Public: Surveillance: Camera
Eyes in the sky for the regular guy   (+3)  [vote for, against]
Soldier's Birds eye view with gun cam

[MikeD]’s anno from the "Bending Bullets" idea: // One of the most difficult tasks, when engaged by enemy fire, is pin-pointing exactly where the hostile fire is coming from. Sure, it looks easy in the movies, but then again, the camera always seams to be pointed right at the bad guy when he shoots.

Imagine, you hear enemy fire. You are in an urban environment (A battle field where your rocket bullets would be most desirable, yes?) The reverb off of the surrounding buildings makes it almost impossible to tell which side it is coming from.

It's broad daylight, (If it was night, You wouldn't be able to see the obstacle your rocket bullet needs to fly around), so the enemy's muzzle flash isn't very attention grabbing. You are now doing what every fibre in your being says is the wrong thing to do ... Poke your head up and look around.

From personal experiences, it will take about three or four shots to get you looking in the right quadrant. And other couple to get your eyes on the right building and that last one shot to pin-point his position.

Now, you open up with a good 20-30 rnd burst. Your buddy, on one of the other machine guns, sees where you are shooting and joins the party. Now you two talk the guns back and forth to maintain a constant stream of well aimed, lethal fire on this a$$-hole, while one of your sharp-shooters puts cross-hairs on his nugget and ends the engagement.

This is your basic enemy engagement. //

A basic search has found some very similar ideas, but take a look and if it's not unique I will delete. In any case I think it is at least worth talking some more about.

I know they are working on battlefield RPVs, but I was wondering if a more basic approach would work. Take a grenade launcher and vertically launch a small electronics package into the air. When the package hits apogee, it deploys a parachute. The payload is high (~6 MP) resolution CCD pointing down thru a fisheye lens, an array of triangulating gun microphones, an electronic compass and a basic video transmitter. The soldier has a basic radio receiver, solid state recorder, single display and video editing chip that will orient the video to always have north pointing “up”.

The idea is to first display an overall view converting the high res image down to low res before transmission. Then if a gunshot is heard, the image is electronically zoomed into the area where the shot was heard. The solid state recorder records all the video and allows playback/pause/rewind.

Obviously care must be taken so that the launching charge does not destroy the microphones and maybe add a sonic range finder to trigger an airbag landing charge.

I figured the zero moving part camera to be more reliable.

I’m torn about two features, the launch and the decent, a rocket propelled launch would be easier on the payload, but would unequivocally give out your location which sounds bad. For recovery, the size of the parachute needs to balance the air time with the recovery problems.

The whole system should be reusable with basic repacking and explosive charges replaced.
-- MisterQED, Jul 14 2008

Spy Video Car http://www.toysrus....p?productId=2339043
[MisterQED, Jul 14 2008]

Prior Art: Sniper source locator Audio-based_20Sniper_20Source_20Locator
[MisterQED, Jul 14 2008]

Prior Art: Tac Shot http://boston.bizjo...01/newscolumn4.html
[MisterQED, Jul 14 2008]

Prior Art: Tac Shot http://www.military...ticle.cfm?DocID=554
[MisterQED, Jul 14 2008]

Link to [MikeD]'s original anno Bending_20Bullets
[MisterQED, Jul 14 2008]

surefire suppressors http://www.surefire...rfnbr/517/sesent/00
EVERY member of our armed forces should have one. period. This, or one of the other brands, I don't care. They cost major $$ - which is the only reason I can see why they aren't more widely issued. [Custardguts, Jul 17 2008]

Found it .... [8th of 7, Jul 20 2008]

I like the idea, and would love to see it work, but can't see it as one device. Maybe, at least two. This would require, hard, but not impossible telemetry. With a single receiver (or multiple but localised) at the apsis, I think the geometry would be too difficult to calibrate a response more significant than [MikeD]'s. This is essentially (triangulating) what they are doing already. Triangulating becomes more accurate the further your vertices are apart, given constant signal strength.

There is the fresnel "interference" (and echos) to deal with as well. Certain (urban) "topologies" would mean you get the echo before the principle. This would best be offset with a multitude of transceivers.
-- 4whom, Jul 14 2008

Point taken, then could it be done with multiple directional mikes?

Or could you use the mike on the parachute in combination with one on your person? Still only two points but great separation.

Could the muzzle flash be spotted from the air?
-- MisterQED, Jul 14 2008

Mic/s on parachute and mic on person would at least give "you all " a position on that plane. Maybe that's all you need. Given that you know where you are and where the parachute is. Triangulation is not called triangulation for nothing. That is why I recommended (at least) two parachutes, to combine the data with a third position.
-- 4whom, Jul 14 2008

So I guess this could go two ways.

1. Launch a pair of network linked microphones with GPS. The parachute dropping microphones will triangulate the location of any shots fired based on the readings on the two dropping mikes and a third mike on the soldier. This could be linked back to a simple readout (272 degrees, 100 yards, 30' altitude). The launched items would be very cheap as all they would need is an accurate GPS, a gun shot detector and a basic transmitter.

2. Single hi-res launched camera with gun flash detection, a compass or GPS and video transmitter.
-- MisterQED, Jul 14 2008

I had this idea once, but in relation to tank warfare and battlefield management. My idea was more about a helium/hot air combination baloon (helium for majority of lift, hot air as the variable lift element) - possibly tethered.

Something that included a lightweight power source (probably a microturbine), multiple cameras including thermal (one of those new digital thermal NV badboys would be nice), probably a laser designator, LIDAR and maybe a synthetic aperature millimetre radar, I never thought of a passive microphone array, but that too), and a good communications package could probably come in at <3kg, and certainly <5kg. Effective, reusable, I'm a fan of the idea, anyway.

This idea is like a lightweight version of that -and I think it's a good idea. May I suggest that a little helium baloon might work better than the parachute? Also a tether of some sort.
-- Custardguts, Jul 15 2008

I get where you are coming from, but I don't think it fits the application. Personally I'm lucky enough never to have been shot at, but from [MikeD]'s decription, it didn't sound like he had time to inflate a balloon and if he did, they might just shoot it down.

If you want to go that way, I'd say a blimp that mindlessly follows you around would be better. That isn't a bad idea either except the need for motors, etc. I was thinking about that too, but it gets really windy around buildings and I think a blimp would have problems. If you knew you were going to be in the open then a tethered balloon would work well. Maybe a balloon tethered to a ground bot, that could reel it in when obstructions were near.
-- MisterQED, Jul 15 2008

[CG] Wait, maybe you are right...the electronics are light, so it could work with a smallish balloon, but then you have to carry around compressed gas. It also still has the problem of giving away your position.
-- MisterQED, Jul 15 2008

First and foremost, let me say that I am truly touched that the HB community is brainstorming on behalf of myself and my fellow soldiers.

As to the idea, It does have some logistical issues that have already been discussed. If a soldier had a really good idea where the guy was, I.E. "He's either on that roof top or the one beside it", I could see a camera on a parachute being effective. A sodlier could "keep one in the pipe" on his m203, while in the turret. But then again, I have seen how inaccurate soldiers can be with m203 launched parachute flares (myself included).

To include all the equipment you are suggesting, [Mr.QED], what if the package was three small drones flying in a circle over an active engagement area, all maintainting 120 degrees seperation from the others? The information from this could be relayed to the commanders BFT (A lap-top like computer display of the battle field), and he could direct the gunners.

That being said though, communication under durress can be laughably innefective. If only I had a dollar for everytime someone down inside the truck used the phrase "That guy right there". (From a gunners vantage point, he can't see anyone down in the truck)

Technology will be hardpressed to supercede the abilities of a human being, whereas pin-pointing incoming fire is concerned.

Thankyou for your concern. It is appreciated, [Mr.QED]
-- MikeD, Jul 17 2008

How about an Infrared detection package?
-- simonj, Jul 17 2008

I don't think it's infrared, but since we know so much about the weapons, I was wondering if we could filter for the light frequencies of the muzzle flash. The sound is unique but I'm bothered by the number of distance separated receivers needed to triangulate the position.
-- MisterQED, Jul 17 2008

How about some image recognition software that looks for the muzzle flash of a weapon - and then points one of those >5mW green lasers at it. Multiple camera/laser pairs. You can see the beam in daylight, which will be enhanced by the shot haze (smokeless powders aren't really at all). Everyone would see a bright green line pointing directly at where the muzzle blasts were.

And yes, it would point out friendlies, for which I have two solutions. First, maybe assign a "safe zone" in which it doesn't look, or even better, just give all our friendlies a supressor for their weapon, which will hide muzzle flash. Can't think of a firearm being used over there that you can't buy an off the shelf supressor for, which is good for standard velocity ammo. Surefire for instance supply them.

This takes away the enemies' ability to locate coalition forces from their gunfire. It also prevents hearing damage - which is a big problem in the armed forces.
-- Custardguts, Jul 17 2008

I still think this can work, and here is my basic math and a few more details. A little research tells me that a M585 parachute flare can be fired out of a M203 40mm grenade launcher, which is mounted to an M-16. The flare is launched up to 1000’ in the air and then drops at 7 ft/s, so could possibly stay aloft for 140 seconds or a little over two minutes. So if this still holds true for our camera, you loft a tiny 8MP camera with digital image stabilization and a regular lens which has about an 80 degree FOV, it can see as wide a view as it is high. So camera at 300m sees a 300m x 206m area and assuming you are in the middle of it, everything within a 100-150m of you at your level, which I think should include the sniper. If you then can include a processor that could detect the muzzle flash and then send down a series of narrowing view images to direct you to the area. My biggest question is, is 2 minutes enough time? If you need a wider field of view and can sacrifice some clarity, a fisheye lens will expand your view out to 170 degrees. Since the final image is only 640x480 the fisheye probably won't have too much distortion over such a small area.

I have one other idea, but I will submit it as a separate idea – “squad’s guardian angel”
-- MisterQED, Jul 17 2008

Like your thinking but it would have to be kind of stealthy, otherwise the assailant would just stop firing until the parachute hits the ground. (presuming he knew what the hell it was)
-- simonj, Jul 18 2008

I doubt this would happen because I doubt they'd know what it was, but even if that were the case, there may be a benefit in something that could get people stop shooting at me for 2 minutes.
-- MisterQED, Jul 18 2008

// prevents hearing damage //

What ? No, it doesn't. To cut the noise level to the firer, you need a true supressor, which trashes the ballistics.

<Goes back to working on OHP films for forthcoming lecture>
-- 8th of 7, Jul 18 2008

Well, it's going to be expensive, but I don't see anything insurmountable, except perhaps ensuring the batteries don't die while it's waiting to be used. M16s can have attachments to hold rounds about two inches wide, and three or so long, which ought to give a decent payload. Lens filters to pick up the frequencies from gunsmoke fires may be most effective. I don't know that having an automated device in such a small payload accurately aim a laser is best, but even a rough idea where the shooter is without sticking your head up is good.

Inspection mirrors on rods can also be of use in this sort of situation, and might be a bit less expensive...

I'd have to argue that having a fleet of blimps, or any other flying vehicle a few hundred feet over where our troops are patrolling could defeat the purpose. You might as well give them some Car-salesman type flood lights to walk around with, because either way, people are going to know where they are a lot better than they know where people are.
-- ye_river_xiv, Jul 19 2008

//a fleet of blimps, or any other flying vehicle a few hundred feet over where our troops are patrolling could defeat the purpose// What if the blimp were clear or invisible? Clear is straight forward except the gondola, but invisible is color matching the bottom skin to the sky. Invisible is usually very hard because it only works from one perspective, but here there is only one perspective.
-- MisterQED, Jul 20 2008

A muzzle-mounted bullet capture launcher is an option, although the g-forces on the electronics are going to be pretty fearsome ...

-- 8th of 7, Jul 20 2008

[8th] - ever used a suppressor, or read up on them? Technology has moved forward a bit since the can - on - the- end- of - the - muzzle days. Baffles are now designed using CFD - and *really* work. Never used one myself 'cause they're illegal in Aus, but I know a lot of Kiwis who use them.

Takes muzzle blast down to 22 short, or similar for a .223 round. The good ones actually cause a ~50fps velocity gain, and don't interfere with accuracy. I know a fellow who varmints with a .22-250 with an integral suppressor setup shooting *really* hot loads - without earmuffs, all day long. He reports accuracy as good enough for 3-400 metre shots.

So yes, they prevent user hearing damage, and don't *necessarily* ruin ballistics. You're probably thinking of an old circa 60's wiper-plate silencer. Which were crap. Seriously, I don't work for surefire, or own any of their merchandise, but their advertising guff pretty much tells the story - check the link I provided.
-- Custardguts, Jul 20 2008

// ever used a suppressor, or read up on them? //

Oh yes. But .22LR or even .223 isn't the problem, and there's a huge difference between hunting and combat. Try putting a couple of full mags of 7.62 in short order through a suppressor and seeing how long it lasts .....

They also make the wepon quite a bit longer. Since a fair bit of effort has gone into making the infantryman's personal weapon shorter and lighter (hence the design of the SA-80), a supressor tends to push things the other way.

Then there's sighting. Perhaps "ruin" is too strong a word, but if you put a suppressor on the muzzle, you do change the ballistics. So you need to re-sight the weapon. You can't just click it on and off according to need, and expect to maintain accuracy in the 200m+ band.

They're also prone to damage in a combat situation, particualrly when dashing about in buildings, diving for cover, etc. and a dented or bent suppressor is more dangerous to the firer than the target.
-- 8th of 7, Jul 21 2008

Definitely an offline discussion - and a matter of horses for courses I suppose. I know what I'd want to be using - I can't see any reason to ever give away my position, so I'd go for an integral design, which can add as little as 2-3 inches length. As to the durability, I was reading something about a torture test where the barrel on a SAW failed before the suppressor did - Nickel superalloys are cool things -that's why turbine blades used to be made from 'em. Next it'll be cermets.
-- Custardguts, Jul 21 2008

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