WARNING: I am getting reports that when flying this thing around trees, you have no control of it. It is very easy to lose your camera so I must advise you practice in a field far away from objects like buildings or trees first. Dave and I made this look easy in the video blog and you assume all the risk when flying your camera!
I have been really busy with work in Boston TV and I have neglected my website! I have had a crazy idea for the last few weeks and I finally got out and tried it. I wanted to spread the word and I hope someone out there is able to get even better footy than I using this system!
I needed to get aerial shots for my mountain biking project I am working on. I was amazed at how people are mounting DSLRs inside remote controlled helicopters and getting awesome stuff. I looked into this, but the price is way too much for my budget, plus I would have to learn a lot before even thinking about taking an RC heli for a spin.
I had an inexpensive way to get a GoPro airborne and I finally got a day off to give it a go. I call it “skyfishing”.
The plan was to use Styrofoam as a base and use party balloons filled with helium to suspend the base in the air. I would cut out a small hole that would fit a GoPro camera pointed straight down. Next, I was going to tie the balloons to the base using string. I would use a fishing pole to control the cluster of balloons and also determine the altitude.
I was at Walmart and saw a cheap way to get helium. They sell a kit with 30 balloons and a 9 cubic foot compressed gas tank for $20. I found that this tank is just enough to fill about 30 balloons. These balloons provide just enough lift to get the camera and everything else off the ground.
I tested this theory with my friend, Dave at an athletic field in New Hampshire. The weather was perfect as far at wind goes, there was none! But, there was a low ceiling and the fog meant that viability was going to suffer. I must stress that it is not a good idea to fly this contraption in winds over 4 MPH. I tried to fly in 9 MPH light winds and I almost lost the entire thing!
A few interesting side notes when using helium. The gas leaks out of the balloons over time, so you only have a few hours of lift when using latex balloons. Also, temperature seems to effect the lift of the system. In colder conditions, the gas is not as “powerful”. I found that when using inside in warm temperatures the balloons could bring the camera to the ceiling. When I took the kit outside into 35 degree weather, the cluster could not carry its own weight once the gas inside the balloons chilled out.
Get out and try this, it really works well. I am amazed at how stable the shot cam out, even at very high elevations. Just be sure to ask permission if you plan on flying on private property. Also, watch for trees and powerlines, it is almost impossible to get the GoPro back when it get snagged. I will take no responsibility if your camera ends up in the stratosphere. Good luck and enjoy the video blog!
I am always happy when I get my GoPro back! Big thanks to Dave and his family for their hospitality and help shooting this video blog.