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SLR camera platform (Help please!!)

Water level photographs

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Bob Hooper23/10/2009 19:55:45
6 forum posts
I have build a pontoon type camera platform in order to take water level photographs of birds. The contraption consists of a waterproof box about 15" wide 30" long and 7" deep. Inside is a large camera, 12v 7aHr battery and two water pumps which are fed via pipes to each corner of the pontoon. The whole thing, including the camera controls is remote controlled. It will be used on lakes in fairly calm conditions, and it needs to motor out amongst the birds and then just float about while I take pictures, controlling the camera from the shore. After a trial run I found that the camera works as desired and the idea of steering and propulsion using the pumps in fwd or reverse, to push water from either the back corners (to go forward) or the front corners (to go back) or a mixture of both to turn actually does work, the slightest breath of wind just pushes the craft into the reeds. The pumps (Kavan) are 12v 1.5A and have a maximum capacity of 1.8 l/min.
Does anyone here have any suggestions about making this craft controllable. The whole set up weights approx 18 - 20 lbs or 9Kg for the younger reader.
If I put in two more pumps would that give me enough control?
Speed is not an issue as the pontoon is disguised to look like a lump of floating weed so as long as I can make it go in the direction I want I don't care how long it takes to get there, in fact in order not to scare the birds away slower is definately better. Sorry It's such a long post and I feel a bit cheeky asking for your help as I am more of a photographer than a boat builder, but I think I really need your expertise to ensure that I don't waste any more money on things which won't work.
Kevin Bellman23/10/2009 23:28:49
68 forum posts
2 photos
Hi Bob,
Some thoughts for you.
1. Boat drifting with wind - problem wind does not scale down, surface water moves more quickly. Does  your craft have a shallow draft? You need to get some depth to bite into the water, perhaps fit a keel, even to the extremes of a yacht type.
2. Control - fit more powerful pumps, seen these on ebay  Pump 
15 litres a minute on 12volt!
3. Control of pumps - just seen this on Model Boat Mayhem may help Pump Control 
Hope its some help

Edited By Colin Bishop on 24/10/2009 21:12:21

Edited By Colin Bishop on 24/10/2009 21:13:45

Bob Hooper24/10/2009 09:28:50
6 forum posts
Thanks for the reply Kevin. I was wondering if the draft would make a difference and I am thinking of putting chambers in the box alongside the camera box. This would enable me to flood the chambers and make the whole thing float deeper in the water. The bait boat design is similar to mine but I can make the pumps reverse but I wonder if I put a bow on the front of the craft and just pushed from each back corner if it would handle any better.
I'm afraid I can't see all of your reply because the "Suport our partners" banner won't get out of the Bl**dy way.
Bob Hooper24/10/2009 20:59:42
6 forum posts
42 views and only one reply! Where are all the knowledgable people who know about models,boating and things nautical?  And how the hell do I get to see the rest of the relpy under that annoying banner advert down the right hand side?
Colin Bishop24/10/2009 21:15:35
4966 forum posts
6089 photos
410 articles
Posting very long links in the "raw" confuses the software, it's best to use the insert link facility on the formatting bar. I have amended the post.
The knowledgeable people tend to build model boats and not floating camera platforms so there probably isn't a huge amount of expertise in what you are trying to do. Give it a bit of time.

Edited By Colin Bishop on 24/10/2009 21:16:09

Edited By Colin Bishop on 24/10/2009 21:19:24

Bob Hooper24/10/2009 21:18:10
6 forum posts
Colin, I don't know what you've done, but whatever it was it worked. Thank you very much.
Kevin Bellman24/10/2009 22:45:39
68 forum posts
2 photos
Colin, thanks for sorting the links.
Having chambers that you can flood seems like over engineering to me - just add weight, lead being the ideal material. No chance that the lead will leak !!
Telstar24/10/2009 23:13:17
323 forum posts
32 photos
Have you thought of useing Bow thrusters to manouver your rig?   They are designed to do just what you are trying to do, and can be obtained in different sizes. Using ones on the larger side with speed controllers should give a nice slow thrust for gentle manovering, and at full speed enough power to steer out of trouble
cheers Tom

Edited By Telstar on 24/10/2009 23:20:01

Bob Hooper25/10/2009 00:08:32
6 forum posts
Kevin, I know what you mean about over engineering, but the chambers are basically 8 plastic 1 pint milk bottles which I can top up individually to alter the angle of the pontoon and therefore the angle of the camera.
Telstar, I have been experimenting in my swimming pool and have found that the best efficiency of the jets is with the outlet above the water level and I have also altered the front jets to come out of the sides which is effectively bow thrusters so the pontoon is now much more manouverable and can also deal with more wind and stay in controllable. My next step is a redesign the make the draft much deeper therefore giving much less craft for the wind to affect. I think I will still try four pumps instead of the two I have and double up the jets and see if that works more efficiantly. 
Len Ochiltree27/10/2009 14:57:23
525 forum posts
64 photos
Hi Bob,
You do seem to be over complicating things, what with all these pumps etc, wherever I sail any model boat, the wild life are either not bothered by it or are nosey and come up to it and have a look, so what I am getting at is strap your camers to a traditional R/C boat with Rudder and Motor/Propellor ,then operate the shutter via another Channel on your Transmitter, you can even get small Video surveilance cameras to fit on boats.

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We welcome well written contributions from Website members on almost any aspect of Model Boating with a particular emphasis on practical hints, tips, experience and builds.

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