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Flight Log Updates

#186 - Level 1 HPR

#185 - Liquids in Zero-G

#184 - More Axion G6

#183 - Axion G6

#182 - Casual Flights

#181 - Acoustic Apogee 2

#180 - Light Shadow

#179 - Stratologger

#178 - Acoustic Apogee 1

#177 - Reefing Chutes

#176 - 10 Years

#175 - NSWRA Events

#174 - Mullaley Launch

#173 - Oobleck Rocket

#172 - Coming Soon

#171 - Measuring Altitude

#170 - How Much Water?

#169 - Windy

#168 - Casual Flights 2

#167 - Casual Flights

#166 - Dark Shadow II

#165 - Liquid Density 2

#164 - Liquid Density 1

#163 - Channel 7 News

#162 - Axion and Polaron

#161 - Fog and Boom

#160 - Chasing Rockets

#159 - Measurement

#158 - Dark Shadow

#157 - Polaron G2

#156 - Foam Flights

#155 - Down The Barrel

#154 - Revisits

#153 - ClearCam

#152 - Mullaley, Axion G2

#151 - Competition Day

#1 to #150 (Updates)

 

MD-80 Camera Clone

MD-80 Camera Clone

Ruben from the Yahoo water rocket forum posted a link (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/water-rockets/message/10369) to a site that sells very cheap MD-80 clone cameras. Having used the original MD-80 camera for a while, the opportunity to get a similar camera was too tempting and so for $20 including delivery it arrived 9 days later. Though it didn't come with the microSD card, it did come with some good accessories like the USB charger, cable and mounting brackets. For testing I ended up using the microSD card from the MD-80.

The camera is similar in shape to the original MD-80 although it is a little larger. The image quality and frame rate are quite good. The case is plastic which makes it about half the weight of the original camera. The camera only weighs ~20grams.

Krusty from the Forum for Australian Rocketry posted a link http://chucklohr.com/808/ to a great site that deals especially with these kinds of cameras. There is lots of good detailed information there.

Timestamp Filter

One of the biggest drawbacks of the camera is the permanent time stamp overlay on the video. There is currently no easy solution for removing the time stamp from MD-80 clone video as it is embedded in the video stream by the camera's firmware. There are various software post processing tools available to either crop or try to eliminate the timestamp. There have been filters done before for VirtualDub namely the logoaway one (http://voidon.republika.pl/virtualdub/ladocs301/logoaway.html ) but it is a more general filter. Here is a video of the logoaway filter at work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rgw7SNooD8w

I thought I'd have a go at writing a custom VirtualDub filter to try to specifically remove the time stamp as much as possible from the video. The filter is called Timestamp Remover and is now available for download from here: 

Filter Date Notes
timestamp.vdf 27/2/2010 Version 1.1 - beta release
timestamp_1_4.vdf 28/5/2012 Version 1.4 - Added loading and saving of settings to a file. Thanks to Dave Porter for suggesting to add this feature.

Source code is available on request if you are interested in extending or improving the filter.

Notes:

  • It still needs further tuning especially against deep blue sky, but otherwise it should be usable for most videos. 
  • I make no guarantees on how it will perform on any specific video. It has a number of configurable parameters that should help optimize its performance. I'm always happy to hear suggestions for improving it or any bug reports.
  • If green blocks appear in the timestamp window, that is currently a beta debug feature. It represents that not enough passes have taken place. It will be removed in the final release.

What can you expect from the filter:

The filter will NOT produce perfect results and completely eliminate the timestamp. The filter is designed to remove as much of the timestamp as possible to prevent it from being a distraction while watching the video. It attempts to preserve as much of the original data in the video. But the approach it takes is rather simplistic in order to be fast within VirtualDub. A number of artefacts will always be present. If the viewer focuses specifically on the timestamp area you will be able to see some of the artefacts. If however the viewer looks at the content of the video the artefacts are mostly unnoticeable.

The filter seems to perform better on fast moving action than in stationary shots. Therefore the filter is more applicable when filming action from moving objects.

Installing the filter:

Copy the timestamp.vdf file to the \plugins directory of the installed VirtualDub directory. The filter will be automatically loaded when you start VirtualDub.

Using the filter:

  • In VirtualDub from the Filters menu select "Timestamp Remover"
  • You can change the parameters for the filter if you like, but they are currently set to the MD-80 clone defaults. The filter window settings simply set the position of the filter over the timestamp. For best results this should be as small as possible and extend a couple of pixels past the outer bounds of the timestamp. The font colour range is set to the colour of the font used in the timestamp. (Yellow for MD-80 clone) The pixels in that colour range within the filter window will be processed and replaced.
  • Load the original AVI file with the timestamp into VirtualDub
  • Export the file as normal.

The filter should be usable for other similar videos from keychain or gumstick cameras, but has not been tested on those yet.

Here is a good step-by-step guide for using this filter with VirtualDub: http://digilander.libero.it/fotografarte/DO_NOT_DELETE/VirtualDub_tutorial.pdf

Examples:

Here are two examples of the filter at work:

 

Here are a few other videos made by various people using this filter:

In the following video only the in-flight video segments were shot with the MD-80 clone and these used the filter.


Making the MD-80 clone's LEDs easier to see

The status LEDs are hard to see through the microphone grating and its even worse in broad daylight. Here is how to fix it: Open the case (unscrew the 4 little screws) and use a Dremmel tool or file to cut away a part of the case exposing the LEDs. They are actually quite bright underneath.  Here are some photos of the results:

When you remove the tiny screws the camera easily swings open.
Remove a part of the case with a Dremmel tool. It's right next to the mic.
You now have much brighter LEDs in order to see what mode the camera is in.

 

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