Building and Testing a New R/C KAP Rig

While it’s been cold this winter, I’ve been busy designing and building a new KAP rig. I have used an R/C rig one time before, almost a year ago, with my Canon Powershot S100 camera. Unfortunately, I had a mishap and lost the entire rig the next time out, so I didn’t get to use it much. I eventually replaced that camera with the Sony RX0, which I am still using now, and an AutoKAP rig, which I used for the rest of 2021. While I like the simplicity of an AutoKAP rig, at times I wished I could manually compose and choose when to take my pictures, so I decided to build a new R/C rig around the Sony RX0.

The design was done using the free, open-source 3D CAD modeler, FreeCAD. It is very similar to my previous rig. The main design goals were:

  1. Pan, tilt, and shutter control
  2. Video downlink via a smaller, secondary FPV (first-person view) camera
  3. Capability to remotely switch the video transmitter off to save battery
  4. Under 400g total flying mass
  5. Ability to rotate the lower section of the frame between landscape and portrait orientation

After completing the design, I had the wood parts laser-cut out of 3mm plywood. Building it was fairly simple, and everything functioned as intended. Once I got a nice enough day, I took it to St. Mary’s College for flight testing, which is a relatively scenic location with a large field that makes a great KAP test location. (This is actually the same location of the one and only successful flight of my first R/C KAP rig. Hopefully this one will not meet such an early demise.) I made a video detailing the build and testing process, which can be viewed below.

Here are a few of the aerial photos from the KAP session. Not exactly “portfolio pieces,” but nice enough anyway. I look forward to my next flight with this new KAP rig!

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