We’ve wanted to fly a video camera for a long time, but we settled for watching our friend Knut’s excellent video work. Then we were in Fry’s the other day on a general parts run, and saw what looked like a great camera for initial experiments: the Midland XTC-100. It’s tiny, light, relatively inexpensive, and we felt that we could afford to lose it in a crash, if that’s what was in the cards. This vid is our first attempt, using a Parkmaster 3D lofting the camera, which is simply stuck on the fuselage with duct tape and looking downward between the landing gear. The flying site is Lighthouse Field, Santa Cruz, California. Sorry about the unsteadiness; apparently the camera’s added weight and drag, even if small, makes a noticeable difference in the Parkmaster’s flying characteristics. Those simple-looking foamies must be tuned to a fare-thee-well.
The Midland camera is designed to be a helmet cam; it has a 140 degree field of view, comes with a variety of mounts, and runs on two AAA batteries. I’m lashing up a one-chip 3 volt regulator so I can eliminate the batteries (and their weight) and run the camera from the plane’s LiPo battery. The weight of two AAA batteries isn’t much, but, as I’ve discovered, in the context of a foamie like the Parkmaster it’s considerable.
As the plane flies out over the Monterey National Marine Sanctuary, which includes all of the coastline of Santa Cruz, you’ll see an extensive kelp forest just offshore. This is local to the area. Kelp forests provide shelter and breeding grounds for fish, as well as a cafeteria for sea otters, who love to browse on the abundant marine life and then roll up in the kelp for a nap. The kelp keeps them from drifting while they snooze. Also visible in the water flyover is Steamer Lane, one of Santa Cruz’s well-known surfing sites; kelp also offers protection for surfers, since great white sharks, a rare but not unknown danger along these shores, won’t enter kelp forests.