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External cameras - performance, mounting and legal issues

I’m wondering when will manufacturers offer camera mounts/ cameras from factory, given how many people like to record their flying. Outside of a cabin, they could provide compartments. Something like the A380 has. So the camera wouldn’t actually be outside, in the airflow.

Yeah, tom, I am familiar with ground effect. But the ground effect actually doesn’t care too much if induced by gravel, grass, bitumen, concrete, stones, water, metal or any other material. Your point was changing of runway surfaces, not flying in ground effect.

Last Edited by mh at 20 Oct 19:13
Aufwind GmbH
EKPB, Germany

I think that movies are something most people get into and soon get fed up with…

One reason is that most movies (of any kind) need to have at least 90% cut out and the rest edited, and this is always time-consuming. Same happens with still pics but dropping 90% of those takes only seconds in any half decent picture viewer. Whereas editing a 1hr final size movie is likely to take days.

Anyone doubting this just needs to look at the crap on youtube etc. Most people there aren’t capable of even a trivial movie showing how to stick a screen protector onto a phone.

Remember when 10 years ago Sony started pushing every Firewire-equipped laptop as suitable for movie editing? Even the ones which were underpowered by a factor of 10. It was supposed to start a a revolution in home movies but it didn’t go anywhere. You need talent, a powerful PC, and a lot of time.

And most flying movies are all the same, which adds to the boredom – unless the subject is really exceptional, and that’s rarely found.

Also I think the use of the extreme wide angle lenses such as come with sports cams like Go-Pro adds to the early-boredom factor, because everything ends up looking much the same. It’s like when Pagemaker came out c. 1982, it came with about 20 fonts, and every “artist” made sure all 20 fonts got used on every page. The result was cliched and a dead giveaway of what tool was used to create it. The Go-Pro does give you a very good 1080P raw image quality (beats most €1000 camcorders) but the distortion kills the chance of making a movie which people want to see more than once. Camcorders (and the newer DSLRs which are nowadays used for a lot of outdoors video work) score massively with optical video stabilisation, too.

External mounting is a challenge to do well. On high wing planes you can make it reliable on the wing strut. On most planes one can mount the camera robustly on an inspection cover but that takes a lot more time.

You can also get good quality through a window if the window is very clean, with no scratches, and you can take care of reflections.

Vibration decoupling is crucial because most GA planes vibrate like hell. I made a fancy antivibration mount for a camcorder and this was capable of producing very good results but for example one video I did took about 100 hours of computer time to render, with speedups, embedded time counter, etc.

We have loads of threads on this – use the search facility.

I am not surprised that some authorities get funny about external mounting. It’s not just aerodynamics… if a 0.5kg camera comes off, it might hit the elevator with a lot of energy and do a lot of skin damage.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Drift Ghost HD Camera fits perfectly into the drain hole of the foot step of a TB20.:

The lens can be turned, so the picture is aligned with horizon. The mount is very sturdy. See post.

The Drift Ghost HD comes with wireless and remote control. So I can see my landing gear from my iPad.

United States

Is your TB20 a G1, Lucius? The retractable footsteps on the GT would break off the camera.

Otherwise, it’s a smart place to put a camera.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

Is your TB20 a G1

Yes, G1.

United States

Has anyone fitted a camera into a forward facing light fitting?

Obviously if the light is mandatory equipment then you can’t (legally) do that because the aircraft would not be airworthy.

But some lights are optional equipment. For example the latest (2002/2003) TB GT wingtips

have a forward facing light, which seems a perfect place to temporarily mount a cylindrical camera.

For best quality, the camera lens would not have anything in front of it.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I am sure this was posted here before but the UK CAA has just produced this [ local copy ] for CofA and non-CofA G-regs.

External mounting of anything on a CofA aircraft needs an approval so this was only a matter of time. My reading of the document is that it is intended to also be a guidance to the non-CofA community, especially the LAA which is in theory subject to a close involvement of LAA inspectors

There is some good stuff in there e.g.

and definitely this

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I use suction cup mounts to mount GoPro’s or the 360 camera underneath the aircraft. I have lost 2 cameras that way: one overhead the North Sea and another over the Alps, so it is not a guaranteed way of mounting stuff to the aircraft and could even be dangerous from hitting someone on the ground or hitting some part of your aircraft while it separates. Any stronger mounting solution / suggestion would be welcome.

EDLE, Netherlands

@AeroPlus, I recently posted some suggestions on this thread:

Not sure if any of these could be relevant for you. You need some sort of strut to attach it to.

There’s some really good options to mount the GoPro on the wing struts. I realize that’s not a solution for you.

I have this antique one:

Nowadays, the luxury solution is this:

Or the most economical solution:

Hungriger Wolf (EDHF), Germany
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