There are several small, high-definition video cameras on the
market. The author’s current favorite is the RunCam 2.
within the RunCam app. I typically
choose to record video at 1080p
resolution at 60 frames per second. I like
to use the widest field of view. You can
also shoot high-resolution still photos
with the RunCam 2. When doing this,
I set the camera’s time-lapse option to
snap a photo every 3 seconds.
Choosing a Model
I’ve mounted cameras to countless
models throughout the years. There is a
variety of applicable platforms. I suggest
that you start out with a model having a
wingspan of at least 40 inches. This will
usually give you plenty of lifting capacity
for one or two cameras without seriously
affecting the flying qualities.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether you
choose a high-wing trainer, a low-wing
sport airplane, or even a warbird. As long
as it can carry roughly 2 to 4 ounces of
extra weight (and most models of this
size can), you’re good to go. With a little
experience, you’ll soon figure out what
models work best for you.
The most significant factor when
selecting or setting up a model for
camera duty is vibration. If you’re
running an unbalanced propeller or have
a slightly bent motor shaft, the resulting
video footage will probably end up
distorted and unusable. There are tons
of other benefits to having a vibration-free power system (better performance,
longer equipment life, less airframe
fatigue, etc.), but it’s a key requirement
if you want to capture video worth
watching. Make sure things are tuned
and running smoothly.
There are infinite possibilities for
mounting a camera on your model. I’ve
used nothing more than hook-and-loop
tape on many occasions. Most of the
time, however, I utilize a few simple bits
of hardware. The RunCam 2 includes
a plastic cradle that tightly holds the
camera. The cradle has an insert that can
accept a 1/4-20 male fastener, which is
the standard fastener for camera tripods.
An optional mounting kit includes an
alternate insert that mates with GoPro
mounts. I prefer to use the GoPro
insert because of the variety of GoPro-compatible mounts that are available.
The setup that I use most often
consists of the RunCam 2 cradle with
GoPro insert, and a plastic GoPro tripod
adapter. The tripod adapter has the
interlocking fingers of a GoPro mount
on one end and female 1/4-20 threads
on the other. This configuration has two
advantages over using the cradle alone.
It elevates the camera above the
model by roughly an inch, which
generally provides a better point of view.
This system also allows you to adjust
the pitch angle of the camera. That
capability can be useful when framing
GoPro mounts use a 10-32 screw
with a plastic handle to tighten the
pitch joint. The screw threads into an
acorn nut that is seated on the mount.
I like to replace the stock screw with
a 2-inch 10-32 nylon screw that has
a 1-inch spacer threaded onto it. The
spacer provides a gripping surface so
that you don’t need tools to tighten
the screw. I also replace the acorn nut
with a standard 10-32 nut. Using the
nylon hardware shaves approximately 1/4
ounce from the mount. It’s not a huge
amount, but why carry around the
I use 1/4-20 nylon bolts to attach the
mount to the airplane. This means that I
have to drill a hole through the airframe.
A sharpened 1/4-inch diameter brass tube
works great for cutting clean holes into
all types of foam. You simply push the
tube into the foam with a slight
If you’re worried that holes will scar
your airplane, you might be surprised by
how subtle a 1/4-inch diameter hole can
be. I don’t usually bother to conceal the
holes when they’re not being used, but
you could always fill them or cover
them with tape.
The thickness of the foam determines
the required length of the mounting
screw. A handy feature of nylon screws
is that they are easy to trim to shorter
lengths by rolling them under a razor
blade. I’ve amassed a collection of 1/4-20
nylon bolts in many lengths. I also have a
number of foam and plastic spacers that
I can use in lieu of cutting a screw to
a specific length.
When you tighten the screw into
the mount, it will probably compress
the foam slightly and might leave an
indentation. To help alleviate this, I
use large-diameter washers made from
scrap pieces of sheet plastic. Product
packaging is a great source for this
plastic. I also like to add a 1/8-inch foam
rubber disc between the plastic washer
and tripod adapter.
Different airframes require different
camera mounting strategies. Some are
definitely more versatile than others.
One mounting position that seems
to work well on most airplanes is the
outer wing. Unless the airplane has
an extremely short wing or very long
fuselage, you can aim the camera inward
and get the entire fuselage in the shot.
It’s a fun perspective to watch.
I often drill one mounting hole near
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