Is it legal to mount a camera to the wing strut?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by German guy, Mar 23, 2010.

  1. German guy

    German guy Cleared for Takeoff

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    Hi everybody,

    I have already searched the internet and found plenty of people saying that one would need a STC to mount a camera to the wing strut. However, there are also plenty of videos out there, shot from home brew wing strut mounts, obviously without any STC.

    So - does the camera mount have to be approved and does it have to come with a STC?

    I would like to record some of my flights, however I don't want to start my US flying career with breaking the law. :redface:

    I'm talking about this mount
    http://www.gpscity.com/ram-mount-strap-rail-base-with-1-inch-ball.html

    with this camera
    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0901/09012706panasonictz7.asp

    I am looking forward to your answers. :D

    Cheers, Oliver
     
  2. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    To permanently mount one, yep. But if it's just lashed on with some velcro or duct tape, was it ever really on the plane? ;)
     
  3. dmccormack

    dmccormack Touchdown! Greaser!

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    When the Velcro releases in the 100 MPH blast, it may become permanently lodged in someplace interesting -- like the elevator. :eek:
     
  4. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Only if you put it on wrong.
     
  5. Dean

    Dean Pattern Altitude

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  6. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You would be better off to mount a remove lens rather than the whole camera. A lot less drag and potential loss of camera! Some RV builders are adding cameras to the vertical stabilizer and leg fairings wired into the cockpit. They are molding them into the fiberglass. Pretty cool videos.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
  7. rmciottijr

    rmciottijr Line Up and Wait

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  8. Dean

    Dean Pattern Altitude

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    I use a 4 gig and get about 3 hours, it says 2 gig but it does work with the 4.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
  9. slowjoe

    slowjoe Pre-Flight

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    I mount mine on the wing all the time. I use a double suction cup mount that was designed for 200+MPH sports cars. I mount it at the junction of the strut and wing and use Velcro to secure the mount to the strut. The Velcro is wrapped in such a manner that if the mount were to let go it would stay at the top of the strut and will not come loose. Drag associated with the camera and mount is negligible.
    I've done spirals, spins and just about everything else I can legally do with the plane without it coming loose once. In fact, I can tow the plane across the ramp by the mount, it is very secure.
    As for legality. It's not a permanent part of the aircraft, nor does it change flight characteristics. Sticking my arm out the window at 100MPH is more drag. Until someone from the FAA says otherwise, I'll continue to mount it on my wing.
     
  10. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    The general guidance given by the FAA is, If the appliance is mounted by means that require tools it is a permanent mount and requires approval.

    If the pilot can mount and remove the appliance with out tools, it is considered an temporary mounting, (such as a hand held GPS)

    the mount that you showed, needs tools to tighten the clamp, get a clamp that has a wing nut. (no pun intended) and you should be good to go.
     
  11. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Gafffers tape is your friend.
     
  12. wbarnhill

    wbarnhill Final Approach

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    http://www.goprocamera.com/index.php?area=2&productid=30

    The mount for this camera has this description:

    I'd probably use it but also put other methods of keeping it in place (like attaching to a tiedown loop in addition to the suction cup). The GoPro HD images are nice though, even the standard res is pretty good, but the kicker is the nice wide angle.
     
  13. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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  14. wbarnhill

    wbarnhill Final Approach

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    That's a fine idea too, you can get the parts for a homemade mount at any home improvement store for a few bucks. I forget what the size is for the screw mount that is on most cameras, but it's definitely the cheaper route :)
     
  15. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I get the impression that in Alaska nobody cares what you mount/strap/tie to the outside of your plane.
     
  16. NBPD336

    NBPD336 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    From what I have read in Alaska you have to use what you can:

    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Bush pilot’s plane mauled by grizzly – repaired with duck tape
     
  17. German guy

    German guy Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks for all your answers! :D

    I was already looking into purchasing a GoPro HD with a suction mount, but dropped this idea as most shots seem to have vibration issues. The suction cup itself is kind of flexible and so is the sheet metal to which it is attached. This seems to intensify the wind forces and the vibration from the engine.

    http://www.vimeo.com/8492891

    I would also be worried to loose it, because there is nothing to strap it to at the tip of the wing. And then again I would not want to have it dangling around the wing...:no:

    I did some search on the internet and found a company who manufactures hose clamps which can be installed toolless (with a wing nut). This would turn my mount into a legal, non-permanent installation, if I understood you right!? :yesnod: :D

    Cheers,

    Oliver
     
  18. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    Legally, not without an STC or other FAA approval unless you can get an A&P to sign off the installation as a "minor alteration." The fact that it's not permanently mounted doesn't change the issue of something mounted externally which can potentially affect the handling, stability, or performance of the plane. However, if you don't mount it on a control or other aerodynamic surface, you have a better chance of it being approved. The problem is making sure that even if you don't put it on such a surface, it doesn't signficantly affect the airflow over such a surface. Fact is, unless you have flight data on the installation you're doing, you're going to be a test pilot when you do this -- things will change, and the only question is "how much?"

    From a practical standpoint, if someone from the FAA sees you taxiing out with a camera taped to the outside of the plane, you should expect to have the provenance of that installation questioned. If they find a camera taped to the outside of your wrecked plane, you should expect both the FAA and your insurance company to be asking those questions. Make sure you have good answers at the ready.
     
  19. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Final Approach

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    Alright I have a bit of experience with these helmet cams. The one above is very nice and very easy to use, however the quality is on the poorer side but still very respectable. I HATE the gopro I could not stand it for the life of me. It has bad quality, almost no time of filming. The worst part is the menus are impossible to use. I do NOT recommend that. I'm not sure if you could mount this to the outside of the plane but this is what I use:
    http://www.vio-pov.com/products/pov_15.php

    I mount it on my headset and you can see my videos in my signature below.
     
  20. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    Show me your reference to that claim, Since when does any thing minor require an approval.

    Does any one have an A&P sign off the GPS installed on the pilots yoke?

    What's the difference between this and a GPS that is not permanently attached.

    Ever see a clock Velcroed to the instrument panel? did you require an STC for that?

    in this case no structure is modified no flight control is effected. no electrical needed.

    It's no different than placing a chart case between the front seats.

    no approval is required. simply because it does not meet any of the FAR 43-A requirements, because nothing is altered,or modified.
     
  21. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    Wanna bet? You put anything on the outside of the plane, and it changes the airflows. If the affected airflow is ahead of any control surface, and you change the flow over the surface. Change the airflows over the control surfaces, and you change how they react -- the only question is how much. Enough to affect safety of flight? Dunno until you test-fly it.
     
  22. slowjoe

    slowjoe Pre-Flight

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    I've flown my camera mounted to the same locations dozens of times and I've put the plane through all of its maneuvers, including spins. No perceptible change to the flight characteristics in any way. According to you we're good then.

    And how about cameras mounted to the landing gear steps, or to the fuselage? All this does is add drag. It in no way changes the flight control surfaces.
     
  23. German guy

    German guy Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks again for all you answers.
    I was afraid, that there is no simple answer to my question. :(

    Sadly I'm not familiar with the US law and have no clue at which regulation I should have a look at. However, by feeling I tend to follow Ron's opinion as I find it hard to believe that it is generally legal to install anything at the outside of the plane as long as it's not permanent. Permanent or not - installed next to or even on :eek: a control surface, it could seriously influence the air flow, limit the movability of the surface or even completely block it.

    In my case the small camera at the wing strut would be far away from any control surface. Even if it comes off, it won't be able to hit anything at the plane.
    I'm very unsure what I should do - I'm absolutely sure that it won't be of any danger, however I don't want to get in any trouble with the law. Especially not, as I'm only a guest in your country, just about to become a private pilot and as the plane will be rented. On the other side, I would really like to have some footage from the outside of the plane, as the video quality is much better than if filmed through the windows, the installation at the wing strut also allows a much higher variation in the camera angles, like filming back- or downwards. Another thing is that basically all new cameras are equipped with CMOS sensors which produce this nasty rolling shutter effect (e. g. the strange looking props in many videos). Filming from the wing strut would mostly avoid the necessity to film through the prop. :yesnod:

    I'm thinking of amazing shots like this: http://www.vimeo.com/7513091

    What really makes me think is Tom's objection with the yoke mount. I'm just about to order a yoke mount for my already existing RAM parts and my Garmin 196. Wrongly installed or if cables get tangled, it might block the yoke or at least limit its movability.
    Will I have this to be checked by a A&P? Does anybody possibly know the regulation which says something about minor changes like this or the camera at the wing strut?

    Cheers,

    Oliver
     
  24. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    The FAA is on record as saying clamped-on GPS yoke mounts are not "installed" and are acceptable as long as there is no permanent connection to the aircraft (either mechanical or electrical), and no A&P or log entry is required. OTOH, I know of no similar statement about externally-mounted devices.
     
  25. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm pretty sure they allow paddles and tiedown ropes attached to the outside of floatplanes. Most floatplanes I've flown have a couple feet of rope hanging under the wings to make it easier to grab on from a dock, and if improperly installed that could have a much more serious downside than a small camera ducktaped to a strut. Heck some floatplanes routinely carry canoes and large animal carcasses as external loads. Are there some regs about that somewhere?
     
  26. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    The FAA does not distinguish a difference.

    this goes back to the discussion about airworthiness.

    temporary mounted equipment does not change the type certificate, because nothing is modified, and the pilot decides if it is safe to fly.
     
  27. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    When you can show me an AC or other FAA document which says that regarding externally mounted items, I'll believe it. Until then, I'm not flying any planes with stuff hanging on the outside whether it's permanently installed or taped on unless there's documentation authorizing it.
     
  28. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Is this like asking for the documentation allowing pilots to chew gum while flying?
     
  29. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The animal carcasses must be FAA-certified. :D
     
  30. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What about the twine used to tie them on?:lol:
     
  31. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    That's you, I know one FSDO airworthiness inspector that flys with a camera on his strut.

    Your making a mountain from a mole hill.
     
  32. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I think we can all agree that the likelihood of negative consequences is mighty small.

    But, as Ron observes, there is the possibility, and you cannot ignore it.
     
  33. jkgoblue

    jkgoblue Pre-takeoff checklist

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    How about a picture if that mount?
     
  34. slowjoe

    slowjoe Pre-Flight

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    I've never taken a picture of the mount, never thought about it. I'm going over to the airport in the morning (Saturday), I'll put the mount on the plane and take a picture. I'll post it then.
     
  35. German guy

    German guy Cleared for Takeoff

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    @Joe:

    That's great. Thanks. :yesnod:
    Would you mind to also post the manufacturer of this suction mount?
    Additionally a link to some of your videos would be great if you have them somewhere online.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2010
  36. slowjoe

    slowjoe Pre-Flight

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    Here's a couple of pics.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a pic of me pulling on 1 of the suctions cups. (there are 2 on the mount) 39lbs and it's no where close to letting go.

    [​IMG]

    The mount is a Fat Gecko mount

    You can see some videos I've done using the Fat Gecko and various cameras on my website.
     
  37. German guy

    German guy Cleared for Takeoff

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    @Joe:

    thanks for the information. The mount looks very sturdy. I would also guess that it creates fewer vibration issues because of its twin suction cubs.

    Cheers, Oliver
     
  38. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'd be less concerned about the initial attachment strength as I would for the loss of strength over time. IME suction cup attachments always let go eventually, the only unknown is how long they stick.
     
  39. slowjoe

    slowjoe Pre-Flight

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    Some cups are better than others. These are pretty good. I've had this thing on there for 4 hours, climbing from 1,400MSL to 12,500MSL and back down with a max IAS of 170 without them letting go. Additionally, I've left these things stuck to the side of my car for a week (I forgot to take it off) and it was still secured. I was surprised. The best thing you can do is to make sure that you're attaching to a clean smooth surface. The Fat Gecko mount has a really good plunger system that allows you to remove just about all the air from the cups. But just in case they were to come off in flight that's why the strap is there. If both were to let go, which is highly unlikely, more likely would be for 1 to let go and the other is more than strong enough to keep it on the plane, the most that would happen is that it would flap around dangling from the strut. Could it potentially damage the bottom of the wing if it lets go? Sure, but that's a risk we take.
     
  40. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    fwiw: I had a suction cup pencil sharpener. If I just stuck it on the side of a file cabinet it would fall off after a few hours. But if I sprayed it with window cleaner and stuck it on, it would stay for years (really).