Photographer’s Automatic Lens Cap Shields Camera During Rocket Launches

A photographer came up with a novel way of protecting his lens when using a remote camera to capture rocket launches.

When covering space launches photographers cannot be too close to the rockets for obvious reasons.

But this means that the remote cameras are unattended and no one is on hand to wipe the lenses down if they get condensation or rained on.

Step forward Michael Baylor who covers space launches at the Vandenberg Space Force Base and built a custom automatic lens cap.

As noted by Hackaday, the design is very simple, consisting of a large cap that actuates to cover the camera lens when photos aren’t being taken.

The automatic cap, controlled by a large servo, will protect the lens until the moment of launch. Not only that, it will cover the lens when the rocket leaves the shot to protect it from the dust and debris that is kicked up.

“First test of the actuated lens cap is a big success,” Baylor writes on his Twitter page.

“There is a tiny bit of condensation on the lens, but my other camera at this spot with multiple hand warmers is way worse. Lens cap camera did not have any heaters or warmers.”

He plans to add a little heat to the auto-lens cap to completely fend off condensation.

“Next time, we add heat to the actuated lens cap, and I think that will fully defeat the moisture in the air at Vandy,” he says.

“Also, a few lenses did get beat up from another spot. This system will cover the lens after the rocket leaves the frame to protect the cameras. Very promising.”

There are few details about the build itself, but as Hackaday notes, some 3D-printed components with a servo and a microcontroller then it is possible to build a custom-tailored rig.

More of Baylor’s work can be found on his Twitter, Instagram, and website.

Image credits: All photos by Michael Baylor.