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Terry

Where are we at with the brushless gimbals?

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I have been out of the loop for a while but I feel the need to use some of my old planes. I have been thinking that video has taken over from stills to a large extent with brushless gimbals and quads.

I dont want to follow the others, so I would like to convert one of my planes to carry a video camera on a gimbal. Obviously pointing the plane at the target would mean flying into it eventually which I dont fancy!

The answer is to have a 3rd axis on the gimbal so my camera man has an easy job of staying on target while I fly around it. I have had a small search but not turned up many 3 axis brushless gimbals and just about no info at all. I was surprised the the whole idea has not reached the low cost plug and play stage yet but I guess its only a matter of time as the parts dont cost that much.

Has anyone seen any evidence that these will hit the mainstream dealers yet?

Terry

Edited by Terry

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It's odd you're having problems finding information on 3-axis camera gimbals. I was just thinking the other day how they seem to be found everywhere now because of the sudden influx of new multi-rotor pilots. All the action is targeting the multi-rotor platforms, but maybe you can re-purpose a design for fixed wing use. You will find discussions on them over at rc-groups. http://www.rcgroups.com/aerial-photography-128/

There's also a few open source 2-axis and 3-axis controller projects. So you can DiY too.

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Well its not that I cant find them but apart from one open source thread there are just a few own designs I have found that dont give details. I also want continuous rotation of the 3rd axis which I have not seen anywhere yet.

My point was that brushless systems have been around a while now and although a few have made it to ebay via China it seems simple board and motor kits have not reached Hobby king or similar.EDIT, I have just seen one on there site for a complete gimbal for $191 so maybe more will follow.

I take it you have not felt the need to design your own?

Terry

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I have a feeling that continuous rotation may be a common feature. For example, there's a menu setting in this controller that seems to do it.

https://viacopter.eu/multirotor-shop/camera-gimbals/alexmos-gimbal-controller-and-imu-multicopter-store

It is handled by the "Speed" setting. I think it normally expects a travel end limit, but from a comment in a rcgroups discussion it seems to also allow continuous rotation. This long thread discusses the controller:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1815204

I have no experience with the AlexMos controller. It's just one of the first things that popped up when I Google'd.

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I was surprised the the whole idea has not reached the low cost plug and play stage yet

Things go quickly, but not THAT much... it's already kind of insane how fast it went!

The first 2-axis brushless gimbal designs came up approx. November 2012 with the Alexmos project coming up with the first beta boards, quickly followed about a month later by the German open source design. The Chinese picked up the German board design and were mass-producing them by Jan-Feb or so. Gimbals, maybe a month later. In April I bought one of the first fully assembled RTF Gopro 3 gimbals that came up.

So it went in less than 6 months from the first ideas appearing to RTF status after the Chinese jumped on it (and contributed by about zero to the development effort).

As a result it went way faster than software development... by that time the firmware had barely just reached stable status with decent options and possibilities. The most advanced one (alexmos) only added beta support for the 3rd axis in early June if I remember well, and this requires 2 of his 110€ boards, so not exactly cheap, and it quickly becomes quite bulky too, but does work well (a friend of mine built one).

The German open source FW is still quite sketchy for just 2 axes, let alone 3. There are a couple of new open source 3-axis ready controller designs coming, but after 3 months they're just barely reaching convergence on a hardware design, and the beta FW is merely a proof of concept.

Continuous rotation quickly gets complex and expensive, sliprings needed - an Alexmos setup would require 10 wires to pass the yaw axis without even counting the video feed. AFAIK the only currently available offer for continuous rotation is DJI's Zenmuse Z15 (which is an incredible piece of kit by the way, full continuous rotation on all 3 axes, incredibly solid and precise).

Edited by Kilrah

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Oh and it confirms again how "business" works in this field... Alexmos is the one who came up with the idea first, is the one who did the best job so far, and is trying to make a business out of it (closed source, licensed manufacturers, copy-protected firmware), and in May this year you would buy RTF gimbals from China that came with the German board design patched to be compatible with Alexmos FW, and with a cracked version of the FW loaded and preconfigured, the only "obfuscation" being that the product description doesn't mention it.

No need to wonder why many are not venturing into this field anymore.

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Thanks for the summary on the development. It seems everywhere I turn there is discussions on brushless camera controllers -- I had no idea that it all began less than a year ago.

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Yes thanks Kilrah, I thought it had been around longer than that too but thats probably just due to the amount of interest on the forums.

3 axis with continuous rotation dose not require slip rings, I have it with all my other gimbals. The trick is to keep all the equipment on the gimbal and transmit both to it and from it as a stand alone unit.

Terry

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Yeah OK, if you only want the yaw to be continuous then no problem indeed. More would be problematic as a board handles 2 axes and the IMU must be on the camera.

Edited by Kilrah

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Its true that making a business out of any gadget these days is so hard as it seems China can just copy it and make it cheaper, it dose put off some going to the effort of putting in the hard work but when it comes to open source it has to be expected.

Gadgets designed by hobbyists for hobbyists with no intention of profit I think can actually benefit from cheap Chinese builds making the ideas available to many more people very quickly. This drives the whole idea forward at a much faster pace than would otherwise be achieved.

I must admit in the past I used to enjoy building my own gadgets that did things no one else could do but now the pace of progress is so fast that by the time I get halfway through the design I find its been done by some one else or is just obsolete!

For me now the hobby is just plug and play or hacking...

Terry

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I must admit in the past I used to enjoy building my own gadgets that did things no one else could do but now the pace of progress is so fast that by the time I get halfway through the design I find its been done by some one else or is just obsolete!

For me now the hobby is just plug and play or hacking...

Agreed, the cheap Chinese copies make it hard to justify a "me-too" DiY project. But the low cost China modules and parts make customized DiY projects a lot easier to consider doing. For example, I'm currently working on a voice recognition hack for my 9x R/C transmitter and I doubt I would have started this crazy experiment if the component cost was too high.

So instead of just giving up on DiY designs, find something YOU want to build and just do it. Hobbies don't have to make sense, they just have to provide us some joy/fun/satisfaction. :)

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