Produce Your Own Alternative to 'Google Maps'
Best for windless days, this DIY kit -- developed by community researchers -- enables you to take your own aerial photos from 1000 ft or higher. Using the open source tool MapKnitter, you can stitch the resulting images into an online map -- your own "counter-cartography" version of Google Maps. Use it to tell a different story from the "official" map -- document contamination (it was used to map the BP oil spill) or wetlands loss, or to record your own private event like a barbeque in your own backyard! IIn addition to this kit, you will need to supply your own camera that does continuous shooting (see notes below), helium (available at your local party store) and a 2-liter soda or juice bottle.
- A 5.5 foot (170cm) reusable balloon made of a latex/chloroprene (neoprene) mix (color will vary)
- 1000 feet (305m) of 110lb test (55 kilo) Dacron line, pre-wound on an 8" hoop winder
- Protective leather-palm cotton gloves for handling the line. Thin line can cause burns to unprotected hands.
- Three high-strength (270lb) swivel clips. For attaching the balloon and camera
- twenty rubber bands. for making a camera cradle
- ten zip ties. for closing the balloon
- one 1" rubber ring. for attaching the balloon to the line
- one steel carabiner. for anchoring the balloon on the ground
- two aluminum mini carabiners. for attaching cameras to the line
- printed instruction booklet
- reusable box with handle
*Please note: you will need to supply a camera that can do continuous shooting.
Camera selection :
Compact cameras in the "point-and-shoot" class are the right size & weight for balloons and kites, and are cheap. Phones with good cameras can also work, although in turbulent conditions there may be some motion blur problems.
Most cheap consumer cameras have good enough resolution, though >2 megapixels, and closer to 8-12 is best. It's best to choose a lighter camera (< 1/4 pound or 150 grams). An older, used camera is a good option, as it is possible to lose or damage cameras if something goes wrong.
Quick answer: many Public Lab mappers have been using the Canon A495, which has the following properties:
- can be bought for < $60 new
- uses AA batteries
- 10 megapixels
- can be used with continuous mode (see below) or CHDK
- durable and reasonably light (~250g)
You will need a camera that can do continuous shooting (or "continuous drive"), or you will have to add an external shutter trigger.