How To Build A Aerial Photography Mast

February 28th, 2007



Vince De Stefano in Dingley, Australia sent me a description of how he built his Aerial Photography mast that he has mounted on the rear of his car. I’m not sure why but I don’t hear of these kind of masts being used outside of Australia and Europe. Perhaps the masts are not as available in other locations. Here is Vince’s description:

“The 350d connects to the laptop via 4 PORT USB hub, I use a 20m USB cable with a booster to connect it to the laptop. I use software from breeze systems to control the shutter and I have full control over aperture, ISO and exposure. This software means I can upgrade the camera to any of the Canon SLR’s or to a canon power shot giving me full control over the zoom.
I hope to upgrade the USB cable to a wireless USB extender when one becomes available, this would mean no more messy cables!

“The mast is made by a company called Clarke mast and was purchased from a armature radio operator for about AU$250 (very good deal!) new they cost about AU$5000+ new

“I have a 12v air compressor that pumps the mast up, it runs of the car battery.

“The pan tilt head is controlled via the USB port on the computer and interfaces via a board made by a company called Parallax ( The pan tilt head is from a company called

I have taken the software from breeze and the software from Parallax and made simple visual basic based program that uses the commands to control the pan tilt and shutter.

The only disadvantage to my system is that I don’t have live video, So I have to take a photo then adjust the pan tilt head and take another, I may fix this later by adding a USB web cam to the view finder so I can frame up shots faster. I got most of the bracket parts for the tow bar mount cut out of steel with a CNC laser cutter. All up including camera and laptop the system cost just over Au$2500″

Thanks Vince!

Updated on 3/1/07:

Vince says: “The controller board is Stock#: 28823 Parallax Servo Controller (USB). For the pan tilt (not sure on part No), its just a 2:1 ratio from Servo City, I used plastic gears but would recommend people buy the unit with the metal gears.”

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8 Responses to “How To Build A Aerial Photography Mast”

  • I check the picture of how he mount the mast to the car and I’m surprice that he does not have any support to keep the mast in upright position.

    I have build a similar system but it was built before I have the mast (to save time) so it is a little owerdimension, use a 12 meter telscope mast from South Midland Communication and the Pan and tilt head with a Canon G6 camera that will enable me to se live when i pan and tilt. Have also possibility to use my Canon EOS 5D, use Breeze system also.
    Real estate is going to good in Sweden, mean no need for good photos, customer show up anyway.
    So I have done more panorama picture for my own pleasure.

  • Very impressive setup for the price!
    I have been wondering if an investment in the equipment would be worth it. I saw the Clarke mast, but they are way too expensive for hobby PAP. I’m going to buy the pan&tilt from Servocity as you suggested but I still need a mast. I saw an 8 metre aluminium mast on eBay, but it is hand operated. I’m just wondering where you found the mast for that price(HAM Radio forum or website address would be very helpful). Thanks and keep up the great work.

  • Hi Vince – impressive set up. I am considering a compressor for my system (the Clark compressor costs loads of money!) What sort of 12v compressor do you use and are there any issues with pressure or volume of air?

    Thanks for any advice, Keith

  • Sorry – meant to address that to Larry 😉

  • Hi. Does anyone knows a manufacturer of this pole system in Sydney Australia? Also the breeze system seems to work only with Canon product. Is there similar system for Nikon DSLR? I would appreciate if anyone helps, Thanks, Liam (

  • If you contact me at
    I will be able to answer any questions you have .I am sending some masts out to Austrialia very soon so another mast will not make any difference in the P+P so i will be able to give you a great deal on the system .
    If you look at this will give you an idea of the product .It will just be cheaper.
    Look forward to hearing back from you …….Cheers Wilf

  • Just need the remote control system
    Do you sell it?
    I have a mast already

  • What is the best 50-75 foot pneumatic mast system in the United States? Prefer it to be vehicle mounted.

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