BEAR-9  -  February 11th, 2012

BEAR-9 was the first of a number of flights for Kevin, an artist/photographer from Vancouver, that needed a large format 4x5 inch film image for a project, like the SABLE-3 digital image from 117,597 ft.

Above - Kevin with the 4x5 camera he made from styrofoam to save weight while it hung from my workshop ceiling during tests of it's shutter control software. Below - The camera while in a freezer to see if the disk eject mechanism from a CD player (lower left in upper right image) used to operate the shutter would work down to at least -18 C.

The shutter release mechanism wouldn't work at cold temperatures and was replaced with something that did.

Above - Garrett drills a tiny hole in the lens shutter release lever for a wire rod from the replacement shutter release mechanism (left), a small modified R/C servo.

The control electronics were removed from the servo as we simply needed a small motor controlled arm. All traces of grease in the gear train was also removed to ensure cold temperatures wouldn't affect the motors operation.

Below - An identical modified R/C servo was used for the balloon release mechanism Garrett came up with.

I'm too busy with other projects, etc. to write more at this time, but wanted to get at least a few images posted and will add as many more as possible over the next few weeks of Kevin's 2 camera flights (BEAR-9 & BEAR-10).

Kevin holds onto the balloon as the rest of us ensure the trackers are both working ok before launching his camera.

The primary tracker is in the payload box with the camera, the secondary back-up tracker is in the smaller box hung below and the balloon release mechanism Garrett built can be seen just above the parachute. The two horizontal arms are 4 ft. long 3/8" sq. pieces of hard wood added to reduce the payload package rate of spin.

The above image is a frame from the GoPro camera video taken at 6000 ft. looking NW. The yellow arrow points to where we launched from and the image above of the airborne balloon and payload was taken from at approximately the same exact time. ( I love how my camera's image stabilization feature and long zoom lens allows taking such an image from so far away.) Following are some additional frames from the video after the balloon burst.
The balloon bursts at 118,146 ft. and a sec. later the video captures what remains of the balloon. Another sec. and everything is inverted as it begins to tumble back to earth and capture a number of images of the tracker that was hanging below until it reaches enough atmosphere for the parachute to begin functioning.

I've been learning all about editing HD video and hope to have the video from the on-board video camera's available before too much longer, but for now there's a story that was written for Canadian Art Online about our adventure that you may enjoy reading.



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