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This forum is terrific, but it took a bit of searching to find it.

I am an aviation photographer, with experience in flying military jets. As well as taking my SLR in the cockpit, I am planning to mount some DSLR cameras in a special pod to take pictures of the outside of the aircraft.

As the military don't like me drilling holes in their jets, in order to run cables, I am interested in using some form of Radio Control to fire the shutter. Can this be done in a two stage action - to prefocus before the shot?

I also want to mount a live feedback video camera in the viewfinder, so that I can see exactly when to take each photograph. This of course, will also have to be transmitted back to me in the cockpit. Does anyone have any suggestions for a small, compact receiver and viewing screen to suit my environment?

At times I may also be in another aircraft, up to 1000ft away, and will still need to take the photos (and therefore see the video transmission).

Anybody see any other potential problems, or have advice?

Thankyou in advance, Mike. :)


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Anybody see any other potential problems, or have advice?

As simple as it sounds, this is a tough application. You would need to transmit from/to the external camera gear while you are comfortably inside the airplane. Have you confirmed that the metal skinned aircraft will allow you to transmit a signal through the hull? It will definately attenuate the RF, so the 1000' range requirement will need special consideration.

IR based solutions will not work well due to the strong ambient light. I would assume that there may be some restrictions to the RF freq and power that the flight engineers will allow you to use (RF gear is not welcome on most aircraft). Start with finding that sort of info -- then you can go from there.

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Most of the time I will be sitting in the front aircraft, where the gear is mounted. The DSLR would be sitting under the wing, so the range issue would be no problem. However sometimes I would be in the aircraft being photographed, and probably not more than 100m away, so 1000ft was a little ambitious.

Some of the aircraft will be metal skinned, but the canopy is just glass. Many of today's jets are composite construction, which shouldn't bother RF signals. As for bothering the aircraft signals, again no problem. It will be in a different signal range to their navigation systems, and besides, if the weather is poor enough to need those nav signals, I wouldn't be taking photos anyway.

However the pod that I want to mount the gear in would be metal (aluminium), so my biggest concern so far is antenna effectiveness. I remember in model aircraft it was best to mount the antenna outside of the fuselage, but then they were balsa and fibreglass, not metallic.

With the latest advances in RC helicopters carrying similar equipment, and doing commercial work, I'm hoping that there may be some commercially produced items that I may be able to plug together in relative ease for this application.

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The aerial will need to be outside the metal equipment box. For short effective antennas, I suggest that you use UHF or microwave RF signals.

For shutter activation, the 433Mhz key fob based RF systems might work out for you. Some electronic suppliers sell multi-channel Tx/Rx combo systems for integration into custom products. If you search the internet for "Holtek" you will probably find some RF apps that might help out.

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I work at AUAV with dave jones, we could easily come up with a solution for your situation. I don't know what he would want price wise and I don't know how much you are willing to spend. Email dave-AT-auav.net, copy and paste your messages from here and explain what you are trying to do.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Mike,

Depending on what type of SLR digital you have, there are probably systems already out there like the following one:



BTW, I think I've seen you post over on Warbird Aero Press? If so, you might ask Scott Germain as he's done some of the wireless triggering stuff, or is at least currently looking into it.

There's more than a few video systems that you can find that would probably transmit to a handheld tv.



Edited by Mluvara
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  • 4 weeks later...

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