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Remote control systems

There are essentially five functions necessary to control the camera remotely

1. Shutter - (including auto focus).
2. Zoom - (not indispensable because often a shorter focal length is used).
3. Pan - continuous 360 horizontal rotation.
4. Tilt - vertical point on the horizon to the zenith (minimum 90 ).
5. Monitor - displays the frame on the ground by broadcasting the video signal.

When there is no ground control.
Some simplified KAP systems called  "autoKAP" do not provide ground control and operate one or more of these functions automatically.
The easiest "autoKAP" is the "Intervalometer" that consists of an electronic device connected to the click of the camera, and is user-definable, usually with intervals of several seconds. In this case the pointing of the camera is fixed (usually overhead) like the other functions.
There are also advanced "autoKAP" systems which go beyond the click to activate at regular intervals. They pan and tilt the camera according to a predefined sequence that covers all the viewpoints of the visual field.
As you can imagine the picture obtained is completely random, but amongst a large number of shots it is easy to find ones that meet our requirements.

Camera Settings
In all KAP systems (with or without remote control) the camera settings (time, aperture, ISO, white balance, etc..) are set pre-flight.
Shutter priority is set between 1/500 and 1/1000 second. This setting ensures photos even in turbulence that increases rig movement.

There are several commercial solutions for remote control of camera range from "ready-to-use" to those that are personalized.
Usually KAPers prefer to build their own rig to suit their needs by assembling the various electronic and mechanical components.

How does the remote control camera work?
The rig, as explained in the previous sections, is the equipment that is hung to the kite and controlled by a special ground station. All commands are given by radio. The kite line only serves to control the kite's flight and has no control over the rig. The radio streams are bidirectional.The video input signal displays the camera frame and the ground station radio output controls the camera.


The ground control station consists essentially of two units:
  • The model-type radio transmitter (which operates on the frequencies authorized for radio-controlled model) sends commands to the control functions of the rig (click, zoom, pan, tilt).
  • The Receiver with video on the monitor that constantly displays high altitude camera frames in real time.

The airborne rig is composed of four main units:
  • The radio-receiver that receives commands from the radio transmitter on each channel and sends it to the appropriate "actuators" (servo and camera interface)
  • The camera interface that allows communication between camera and receiver and activates the focus, shutter and zoom functions.
  • The unit pointing that allows the camera to rotate 360 horizontally and tilt vertically by two actuators connected to the receiver
  • The video transmission that takes the video signal from the camera and sends it to Earth for viewing on monitors

It should be noted that there are several remote control systems. What we have just described is certainly one of the most popular because it is made up of commercially available components and materials, and is assembled personally. There are other very effective systems that can integrate several functions into a single preassembled component.
In the "Links" section you will find several sites that sell ready-to-use remote control systems and components for their assembly.

My Rig

RIG-1

RIG-2