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Foggy weather ahead for Vulture 2 spaceplane's miniature camera?

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Our heads-up last week on the Vulture 2 spaceplane's miniature Raspberry Pi camera (Picam), prompted some readers to express concerns that we were heading for trouble in the imaging department.

Here's the camera in question...

A close-up of the Picam

...and here it is glued into the underside of the aircraft's nose:

The airspeed indicator probe and the Picam lens protruding from the Vulture 2

The reason the lens is exposed to the atmosphere, rather than sitting behind some kind of cover, is that there's a very high probability of fogging during high-altitude flight. That's why our GoPro cameras go aloft with the skeleton back, rather than the sealed waterproof housing.

You can always heat the enclosure, but that's adding an extra, and unnecessary, level of complexity.

Regular contributor to the LOHAN debate, imanidiot, reckoned the Picam lens "could very well still fog up" on the "inside of the lens assembly", adding: "You now expose the lens itself and the plastic of the lens housing to the bitter cold of direct exposure to the outside air. Let's hope the thermal stress doesn't break anything."

An anonymous coward chipped in with: "I personally wouldn't expose a plastic lens to temperatures below -20°C; as well as the risk of cracking there is also distortion."

Well, we're happy to put minds at rest by pointing readers to images captured during our heroic Playmonaut's 34,571m stratodangle last year.

The Picam was in this case mounted entirely unprotected in the nose of our Covert High Altitude Vehicle (CHAV)...

The CHAV nose podule, with the Playmonaut and Picam

...and performed impeccably:

A montage of aerial stills from our Raspberry Picam

Furthermore, LOHAN team member and Pi guru Dave Akerman has used Picams on various missions, to great effect, so we're justifiably confident it can handle the chill.

So, while we thank our beloved commentards for their concern, this is something we don't need to lose sleep over. As ever, though, your input is always welcome, especially stuff like this from John Jennings, who took a big step towards to earning himself an invite to the SPB's Xmas party when he said: "This is one of the most impressive projects on the 'net I have ever seen. With PARIS, and now this. Great work one and all on this. Even if it all ends in a mighty fireball or a Pfft......"

Well quite. We shall see...®


More from the lovely LOHAN:

  • You can find full LOHAN coverage right here.
  • If you're new to LOHAN, seek out our mission summary for enlightenment.
  • There are photos our our magnificent Vulture 2 spaceplane here, and detailed structural plans here.
  • For your further viewing pleasure, we have all our photographic material stored on Flickr.
  • Our LOHAN and Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) videos live on YouTube.
  • We sometimes indulge in light consensual tweeting, as you can see here.

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

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  • Escher Technologies
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