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Student designs drone that gives new meaning to the phrase ‘photo bomb’

Forget cats and dogs, a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology is making it rain photos. Visual media student Nicholas Kundrat installed a Fujifilm Instax camera onto a DJI Flame Wheel F450, creating a film and drone hybrid that actually allows unsuspecting subjects to see the images instantly – after they flutter down to the ground, that is.

Kundrat used the Instax Mini 25, a more modern update to the traditional instant film made popular by Polaroid. The camera spits out photos less than three inches wide, but does it all in a compact 11.3-ounce body. That small camera was mounted on the DJI F450, an older drone that was released in 2013.

With the camera being completely digital (unlike the Polaroid Snap digital-film hybrid), there isn’t a way to see what the camera sees before snapping the photo. The $80 camera also doesn’t feature any sort of remote release.

Related: Make your own DIY Polaroid camera with a Rasberry Pi and a receipt printer

The trick to merging the two devices was creating a way to trigger the film camera mid-flight. Kundrat made it possible with a servo motor, receiver, and transmitter (DX6i to be specific). When the operator flips the switch on the transmitter, a photo is taken – and then ejected.

The drone is programmed to land automatically before the battery runs out, which is about 12 minutes, due to the older drone technology and the demands of the servo motor and weight of the camera.

Kundrat said he was inspired to create the drone hybrid to fight the stigma of drones as dangerous.

“Instant photography is invaluable because it provides tangible documentation of an event almost in real time,” he wrote.

The project was part of a new visual media innovation course at Rochester. Kundrat said he finds the tech fascinating, but was also driven to create the experience of photos falling from the sky. An unsuspecting aerial image floating down from seemingly nowhere – how’s that for photo sharing?