Flutterby™! : Where Camp 2010

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Where Camp 2010

2010-04-05 14:55:42.830567+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

What a great two days! You know how the good bits of a conference are hanging out in the halls, talking with people about the cool stuff they're doing, sharing information and suggestions and brain power? That was WhereCamp 2010, except that instead of being in the halls that was what was happening in the rooms.

And I'm not even much of a geography nerd. Thanks to Eric for dragging me down there, Anselm Hook for putting the whole thing together, the folks from Google for the facilities and the food (which was the dominant cost), USGS, O'Reilly, Urban Mapping, geographic data and services, Four Square, whom you know, Krillion, location based shopping search, SimpleGeo, helping you build your geolocation infrastructure, Quova, geolocation from IP addresses and other stuff, makerlab, a Portland Oregon incubator space, Waze, crowd-sourced real-time traffic information and maps, Bing, the searcn engine that wants to be Google, ESRI, makers of the mapping software everyone uses if they can afford it, pii2010, August 17-19 in Seattle, on privacy, identity and innovation.

First guy I talked to? Flying small electric UAVs over Malaysia and neighboring countries to collect high quality aerial imagery without cloud cover. What sort of applications might this have? Well, imagine that you've got towns built out over shallow bays, and you're a post office, trying to figure out how best to deliver mail to these addresses.

I've got gobs of notes to go through, and various people to continue discussions with. One more note now, though: Sunday morning, Jeff, of Cartagen Knitter fame among other things, was trying to figure out how to fly his trash bag balloons in a little more wind than he was used to, so we sat down to try to build a lighter than air kite to capture some additional aerial images of the 1300 Crittenden portion of Google's campus. Here are some pictures from Jeff Warren's photo stream of our efforts on "Black Knight 1".

[ related topics: Photography Software Engineering Maps and Mapping Conferences ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-07 17:49:49.510473+00 by: ebradway

Don't bother with that USB stick. It's not worth the postage!

As for the shooting angle, Jeff's camera suspension was not well-researched. Variations of the Picavet suspension are the standard and have proven to work very well. My Picavet rig can be manually adjusted to change the camera pitch and direction. Others use RC servo to adjust on the fly.

Further, balloons can be 'teased' in interesting ways that kites can't. My balloon rig actually uses two parallel lines with an aluminum bar forming the base of a triangle. The apex of the triangle attaches to the balloon. the camera is suspended from the aluminum bar using the same Picavet suspension rig I use with a kite. This allows me to rotate the camera by pivoting slowly. I know another person who attached the aluminum bar to the balloon with springs and fixed the camera to the bar. I don't remember the exact details, but it allowed him to pivot the camera in the horizontal plane as well as rotating with the two strings.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-07 15:04:19.399299+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think the trash bags only make sense if you're using hydrogen. I think I should experiment a bit with lye and aluminum and maybe bring that to a WhereCamp at some point. But I'm also trying to figure out how such a thing might be useful for me: my yard is easily mapped in other ways, and generally I'd either want a higher angle than I think a tethered balloon provides or more of a side-view.

Speaking of Jeff, I've got a 1 meg USB stick I need to drop in an envelope for you.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-07 12:49:31.520124+00 by: ebradway

One more note: there is a false economy to using garbage bags. You can buy a 7' polyurethane advertising balloon for $220 at SouthernBalloonWorks. The last time I bought helium (about three years ago) it was around 50 cents per cubic foot. A tall 220cu ft tank cost over $100 to fill. Unless you have a way to store your balloon between flights, you'll use about 75 cu ft per flight. Saving money using garbage bags instead of a good balloon just doesn't make sense.

Maybe I should donate my balloon to Jeff. It's just been sitting in my garage for the past few years because it's too expensive to fly.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-07 12:42:22.679028+00 by: ebradway

And to rub it in further, here are some of my pictures of that portion of the Google campus taken with my 5-year-old rig and a ITW Levitation Delta Light kite. I wanted to get aerial shots of the "Black Night 1" in the air but the garbage-bag system failed before I could launch my kite.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-07 12:38:42.269506+00 by: ebradway

Dan - Thanks for coming down! I always enjoy hanging out with you and I'm glad I got to share a little of my world. Maybe I can entice you to come out to Denver this Summer for WhereCamp5280!