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 (www.parallax.com) The pan tilt head is from a company called www.servocity.com.
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"
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."