Friday, April 26, 2013

Chase-Cams: Homemade, How-to, and Where-to-buy

The Original ChaseCam
The maiden flight (with build instructions) can be seen here:

The first ChaseCam can be credited to Doron Dekel, an engineer living in Toronto.  He introduced his MK4 edition in the video above, way back in August 2010, and has been tinkering with it ever since. 
I watched some of his very early experiments as he was originally testing the idea, including seeing at least one GoPro get destroyed in a prop strike. Maybe its because I saw this happen myself, that I can appreciate better than most people, the effort, and expense and personal risk that went into these early experiments.  No one thinks much of it today, but until Doron resolved all the issues, most people would have though the idea of tying something to a brake line, and dragging it behind a flying paraglider would be pretty nuts.

My first experiment with my own home-made ChaseCam, also helped me appreciate Doron's contribution to the sport.  As I went about sorting out the optimal length of the tow-line of my own ChaseCam concept, I recall feeling how strange the camera felt with the extra drag on my wing.  And I remember how weird it looked as it swung and oscillated behind me, like I was being chased by a particularly demented and very angry eagle, up very, very close.

Trust me.  If I hadn't known the concept had already been tested and proven by Doron and others, my first flight test would have been my last, and had it been up to me, the ChaseCam would never have been invented.

Doron also invented the “Wing Scruncher”, a method of reducing the area/size of trike wings smaller (after launching) to make them faster, and is currently experimenting with a device to wheel-assist the footlaunching and landing backpack paramotors.

Further detailed instructions on Doron’s homebuild can be found here:

Some ChaseCam how-to’s have no mention of a "breakaway link" at the trailing edge of the glider to ensure that the chase cam will fall away in the event of a tree snag.  Doron uses keychain rings at either end of the tether, which will open up at about 10 kg. (22 kg) I’ve experimented with a 4” (100mm) zip tie which has a breaking strength of about 7 kg (15lbs)  Much better to lose the camera then have a crash.

Coke Bottle ChaseCam
Coke Bottle ChaseCam
Coke Bottle ChaseCam


$199.00 AU Looks like a nice pro-build unit using expensive, but lightweight carbon fiber tubes.

GoPro FollowCam
$225.00 This is a version developed by and sold by Paratoys.

$69.95 This one is pretty new, and looks interesting, at the very low price.
I think it incorporates some out of the box thinking, including the idea of hanging the camera upside down, and shooting in inverted mode.

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