Aerial Fire Tech‎ > ‎


Amazingly good Video is now very inexpensive and relatively easy to capture.  Recent innovations of High Definition and solid state SD HC (Secure Digital High Capacity) recording has made this possible through any airplane window.  HD resolution (1920x1040) is so high that any frame can be "snapped" out into a hi resolution photo.
How to choose:  Canon, Panasonic, Sony
- Get SD HC only: Don't buy a tape/cassette camera (only lasts 1 hour), nor a harddisk camera (locks up and has errors due to the continuous vibration)
- HD cameras (AVCHD) are 6 times more resolution, but SD (Standard Definition NTSC) will work too.
- Mic input capability (many cameras don' have this) is nice if you want to record radio conversations.  
- Progressive scan 30P or 24P will make individual frames more usable
- Small size is desirable.
- Extended life batteries will capture 4 hour missions.  Consider two so one can charge while the other is out flying.
- Get a huge SD HC card if you get the extended battery.  32 GB. 
Current Cameras:
- Consumer cameras are always changing.  Normally they are getting better and cheaper
- Here are some good models as of April 2010
Canon HF M300Audio input, small. good video. No extended battery right now.
Sony is now the only one with a long term battery option and wider angle lens
HDR CX150 tiniest & cheapest. has an internal mic but not input for external audio, slightly lower video quality. no progressive meaning video snapshots can be lower quality
HDR CX300.  Better video, a little bigger than tiny, no external audio or progressive like CX150
Sony SDHC chip 32GB will out last the above battery. 3rd party SDHC chip

Mount the camera with suction cups:

- DataToys sells an excellent suction mount that has to fall off the inside of a window.
- Places to locate: back right window pointing out
- Default settings of wide angle and automatic exposure are best. If possible, set the focus to infinity.
- Turn the camera on before flight or on the way out to the fire if you can reach it.  Let it run the entire flight.
- Running off batteries is preferred, but you can also connect the charger to an inverter.
- Software: VLC is a very good free player.  Cameras also come with a player..
- Straight from the chip: Take the SD chip from the camera to your PC. Most computers have SD readers, not SDHC, so get a cheap USB SDHC reader.  Run the movie file right from the chip or copy to your PC.  Copying can take a lot time and disk space, so keeping it on the chip is a good choice unless archiving is important.
- Connect a USB cable from the camera to your PC.  This often requires each PC to be installed with camera's specific software.  Files can then be copied or again played right from the SD chip.
- From the camera to a TV:  Cameras often come with many TV cables: Composite, Component and/or HDMI.  Find a TV and see what connectors it has on the back, and then match up the colors to your cables.
GPS track and mapping:
- Get the GPS track from the DeLorme Xmap on the Tablet PC
- Play the GPS track inside XMap in one window, and video in another window
- Use the draw funtion of XMap to draw the entire fire
- Lots of Gigabytes.  One choice is to delete video files after each flight, unless something special happed that should be saved.
- Save the chips.  Buy many SD HC (8GB are relatively cheap this year), load a fresh one each time and keep the old ones intact
- Buy a 500-2000 GB external disk, and spend much time copying.
- Capturing video is the easy part.  Editing video is not for the faint of heart.  Packages are difficult to operate and always changing.  A very powerful PC/laptop is required (the most powerful Intel chip from two years ago is now too little.  Don't even think about the ULV power saving chips for playing the video, much less editing)
VLC will allow for easy playing, and snapshots while you are watching the video
- Google Earth: for now this first requires edited a movie, posting to it YouTub, and then geo-tagging.  This process may be simplified after some standby time during the upcoming fire season.
Sponsored by: