AutoKAP experiment

The Didak ‘Ostend Bird’ 400 is a kite I tried and rejected for KAP some time ago: it’s a light wind kite that needs a bit of grunt to get it going and even then its pull is light compared to a flowform. On a whim I decided to give it another go but on a light 150 DaN line this time. I have been trying out lightweight AutoKAP methods so the lifter is not too important at this stage of things. The O Bird’s biggest problem is its awkward size to carry around:  it’s a 2.2m long floppy bag full of fragile sticks.   So the idea is I can make use of a very light rig, damn near any lifter and get some useful shots: I’m looking for a ‘lazy KAP’ option!
The light line needs handling carefully, even in about 3mph the big ‘bird will pull hard enough to cut your hands!
The rig is a bunch of bits from the parts bin with the Olympus EP1 as the camera. This is a development of my ‘Pocket KAP’ rig which bored me pretty quickly with its bucket loads of dull shots- it has now morphed into a fixed tilt auto pan rig:
It weighs in at 600g all up- not as light as I’d like but the EP1 (at 450g) is a weighty beast. Power is by a 3V Nokkia ‘phone battery, the pan gear is by Brooxes, control by Gent intervalometer. The battery connection is by parcel tape, not ideal. The only bit I’m responsible for is the camera hanger and shutter servo mount. The portrait aspect of the rig is simply the easiest way to get the camera fixed for the least metal/effort at the right COG on its tripod mount screw.
As soon as the rig is airborne things seem to have gone awry. After a pleasant half hour walk with the kite across the common, pausing now and again over what I imagined to be points of intrest, I got 450 shots on the card. They are almost all blurred!

From the kite flyers point of view this is a great way of enjoying the kite; from the photographers’ point of view it’s maddening. There were some nicely framed shots of the evening scene but none of them were sharp. The Exif for the whole batch shows the auto setting on the camera has set the ISO to 200 with shutter speeds starting at 1/200th and slowing as the light faded to 1/60th- I think a higher ISO might have saved the batch despite the test shots on the ground looking ok.  Up to now I have found the auto settings on the EP1 to be reliable and the auto focus especially so. To save weight I used a picavet and it has a tendency to wobble and transmit the flutter of the kite to the camera. The rig is set at a 3s interval perhaps it needs to be slower to all0w the pan movement to settle between shots? I also suspect the portrait set up might act as a pendulum accentuating the swinging of the rig under the line.
With 28 shots to the circle it doesn’t take long to generate a mountain of sorting, it gets disheartening to load up each image and find shot after shot wrecked by motion blur!
Not to mention the random framing errors!
My early misgivings about the 4m Ostend Bird were ameliorated by using a light line and a light rig. I’m not sure how it would react to gusts above 6-7mph but in 3-5 it behaved well, always returning to a steady apex position. It is well made and, despite its fragile spars, it is quite resillient. It is noisy like the PFK and I have found the noise is a useful way of knowing what it’s up to: if it goes quiet it’s time to haul line!
More on the Ostend Bird here
Available in the UK from here


About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
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