Public Lab Research note

Making the aluminum frame of an aerial camera rig (video)

by cfastie | | 655 views | 7 comments |

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cfastie was awarded the Video Documentation Barnstar by mathew for their work in this research note.

Making the aluminum frame of the Aerobee Rig required some new tools and skills. I haven't done much metal work, and don't have any real metal shop tools, so after I had made a few prototypes it was obvious that making multiple copies of the rig would be difficult. I wanted this rig to be as simple and inexpensive as possible to make it available to more people.

Above: These are three of the half dozen or so prototypes I made before I found a workable design for the aluminum frame.

I requested a quote for manufacturing 20 of the final design of the aluminum frame parts from 10 companies that do waterjet cutting or laser cutting. It quickly became obvious that the only way to keep cost down was to make them myself (cheap labor wins again). So I bought a drill press and started making parts.

Above: Cutting slots is a lot harder than drilling holes.

Cutting the three slots in the lower frame part was the biggest challenge. I have a router but had never used it on metal. I had to make an elaborate jig and learn which router bit worked on aluminum, but now I can cut those slots quickly.

Above: The first run of six sets of parts almost complete.

The video below documents the entire manufacturing process. I am able to offer a kit to build an Aerobee Rig for $35.00. I wanted it to be less than that, but the design grew to include some extra functionality. This week there is a sale at the KAPtery and the Aerobee Rig is only $28.00 (free shipping), about where I hoped it would be. All of the other rig kits (Redstone, Titan 2, Saturn V, Juno), suspension kits, and all kite line are also at least 20% off this week.



Hi, Chris - this is great -- i imagine it may be featured as an activity on, say, the #balloon-mapping or #aerial-mapping pages. With that in mind, perhaps a title change could help people better understand what an "Aerobee" is in this context -- maybe like "Make the Aerobee Rig to protect and point your camera"... or something in that general vein?

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  1. The title is now in compliance.
  2. Our Ruby on Rails overlords have been placated.
  3. Automated Activity Grids FTW.

#slipperyslope#micromanagement #stiflecreativity#theremustbeanotherway


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Ouch, micromanagement is a little harsh! Sounds like a suggestion for encouraging posts for the new activity grid feature. I'm thinking about this in general as well: RN content is showing up in new places, should there be a place to encourage posters to write titles a certain way? what's the goal behind this, as in what would we be looking for, descriptive and searchable? If we do encourage titles to have certain features, how do we encourage this (in the publishing process, in the comments here etc.)?

"what is in a name...?" :) +1 brainstorming,

sorry @cfastie to take over your RN for posting ideas. love the rig! tis beautiful!

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Yes, I meant to be a little harsh. I think dictating the style of the titles of research notes is a big step. It could be the correct thing to do, but it has some issues:

  1. Most note posters might do a rather bad job making titles that are useful for the greater purposes that you would like them to be useful for.
  2. There are other ways to accomplish the same thing, like a second "subtitle" or "description" field (e.g., title: Making Aerobee, subtitle: Making the aluminum frame of an aerial camera rig (video). Many users will get this wrong too.
  3. There is a long tradition in publishing of making titles clever or catchy. It happens today in many respectable periodicals (e.g., The Economist). This can be taken too far (HUMA CUTS WEINER OFF, might be excessive), but allowing some creativity can enliven the pages of

Full Disclosure: Titles of my research notes include "Tales from the Cryptogam," "Graze Anatomy," and "Orange is the new red." Imagining that these caused a (very) few people to smile made posting a better experience for me.


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Ooh -- I like @cfastie's idea of a subtitle section!

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Hi Chris - I want to think about how we can help authors get higher visibility and, later, higher replication counts, and I think how posts show up in the grids is part of this. I also think the humorous titles are good though. I wonder if, instead of the added complexity of a subtitle field (which may be error prone, as you point out) we could just encourage a format like: "Main title: longer subtitle"?

I definitely don't think we should dictate things. If we set things up right, and provide helpful info at the right times, suggestions will support people to write more clearly and invitingly (and with humor) rather than tamp down creativity.

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Also, see my comment here:

This might make it unnecessary to change titles on longer or more narrative posts, in favor of posting activities as "responses."

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