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Vortex Videos

Get that video of a lifetime without being killed
  [vote for,

While flying my Parafoil kite over Sanibel Beach in Florida, I got an idea to attach my camcorder to the kite and take some aerial videos. The kite easily hauled the camera up and I got some videos. Note: If you try this yourself be sure to do it on a day with strong & steady wind, use a short tether to attach the camera, turn on image stabilization and zoom all the way out if you don’t want to get motion sickness whilst watching the resulting video.

I was thinking that a larger Parafoil could carry aloft a sphere of thick Lexan® plastic with a video camera mounted inside. When a tornado approached, the operator could launch the kite and the inflow would haul it aloft and towards the vortex.

I have flown my Parafoil 5 to 1,000 feet without difficulty on 50-pound test line. A Parafoil 15 could easily carry the weight of the capsule and still be able to carry a œ mile, or more, of 200-pound test line. The line would be reeled out from the bed of a chase truck and the operator would have a quick-release to allow separation of the kite when the vortex was reached. A GPS homing device would allow for retrieval of the instrument pack.

The kite itself would cost USD$89.99 and the line would cost USD$165.00 for 3,000 feet of line. I could not find the cost for the Totable Tornado Observatory (TOTO) experiment that was never successfully deployed, but with a Parafoil kite the cost would be minimal. The Lexan® sphere could be re-polished, and be reused with the camera.

Added: The chase vehicle would provide protection against any lightning which could travel along the kite's string. The quick-release would be operated remotely, from the safety of the vehicle, or the researcher could simply wait until the string was broken by the force of the wind.

Klaatu, Apr 23 2004

Catch The Wind Kites http://www.catchthe...es/parafoils_2.html
Parafoil 15 [Klaatu, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Gomberg Kites http://www.gombergkites.com/line.html
Braided kite string [Klaatu, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Kites for science http://whyfiles.org/shorties/kite.html
Using kites for science since 1749 [Klaatu, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Panasonic SD video camera (SV-AV100) http://snipurl.com/5wyv
They make smaller and lighter ones, too, but with lesser video quality. [bristolz, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Raising obelisks using kites http://news.nationa...caltechobelisk.html
"On June 23, Mory Gharib and his team raised a 6,900-pound (3132.6 kg), 15-foot (3.0 m) obelisk into vertical position in the desert near Palmdale by using only a kite, a pulley system, and a support frame." [Klaatu, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       I always think that loads of + votes and no annos has to be a good sign.
po, Apr 23 2004

       Can we then get America's Funniest Vortex Videos+ :)
theircompetitor, Apr 23 2004

       go for it tc... on your head be it - as ever!
po, Apr 23 2004

       The camera should transmit the video immediately so you don't loose all the pictures if the tornado tears it apart.
kbecker, Apr 23 2004

       If you could use a camera that uses solid state memory rather than a tape transport (or anything that is rotary) you can avoid the gyroscopic precession problems that happen when a video camera is accelerated with force (for example, they don't work in flight with aerobatics very well as the precession during high-G loads causes the rotary video head to change speed and the recording fails for a few seconds recovering only after the g-load subsides and the head speed and tracking is re-established).   

       I think Panasonic makes just such a camera. <sometime later: (linky)>
bristolz, Apr 23 2004

       Thanks for the link [bz]. I was thinking bigger and heavier, but lighter allows for heavier armoring. This also solves the problem that [kbecker] pointed out. I would hope that Lexan® would allow multiple flights and truly make this a "poor man's research project".   

       Now, if I can just get past my deathly fear of tornadoes*, I might try this someday.   

       *Blame my parents for taking me to see The Wizard of Oz in the theatre when I was a wee lad.   

       Added: I happened to watch a show tonight about raising stones for the pyramids and raising obelisks using ancient kites. Proves the lifting power of kites. <link>
Klaatu, Apr 23 2004


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