Sunday, July 18, 2010

Polecam 2010

So one of the things I want to do with this blog is share with the web some of the random projects I do, especially when that information could be handy for others.   I enjoy giving my projects extravagant names and calling them "inventions" even when they aren't anything that innovative, because it makes me feel awesome like that kid from "The Goonies."

In June I went to Paddle at the Point in Pittsburgh, where 1800+ kayakers set a world record for the largest kayak flotilla. I thought it'd be cool to get an elevated perspective from where I was, so I "invented" the PoleCam 2010!

Yeah OK, so it doesn't look like much, especially against the soon-to-be-painted ugly walls of the house I'm living in.  What it consists of is a 16 foot, four section carbon fiber boom pole with an Ultrapod II attached at the top, holding a Canon S90 camera. The camera is activated remotely by using a remote.  The boom pole itself weighs less than 2lbs, so even with the camera attached, it's easy to hold the whole rig fully extended in one hand.   

By default the Canon S90 doesn't have any capacity for remote release, so I had to use CHDK firmware to enable this.  The CHDK website has several pages detailing how to install the firmware and script for remote release, as well as a page explaining how to build the release hardware. Once you have the firmware and appropriate script on the camera, the release is triggered by applying voltage to the usb port. I built a remote with some components from Radioshack. 

It's simply a project box with a couple AAA batteries that provide voltage to the appropriate pins of the USB connector (see the CHDK website for details on how to do this). 

The photo above is a shot taken by a friend of me using the Polecam in the middle of the mass of kayakers. I had some technical difficulties with the remote towards the end of the event (which turned out to be a loose battery) so I wasn't able to get one of the shots I wanted. Overall it worked great and gave me some photos with an interesting perspective. Check out my photoblog to see the photos from the event. 

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