Aerial photography platforms

[Eric Austin] is using a Canon 7D with this RC helicopter to capture some amazing HD video. His success has manifested itself in a company that is now manufacturing these platforms ready-to-use. Take a look at their blog to see some of the hardware they’re working on, such as a tricopter and hexacopter photo platforms. We’ve also embedded a video after the break of the unit seen above and the stunning shots it’s able to grab.

[via Gizmo Watch]


  1. Squirrel says:

    Wow, HaD has already broken double-digits for the number of releases today!

    Keep up the good Hacking!!

  2. Charper says:

    This is pretty awesome. I’m guessing they have some problems with vibrations though. I’ll wager that’s what the bungee cord is for. Note that the bungee cord changes at least 3 times (2 configurations + 1 w/o bungee).

  3. Charper says:

    Also “up to $30,000 for a complete system”. Wow. I’m in the wrong business.

  4. kirov says:

    RC helicopters are really fucking stupid. You need an absolute windless day to fly them as any little bit of wind will crash it unless you like spending many many thousands on one. Not only that but they are extremely hard to fly and one crash and the whole system is screwed. Have fun trying to perfectly balance the camera on it and dealing with extremely sensitive electronics where the smallest mistake and its all gone.

    On the other you can buy any $150 brushless electric lipo airplane, slap on a camera and you have over 40 minutes of flight time which can go much higher and navigate in much harsher conditions than a helicopter. Not only that but they are extremely resistant and you have to really try to permanently break it. True you can’t hover like a helicopter, but they go so slow (~15mph) and are so maneuverable it doesn’t matter.

  5. Steve says:

    Ya ya, wait till my Oktokopter is done.

  6. My first thought was ‘what balls’ and total faith they have to house that camera on the chopper!

    You wouldn’t want to be making any mistakes!

  7. Orv says:


    I bet they have insurance on the camera. Most pro photographers insure their equipment. If the chopper crashes, they’ll just call up the insurance company and say, “Uh, yeah, I dropped it.”

    There’s a company in the Seattle area that makes good money taking marketing pictures of what the views will be from high-rise luxury condos, before construction starts on the building. As I recall they use a tethered balloon.

  8. knetcomp says:

    @kirov: Troll Harder!

    Pretty cool! A Canon 7D is certainly not light and I imagine it takes a toll on the helicopter’s lifting ability. Also, the copter looks sturdy enough to withstand mild crashes…I’d really like to have/build one of these.

  9. Seth says:

    Why do all these demo videos use such annoying music?

    Great tech. Drop the annoying music.

  10. Hirudinea says:

    My on private UAV!

  11. h_2_o says:

    so is this a hack or an advertisement?

  12. Criznach says:

    Here’s a video from another guy doing aerial video stuff…

  13. macegr says:

    These days RC helicopters have gyro units available that make flying them a lot easier and safer. That’s just the single rotor models, the quad copters are really stable. The ability to hover pretty valuable for aerial shots, especially if you want to capture the motion of an object on a landscape instead of the landscape flashing past the camera.

  14. localroger says:

    It has pink feet. I’m just sayin’

  15. Scott says:

    IDEA – What if your effort went into controlling the camera, rather than the copter? Design the thing to “lock location” using GPS or some other positioning method such that it can hover automatically, then you can control the camera angle, zoom, etc. This would be an AWESOME product for TV NEWS companies to offer areal videos for important things that might not be big enough to warrant a real chopper.

  16. localroger says:

    LOL You can now own Blue Thunder Jr. I wonder how long it will take The Man to realize what a threat things like this are.

  17. Steve says:

    Also, most of this isn’t DIY, atleast his isn’t. Pretty sure it is from:

  18. Shadyman says:

    I hope it’s easier to fly than a regular RC helicopter… Regular ones are too easy to crash catastrophically, and that’s not something I’d want to do with an expensive camera onboard.

  19. doctor h says:

    Honeywell has been developing this idea for the past 10 years or so for various law enforcement and military applications. Platform stability is key. An RC helicopter is iffy as per the other comments.

  20. nikescar says:

    Wow. Steve, you’re right. HaD has been had. ;p

  21. davo1111@work says:

    it’s very cool, i for one would practice heaps before sending a 7D up there lol

  22. Samsung says:

    Anyone else think this guy sounded like an incredibly annoying, pretentious jack*ss? I could totally see him leaning against a 1998 Camero he had supercharged himself saying something like “Yeah, I blow the 911s and bimmers off the line all the time.”

  23. pascal says:

    It looks like they were filming “blind”? At least, I couldn’t see any video transmitter on the camera, to check the picture… (btw, somebody hack a decent digital video transmitter to plug into the HDMI port of the camera, currently these things seem to cost more than everything else combined)


    Samsung, yeah I thought so too. Obvious attitude and comes off as a douchebag. “Crashing is not an option” haha? ha???

  25. !i! says:

    cool, would be time that gets more amateure sources :-)

  26. h_2_o says:

    if you want aerial photography it is easier, and cheaper with something like a goprohd and a brushless rc chopper.

    a couple links

    I recently got a goprohd and it is an amazing little HD camera that can take a pounding.

  27. I would love to see/try/hack this thing together for way less than the 5k they are asking….

  28. Peach Pit says:

    I would never ever ever ever ever put THAT camera on a FLYING contraption of any sort. Jesus. Just imagine a freak just of wind or a rogue kite taking down a camera worth 4 zeros. Gives me the chills gentlemen.

  29. markii says:

    mama mia, I want one of these

  30. san says:

    Why are so many people flaming helicopters, i bet none have you have flown a decent sized heli like a trex 600 or bigger, they are very stable and just take some hand eye coordination to fly! even on a gusty day i can still hover in one spot no problem and have no problems with swaying +the trex can lift up to 20lb’s

  31. Jean-Paul says:

    video on helis is a growing activity that is very achievable by damn near anybody these days.

    A lil’ Trex 450 has enough power to get 100g up in the air. I know, mine does. Vibration on that is irritating however.
    Once you get blades over 500mm long though, stability increases quite markedly, and vibration drops a lot.
    My Gaui 550 holds a camera quite nicely and I’ve got some reasonable clips from it. Nothing brilliant, cause my flying skills are still quite basic.

    go drop by helifreak’s video and photography section for what hobbiests and semi pros are doing around the world.

  32. rilopez says:

    kirov, you can use a plane but you can’t hover in one place. plus you need a runway to take off and land. Unless you use some thing very small with a cheap lightweight camera, which will degrade your quality and be very unstable anyways. You also can fly a rc heli with winds and keep it stable. If you had watched the video and had any knowledge of rc helicopters he’s using a flybarless stabilization system. This keeps the rc heli locked in place barely any drift even in heavy winds. This RC heli in the video has 3 gyros to keep it stable. He still has a lot of work to do controlling it and can not do both aim the camera and control the heli, but with two people this is easily done. I have a few friends of mine that take aerial photography using a trex 700 and the shots are amazing. also full 360 shots can be taken, but you can’t do that from an rc plane.

  33. supershwa says:

    Don’t mind kirov — he always makes cynical comments.

    As for this chopper-cam, it’s great and seems like a fun toy (provided the 7D is insured), but which part of this is supposed to be a “hack”?

    This is a readily-available photographer’s tool.

    Not a hack.

  34. kirov says:


    you obviously have no idea what RC planes are capable of, you can get ones taht are extremely stable and have extraordinary thrust to weight ratio, far greater than a helicopter of the same size could have. You don’t need a runway for many such setups – you can either hand launch them or get a simple portable catapult system, landing them will work in any field.

  35. danny says:

    “I just took the restrictor plate off the Red Dragon. Its not exactly street legal, so dont tell anyone.” (same school of douchebaggery IMO)

    I’ve been wanting to build a KAP for ages. This post caught my interest… but I don’t see how its a hack/project/re-purpose/etc. I mean, it is pretty much an advertisement.

  36. carzRfun says:

    @Orv they’ll just call up the insurance company and say, “Uh, yeah, I dropped it.”

    “From a 1000 feet.” lol

  37. That’s sweet but I would be afraid to wreck and be out of a camera and copter.

  38. Mikey says:

    The product seems cool, but the guy is a giant douche, I feel like he is trying to rape me or something in that video. Stop raping me Eric!

  39. JB says:

    Nice hack, although I wouldn’t put my Canon on it. I wouldn’t mind attaching one of those crappy 1.2 megapixels cameras to it. I wouldn’t mind crashing it with the helicopter either (guided missile) :P

  40. bluesteel says:

    Not very original hackaday. This has been done near infinite amount of times, on many better, more stable platforms.

  41. potech says:

    this is very cool really

  42. ShutterCat says:

    My personal favorite project like this is the Mikrokopter Hexakopter, which is here:

    Admittedly, he’s likely an expert pilot, but just wait for him to put it on autopilot. Their platform is astonishingly powerful, as well as altitude and positions holding auto.

    Wouldn’t be a huge stretch to program in flight paths, and to scale the airframe up for larger payloads, I suspect.

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