Three engineering students from Northwestern's Engineering Design and Communication class built a specialized camera stand for the Echinacea project. Michelle Pineda, Christopher Moran, and HengJie Tan designed and built a giant tripod which we will use to improve our protocol for relocating Echinacea seedlings.
I told them about the paper maps we made by hand and how last summer Ben & Christine worked out a method to flag seedlings and make maps from digital images. To avoid issues with parallax they determined that photos had to be taken from fairly high up (at least 2.9 m from the ground).
Then the main problem was taking photos straight down from such a height. The hang-a-camera-from-a-pole method wasn't stable enough (or safe). Michelle, Chris & Heng designed several scaled-down prototypes for their class project. Christine and I looked them over and then, based on our feedback and class feedback, they built this stand...
They presented the stand to their class and me on Saturday, along with a detailed report. I can't wait to try it out! We will try it out this summer. We hope to avoid making paper maps altogether. We'll see if it works!