TMSB: Camcorder


Camcorders- to capture and record footage of the flight.

The Creative Vado HD is the camera of choice for my project. Strangely, this has been the trickiest part of the project to complete as there are so many specifications of which the camera needs to meet.

In order to find a camera, I needed to meet these design specs:
  • A good quality or HD recording mode.
  • A battery duration of roughly two hours.
  • The ability to record continuously until the memory card is full or battery is drained.
  • An ability to withstand a good range of temperature, although not vital.
  • A fairly light and portable camera.
  • Easy to use functions and a good reputation.
Now you can appreciate just how specific the camera has to be for this project. After several trial cameras, I landed on the Creative Vado HD which hits all of the above specs.
At first I got a Sony Bloggie which seemed to fit the bill. It has a decent picture quality, a nice, sleep and portable design with the added bonus of a rotating lens.
However, after a quick test to see the record time, I was disappointed to find that it will only record a maximum of 20 minutes of footage before stopping to save the file. This means that I would not be able to press record again when the balloon is thousands of feet in the air.
Next, I tried a camera from China. Big mistake. Fair enough, it fitted all the specs perfectly and seems like the real deal. Almost too good to be true and over half the price it would sell for in the UK, I quickly grabbed the opportunity to buy it. It came nicely packaged but I was unable to understand the badly translated manual. With the lack of an LCD screen, I had to rely on a flashing light to tell me when the device was on, off, recording, paused etc. etc. This led to all sorts of problems and a day of effort just to figure out when it was recording.
Satisfied that I figured out which button did what, I left it to record continuously for a couple of hours. When transferring the footage to the computer, I found it had decided to record whenever it felt like it. Maybe 5 minutes to start with and stopping before recording a few more minutes here and there over the two hours.
I sent them back to China (after much effort just to get a return address) and am awaiting the refund to be processed back to my bank account. Lesson learnt.
I am now about to order the Vado and am confident it will do the job. Whether I order 2 of these is another question. I’m tempted to just order one and go ahead and launch the balloon as soon as possible without the second unique modification….or do I wait potentially a few more months before the launch for the addition of the second mod?
Everything seems to get busy when you don’t want it to. I have just moved into a flat with my lovely girlfriend who is very encouraging and motivates me to finish this project. The flat is the opposite. Although it’s a beautiful place to live, it has decided to make it’s worth known by providing me with plenty of bills to pay. Hello real world. Without access to broadband, I may not be updating as much as I can but rest assured, the project will be completed!

As we’re only at the beginning of the design and build process, we may encounter problems or decide to change the design based on other factors. We’ll try to keep everyone updated on the changes and will explain why we have done so.
Please leave a comment or if I have missed any vital information, let me know and I’ll edit it!