Building a 3-Axis Gimbal for GoPro

The following steps were taken to build a light-weight responsive 3-axis gimbal for the GoPro.  I'll cover:

I    Requirements

II   Design

III  Build

IV  Test

V   Performance

Background:  The next duration ship needed to be a video and camera platform. The ship can't be fully designed until the envelope of the gimbal/camera is known.  

This is a photo of the final product.


You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones

Email me when people reply –


  • would a go pro hero 4 session from factor with a weight of 74g improve the shape and allow smaller motors,

    and would this camera improve quality with its image stabilzation,

    IF i were to mod a Hawkeye Firefly 6S into a similar form factor to GP session ( weight without battery @48g),  where would be the ideal location for HDMI/Power /Control connection ? and in what form ?

    would this form factor be better on a 2 axis or 3 axis ?

    48g is just 1g or so more than mobius i have seen this 3 axis gimbal using 2804 motors

    and this one uses 1806 18g motors

    are the 1806 motors sufficient ?

    • MR60

      wow! session rocks in terms of finally centering its lens to it's CG. in order of importance for stability:

      1) center the gimbal axis to the CG of the ship

      2) center the camera parallax to the axis of the gimbal

      then it eliminates a lot of weight and even more important, size, as the moment of inertia (the force it takes to rotate the mass) is a function of the square of the distance of the mass from the axis (double the distance and it takes 4 x the motor).  so not only does the camera shrink, the gimbal motors get about 10 grams lighter and the speed/acceleration (i.e., less tracking error) improves.  This makes possible, the worlds lightest functional high performance gimbal made by Hughes (materials are also important)

      and yes, for the reduced size of the Seesion, use the GBM 1806. it is large enough for pitch and probably roll (the later would need performance testing). A caution on the 1806 is the axle.  it isn't as strong as the next level up and i don't know how this might affect video on the something as light weight as the Session. Just try it and compare.

      Quality? this is a great review that nails Session quality. The session will be great for some but not for those seeking higher video quality.

      Image stabilization. This is a method of using pixels to create images with less blur at the cost of pixel count or frame speed. If you have too many pixels or too fast a camera, then this can be effective.  One typically only needs about 8 to 12 megapixels to create a great image for the human eye. So if you have 20 mp, you can waste quite a few pixels to create that stable image.  But if you only have 10 mp as the source, then there is a trade between less blur to the detriment of less resolution or image speed.  For many that just want to document what they did, this can be a good trade.  For those wanting detail, maybe not.

  • MR60

    Yes, that is one way to do it. I remember seeing a version of this on a video about a new commercial video ship.

    Whatever your approach, you need to:

    - weigh each part of the ship

    - define your camera/gimbal envelope and locate the x & y axis

    - then try various ways of placing ship parts around the camera in 3-D

    - calculate the ship CG (sum the length from axis x mass of each part) for its x, y, and z axis

    - see if you can align the gimbal x & y axis to the ship x and y axis.

    For example, another approach would be this, where the CG is centered in the top view and just below the propellers in the back view.

    - resulting in a FOV needed for GoPro Video and photography

    - can look straight down and even slightly back

    - can look straight up

    - won't be seeing props even when the propellers are on a 30 degree diagonal to the camera (sharp turn).


    the trick in this case is using a spider with a wide front and narrow back so the motor masts cross behind the ship center allowing for the down shot.  then also locating the batteries in z just right to put the CG just below the propellers (naturally stable but low energy to rotate).

    • Thanks for the quick reply, if one were to design a ship with a front mounted gimbal would you want to line up the center something like this ? it is intended to be a H8 with top motors facing down, i added the ones on top for fun, i doubt there is a benefit to 12 motors ....but it does give you two mounting options on top, are the props better seperated or closer together ?


      • MR60

        Really nice drawing.

        This is how most ships are made, with the gimbal about 6ish inches from the ship rotational CG (directly to the front or directly below).

                                                        ---------------------------Gimbal Axis----------------------------

        Ship Rotates                               At CG                 Front of CG            Below CG

           Forward      the camera --->   no change               drops down        moves up/back a bit

           Up             the camera --->    no change               raises up           moves up/fore a bit

           Right          the camera --->   no change               no change          moves up/left a bit

           Left            the camera --->   no change               no change          moves up/right a bit

        Also, expect about a 12% to 20% drop in flight time using coax motors.  But if mobility (small size) is the key issue, then the smaller frame can be worth it.  The farther apart the props, the less noise and better efficiency (flight time).

        Quads with motors in front and at the bottom can take really great videos as long as the quad is run smoothly. With GoPro level of resolution, some of the displacement effects are minor relative to pixel count. If shooting with a hi-res camera, it can become more of an issue.

        A quad like the above drawing would be great (KISS) for a GoPro resolution camera. A lot of pros use it.

  • Brilliant. That's a really detailed informative write up. I like the novel idea of attaching the pitch motor to the camera tray and reducing the gimbal width at the same time.

  • Great research project and nicely finished report.  It should further the art for all that read it.


  • MR60

    Do you say anything about he covering of the sides/balsa layer, in red ? Do you epoxy them as previously mentioned to avoid delamination ?

    • MR60

      balsa core floor panels do not suffer skin delamination as do Nomex hex cell core unless there is a defect or the piece is CNC'd using an uplift cutter (i now use a neutral cutter because of that potential issue).  they were used on Boeing and other aircraft for flooring for a while but were replaced by Nomex core, which is much lighter.

      the red edge is just exterior latex house paint.

      the reason to not epoxy the edge is to allow the balsa to breathe. when the balsa absorbs water it is important to allow it to breathe so the water can evaporate out.  with singly ply balsa, this might be less of an issue as the skins are fairly porous.  so don't know for sure the pros and cons of edge treatment.  on aircraft, however, i did research that proved that with 2+ ply skin sandwich panels that it was better to not pot the edges (an attempt at sealing the floor panel from moisture).

  • MR60

    IV & V     Test & Performance

    I was hoping, after the tests performed during the build process, to compare to other gimbals.  But, i'll have to wait for 32 bit Off-The-Shelf (OTS) gimbals because the tests being performed require the 32-bit Basecam Gui with the following functions that the 8-bit version does not support.

    - Scripting (allows movement of the gimbal and tracking of errors)

    - Analysis (tests stability over a range of response frequencies)

    - Monitoring (function is there but not the breadth of variables to track)

    All that i'm able to ascertain for now from putting gimbals on the oscillator is that the DIY build here appears to have 1.5 to 2x smaller following errors than the leading OTS.  I also need a way to test if that reduction in tracking error is noticeable in a photo or video taken by a moderate resolution camera like the GoPro.  If the reduction is only fractions of a pixel, then the answer will be no.

    32-bit OTS versions are starting to appear, so i'll try to test and present the results later.  

    But now that i know the envelope size of the gimbal/camera, back to building the photo ship.

This reply was deleted.


DIY Robocars via Twitter
How to use the new @donkey_car graphical UI to edit driving data for better training
5 hours ago
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @SmallpixelCar: Wrote a program to find the light positions at @circuitlaunch. Here is the hypothesis of the light locations updating ba…
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @SmallpixelCar: Broke my @HokuyoUsa Lidar today. Luckily the non-cone localization, based on @a1k0n LightSLAM idea, works. It will help…
DIY Robocars via Twitter
@gclue_akira CC @NVIDIAEmbedded
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @luxonis: OAK-D PoE Autonomous Vehicle (Courtesy of zonyl in our Discord:
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @f1tenth: It is getting dark and rainy on the F1TENTH racetrack in the @LGSVLSimulator. Testing out the new flood lights for the racetra…
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @JoeSpeeds: Live Now! Alex of @IndyAChallenge winning @TU_Muenchen team talking about their racing strategy and open source @OpenRobotic…
Nov 20
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @DAVGtech: Live NOW! Alexander Wischnewski of Indy Autonomous Challenge winning TUM team talking racing @diyrobocars @Heavy02011 @Ottawa…
Nov 20
DIY Robocars via Twitter
Incredible training performance with Donkeycar
Nov 9
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @JoeSpeeds: Sat Nov 6 Virtual DonkeyCar (and other cars, too) Race. So bring any car? @diyrobocars @IndyAChallenge…
Oct 31
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @JoeSpeeds: @chr1sa awesomely scary to see in person as our $1M robot almost clipped the walls as it spun at 140mph. But it was also awe…
Oct 29
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @chr1sa: Hey, @a1k0n's amazing "localize by the ceiling lights" @diyrobocars made @hackaday! It's consistently been the fastest in our…
Oct 25
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @IMS: It’s only fitting that @BostonDynamics Spot is waving the green flag for today’s @IndyAChallenge! Watch LIVE 👉…
Oct 23
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @IndyAChallenge: Congratulations to @TU_Muenchen the winners of the historic @IndyAChallenge and $1M. The first autonomous racecar comp…
Oct 23
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @JoeSpeeds: 🏎@TU_Muenchen #ROS 2 @EclipseCyclone #DDS #Zenoh 137mph. Saturday 10am EDT @IndyAChallenge @Twitch
Oct 23
DIY Robocars via Twitter
RT @DAVGtech: Another incident:
Oct 23