The Pennsylvania Organization of Recreational Chaos (PORC) is a club who likes to have a lot of fun. We try to bring something unique to the yearly Pyrotechnics Guild International Convention and different events throughout the year. We made 1400 devices for our show in 2013, built a 14 foot wide girandola in 2008, bouncing girandolas in 2010 and 2011, lifted an 8” shell on a girandola in 2012 and we also flew a pumpkin in 2012. We also make other types of fireworks and have won a few awards over the years Each year there is always talk of taking it easy and it will finally be the year that 100+ motors don’t have to be pressed. We once again didn’t listen to that for 2014.

The original plan for the 2014 PGI Convention in Mason City, IA was to only bring two girandolas to honor Doc Barr and Tony Petro since they both passed away earlier in the year.   Info on those girandolas can be found here

We didn’t think about doing the daytime girandola until a few weeks before the Convention. That is when we bought the GoPro camera and started experimenting on the mount. We tried a few ideas, but then settled on mounting the GoPro onto a custom aluminum mount we made. We then attached a bearing and a gyro stabilizer to help the camera so it wouldn’t spin at the same speed as the frame.   It was based off a model helicopter tail rotor. Here is one of our first tests

We had to make a lot of adjustments in order to get the tail rotor to spin at the right speed to keep the camera somewhat pointed where we wanted it to be. We tried different size rotors along with making adjustments to the gyro and remote control.

Since this was our first attempt to fly a camera, we wanted to do it during the daytime to make it easier to find when it comes down. The Gerry Gits Judges Challenge this year was themed “Deep Purple”, so we decided to enter that contest by putting purple smoke on the girandola. We also had orange smoke to help contrast the purple.

The bamboo frame was 36” diameter and when the arms were attached it was about 12’ wide. It took 30 one pound drivers to lift everything. Both arms had two 1 ¼” x 6” tubes of purple smoke. There were also four orange smokes attached to the inside of the frame. The headings were additional purple smoke inserts, whistles and reports.

Since we were shooting this in the Judges Challenge, it gave us the chance to add additional effects to what we called the Purple PORC Performance. We made a flight of rockets that had more purple smoke, whistles and black smoke. We also added a few 6” shells that had black and purple smoke along with whistles and boom boom kabooms. We fired those just prior to lighting the girandola.

When the girandola landed the whole camera mount popped off the frame. The camera casing snapped off and the camera landed about 10 feet away from the frame. It took a few minutes to find it, but we found it in the grass. We walked up to it and it was face down, but the red light was still blinking. There was a big sigh of relief let out by everyone when we saw it was still working.

We were very happy with how everything turned out. A lot of people didn’t think it would work, but we think it did pretty well for a first try. Now that we have proven we are able to stabilize a camera on a girandola, we hope to do more with it in the future.

Here is a video showing some of the assembly and a few different views of the show. The onboard footage is towards the end of the video.

More pictures and video about our GoPro Girandola project can be found here

You will be able to see more behind the scenes footage of this GoPro project in the upcoming Passfire movie.