DSLR control from ArduCopter

Hi, I've been googling for this and haven't found much, was hoping perhaps the community here could help!  Thanks in advance.

I am an experienced programmer and less experienced rc pilot and am having a great time getting my new ArduCopter Hexa (3DR) flying.  I am eager to connect a Canon EOS - hopefully the 4ti, but currently I have the 3t - and get as much control as I can.  It occurs to me it should be - theoretically - possible to get live FPV from the Canon, through the lens.  As well as focus, shutter and zoom control.  And of course, the roll and tilt control that comes with the camera gimbal, which I am about to order.

Is anyone working on software to interface the Canon series to ArduPilot?  Does it exist?  How are people doing this?

Also, was thinking to buy the 3DR camera mount for $150 - which I believe includes servos.  Any recommendations regarding camera mounts?  Is 3DR's good enough for a DSLR - and is the native  stabilization effective?  Or is it better to buy something else?

Thanks very much for you thoughts on this. 

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  • Any update!? you make it work? if it's yes, how looks now, Is it what you expected?

    Im looking to do the same as you, i want it for take aerial pictures to complement my topography work. I hope you can upload some pics or retro! 

  • Check out blip.com.au for camera controllers that operate on PPM. I've got a Canon Powershot and gives me Shutter & Zoom control. The older model controller I've got allows AV TV Manual option just like on the camera dial. Also has an Intervalometer too.
  • Hi Quinn,

    If the camera mount looks something like this one, I'd pass.


    I purchased it with my 3dr and it's pretty rickety. Definitely won't hold a DSLR or any cam wider than 4". The Canon G11 was really pushing it and I've since replaced it with an S95. The HiTec servo it came with definitely struggles. Personally, I'd spend a few more bucks and make sure to nail down any vibration issues.

  • Unfortunately most cameras make it very difficult to control them remotely. It's possible to communicate in a limited way with CHDK cameras by sending pulses to the USB port but the data rate is extremely slow because chdk can only read pulses on the order of 10+ms and it may read identical pulses as being different lengths plus or minus a significant chunk. I'm not aware of any camera that has true data communication interfaces of any kind. You may also be hard pressed to find any camera capable of sending video out live, though I've not tried that much.

  • ArduCopter can control the shutter on the camera (simple switch, on or off) but the focus, zoom, and other functions are outside of the scope of what ArduCopter can currently do. Using a DSLR is probably not a good solution if you want to be able to control things like zoom from the ground (since it requires manual interaction to accomplish). Canon has a protocol to control some functions of the camera through the USB port but I'm not sure if this is possible to implement on the APM, my guess is probably not or if it is it would be extraordinary difficult and require major overhauls to the entire source. Do you have a link to the gimbal you're considering? I'm not aware of one made by 3DR.

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