Picture special A Sony factory in South Wales churned out its millionth Raspberry Pi this week, so we thought it would be a good moment to bring readers more from our "Pi In The Sky" camera rig, which has performed to spectacular effect during test flights for our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission.
The man behind the Picam set-up is LOHAN team member Dave Akerman, who's become a bit of a whizz at Pi-based aerial imagery since laying his hands on the diminutive computer last May, and swiftly sending it aloft attached to a webcam which delivered live SSDV (Slow Scan Digital Video).
Following a geekgasmic Tardis flight, Dave then acquired a preproduction Picam...
...which he used to launch an airborne assault on Europe.
Dave's imaging package includes said Picam, a Radiometrix NTX2 radio transmitter and UBlox GPS receiver, (both from fellow LOHAN team member Anthony Stirks's HAB Supplies), all connected to a Model A Pi.
The camera delivers 5MP, allowings stills at up to 2592×1944px, and video at 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 60fps, or 640x480p at 60 or 90fps.
In May this year, the Picam grabbed some impressive snaps of Blighty from the stratosphere. In that case, it was programmed to take three pictures a minute - low-resolution for transmission via one radio channel, medium-res for dispatch via another radio channel, and high-res for storage on an SD card.
In July, we mounted the same Picam kit in our Covert High Altitude Vehicle (CHAV) aircraft for a test flight of the Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) control board...
...and even captured the dramatic moment rocket-wrangler Paul Shackleton rescued aircraft and payload from a tree following a rapid descent from 113,000ft:
For this flight, the Pi was programmed to switch from stills to video mode at a predetermined altitude, and the last part of this vid (which kicks off with some footage of the flight from the main payload GoPro) shows just what our playmonaut saw as he floated earthwards:
Well, last month's LOHAN test flights in Spain provided equally impressive imagery, including these fantastic photos of mountains south of Avila as the CHAV once again plummeted earthwards during our first attempt to get a rocket motor igniter to fire at altitude:
There was no video for this flight, but plenty of good Picam stills. Agreeably, one of them has the moonrise in it...
Dave attached a wide-angle adaptor to the Picam, and while the images are a bit blurred around the edges, they're still pretty tasty:
Once again, the Pi was programmed to switch from stills to video at predetermined heights, grabbing both the moment the igniter went pop and the payload came down in a field of wheat stubble:
So successful has the Picam package proved, that we're going to mount one in the nose of our magnificent Vulture 2 spaceplane, the better to capture the flight of the world's first 3D-printed, rocket powered aircraft.
We'll have more on all the Vulture 2's electronic systems in due course, just as soon as we've decided just what colour the beast should be. ®
Further LOHAN resources:
- New to LOHAN? Try this mission summary for enlightenment.
- You can find full LOHAN coverage right here.
- Join the expert LOHAN debate down at Reg forums.
- All the LOHAN and Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) vids live on YouTube.
- For our SPB photo archive, proceed directly to Flickr.
- We sometimes indulge in light consensual tweeting, as you can see here.