Update #5 – Benchmarking GoPro performance

Happy Friday and a quick update.

The new ‘GoPro 4’ family was unveiled this week and they are impressive but WAY out of the price range we can afford; especially for 2 cameras on this launch. Also, there would be a big compromise in battery life and extreme file storage needs; those 4’s are HUNGRY and I don’t think they could make the full duration of this flight.

The positive side effect of a new ‘4’ model is a $50 price drop in the old ‘3+’ family. $50 per camera will cover the cost of extended life batteries and enclosures to accommodate the extended battery size.

Benchmarking

Eliminating the new ‘4’, I put out a call on Facebook to borrow a GoPro camera for 7-10 days from any friend/family that would let me. There were 1-2 folks that volunteered their personal camera with no collateral but a firm promise I wasn’t sending theirs to the great beyond. I’m grateful because this allowed us to do some basic benchmarking of two ‘GoPro 3+’ camera models.

I’ve been evaluating the 3+ Black and the 3+ Silver and it is going to take some time to wade through the balance of image/video quality and storage limitations. There are some differences to consider in the optics that result in more data, less artifacts, better sharpness etc with the Black vs Silver. There are also differences in the interface and options that have no bearing on this project.

There are minor differences in the audio capture capabilities. This is moot because we will be in a water-tight enclosure that muffles all ambient sound and visuals are what we are really going for.

I’ll do more extensive testing on one particular model next week.

An interesting aside… Remember the tagline from the movie ‘Alien’: “In space no one can hear you scream.”? Up at 65,000-100,000ft there isn’t much air to transmit sound. When the balloon bursts, the only real indication will probably be a muffled ‘THUNK’; and that will be due to the burst vibration and energy transfer down the cable jostling the payload container and the payload shifting.

Next week

It is time to expose the camera to LONG recordings in and out of different temperature profiles. Move over frozen pizza and corn-dogs, meet the new GoPro! No, seriously, I’ll put a fully charged, extended battery GoPro with a big 64GB microSD card in the freezer focused on a stopwatch and see which gives out first.

The project officially ‘funds’ on Wednesday and money will be deposited to my account. Some ‘big-ticket’ purchases can be made soon which will start us down (up!) this path.

As always, I’m open to input, experience and suggestions.

Thanks
Josh

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