Dumb KAP Mistakes



  • WW, I must report a genuine LOL moment when I read that one. "Hopped in car to pick up dinner.....".
    You are a legend.
  • I'm currently on vacation staying on the beach in the Outer Banks of NC. I've got several items I can add just from this particular trip.
    I use a Futaba radio system and I have 3 chargers that will work with this radio system. Every single one of those 3 are in my basement 800 miles away. So after a 60 mile drive to nearest hobby shop the other day, I now have 4 chargers.

    Getting ready to launch the rig the other day and noticed that a couple of the legs were loose in their sockets. No problem, just give a little squeeze of the sockets with the leatherman and they'll tighten right up. So where's the leatherman? 800 miles away in a basement next to 3 radio chargers.

    Then had my own incident with the kite hooked to an open clip yesterday, but mine has a different twist. We've had horrible KAP weather here this week. Got a few shots the first day and nothing since. Yesterday we tried a few different locations but couldn't find enough wind to lift the rig. On one of our failed attempts I had our ITW Delta up on our lightest line. When we brought it down, I found the that clip was open. Could have sworn I had closed it but it was open on landing. Hmm... Just before we left the house yesterday I was going over the equipment and I changed out the clip on the light line. I'd had a heavyweight clip on there and figuring that I only use the light line when winds are super light and also figuring that any fractions of an once I can save will mean more fractions of an once I'll be able to lift, I swapped out the heavy clip for some lighter ones I bought a few months ago. You can guess where this is going. Launched the delta on the light line from the deck of our rented house this morning in light but steady winds just to see if I could find any lift above the roof tops. Surprisingly I got the kite up and found some half decent pull which seemed like it might lift the rig. So I tied the line off and dashed in the house to get the rig set up. Just as I got it ready, it started to spit rain. Waited a bit, rain got heavier so I started pulling the kite down. Got it down to about 20ft about the roof top and with the pop the line dropped and the kite started floating away with the wind.

    Luckily we found the kite on a roof two houses down. And luckily the house it landed on had a roof top deck so getting it back was no problem. No damage to kite or roof. When I wound the line in I found it didn't break. The light clip opened up and let loose. Lesson learned. Low wind light line still needs a beefy clip even if it weighs a bit more.

    Oh and forgotten camera? Done that. Not this trip but I've definitely done it. Same with forgotten memory cards and full memory cards.
  • Finding out that after two hours of video recorded testing on a new platform that the camera does not record video with the screen closed after returning home.
  • I'd had a lovely week KAPing with my newly finished Dopero Drone. On the way to Bolton Abbey kite festival I made a detour to the large Cow & Calf rocks as the wind was perfect, the sun was shining in a clear blue sky and all was right with the world, as they say. I picked up my kite and rucksack with the line, gloves, spike, clips etc and hiked up the escarpment. When I got there I put the kite and bag on the grass and said "******* **** etc" The bag with the KAP rig was still in the van ! I just enjoyed some time flying the kite and wandering around the top of the area looking at the inscriptions carved over the (hundreds of ) years and decided to come back another day.

    Fly High

  • edited October 2011
    Not meaning to mock your misfortune as I also recently walked to a KAP target only to find that I had left my camera and rig in the car. Here for everyone else are the Cow and Calf.

    Cow and Calf Rocks, Ilkey Moor

  • Got one of my own from today:

    I regularly photograph one of the school gardens in town, and was asked to photograph another. Today looked like a good day, so I brought my gear in to work, figuring to do KAP at lunch time. Noon rolled around; I grabbed my gear and headed out. The new location is nigh close to unfliable, so I gave it a miss and went to the garden I KAP regularly. I put up a Nighthawk, attached my rig, turned off my transmitter... Wait a sec... Turned it OFF?! Yep, it had been left on for two weeks.

    With KAP done for the day I packed up and headed over to the hardware store to get the stuff that I think will let me photograph the unKAPable garden... only to discover my wallet wasn't in my pocket. It was back at work. Which also killed my chances of eating lunch. So no KAP, no non-KAP, and no lunch. Yay.


    P.S. Batteries are charging.
  • I'll add to the lack of tripod screw dilemma, except that there used to be five in my kit and discovered last week there was now none at a location 6 hours drive from my home.
  • I was KAPing a field that bordered the parking lot where I had parked my car. When I was ready to bring my kite down, I set my remote control on the the asphalt in front of my car. I then walked out into the field while bringing my kite down.

    Got my rig and kite down and packed up, walked to my car, got in, started the engine, put it in gear, looked out my windshield and saw the top of my remote's antenna sticking up in front of the hood. I threw the car into park and jumped out to get the remote.

    I was darn lucky I didn't drive over it. From that day forward I decided if I ever encounter a similar situation, I'll set the remote down beside the driver's side door so that there's no way for me to get into the car without seeing it.

    From Gary
    KAP on the Space Coast
  • I've got one more story to add, though it isn't strictly KAP. If I had done it as KAP, though, it would've been even worse!

    The headmaster at the school one of my daughters goes to asked for an aerial photograph of the student garden so they could plan future work. The intent is to project it onto a big sheet of butcher paper and have the kids sketch out the major features of the garden: making their own map. I was thrilled!

    Except that there's nowhere to fly. The school is bordered by 80-100' eucalyptus trees, and power lines go directly over the school building. KAP was out of the question. Because of the height required, so was my 24' pole. It was howling tradewinds, so it didn't seem like a good day to get into balloon aerial photography. Instead I used the trees.

    The initial thought was to use a slingshot to shoot a weight up and over one of the overhead branches, with a length of light kite line tied to it. Voila, instant aerial platform! But it was not to be...

    I destroyed my slingshot trying to pull this off. Eventually I resorted to using the kite line like a sling to throw the weight up and over. This resulted in numerous line tangles and a whole new method for laying out line so it doesn't tangle. (Flaking by itself didn't work.) The weight I was using was insufficient to pull the line down the far side of the tree branch, so I eventually tied a small rock to the line to make it work. After two hours I finally had a line in place. The rock end of the line was dangling down in a stand of holoholo grass. This is the same grass I lacerated myself on when I did a fundraiser session a few months back. I wasn't as badly cut up as during that session, but I was bleeding by the time I had both ends of the line at my "flying" location.

    I'd charged the batteries (see my lesson learned above), so it was a simple matter of hanging the rig, turning on the rig, radio, and camera and... No card.

    By this time there was no stopping me. I was almost ready to climb the string myself and just sketch the danged garden by hand! Instead I rolled all my gear up in a towel (which I was carrying because it was essential to one of the earlier line-handling techniques I'd tried that failed), shoved it under the school building, and literally ran to work to get a memory card. I ran back, pulled everything back out, loaded the card, formatted it, and put it back on the line. I made the photographs, pulled it down, and... Everything was hopelessly fuzzy. My camera was still set on manual focus from an indoor session I did earlier in the weekend.


    Format, AF on, IS on, put the @#$^ rig BACK on the line, haul it BACK up into the tree, repeat the @#$% session, and bring it all back down. The wind really made things sway too much to get clean photos, and half of them were blurry. But I called it quits anyway. Enough mistakes for one day. But I left the line in place in case the headmaster says she wants any other photographs. That'll be an exercise for another day.


    P.S. Batteries are charging AND I just ordered a spare card for my camera. Eventually I'll get this right.
  • Yesterday. Wind gusting to 30 knots. No gloves in bag.
    FAIL. Go home :-(
  • Frightening ramblers who were out for a walk at the foot of a hill, as they saw six foot high bracken parting down the hill at considerable speed, as if a wild animal was chasing towards them.

    It was just yours truly having paid too much attention to the sky and not to where I was placing my feet. I had stepped off a short vertical drop and then rolled - something someone my shape can do expertly.
    A wild animal may have been less frightening ;o)

  • I alluded to this in the rig stability thread, but this is what happened last night:

    I finished my gimbal rig last night. There was fairly mild wind in my neighborhood, so I opted to fly it at the end of the driveway. A quick note about the wind in my neighborhood: 90% of the time it's blowing tradewinds, which means the wind comes off of the mountain behind my house. When the wind is blowing tradewinds, there is often large scale turbulence in the wind that makes kite flying really tough. I've flown a FF16 and a Nighthawk in this wind, but not much else. Last night it was blowing tradewinds, but it was mild enough to make me think it would be safe. I was wrong.

    I put up a FF16, got it flying as well as I could, and put the new rig on the line. For the record, I like the gimbal for how the line attaches to it. Sorry, no pictures at the moment, but those will be posted this weekend. I put the rig up a few minutes before sundown, figuring it would be a good chance to test stability in the late evening light. I had the camera set up to do stills rather than video, so no real analysis. And as it turns out the stills were done using my daytime settings, so they were all dark and didn't really give a good idea of what a slower shutter speed would've given me. In short, the test was a complete wash. Rats!

    As the sun set the wind picked up. And as the wind picked up the large scale turbulence structures got bigger and wilder. I went from mildly slack line flying to iron bar flying in a few minutes. As soon as I felt it happening I said to myself, "That's it," and tried to take line in. But by then it was already pulling too hard to use my reel as a reel, so I started taking it in hand-over-hand.

    Each minute the kite was in the air the pull increased. By the time I'd pulled the camera halfway down (and it was only 100' out to begin with) I was exhausted and the line was singing. I've only had my #200 Dacron line sing like that a couple of times. It was scary. With the rig still some 50' out the kite inverted and flew at the ground. I let out line, and the kite righted itself. But now the rig was back out at 100' and the wind was even faster. I was worse off than before. I went back to taking in line hand-over-hand. I got it back to about 50' again when the kite inverted for a second time. I let out line as before, but this time the kite kept going straight at the ground. Even worse, the sudden release of line let the camera and rig leap into the air, only to come right back down into the street.

    This is the first time I've ever really crashed a rig. I've had some hard landings, some of them on rock. But this is the first time I've ever watched one of my rigs hit something so hard that bits flew off. I thought I'd get a sinking feeling or something, or at least let go with a Charlie Brown "Good grief!" I honestly didn't have time to. Even as the rig hit, the kite righted itself and flew back up into the sky, dragging the damaged rig with it.

    At this point I was more worried about hitting someone or some thing than the damage to my gear. I figured it was a total loss. But it was still attached to the kite, and was flailing around in the sky. Because I'd let out line it was back out at 100' from the winder. Again. My hands were cramping, and I figured I only had one more shot at bringing it down.

    On a whim, as it whipped past a tree I intentionally let the rig hit the tree to try to bring it to a stop. It snagged, and I managed to reel in all but about 30' of the line before it pulled back out again. Now in addition to being broken, it had tree bits stuck all over it. I managed to hand-over-hand the rig to the ground and get it off the line. With the heavy stuff off the line I could finally tie the whole mess off and walk down the kite. By that time the wind speed was easily more than double what it had been when I'd started. Less than ten minutes had passed.

    Now for the amazing part: I powered off the camera, and the lens retracted normally. I powered it back on, and it came back on just fine. When I hit the shutter button, it took a picture. (This is how I know less than ten minutes had passed: time stamps are great.) The gimbal also survived. So did the tall center post. And the cross-bar. And the counterweights. From the gouges on one of the counterweights, I'm pretty sure that's what hit first. The rig was upside-down when it hit the street. The Brooxes Better Gear Guide on my pan axis also came away almost completely unscathed, though the bracket is slightly bent. Nothing that can't be fixed by hand once it's taken apart. The real damage was done to the main frame and the HoVer frame, both of which got mangled. But all three servos survived, as did almost all the other hardware in the rig. I figure the damage to the main frame and HoVer frame can be fixed with some gentle persuasion once the rig is disassembled.

    The ONLY part of the rig that didn't survive was the right angle USB adapter I use to plug my CHDK cable into the camera. I'm going to order one off of Ebay as soon as I finish this post. It's about $5 worth of hardware.

    But that wasn't the only casualty of the evening. I've got more white hair now than I did before. I can't point to any one thing I did and say "BAD!" but on the whole it WAS bad. The lesson I'm taking away from all this is not to assume I understand the wind as well as I thought I did. I'm never doing KAP in my neighborhood again. At least not when tradewinds are blowing. The wind is just too unpredictable, and it's just not safe. Never again.

    I probably could've avoided a lot of this if I hadn't been testing new hardware at the time. Much of the safety we bring to KAP is our own experience with our gear: with the kites, the rigs, all of it. As soon as that experience is set aside for the sake of a test, it is inherently less safe than if we're flying gear we're familiar with. Learn your gear, learn your limits, and stay safe.

  • Remember to check that the camera lens is clean, it's all too easy to touch the cover glass on my Pentex W80, no lens cover. This last weekend I camped at a Vintage Steam Engine Rally. Friday afternoon got the rig up for an hour in near perfect conditions before the wind dropped late afternoon. Just reviewed the images and the out of focus area is plain to see.

    Klondyke 2011-10-14_00023 by Barry Carpenter, on Flickr

    One of the vintage steam engines for those that are interested.

    Klondyke 2011-10-16_00007 by Barry Carpenter, on Flickr

    Anyway, come Saturday I put my Triton up on the lunchtime. I had 10 minutes clean wind before the Triton started to over fly, 80 degrees, 90 degrees then 110 degrees, a 180, then a dive, the line was piling up behind me. A breeze snapped the kite back down wind after a 50 foot drop. Time to bring it down, put a couple more over flys and 180's taking in line and letting out again with my Stratospool, a very intense bit of single line kite control. Finally brought the kite down to my hand and gave up for the weekend, as Sunday we had zero wind, but very hot and Sunny for mid October days and a touch of frost over night, the first of the year.

    The view from my camper first thing Saturday morning.

    Klondyke 2011-10-15_00003 by Barry Carpenter, on Flickr

    Interesting bit of info. just over a mile from this photo, behind the church tower to the right, is the site of the largest non nuclear explosion during WW2, 4 kilo tonnes of ammo dump. There is a 600 foot crater that is one of my KAP goals.
  • SueSue
    edited October 2011
    Here's another fingerprint story.

    I went up Roseberry Topping in Cleveland/ North Yorkshire in the UK on Sunday to do some KAPing. Half way up, I decided that the kite was flying a bit to the right and brought it down to alter it. I took the rig off, and like Barry I must have touched the lens on the W90 which is flat like the W80. I climbed up and up to very near the top, flying the kite and KAPing, but when I reveiwed the photos whilst up there, there seemed to be a mist on the later ones. This area had increased in size from when I had re-attached the rig till some of the 'Best' photos near the top were like the second one here. When I looked at the lens there was a fingerprint which had caught the sun and obviously attracted condensation too.
    I thought about doing a bit more but I'd been out 2 1/2hrs already so called it a day and was back at the van in 1/2 hr for a well earned ice cream!


    Roseberry Topping, Cleveland UK KAP pan
    (Pan stitched with 'autostitch' panorama program)

    That's another thing to check.

    Fly High

  • Agree lens issues are fairly common.....especially over exciting KAP targets. See similar story here ..... slimed!

  • I added video downlink from my S95 a few months ago. I went KAPing this weekend at a location with over-the-water shots. The video downlink worked great and allowed me to position the rig better than just guessing. So, while I'm watching the video monitor (strapped to my forearm) with great interest, I didn't notice the lull in the wind. Fortunately, I look up soon enough to see the rig about 30 feet above the water and descending . Quickly pulling in line kept the rig from going in the water, but it was an exciting, too-close moment.
  • edited October 2011
    At the weekend I had my first bike KAP experience. Partly to get fit but also to reduce my waistline I have got my bike sorted and took it over to my in laws on the coast. The plan was get dropped of in Blackpool with my bike and ride back stopping at several preselected KAP targets. I thinned my gear to fit in a small backpack and chose to just take my ff16 and PFK. The wind felt right and fitted the forecast. There was the mistake. Although I managed the first target with the PFK it was right at its lower limit. Further down the promenade I tried to photograph a giant mirror ball. Here the wind was lighter and despite my best effort I failed to gain enough height with either kite. I had no problem cycling with a kite strapped to the cross bar and to prevent this happening again next tine I will carry at least one more kite with me.

    Part two of this story happened today. I took my gear out of the small backpack into my usual bag. Or so I thought. 16 miles from home I start unpacking my bag and realised that I had not put the reel of line that I use with my Rok in the bag. Doh! Luckily lurking at the bottom the bag was a real of heavier line and the wind was strong enough to work with it.

    So the lesson is check and double check your bag and if in any doubt take more kites.

  • Martin, did you bike anchor??!!
    Fort Tourgis, Alderney
  • I did consider it but I also had lots of railings and seats as well. The wind was light enough to not need an anchor so I never got to test the idea.

  • I had a 2 hour/3 session blast over on Jersey's SE corner yesterday with a mate in tow assisting where appropriate which was useful because the wind was blowing force 6-7, gusting 8+ - not that pleasant even with the PFK to hand.
    Rounds 1 and 3 went to plan as much as the wind direction would allow.
    Round 2 was the shortest of the 3 short sessions (thankfully...) targeting Le Hocq martello tower. The kite was flying for no more than 15 minutes. Attached to my rig were the GoPro 960 and Canon S95 pointing straight down. I distinctly remember checking the cameras before releasing from the anchor and sending them up because a dog-walker passed close by as I was doing it. First dumb thing I must have NOT done was press the shutter button on either camera. Second dumb mistake was assuming that I had and not check the photos on the S95 before moving on.
    Now 240+ sessions into my KAPing, this is a new one for my personal list of dumbassness. Failing to trigger one of them would have been bearable, but both is pretty stupid.
  • I fly with two cameras most of the time....the HD Hero2 and either the Canon S95 or my Sony NEX-5.

    I mount the Hero2 upside down on the bottom of my KAP rig attached with Velcro straps.

    I pre-set the camera functions in advance for the Hero so I can just do the start up and push the shutter to activate.

    The Velcro straps obscure the status screen....

    On a recent KAP flight I fired up the Canon S95 CHDK/SDM KAP scripts, activated the script confirmed operation...all OK.

    Next I fired up the Hero2 and activated the shutter....all OK...at least that was what I thought....

    Upon retrieving the KAP rig and looking at the pictures latter that night...I had a great set of shots from the S95 zoom brackets....and only 1 picture from the Hero2....

    Some how the Hero2 got started in the single picture count down mode and not the 5 second intervolmeter mode I had originally plan.

    Lesson learned...double check all cameras and servo operations twice prior to sticking the KAP rig up in the air.

  • Yup. Done that. I've had occasions where, after firing up the CHDK script, I inadvertently pressed the shutter button on the camera while attaching the camera to the rig. This of course puts the script in "pause" mode-- and no pictures! Now my last check before releasing the rig and camera into the sky is to make sure I hear a shutter click. As a result, the first picture or two of every one of my sessions is a really nasty closeup of my ear or my hairy nose.
  • Forgot that I had my ISO set for 800 on my NEX-5. Surprised the pictures came out not too bad. Next time...check the ISO.

  • I'll raise your 800 with a 1600 on my S95 a few weeks ago!!! Luckily it was just a test outing.
  • From a session yesterday: Although only 1 click apart on my Canon A650 settings, there is miles of difference in the outcomes of using time versus aperture mode. I do have some pretty full white frames now though.
  • After a few years of KAPing I have come to the conclusion that that Murphy's Law is in full effect during initial KAPing activities.

    If you have difficulty in launching kite and rig is low wind, chances are the camera batteries will fail after seven pictures of grass and my feet.

    If the wind is nice and stable, and the launch is easy and you have a fully charged camera battery, intervalometer's battery will die as soon as the kite leaves the ground, leaving you with only pictures of grass and my feet.

    If you encounter steady wind, an easy launch, fully charged batteries for the intervalometer and camera, you will have the focus on manual [ short range ], and have memory stick full of fuzzy unfocussed pictures.

    Only if you persist with KAP can you get to make your own mistakes no-one has made before.
  • So two weekends ago I had a trip to Filey a small seaside town about two hours away on the pretense of a nice family day out. Naturally I took my KAP gear and had an evil plan. On my two previous attempts to KAP Filey Brigg, an amazing slab of rock exposed at low tide, I have had the tide against me and then on the second attempt thick fog. This time the tide was good and the conditions were clear. The wind was a bit flaky but improved once I got away from the cliffs.

    First lesson learned. If you have to pack your kite in a hurry remember to untangle everything and repack it when you get home. Its not very helpful to find tangled bridles when you have a wind trying to launch your kite before its assembled and the only flat ground to lay it down consists of wet slimy rock.

    Second lesson. Once finished it is probably a good idea to pack everything in your bag and not do what i did. I kept the rig complete with camera in my hand while I walked back to the foot of the cliffs to sit down, have lunch and review my images. It only took one slip and I was on flat on my back with my rig squashed when I put my arms out to break the fall.

    Dumb mistake

    That was the end of my KAP day. luckily the camera was undamaged and I was able to bend the rig back into shape in a vice once I got home. The bruises took a few more days to mend.

  • edited December 2012
    I went to Dragon Boats Racing Festival in Flushing Meadows, Queens NYC. Most roads within park were closed that day cutting access to main parking areas (don't ask me where's logic in this). The ones that were open were made one way and had cars parked on both sides so I had to park far far away form the intended flying spot. Grabbed kite, reel and backpack with stuff and walked. I got to launch site, let kite out and tied it to a tree, hung rig on the line, set up camera I even took some pictures of the rig since I didn't have good ones yet. Some people approached me asking questions. I was eager to demonstrate how my rig functions, but all they saw was me helplessly turning my backpack inside out to find the radio transmitter. I called my wife but she just left hose heading in opposite direction. She called her father he went to our house and we did over the phone search for the radio (that does not really look like a radio). He agreed to bring it but I had to wind everything down and walk almost all the way back to access road to meet him. KAP-ing session followed but soon I realized how very thirsty I was. Of-course I forgot my water bottle in the car I also left my wallet in the there. Oh, dear. Wind down everything again and walk, or stay and KAP in the heat with nothing to drink? No, light was good wind was good I stayed for 3 more hours. I went home drank a pale of water and next day showed my colleagues at work results of that session. All was good. Copy, format card use again. Then before backup was done I erased directory that also contained pictures from this session and unfortunately made sure everything was deleted well. All I have to show from that day are some nice pictures of rig hanging on the line.

    Most important lesson for me from all of this: Always have something to drink on the hot day!

    Other one near miss. I was trying out my brand new delta on my favorite test field in park near my house. All went well. After half an hour or so of I decided to ground the kite and hook up GPS dongle to it. Minute after kite touched the grass New York Police Department Helicopter flown at speed right over my head. I heard him approach but he was so quick and so low that I would have no time to react should I had kite in the air. It was rather unusual maneuver on their part 100, 150 feet altitude maybe. I went home after that. I didn't want to risk new kite before I took some pictures with it.
  • Went out yesterday. The wind was enough to lift the Delta nicely, but not enough for the kite to lift the rig. Hmm...the FLED is in the car 100 yards away. Take the rig off the line and secure the line with Delta flying nicely to a post. Short walk to the car and back to find the Delta sitting in a tree. Fortunately, a bit of tugging pulled it free with no damage.
  • Just remembered another one. I used GoPro in its water tight enclosure on a hot steamy day. I loaded the camera in to enclosure probably with sweaty hands, closed and let it fly. Later when I brought camera down I noticed condensation on the inside of the enclosure right when the lens is. On the pictures you could see how protective glass of the enclosure fogs up with time and altitude obscuring the image lens was recording. Most pictures were unusable.
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