Bits and Pieces

Use this category to describe KAPping accoutrement extant and desired. Share with us the little bits that make KAPing life easier.

A cradle for my Canon M6 Mk II

edited March 24 in Bits and Pieces

I have been flying a Canon M series mirrorless cameras as my principal kite aerial photography (KAP) gear since 2014. At last count, I had a little over 100 KAP sessions with rigs carrying the Canon M and M3 cameras (sound of Benton knocking on wood). I really like working with the smaller Canon M-series cameras. They are tough. The larger APS-C sensor is relatively smooth and the higher ISO settings are more useable.

During this strange pandemic year, I have found myself grounded for months at a time when my Special Use Permits for photography over the wetlands have been put on hold. I have used this downtime for various KAP-related projects: documenting old KAP sessions, creating a cartographic index for my Salt Pond work, and building a new radio transmitter. I also set about creating a new HoVer KAP cradle for the Canon M6 Mk Ii camera. The M6 has been my primary “on the ground” camera for a bit over a year now so the novelty has worn off and it seemed fitting that I should send it airborne.

The cradle is now finished and I have had it up for a couple of sessions at my Berkeley Waterfront proving grounds.

This cradle is the 14th I have built since starting with KAP in 1994. All of its predecessors were built principally of wood components fitting to carbon-fiber-reinforced arrow shaft rails. This time around, I decided to make the components using Autodesk Fusion 360 for design and my Prusa Mk3s 3d printer for production using PLA filament. This is also the first cradle where I made custom-length cables for all connections including servos. For this, I used the nifty Engineers PA-09 crimping pliers.

The cradle's end weights were:

Cradle empty ………………………………….…. 1 lb., 1-1/8 oz. (486 g)

Picavet and kite line attachments…………..….… 3-1/2 oz. (99 g)

Camera body with 11-22mm lens………….. 1 lb., 6-3/8 oz (636 g)

So, my all-up weight with the 11-22 mm lens is 2 lb. 11 oz. (1.22 Kg). This is about 65% of the weight of my previous Canon DSLR rig but a bit heavier than my previous M-series cradles.

More views of the rig are available in this set:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kap_cris/albums/72157718763061467

This rig uses a radio transmitter to rotate and tilt the camera. The radio can also switch the camera between portrait and landscape format (HoVer) as well as fire the shutter. For a description of the transmitter see:
arch.ced.berkeley.edu/kap/wind/?p=35

I am activating the EOS M shutter using a radio-controlled switch to trigger the wired remote jack in the camera.

Comments

  • Wonderful engineering Cris. I see that your new 'chopped spectrum' transmitter, though essentially the same design as the old one, is also 3D printed. Could you show us some pictures of that too?

  • WOW, a very clean, detailed, well engineered project...
    beautiful details.... CONGRATULATIONS !
    about weight I see as it is an individual feeling; you are with this one at 1.22 kg and your remark is 65 % less than previous !
    I'm living between 0.35 and 0.5 kg with some few use of RIGs up to something less than 1 kg
    Wolfgang Bieck and Gerhard Zitzmann are dealing with solutions between 0.20 and 0.25 ...
    LIFE is beautiful in all aspects
    SMAC from Italy

  • It looks very nice! I've heard that lens is really good. Do you normally shoot with it set at 11 mm?

  • edited June 17

    Very impressive setup. I have never used any of the Canon M series cameras myself but have considered the possibility of getting a second hand one in the future as a KAP camera. Yea that APS-C sensor certainly interests me. And it's good to hear that it performs reasonably well at high iso settings. I was very curious about that.

    Would anyone know whether you can successfully adapt lenses to the Canon M cameras from different companies and different time periods? Since it's a mirrorless camera, this could be a possibility. Some DSLRs have a real problem when adapting lenses. For example, if you mount Canon FD lenses to Canon EOS DSLRs with a basic adapter, you won't be able to focus at far distances. There are adapters that will allow infinity focus with the FD lenses on the Canon DSLRs but apparently, this will degrade the optical quality to a certain extent (something I would definitely avoid at all costs.)

    With the Canon M or possibly another mirrorless camera, I would like to mount old manual film lenses from the 1970s / 1980s for KAP. There are some good optics from those decades and in the event of a bad crash from a kite, it won't be too expensive to get a replacement. Though annoyingly, Ive noticed the value of vintage lenses has gone up with higher prices on eBay in recent times. And it's very clear why this is the case - more people are using old film lenses on mirrorless bodies (just like I am.) Actually, one of my old lenses is a Canon FD 24mm f2.8 which I would like to do some KAP with one day. I used to use this lens a lot with my Canon AE1.

    Also, it is possible to do time lapse on any of the Canon M cameras without resorting to Magic Lantern?

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