Public Lab Research note


Mobius cameras and smaller balloons

by warren | | 2,599 views | 7 comments |

Read more: i.publiclab.org/n/11827


I've been curious about how little helium it'd take to lift a Möbius camera as we've been using for our Infragram Point and Shoot cams.

We pay around $30 for the balloons in the balloon mapping kit, and helium can be $30-50 per flight, or worse in some places. So the ~$65 Möbius cam, which weighs about 38 grams, opens up some possibilities for us, compared to the 200-250g Canon Powershots we often use.

18 inch Mylar balloons are less than a dollar apiece, and the above pictured 3 foot balloon is well under $10. I think we can get the 3 foot latex balloons for ~$3 each. The nice thing about Mylar is that it can remain inflated for a couple weeks, and either of these fits in a car or on the subway! So flights over multiple days are much easier, and instead of buying or moving a helium tank, you can fill these at a florist or party store.

Anyhow the above test worked -- it lifts the Möbius easily! And I have ordered some 18 inch mylar balloons to test too.


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7 Comments

awesome! what is the gunk you're using to attach the camera? just tape?

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nice! do we have a simple workflow for processing the fisheye photos produced by Möbius into flatter images that can be stitched into maps? or is there a setting to turn that effect off?

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Yes, although we'd love to make an automated utility in WebGL to do this too, maybe automatically in Mapknitter: http://publiclab.org/notes/patcoyle/11-27-2014/initial-results-pl-mobius-infragram-point-and-shoot-on-parrot-ar-drone-2-0#c10874

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Nice. Lower cost per mapping session is beneficial. Any additional details on approaches to attach camera? Thanks for pointing out note with comments re: Gimp use to correct fish-eye effect.

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It weighs so little that I just used duct tape to adhere a loop to the back. You probably don't want to cover the fake silver buttons as Mathew mentioned they're used as a heat dissipator.

I've also used a roll of inside out tape and a rubber band to attach it to a piece of cardboard with a fin on it to stop it from rotating. The low weight makes impromptu riggings pretty easy.

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@Liz: I always use @eustatic research note data for distorting Mobius Action Cam imagery in GIMP (FOSS).

For batch processing we should use GIMP batch mode, have you used it?

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I've been a major advocate for the Mobius in everything from Kite Aerial Photography to UAVs to even using it underwater!
As for the lens distortion issue, I've found the previously mentioned workflow by eustatic to be relatively straight-forward. There's also the HUGIN Photostitcher and DIGIKAM programs for Linux. Neither are particularly user-friendly but they also both support plugins that can be written and shared with others. So instead of having everyone follow a multi-step workflow, we could just write a script with all the Mobius lens parameters and post it as a plugin that can be executed out of the box.

Considering the modular nature of the Mobius firmware and hardware components, I wonder if we've only scratched the surface of what can be done with this device!? The lens modules for example, can be easily swapped out between "standard" or "widescreen" versions on the same camera. Perhaps the same could be done with the IR modified lens on the Infragram Point and Shoot? The lenses can also use an extension cable to separate them from the camera housing itself. Perhaps an adapter cable could be created to support dual lenses? Perhaps some of the components used in the NDVI BBB Cape could help with such a device?

I wonder what options there are for either combing or incorporating other sensors into the camera hardware? Perhaps the Camera can be combined with a Raspberry Pi Model A+ to add powerful real-time processing features like OpenCV or any number of physical sensors? Thus far, the PLOTs IR Point and Shoot is the closest I have yet found to a hardware modification that really takes advantage of the Mobius capabilities. So it would sense that further iteration on the MAC capabilities would also come from PLOTs community!

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