hard mounted' and not wrapped in foam. The results are much better.

The video clip below was taken out of the side of the PRAT hard mounted to the fusalage on the underside of the wing. Please note the date and time was set incorrectly. It was done in April 2010. Not 2008. The date and tim can now be removed by following the procedure in the Video editing page.

PRAT in flight April 2010_10001.AVI

Some 'wobble' and distortion can still be seen, and is worse at particular engine speeds. This resonance is induced purley from engine vibrations. We will next mount the engine on anti-vibration mountings to try and improve the image quality.

Even still frames taken form the camera are quite good as can be seen in the in flight example below:-

Peppered_Sprout_from_PRAT_April_2010.jpg

The down side to this camera at moment is that the date and time cannot be deselected in the original recording. It appears it can be changed by putting -N or somthing in the date/time text file in the camera. But this has not been tried yet.It appeas that this is an issue for the mini DV MD80 'clones' only.

NOTE: It is possible to remove the date and time in Virtualdub at a later date. But this removes a 'chunk' off the bottom of the video. See the Video editing page for information on this.

Some images below show the camera mounted on the wingtip of the A-wots-it-2U and the Westland Lysander. Note that the camera is mounted upside down on the wing tip of te Lysander. The video can be rotated and trimmed later in Virtualdub.

Mini_DV_1.JPG

Mini_DV_2.JPG

Starting the camera is a little fiddly, ut David's Eagle eye's come in handy when he is about!

Mini_DV_4.JPG

Mustek DV3000, DV5000 and DV5200 cameras


More to follow...............