Three weeks ago I took part in the MediaLab Chrzelice aka. Culture 2.0 Camp, and didn’t have time to mention it here yet. I wrote about it in some more detail at the OSM diaries here & here, but let me just say that it was lots of fun, and I’m also really satisfied with how the OpenStreetMapping part of the workshop turned out. I was never really good at convincing people to do things, but at the workshop I had introduced the project to people who had never heard of OSM and they were immediately very eager to actually go out and start collecting data and then putting it onto the map as quickly as possible (specially since the village where this was held was a very blank spot), which was very satisfying to see. The GPSes hadn’t arrived, and we didn’t manage to produce good aerial imagery, but trying to launch the balloon and then flying the kite was fun anyway (possibly educative? when something fails is it more educative or less educative?). Two people who had come from Warsaw like me signed up for re-trying the balloon launch some time in the coming weeks, using some new ideas we had. Also one of the concurrent workshops was the Arduido workshop led by Daniel Soltis of Tinker.it! London and I got an arduino kit as a gift. I had some ideas of things I’d like to do with an arduino board, the only problem is I’m truly clueless about low-level electronics (I’m definitely a software person), I can’t even solder properly, so whatever I do with it, I’ll need help making any use of it.
My friend and me had some more attempts at Kite Aerial Photography here in Warsaw after I was back and actually are starting to get some nice pictures although I still need to build a better rig for the camera and get more line (currently have 600 metres and that let us lift the camera to 450-500 metres above the ground). The current rig was the “plastic bottle”-type (aka. pendulum type) just without the bottle, using just string and duct tape, and attached just about 3m below the kite. The advantage is that you get pictures taken in all directions. With a picavet-type rig they will be looking straight down but the swinging is greatly reduced, specially if the rig is attached some 20 metres below, and so you can get much better ground resolution even on not-as-sunny days, because the exposition times can be longer and ISO lower. So possibly I’ll be attaching multiple cameras instead of one to cover more directions, or building/ordering one of the fancy RC rigs (but more likely just attaching three or four cameras if I can get them from somewhere). I figured out how to do “interval photography” with a WebOS phone like the Palm Pre (without installing any App Store apps like the Time Lapse Maker for EUR1.99) and I’ll post my app here later — turns out making webOS apps is really simple, even if you’ve never made any you can make a time-lapse app in about 1h without using any SDK or documentation, when on a bus trip for example.
Also my early impression with the latest Canon cameras is that they are terribly bad and there can seriously be no other reason to buy one other than CHDK suport (although the really new ones are not supported anymore because the firmware blobs encryption has changed — particularly what the CHDK developers call the dancing bits sequence). If you’re looking for a nice pocket camera with high ccd resolution, get a Casio for example (seems to be just starting in the pocket camera market), although not usable for KAP. I was never very up-to-date with things like hardware specs and prices and benchmarks but now that I had to decide on a camera, I’m taking the opportunity to sound like I have a clue :)
For the next couple of weeks I will be super busy with a university project (I even took a week of vacations at work) and will resume my world dominationkite flying plans afterwards. I’m also seriously considering RC drones, some of the cheaper ready-to-fly models are slightly cheaper than the bigger kites. The problem with the kites is that to make a good photo-map suitable for mapping, covering the area size of Warsaw, I’d need to fly it in about 80 places in the city and while it’s fun, it’s also tiring, possibly risky (if you haven’t registered with air traffic control a week ahead) and very weather-dependent. With drones these are all things yet to figure out as people are just starting to experiment as far as I see on the web.