What camera to choose for HAB

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4 posts
by KnightOfNi123 » Sat May 20, 2017 12:47 pm
Hi

I guess this is quite a popular topic in this community. I have seen that a lot of people seem to use GoPro's for HABing. However I feel a bit reluctant to strap 400$ to a balloon... I wonder will a normal camcorder work too? What are the advantages of a GoPro over a camcorder? One is obviously weight, but I think that can be solved... Image quality too does not have to be worse.

So: What are your thoughts?
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by daveake » Sun May 21, 2017 9:35 pm
GoPros are indeed an expensive risk. Also, they're not particularly reliable - I and others have had firmware issues that stop them from even starting up, and they've been known to switch off during flight for no good reason. Also, the later models with 4K resolution will overheat in a HAB and therefore switch off.

I can though recommend the Gitup Git2 camera. Far less expensive than a GoPro, and the picture quality is nearly as good. Also more options in the firmware (e.g. they can be set to start up and record on application of external power).

And speaking of external power, action cameras tend to run for about 1 hour on the internal battery, so will need external power of some sort for a typical HAB flight where you need at least 3 hours to include some time between switching on and launching, and 2-2.5 hours for the flight. For GoPros you can get a "bacpac" battery which typically extends the run time to 3 hours or so, or you can just plug in an external battery pack.

Whatever you choose, test the run time on the ground so you know that your battery life and SD card capacity are sufficient.

Dave
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by KnightOfNi123 » Mon May 22, 2017 2:14 pm
Ok so how about normal videocameras (camcorders)? I've tested mine to have a battery life of maybe 2:45 hours in room temperature. Do you know how well they perform? Is there any reason you specifically need an action cam?
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by daveake » Mon May 22, 2017 2:42 pm
You could try it. I haven't.

I'm not a fan of the lens distortion in your average action cam, though that can be fixed afterwards in software. Other cameras, camcorders etc usually have lenses with very low distortion.

Weight is always an issue. More weight = more gas and a lower altitude, or you need a larger balloon and even more gas. Also, keeping things light means a safer flight, and usually the air traffic authorities require payload weight to be limited (e.g. in the UK anything over 2kg requires special permission, launch from an MOD site, limits to the flight path, and automatic cutdown systems in case the flight strays away from the prediction).

Dave
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