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Raspberry Picam magic: More snaps from LOHAN's fruity eye in the sky

Spectacular images from the stratosphere for your viewing pleasure

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Picture special A Sony factory in South Wales churned out its millionth Raspberry Pi this week, so we thought it would be a good moment to bring readers more from our "Pi In The Sky" camera rig, which has performed to spectacular effect during test flights for our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission.

Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphicThe man behind the Picam set-up is LOHAN team member Dave Akerman, who's become a bit of a whizz at Pi-based aerial imagery since laying his hands on the diminutive computer last May, and swiftly sending it aloft attached to a webcam which delivered live SSDV (Slow Scan Digital Video).

Following a geekgasmic Tardis flight, Dave then acquired a preproduction Picam...

A close-up of the Picam

...which he used to launch an airborne assault on Europe.

Dave's imaging package includes said Picam, a Radiometrix NTX2 radio transmitter and UBlox GPS receiver, (both from fellow LOHAN team member Anthony Stirks's HAB Supplies), all connected to a Model A Pi.

The camera delivers 5MP, allowings stills at up to 2592×1944px, and video at 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 60fps, or 640x480p at 60 or 90fps.

In May this year, the Picam grabbed some impressive snaps of Blighty from the stratosphere. In that case, it was programmed to take three pictures a minute - low-resolution for transmission via one radio channel, medium-res for dispatch via another radio channel, and high-res for storage on an SD card.

In July, we mounted the same Picam kit in our Covert High Altitude Vehicle (CHAV) aircraft for a test flight of the Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) control board...

The CHAV aircraft and the Raspberry Pi rig before assembly

The CHAV nose podule, with the Playmonaut and Picam

...and while the flight ended in a total stratodangle, the camera performed impeccably (more pics here)...

Montage of images from the Picam at around 100,000ft

...and even captured the dramatic moment rocket-wrangler Paul Shackleton rescued aircraft and payload from a tree following a rapid descent from 113,000ft:

The CHAV Picam view of the tree and Paul Shackleton as he extracts the aircraft from the canopy

For this flight, the Pi was programmed to switch from stills to video mode at a predetermined altitude, and the last part of this vid (which kicks off with some footage of the flight from the main payload GoPro) shows just what our playmonaut saw as he floated earthwards:

Watch Video

Well, last month's LOHAN test flights in Spain provided equally impressive imagery, including these fantastic photos of mountains south of Avila as the CHAV once again plummeted earthwards during our first attempt to get a rocket motor igniter to fire at altitude:

View from the CHAV Picam on the descent, showing mountains

The view from the CHAV Picam just before landing

There was no video for this flight, but plenty of good Picam stills. Agreeably, one of them has the moonrise in it...

Montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

Having rescued our intrepid playmonaut from a Spanish mountainside, we dusted ourselves off and launched a second attempt to get the aforementioned rocket motor igniter to go bang.

Dave attached a wide-angle adaptor to the Picam, and while the images are a bit blurred around the edges, they're still pretty tasty:

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

Once again, the Pi was programmed to switch from stills to video at predetermined heights, grabbing both the moment the igniter went pop and the payload came down in a field of wheat stubble:

Watch Video

So successful has the Picam package proved, that we're going to mount one in the nose of our magnificent Vulture 2 spaceplane, the better to capture the flight of the world's first 3D-printed, rocket powered aircraft.

We'll have more on all the Vulture 2's electronic systems in due course, just as soon as we've decided just what colour the beast should be. ®


Further LOHAN resources:

  • New to LOHAN? Try this mission summary for enlightenment.
  • You can find full LOHAN coverage right here.
  • Join the expert LOHAN debate down at Reg forums.
  • All the LOHAN and Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) vids live on YouTube.
  • For our SPB photo archive, proceed directly to Flickr.
  • We sometimes indulge in light consensual tweeting, as you can see here.

LOHAN - A Special Projects Bureau production in association with...

  • 3T RPD logo
  • University of Southampton logo
  • Applied Vacuum Engineering logo
  • Escher Technologies
  • Flashpoint Fireworks logo
  • HAB Supplies logo
  • Rock 7 logo
  • Random Engineering logo

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