The basic kit can be very simple – fly a cheap camera with a budget kite and the pictures will amaze. This site shows how to extend and enhance this activity by making specialised equipment to lift a camera beneath a kite. These include a new design of stabilised camera suspension, a line reel, an altimeter and a module for rotating the camera to create 360 degree panoramas. Aeronaut projects make extensive use of engineering design software, 3D printing and image processing programs, and here you will find links to proven technologies that have been key to many of my projects.
But why use a kite, rather than a drone? For me a drone is too ‘easy’ … Yes, out of the box you can grab some brilliant shots but this leaves no scope for innovation. Yes, a drone is incredibly agile and stable, but most have limited flying time and have built-in firmware that restricts their maximum altitude. On the other hand Kite Air Photography (KAP) systems are less mobile, are silent, are generally cheaper, and can fly for as long as there is a breeze. They can climb to heights limited only by the amount of line on your reel. After all, the kite altitude record currently stands at over 16,000 feet! Again, in contrast to popular drone equipment, KAP pilots can choose almost any camera they want, be it a lightweight action camera, a compact point-and-shoot or a high end digital SLR.
My own interest in kites began when I was eight with flying an R.A.F. box kite salvaged from the airbase stores. Later, when I had grown up (!) I unearthed this ancient flying machine and flew a 35mm film camera to capture my first aerial pictures over a Roman villa in Gloucestershire. Now I combine my interests in design, engineering, 3D printing and electronics to build equipment that captures much better views of the landscape below and I am keen to share these tools and experiences with other KAP enthusiasts.
My professional career has involved using geophysical survey methods to explore buried archaeology in Britain and abroad. Combining geophysical and aerial images can enhance our understanding of heritage sites and help with their interpretation. This website shows examples of where geophysics and air photos have been combined and the aim is to extend research in this direction.
Please keep in touch to witness developments!