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Old October 6th, 2009, 05:22 PM   #1
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nanoFlash flys at 98,000 feet!

Just got word that the helium balloon shot using dual nanoFlash recorders was a spectacular success! Four balloons, each loaded with two nanoFlash recorders ascended to heights of 85,000 to 98,000 feet, where the ballon burst. The basket, then traveled quickly back to earth, slowed by a parachute for the last several thousand feet.

The nanoFlash recorded the ascent up and the descent down. The only hiccup occurred when one of the baskets took a rather hard landing and one of the CF cards popped out of the nanoFlash (and the Toshiba POV camera lense took a nasty hit). Otherwise all the footage was recorded without issue (a total of 16 hours worth).

The outside temperature at 98,000 feet (or 30,000 meters) is about -75 F (or -60 C) and the air pressure is 1/100 of normal atmospheric.

The nanoFlash was chosen as an ideal solution for this extreme enviroment, as tape-based and hard-drive based recorders would have quickly failed. (Hard-drives are only rated for about 10,000 feet and 5 degree C operation). The nanoFlash also offered the lowest weight (at under 1 lb) and also the lowest power consumption (under 6 watts), as well as the smallest size. The power consumption played a critical role in this application, as it drove the weight and size of the battery.

You can check out some of the photos at:JP Aerospace Blog

Best-
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:13 AM   #2
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Dear Friends,

The Toshbia commercial started airing yesterday.

Here is a link to Toshiba's press release. These contain links to videos and stills.

http://socialnews.toshiba.co.uk/?ReleaseID=14262

Eight nanoFlashes were used to record the images from the Toshiba cameras.

I understand that 100 Mbps Long-GOP was used.

No nanoFlashes were harmed during the filming of this commercial. This includes the two in one setup that crash landed. We do know that this one landed so hard that it broke a lens on the camera and the cards were ejected from at least one nanoFlash.

The chair is especially interesting as it looks like a normal chair, but it very light weight.

All eight nanoFlashes performed flawlessly, as far as I know, in spite of the high altitudes and very cold temperatures. I understand the setups reached supersonic speeds on the way down before the parachutes were deployed.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:34 AM   #3
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The most appealing thing about the Nano/XDR to my mind at present is that we are hearing virtually zero horror stories about it not working, gltiching and being problematic in any way. For professionals going out on big money, high pressure, 1 time only shoots this has to be priority number one and it's this reliability that should make it more and more accepted in the industry.
Great job so far.
Steve
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:35 AM   #4
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Yep.

2 NanoFlashes can be seen in the foam box 1min, 12 secs into "The Making Of..." video.

For the Nano's to have all survived that impact and altitude cold as well as the severe change in temps should give us all a lot of confidence in their ruggedness.

I wonder if there is any info on the battery system that is shown in the foam box with the Nano's that appears to be the power source?
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:40 AM   #5
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Maybe a bit of gaffer tape to keep the CF cards from falling out next time : )
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:42 AM   #6
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Dear Steve and John,

We fully agree.

This was an exteme torture test for the equipment on-board, the Toshiba cameras, our nanoFlashes and the CompactFlash cards.

Our unit provides some heat which helps the CompactFlash card, but -75 degrees F. is very cold. I wonder what extremes the nanoFlashes endured during the tumbling back to earth.

It is my understanding that all 8 nanoFlashes remained fully functional after the flights. Each of the 8 nanoFlashes made two flights.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 10:41 AM   #7
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I think this project exemplifies one of the NanoFlashes greatest weaknesses. The card retention and the buttons which stick out for ejection are bound to cause problems for shoots where the units are mounted in high G-force, high vibration environments. Yes you can cover the cards with gaff tape (which still might fail) but it is unfortunate that a better retention/ejection approach wasn't used.

There are many other extreme shoots where the card ejection would have caused a more serious failure.

Jeff
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Old November 17th, 2009, 11:08 AM   #8
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Dear Jeff,

The nanoFlash and the cards survived the tumbling in space and we are told they reached supersonic speeds while falling. I do not have access to the video to prove this at this time.

Yes, the cards were ejected. They were ejected when the setup hit the ground so hard to destroy the lens (and I beleive the camera).

The nanoFlash has flown in a F-22 Raptor and pulled 12 G's without the cards being ejected.

I do not feel that a serious crash landing is reason to blame the card eject mechanism.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 11:13 AM   #9
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There are 2 threaded screw holes located just above the CF bay and ejection buttons.

I think it would be simple work to bend a sheet metal L bracket that would screw into these 2 existing holes to provide protection of the ejection buttons and the compact flash cards.

With a little more work, maybe a hinged joint that locks and unlocks to reveal the compact flash card bay for easy removal and insertion.

Or a rubber cap like we have on the XDR which covers this flash card side of the Nano.

Another quick and easy, but less elegant way to keep the compact flash cards from ejecting in a rough and tumble environment where the ejection buttons could be accidentally hit and a card ejected would be to simply wrap a couple of twisty ties around so that ejection is defeated until the twisty ties are removed.

So far I have never experienced such an ejection, but I could see how it could happen in a run and gun fast movement situation.

Last edited by John Richard; November 17th, 2009 at 05:29 PM. Reason: Correct grammar
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Old November 17th, 2009, 12:49 PM   #10
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Daer Friends,

I have been asked to make a corrective post.

My use of the phrase "the nanoFlashes performed flawlessly" was seriously objected to since the cards were ejected at sometime during the flight or the landing. I do not know when they were ejected.

I was told that there was a crash landing, but I do not have proof of that.

I have a call into the organization that operated these flights.

The point made was that the nanoFlashes could not have been flawless if the cards were ejected.


Also, an objection was raised about the mention of 100 Mbps. This is from the Toshiba press release, which also states that the flight to altitude took 83 minutes.

Since I do not have the footage in hand, I can not confirm that the footage was shot at 100 Mbps. 83 minutes up plus the time to descent exceeds the recording time for two 32 GB CompactFlash cards at 100 Mbps. I do not know when the recordings stopped.

Another objection was the mention of supersonic speeds. Again, I do not have proof of that, this came from the "making of" video. The landing could not have occured at supersonic speeds according to the complaint. I am in complete agreement with this as the nanoFlashes would have been destroyed.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 02:00 PM   #11
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Some people have to ruin the fun.

Free falling ANYTHING cannot go supersonic. Terminal velocity is a law of physics that writers should consider IF they wish to report reality.

Take it easy, Dan. And don't hire a lawyer to review everything you say.
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Last edited by Daniel Symmes; November 17th, 2009 at 05:52 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old November 17th, 2009, 02:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
The landing could not have occured at supersonic speeds according to the complaint.
We would have heard at least 8 little sonic booms also. *wink*

Really Dan, cards ejecting on impact? Just not acceptable. (said with tongue planted firmly in cheek)

AKA, I think this is a remarkable testament to the harsh environments the device can hold up in.

Now, when do we get to see those shots from inside an active volcano?

-gb-
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Old November 17th, 2009, 02:46 PM   #13
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Well this is ridiculous. I'm correcting your corrected post. The nanoFlash DID perform flawless.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 05:50 PM   #14
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Toshiba Balloon Shot

Thanks for the feedback and recommendations! Yes, I think we could make some improvements in the card ejector system. I have been thinking about this issue since the nanoFlash was introduced. It has not been a problem in 99.9% of the applications, but it still could be improved, just like to analog audio connectors ideally should be screw-in locking types.

We are committed to bring ongoing enhancments and improvements to the nanoFlash. But, that does not diminish the fact that the nanos worked extremely well in a very harsh enviroment and that Toshiba was able to make a fantastic commerical.

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