Detachable Modular Unit Mounts

All rigs shown so far are suitable for suspension from kites, balloons, and blimps. Such free-swinging mounts are useful to counterbalance sudden movements or vibrations of a platform, but a firmer attachment of the camera may offer more stability for slow as well as fast platforms. An alternative combining the advantages of both detachable and fixed mounts are semi-fixed modular units where the complete camera mount is quick-connected with the platform.

The hot-air blimp presented in Chapter 8 is operated by a burner system suspended from a metal frame that offered itself as a receptacle for such a plug-in camera unit. Both single-camera (SLR or medium-format type) and doublecamera cradles can be used (Figs. 7-13 and 7-14). The double-camera system may be used for multispectral imagery or different focal lengths. The cradle, which also supports a small video camera downlinked to a portable display, is suspended from a vibration-damped cardan joint fixed to a 360° radio-controlled turntable. This rotatable camera mounting is necessary because the blimp always aligns itself with the wind direction but the desired image orientation on the ground may be different. Polystyrene balls are fixed to the ends of two aluminum wires and are fastened to the camera cradle so they protrude from the protection box parallel to the long image axis (see also Fig. 8-17). These "direction signs'' are quite visible from the ground even at high flying heights. This is particularly important if the same area needs to be photographed repeatedly in a multi-annual monitoring.

The cameras are protected by an open box or basket, which is inserted into the burner frame like an upside-down

FIGURE 7-13 Upside-down view of a box-type camera mount built from aluminum and polystyrene, designed as a plug-in module for the hot-air blimp presented in Chapter 8. V, video camera as navigation aid; T, pan-servo turntable; P, plug establishing connection to the batteries and radio receiver (see Fig. 7-15). Mounting system built by the technical workshop staff of Trier University's Faculty of Geography and Geoscience.

FIGURE 7-13 Upside-down view of a box-type camera mount built from aluminum and polystyrene, designed as a plug-in module for the hot-air blimp presented in Chapter 8. V, video camera as navigation aid; T, pan-servo turntable; P, plug establishing connection to the batteries and radio receiver (see Fig. 7-15). Mounting system built by the technical workshop staff of Trier University's Faculty of Geography and Geoscience.

FIGURE 7-14 Camera mount similar to Figure 7-13, but for a doublecamera system with simultaneous image capture (small video camera may be attached to the left side of the rig). Note the two aluminum booms indicating the orientation of the image format to the photographer on the ground. Basket box made from plywood, wicker, and aluminum. Mounting system originally built by GEFA-Flug GmbH, with extensive modifications by the technical workshop staff of Frankfurt University's Faculty of Geoscience and Geography.

FIGURE 7-14 Camera mount similar to Figure 7-13, but for a doublecamera system with simultaneous image capture (small video camera may be attached to the left side of the rig). Note the two aluminum booms indicating the orientation of the image format to the photographer on the ground. Basket box made from plywood, wicker, and aluminum. Mounting system originally built by GEFA-Flug GmbH, with extensive modifications by the technical workshop staff of Frankfurt University's Faculty of Geoscience and Geography.

FIGURE 7-15 The camera mount unit, secured by a locking pin, slides into rails fixed to the blimp burner frame, plugging into the battery and radio receiver connection.

FIGURE 7-16 Simple gimbal mount for a free-flying paraglider with combustion engine. R, pivoting axis in flight direction (roll); N, brackets swinging in flight direction (nick); A, oil-pressure shock absorbers; S, shutter-trigger microservo; M, motor. Drone frame and mount built by ABS Aerolight Industries, photo by V. Butzen and G. Rock.

FIGURE 7-16 Simple gimbal mount for a free-flying paraglider with combustion engine. R, pivoting axis in flight direction (roll); N, brackets swinging in flight direction (nick); A, oil-pressure shock absorbers; S, shutter-trigger microservo; M, motor. Drone frame and mount built by ABS Aerolight Industries, photo by V. Butzen and G. Rock.

cupboard drawer (Fig. 7-15). When pushed home, a plug establishes connection to the batteries and radio receiver. Owing to the recessed and protected camera position, oblique images are not possible with this mount, which is specially designed for vertical imagery. The verticality of the weight-balanced cradle is guaranteed by gravity. Here, also, the great advantages of the detachable mount are the lower risk for the camera system during the launching and landing phases (the camera mount unit is attached and removed when the blimp is floating just 1-2 m above the ground) and the possibility of quick removal for changing exposure settings, film, memory card, or lenses.

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