Val And Amy Castor Unveil New Camera On Top Of Chase Truck

Tuesday, May 3rd 2016, 10:51 pm
By: News 9, David Payne

Here at News 9, we have the largest and most experienced team of trackers in the country, showing us the storms from every angle.

Now, storm tracking couple Val and Amy Castor's vantage point will increase with a state-of-the-art camera and a little innovated thinking.

"It's very fast paced, we have to stay with the storm," News 9 Storm Tracker Val Castor said. "Sometimes it's behind us, sometimes we have to run, you know, literally have to run from storms."

Val and Amy Castor cover a lot of ground when tracking Oklahoma's storms, bringing us live video from the field.

"My role is to make sure we have a really good video feed that we can show viewers at home exactly what is going on," said Amy Castor, News 9 Storm Tracker. "I always get frustrated because the best shot might be behind us."

Inside a machine shop in Stillwater, a group of high school robotics students created a solution.

"This is the first one we've built," said Ron Markum, instructor for Thunderstorm Robotics.

Markum and his Thunderstorm Robotics team designed a camera mount for the roof of the Castor's chase truck.

"We can actually design it inside the computer and see what it looks like and make sure it will rotate and act like we want it," said Markum.

After the design is done inside the computer, the students start up the machines, fabricating the heavy duty camera mount out of thick aluminum.

"There was a lot of machining to it a lot of welding," Markum said. "Storms have very unpredictable outcomes, there can be hail, high winds, various temperature changes and things like that and the camera mount had to be able to resist all of those."

It took them nearly three weeks to build it and several more to perfect it, but now it's ready.

"I am excited about the camera, I mean I've been wanting a camera on the roof for years," said Val.

With the camera mounted on top and the remote control at Amy's fingertips, they now have a 360 degree view of everything going on around them.

'What this is gonna help us to do is to be able to always have the wall cloud or the point of interest on the storm in view of the camera 100 percent of the time," said Val.

"That's our number one goal as storm chasers is to be able to warn the public of where the storms at and where it's going," said Amy.

With the new camera, with night vision and infrared capabilities, those warnings could be even more precise.

"We might even be able to see cloud features and maybe even a tornado at night possibly with this thing," Val said.