Picavet or Pendulum?

edited November 2013 in General
Hi, my name is Marty and i'm in 8th grade. I'm doing a research project on KAP and for part of it i'm doing a survey. Do you prefer Picavet or Pendulum and why?


  • Hi, Marty!

    Right now I use a Picavet, and with the exception of one experimental rig I only flew once, I've always used Picavet suspensions.


    I've been dinking around with a pendulum design I'm increasingly convinced is the direction I'd like to go. It's less portable than a Picavet and will require a slightly longer setup time to use. But it may provide a little better stability for the camera. Only time will tell. If I like it, I'll switch. If I don't I'll keep using a Picavet.

    Welcome to KAP!

  • Picavet, as I'm new to KAP as well, and it seemed like this was the was to go. Extremely simple set-up, homemade with lightweight plywood and eye bolts. One for straight down shots worth GoPro, another were I can angle the camera using the case and fittings. Toying though of making a even simpler pendulum rig for same canera
  • I use both. Picavet easily gets tangled, pendulum has to be long to give similar stability, so is less portable. In case of emergency it could so happen (it in fact did to me) that picavet tangles with kite line and is hard to remove quickly. My next rig is going to be pendulum.

  • edited November 2013
    Hello Marty-

    Glad to see you looking over our shoulder. Welcome ! I have been Kaping for about 7 years and have so
    far stuck with the picavet, which is not to say I haven't given some thought to several pendulums. When I first came
    across KAP, it seemed that picavet rigs were the norm, with not much mention of pendulum. From that limited experience,
    I would guess that many of us fell in to the same slot. But as a surveyor, you know you need a much greater sample than
    my simple opinion.

    From a youthful standpoint, not that it's directly related to your endeavor, but John Wells of the UK, a member of this group, has been doing a lot of work with KAP and students. I am curious about how you learned about KAP. I hope you stick around and get
    in to it. It can be a very satisfying, creative and relaxing endeavor. Not to say it doesn't have its moments of hell.

    I sure that any of us on this forum will be glad to help you in any way we can. Good chance you'd be the youngest of
    our bunch, and that's a global position!

    Good luck.


  • Hi Marty

    I'm another picavet-only user. You might take a quick scan of the KAP Rigs group - that will give you a feel for how many use each type (there are several hundred rigs there and you can usually tell by looking if they use a picavet or pendulum).
  • edited November 2013
    Welcome to the group. I'm a picavet user, never had much of a problem with tangles, its just a matter of working out your process of attaching and detaching with line storage between flights. I did extend the length of the rod between the cross and the rig, this seems to make the rig a little more stable as it take a little more energy to upset it. A kind of mini pendulum picavet cross over design.

    KAP rig 2010-11-29_00001
  • Hi nitramk
    I've been kapping for 9 years and built 4 kap rigs. I always used Picavet. I like it, it works well, simple to build, easy to transport, easy to install. I never tried pendulum. It seemed to me that picavet was a more natural choice as most rigs i've seen were based on picavets.

  • edited November 2013
    I've only used a Picavet too, for about 250 KAP sessions in 3 years. I use it because it works and because this is how I started...
    If you ask the same question in the French KAP forum, you will probably get more pendulum than picavet responses. So I guess that a pendulum works too... :-)

    Like Tom I plan to try a pendulum some time because the picavet does not work very well on a steep kite line (that's what you get wit a Rokkaku kite). My expectation is that the undesired pan movements are less of a problem with a pendulum.
  • Hey, Marty.

    As my name suggests, I haven't been doing this for very long, and I don't get the chance to fly my kites as often as I'd like... but, for me, this KAPing malarky's about what you can build (and perhaps design) yourself, then modify according to your observations and your own needs.

    We know that both pendulum and picavet are capable, and we know that both are used by long-time KAPers... so the question becomes...
    What can you contribute to the pool of knowledge by making your own observations and doing your own thing?
    Obviously, there's the element of standing on the shoulders of those who walked this way before, but think... what can you add?
    Even if it turns out your idea's been done 100 times before - you may be the guy that adds the extra twist that then shakes out that last niggling problem - you never know!

    Here are 2 of mine...

    Dive on in, son... get wet and see what happens. There are lots of decent guys here who can help you out if that's needed.

    Best with it.


    (pendulums for me - I like to watch them and figure out what's going on)
  • Puffin,

    What is the green thing attached to the left side of your picavet?

    Thanks, Larry
  • edited November 2013
    Hi Marty,
    Glad to hear you are interested in learning more about KAP. I was about your age when I first became interested in aerial photography in the early 1970's as a hobby and have pursued it ever since. I've found that KAP and low altitude aerial photography in general are very interesting and rewarding hobbies and pursuit of them can turn into a life long adventure.

    There is an incredible wealth of knowledge on this forum as I'm sure you've already found, and I encourage you and your classmates to explore the many topics discussed here. You can use the search feature of this discussion forum and read some of the related discussions on your particular subject of interest (Use the "Search" and "Search Old Site" utilities in the tool bar at the top of this page to search for "pendulum" or "Picavet").

    There are several pro's and con's for both picavet and pendulum designs as pointed out above and in the other discussions in this forum. I personally use a pendulum design for my rig because I like to use a shuttle mechanism that can be raised and lowered along the line independent of the kite. You can have a look at some related information contained in "Sets" on my Flickr site (www.flickr.com/iowakaper/sets). Some of the Sets you may find of interest are:

    Kite Line Shuttle
    Passive Pendulum Dampers
    Active Stabilized Mini Rig
    Gyro-Synchronized Shutter Control
    Early Aerial Adventures

    Do you plan experiment with KAP for yourself? If so, we look forward to hearing how things develop for you. And please feel free to post additional questions here and to share what you've learned along the way.

  • edited November 2013

    I use a pendulum and a Picavet.

    The logic is that the pendulum is more stable across the direction of the kite line ( lateral swing stabilised) and the Picavet more stable along the direction of the kite line (vertical swing stabilised) this difference is an issue for me because of the effect of a gyro stabilised tilt axis on my rig.

    The pendulum is able to get the best out of the gyro if the camera points along the kite line, the Picavet can swing and wobble across the kite line and negate the action of the gyro.

    The theory is that I choose the pendulum if I'm shooting down wind and the Picavet if I'm shooting cross wind. In practice it comes down to how rough the motion of the line is: I find the Picavet works fine in smooth conditions and the pendulum copes with a lot more movement of the line.

    I like the pendulum as its robust, easy to handle and has no knots to worry about. I like the Picavet as its lightweight.

    It might be fun to get some measurements on the diffferent behaviour of 2 systems.

    Good luck,


  • edited December 2013
    Currently, I use a Picavet.

    However, about half of the 85 KAP kits that we have donated in our scheme so far: http://www.SNAPScheme.info are a form of pendulum.
    We distribute the pendulum Starter Kits mainly to schools, and beginners, because of their simplicity, low cost and stability:

    Along with Paul Costelloe, I am intrigued to learn where you discovered about KAP ;o)
    Do you intend doing it yourself?
    I was out with a primary school class (P6) only this morning, flying both systems. Here is one of their images taken with the Standard Kit:

    We are hoping that other schools and colleges around the world will take up KAP as a valuable educational tool. Few systems are so environmentally friendly, inclusive and applicable to so many different subject areas, and allow original research, for such a low cost.
    My only regret is that I discovered KAP late in life, after I had retired.....but I am now making up for lost time ;o)

    We expect that our KAP kits, and interactions with educational institutions and individuals, will evolve and improve with feedback.
  • I discovered KAP 3 years ago at WSIKF and just began doing it myself last year.
  • edited November 2013

    (1) My first "{primitive”} KAP rig, that I built during the 1980's, was a pendulum.

    My second rig, that I built around 2004<?> - which has been modified *several* times since then - is a Picavet. I use that rig currently.

    (2) Good luck with your research project!
  • Marty,
    I prefer my pendulum rig that turns when it swings (no motors or remote control). It's discussed
    I prefer it since I have direction control, and because I tend to get tangles in my picavet line fairly regularly.
    But that's only when I carry a kite with sticks like my delta.
    I use a plain old picavet (also without motors) if I only have my soft kite along, especially if I'm on foot or on a bike, since it's easier to stuff in a backpack.
    They are both pretty light.
  • Thanks to all of you for responding, my project is coming along great and the info has really helped.
  • ...and another thing about the pendulum, its really tough: I just twanged a 'phone line with my rig and, if I'd used a Picavet I'm pretty sure it would have of wrapped itself around the obstruction- the pendulum being a bit more rigid just bounced the rig off the line. Not a happy thing to do but I was glad of the pendulum in that situation- I didn't like the idea of having to contact the 'phone company to rescue my camera!

  • edited December 2013
    Here is an example of the transverse coat hanger pendulum in action, in less that favourable conditions.
    Note how the back and forth motion of the intrusive pendulum has a minimal effect on the video.
    The transverse motion is more problematic.
  • That video is really cool! Was that a fish eye lens?
  • edited December 2013
    It is the 120° wide-angle lens that comes on the the £29, 720p HD 808#16D keyring camera (http://www.armadale.org.uk/snaps.htm#systems), as used for the videos in my first posting on this page.
    Here is another example:
    where, towards the end of the video, I walk forwards to slacken the line and steady the image, as originally recommended by Simon.
  • I saw where you slackened the line. It helped to steady the video.
  • Slack line flying is da bomb. I don't always manage to pull it off, and some kites fly that way better than others. But you can't ask for better conditions for stability in the rig.

  • edited December 2013
    A few slack line techniques when you don't have the perfect kite -- are smoothly walking toward the kite, letting out line smoothly, flying from a ridge or building top with the rig below you (allows use of underpowered kites), two kite techniques with rig on underpowered distal kite line, line weights above rig, . . .

    No matter how you do it, it's more fun in my book.
  • Back to the original question, prefer picavet or pendulum? I like a picavet to keep the camera steady.
    5 years ago, I tried several pendulums, up to 36 inches long, and I thought I was doing ok. A pendulum is convenient to attach to the line.
    Then I finally made my first picavet and haven't go back to a pendulum since.
    With the pendulum and an old 2 mp camera, I was getting 5 good pictures out of a 100. The only sharp pictures were when the camera had swung all the way to one side or the other. And the swing didn't look that bad from the ground. But the camera sure noticed it.
    With my first picavet and the same camera, i got 80 good pictures out of a 100.
    With the more modern cameras, higher iso, and high shutter speeds, I might be able to make up for the difference between a picavet and pendulum. But I have learned what gives me sharp pictures.
    I have learned to store my picavet by first hooking one end to the other so one set of 4 lines can't pass through the other and make a tangle before I wrap it up.
  • One issue I've had is, in windy conditions the rig flips around the line. The picavet gets tangled and points the camera strangely while the pendulum goes back to position. My levi overflies often, which is more than the picavet can handle and I get a lot of ground shots when I'm trying for the horizon. But basically I'm lazy - when the kite goes up I can attach the pendulum (with a safety clip) much faster.
  • That's a great method for storing my picavet! I have also had that difficulty of my picavet wraping around the line.
  • Hi Marty,

    I, too, use Picavet-only. Mainly because that's the only [thing] I had access to, but more importantly, I like the compactness of a Picavet. I'm very disciplined with my line, so never had a real problem with tangling.

    I believe if you post the same question on the French KAP Forum, you'll get more people using Pendulums.
  • When space allows I like to fly 2 cameras from my kite line. The weight saving of the Picavet helps.

    Shot from a Picavet suspended camera:

    Shot from a pendulum suspended one on the same line:

    There is not much to choose between them!
    The pendulum has the advantage that in rough conditions it can't wrap itself around the kite line, I prefer it because it is robust and less likely to snag on things.


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