My Powered Parachute Audio/Video Configuration – 11-8-2017

Most of the powered parachute videos I see online on YouTube either have just engine noise or some sort of background music going during the video. I wanted to do something different and have come up with a setup that allows all of my intercom audio as well as the radio traffic to be recorded on the GoPro along with the video. In my opinion this can make for a much more informative and interesting video since it allows me to narrate during the flight (instead of adding text or subtitles to the video). In addition, being able to capture people’s reactions during their first flight is just fantastic and is a great way to help them relive the experience via the video (for example see my video of Cheryl’s first PPC flight). I also think that having the radio traffic recorded brings another dimension to the video as well.

My setup consists of two Comtronics Ultra-Pro 2000 helmets and a Comtronics Ultra-Com II intercom box. For the video recording I use a GoPro Hero 4 Silver with the audio adapter cable mounted on an XShots Sports ballhead. The ball head is very useful in that it allows me to re-point the GoPro in flight to catch different views. In addition I also use a DigiPower 12 hour GoPro battery to ensure that I capture the entire flight without running out of battery power. All of this is attached to a ManFrotto Super Clamp which is clamped over an old neoprene mouse pad on to the right CG tube of my 1999 Buckeye Dream Machine. The mouse pad is used to dampen the vibrations to the GoPro and has worked very well. Every piece has a safety cable attached to it so that it cannot fall from the aircraft and possibly go through the propeller and onto the ground. I do also have an old GoPro Hero 2 and have another ball head on order so I can get even more video from a different location on the aircraft. I will not need to worry about audio from the second GoPro since I will just use the audio from the main GoPro for the video.

Any place where there is a cable-cable connection (i.e. stereo cable -> GoPro audio cable) has gaffer tape around it to prevent accidental disconnection. The point where the GoPro audio cable connects to the GoPro itself via the micro-usb connector is very fragile and can easily become disconnected or even have the connector itself damaged from being moved to extreme angles. To help beef up the connection, I use a bit of poster putty (kind of like Silly Putty) around the base of the connection to keep the connector seated and to prevent the cable from bending backward or forward and possibly damaging the internal connector on the GoPro or the cable connector. This connection is very sensitive and if the connector is not properly centered, you can lose all audio input via the cable and be left only with engine noise from the GoPro microphone. I had several flights where I had this problem and the putty solved this issue completely.

When I am flying alone, I simply plug the pilot headset into the pilot jack on the intercom and plug the GoPro audio cable to the copilot jack. When I have a passenger on board, I plug in a stereo 1/4″ M-FF ‘Y’ cable into the copilot jack and then plug the passenger headset and GoPro audio cable into the ‘Y’ cable (see the following diagram below). Another thing to watch out for is to be sure the passenger audio volume is turned up sufficiently so that there is ample audio signal going to the GoPro.

GoPro Mount Detail:

Note the safety cable routed through the attachment on the back of the GoPro battery:

1/4″ Stereo ‘Y’ Cable:

I hope this article is useful and if anyone has any comments or feedback, please leave a comment here.

Note: I am not affiliated with B&H Photo or any of the companies whose links I provided above. I am simply a satisfied customer and wanted to give detailed information on what items I use.

Thanks.

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