Vol. 07: Rocket-Launched Camcorder

Hack a $30, single-use camcorder to make it reusable, then launch it up in a model rocket and capture thrilling astronaut's view footage of high-speed neighborhood escape and re-entry.

+ Downloads & Extras:

More Tips

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The CVS camcorder does not record onto removable media. Non-hackers retrieve the video they've shot by returning the camera to CVS, paying a "processing" fee, and receiving their footage on DVD. Users are discouraged from downloading their own video from and reusing the camera by its non-standard hardware interface (based on USB) and unpublished, proprietary driver software. Hackers have developed easy workarounds for both of these deterrents:

  1. Wiring a standard USB cable's four leads to four connectors on the edge of the camcorder's mainboard gives the camera a working USB interface.
  2. Downloader software available at camerahacking.com lets your computer control and copy video from the camera through this new USB port. You can even upload modified firmware that increases the camera's resolution from 320x240 to 640x480

The camcorder is housed in the nosecone, with its lens looking out of a peephole cut in the side. An optional rear-view mirror redirects the view downward during the rocket's ascent.

A C-size motor can easily accelerate a rocket at 13g's. Larger motors and hard landings can generate even more. The Space Shuttle, for comparison, experiences a maximum acceleration of 3g's — this is limited to protect the astronauts.

+ High-Flying Video

Footage captured by John Maushammer's rocket-launched camcorder.

+ Launch 1

+ Launch 2

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