Ballistic Aerial Photography

(Techniques using projectiles no higher than 60 metres - UK)

Rocketry FAQ

Aerial Photography Index

Near/Thermal Infra-red and UV Photography

Archaeology Index

This page will consider simple, cheap, low-level, low resolution (up to HD video) aerial techniques.

These techniques are being investigated as fun introductions to aerial photography. The outcomes of these experiments will be reviewed for inclusion on our Aerial Photographic Techniques for Children page.  Aerial photographic techniques are all potentially dangerous for the operator and others, including passing traffic.

Our experiments should be considered as 'work in progress' to find the cheapest, safest solutions for the different methods.  Responsible adults should always accompany children when using aerial techniques. The location for such activities should be controlled and remote from hazards (relative to the range of the device), buildings, people and animals. Techniques using combustion are not compatible with crops, especially at maturation!

Water Rocket Cam  Low-level ~30m


  An example of a larger rocket on YouTube.

The bottle we are using is from Lidl, Freeway orangeade, with the top of a bottle cut off to use as a nose cone.

Here, the bottle is fitted with 'Rokit' fins (including foam padding to stabilise the camera) along with the nose cone, which gently rests on top of the rocket (ie the base of the bottle) at lift-off. This bottle is useful as it does not have a uniform diameter, so bottles may be cut up and joined together, as with the nose cone. The above nose cone (top of a bottle) arrangement can deliver a hard blow in off-vertical flight when the cone tends to remain attached. Removing the neck of the bottle top and taping over the hole (as shown below) should be a safer arrangement.


£13-12p inc. UK postage

Initial flights: The silk parachutes work best with the camera placed above the parachute (which is placed over the bottle) on top of the rocket. This stops the parachute blowing away in light winds and allows the camera to fall in flight, thereby pulling away the parachute. A greater height can be achieved by using a nose cone but still with the parachute draped over the bottle.  Initial tests with the parachute and camera inside the cone increase the height even further, as one would expect, but the cone can jam onto the bottle at lift-off and remain there until landing. More tests underway.

Testing the 'Rokit'  

West of Mill Road, Linlithgow.

20 Jan 2013

'Rokit' with the parachute over the rocket and the camera inside the nose cone

Bronwen starts the pump with the 808#16D camera in the nose cone Lift-off  
The 'Rokit' falls away from the camera and parachute It would come down way over there! We are at the top right.
and again.....
Gently placing parachute and camera (in nose cone) onto the rocket Great flight but the nose cone jammed onto the rocket, so no photos!
The next step is to overcome the nose cone sticking onto the bottle, probably using spacers.
Wood Park, Armadale.

24 Jan 2013

Bottle, fins and a nose cone made by cutting off the top of a bottle and then cutting off the bottle neck. Sticky tape has been placed over the hole in the cone. The cone has 3 rubber spacers on it (to prevent sticking) and is also lifted slightly by the parachute but is pushed towards the bottle by lift-off. The launch pad is a bread board with a hook screwed into it.

Although we have bought in the Aquapod and Fullbore systems (see below) the above configuration works well. The height is more than is needed.

Camera deployed well below maximum height! Rocket falls away
...and away Heidi walking with a brolly top right
Armadale Bowling Club top left.  video clip
Woops! coming down into the trees
Parachute lands almost out of reach!

Two launchers that we have but have not far.


£22-95 inc postage   Video


(straight Launcher) £25-50 inc. UK postage  Videos  Aerial video .



Solid fuel rocket with camera eg Here

There is plenty of scope for refinement of this approach.  See more examples on YouTube

Rocketry FAQ


Catapult cam (pdf)

Under investigation

See also: Throw Ball Cam  (2) and another (2)


pArrowChute Cam Mk 1

Under investigation - do not have an approach to recommend for children as yet!

Configuration No.1: Camera: Fly DV FPV (640x480) 90°view, 60° rotatable lens. Non-tangle parachute with fibreglass arrow with tip removed and parachute securely fixed (epoxy resined well into the arrow shaft). Including delivery, the target price for the camera on eBay is about £25. A simple (YouTube) arrow cam example - not recommended!
Flight No1   The non-tangle netting impeded flight, being bulky, thereby offering too much air resistance. A softer material (silk?) would probably be better for the parachute without any netting.

Aerial Photographic Techniques for Children