Vol. 01: Kite Aerial Photography Puts Your Eye in the Sky

To take pictures from a kite, you need three things: a kite, a camera, and a special rig that attaches the camera to the kiteline and activates the shutter button on the camera. Here's how to do it.

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Source List

Most, if not all for the materials you need for this project are available at hardware, craft, and office supply stores. If you can't find a particular item, or plan to make a lot of rigs (for a class project or the like) the following sources could come in handy.

  • Our dampening agent, Silly Putty, is very similar to Dow Corning 3179 Dilatant Compound (silicone polymer). The first site links to a fact sheet on DC 3179 and is source for bulk purchase. A retail egg of Silly Putty™ contains 0.47 oz. and costs around $3.00 – that’s around $100 per pound. If you want to make a bunch of these rigs for a school project, you can buy a pound of DC 3179 for $21 delivered. Better yet, the Crayola site sells five pounds of the actual branded Silly Putty product for $60.

  • The National Balsa Company of Massachusetts, “Purveyors of Fine Balsa”, is a handy and inexpensive source for the basswood and plywood used in the project. They offer glues as well. $25 minimum order.

  • K&S Engineering are an ubiquitous source for small metal sections like the brass tubes used in our viscous timer – their compact Tube and Wire Center displays are tucked away somewhere in many hardware stores. A quick WWW search (K&S brass tube) will yield hundreds of K&S vendors.

  • Small Parts Inc. How can you resist an outfit that bills itself as “the hardware store for researchers and developers”? A comprehensive, if occasionally pricey, Small Parts, Inc. is a fine source for a myriad of high quality parts.

  • Microfasteners of New Jersey is a convenient source for the small machine screws and can provide all connectors for this project including the nylon bolts.

  • A search for low cost sources of the Kodak MAX single-use camera led to an old favorite – the mail order photographic supplier B&H Photo Video in New York.


As you might expect, the Web offers an abundance of KAP information. A good starting place is the site I maintain, which has a lot of basic information along with links to other KAP resources.

Serves as an encyclopedia of sorts. This is the place to go to look for up-to-date KAP material. Announces new KAP sites, chronicles the KAP calendar, and offers a portal to KAP related posts on rec.kites and the discussion group of Notes on Kite Aerial Photography.

KAPER has discussions of equipment and technique. See, in particular, the impressive set of links to KAP-related resources on the web -- it is clearly the best I have seen.

Dr. Aber is a Professor of Geology in the Earth Science Department of Emporia State University. His interest in kite aerial photography has a practical dimension for his work applies remote sensing techniques toward the study of geology and geomorphology.

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