A short review and modes simulation for the 3-Axis GoPro camera gimbal.
P.S : Camera Gimbal from Feiyutech is discussed in this review and simulation, however, it may be applied to the other different manufacturers of the 3-Axis gimbal . Please refer to the manufacturers’ manual on the installation and operating procedures on each respective brand.
The following article contains a brief review and modes simulation on the 3-Axis brushless gimbal for GoPro camera. The primary benefit of implementing a camera gimbal on UAV is to obtain a stable and aligned to horizon level video feed, regardless of the roll and pitch angles of the UAV. This feature is crucial for aerial photography application or similar and some of the UAVs in the market have already embedded such camera gimbal in their system in order to facilitate the user with the latest technology implementation; especially the multirotor platform. The other benefit is the ability to control the panning and tilting motion of the camera; this feature is one of the spec requirements for ISTAR ( Information, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance ) mission.
The camera gimbal system consists of :
- 3-Axis Brushless gimbal.
- Damping balls which are installed between the upper base plate and the lower base plate ( to reduce the jelly-like video feed due to vibration of the motor/motors ).
- Optional tube frame mount for installing on the frame of the multirotor.
- Signals I/O cables ( power input, FPV video output, mode switch, tilt control, pan control and camera video output ).
- GoPro camera with protective lens ( Not included ).
- Li-Po Battery ( Not included ).
- USB connector for firmware upgrade and other configuration software.
Be aware that the GoPro camera must be installed on the gimbal frame before powering up the gimbal system. The brushless motors will be damaged if the procedure is not done according to the given instruction.
Assembling the gimbal system is started by installing the I/O cables’ header to the I/O header on the lower base plate, followed by assembling the GoPro camera to the gimbal’s camera mount using the provided camera fastener/clamp. The next step is to install the damping balls to the upper base plate before installing the upper base plate to the UAV or to the optional tube frame mount. The final step is to install the pre-installed damping balls to the lower base plate.
The gimbal system can be powered up even though the I/O signal cables ( FPV video output, mode switch, tilt control, pan control and camera video output ) are not used because this particular gimbal system is a stand-alone system and able to function independently without the need of the interface communication between the flight controller. The Feiyutech gimbal system requires 7 V DC – 17 V DC as input power, and 3S – 900 mAh (11.1v) Li-Po battery is being implemented in the mode simulation test. The assembled camera gimbal system weights at 251 grams (8.85 oz) and weights at 316 grams (11.14 oz) if a 3S-900mAh Li-Po batt is being implemented.
In this modes simulation, the camera gimbal system is connected to the Radio Tx/Rx in order to simulate the modes switch, pan and tilt control. The RC receiver is powered by 5A UBEC which is powered through the Li-Po battery balance plug. The FPV video output signal ( yellow-black cable) is not simulated in this test, however the installation procedure for this FPV video feature will be discussed as follows:
The side cover of the GoPro camera has to be removed in order to plug the camera video output cable as shown in the image above. Besides the camera side’s cover, you also have to remove the black sticker at the back of the camera mount frame. Behind the sticker, it will reveal the socket for the camera video output cable connection. Only until this cable connection is installed, the FPV video output signal ( yellow-black cable) becomes functional. In order to implement FPV video feed, the FPV video output signal ( yellow-black cable) should be connected to the FPV A/V transmitter.
The camera gimbal system is assembled on an elevated platform for the modes simulation. The mounting installation mode (please refer to the installation diagram below) is the inverted installation mode in this case.
Upon powering up the gimbal system, the brushless motor will initialize automatically until the gimbal is level with the horizon in pitch and roll angles and the mode is set to Panning Mode as default.
There are 3 Modes :
(A) Panning Mode
(B) Panning and Tilting Mode
(C) Lock Mode
A : Camera Tilting and Rolling angles remain constant.
Panning follows the nose position.
Tilting cam be controlled by RC. RC slider controls the Tilting angles position.
B : Camera Rolling angle remains constant.
Panning follows the nose position and Tilting follows the pitch of the aircraft.
No RC control.
C : Panning, Tilting and Rolling are all locked to point at one position.
Panning and Tilting can be controlled by RC. RC slider controls the Tilting angles position, but the slider for Panning controls the speed of the Panning motion.
The further the slider from the center position the faster the Panning motion. To stop the Panning motion, move the RC slider to its center position.
Please note that the Panning angle is not full 360°; the full 360° Panning feature is only available on the PRO edition.
The gimbal modes simulation video is as follows :
Camera gimbal :
- Feiyutech mini 3D 3-Axis Brushless Gimbal for GoPro camera (obtained from www.aeroflyhobbies.com).
- Futaba T8FG Super, 2.4 GHz transmitter
- Futaba R6028SB, 8ch 2.4 GHz receiver
Power supply system :
- Turnigy 5A UBEC
- Li-Po Batt Revox 3S-900mAh (20C) Nano Tech
Product review :
- The gimbal is able to work independently (stand-alone system), even without connecting the signal lines to the RC receiver. Mode A : Panning Mode is activated as default.
- To enable the 3-Mode selection, 3-position toggle switch on RC transmitter is needed.
- The Tilting angle can be controlled by RC in Panning Mode and Lock Mode, while the Panning motion can only be controlled by RC in Lock Mode.
- The RC slider controls the Tilting angle position, but as for Panning, the slider controls the speed of the motion instead of position.
- Full 360° Panning is available only on the PRO edition.
- In a fixed-wing aircraft platform, the Tilting and Panning functions in Lock Mode are expected to be effective during an ISTAR mission.
- This Camera gimbals is yet to be installed in the UAV and to be tested further during flight.
“ It was better to know the worst than to wonder. ”
― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind