Controlling a Xiaomi Yi camera from Solo

Aside from Thanksgiving, I had a fun weekend.

I've been using a Feiyu-Tech gimbal on my Solo (because I wanted to see if I could get it to work), and wanted to be able to control the camera from my Solo's transmitter. The camera is a Xiaomi Yi, which I like. It's a great little camera that does a ton of cool things for an impressive price. 

It turns out it wasn't hard to do at all. All I needed to do was get the camera onto the Solo's wifi network with a static IP address, and then detect when the camera button on the Solo's transmitter was clicked so I could send a command to the camera to start or stop video (or take a still picture).

Some Xiaomi-hacking geniuses have already figured how to set up the camera and what commands to send to it, and I built on that to control the camera. 

It's not the "Solo with 3DR gimbal and GoPro" setup that most people are using, which is kind of the point. "Solo with Feiyu-Tech gimbal and Xiaomi Yi" is harder to pronounce, and harder to implement. But it works pretty well, and putting it together has been fun.

Here's some details about the camera setup, for whoever's interested:

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  • Pretty cool stuff... Is there a video somewhere that shows the Feiyu-Tech gimbal in action, mounted on a Solo?


    • Here's one:

      I've been fighting the mounting a bit. If I mount the gimbal normally, the Yi has to be oriented right-side-up so the HDMI cable can be plugged in. That puts the lens at the left side of the Solo. So any time I yaw right, I get a nice close-up of the left/front leg. To compensate, I fabricated a little mount that moves the camera forward about 1". That takes care of most of the "left leg" problem, but also messes with the CoG on the pitch axis. So I'm getting a lot of bounce in the picture. I'm currently waiting for the glue to dry on "Gimbal mount r2" (wood is still a great material for prototyping), and then I'll test it out. Hopefully that will cure the problem.

      Ideally, I could offset the gimbal mount to the right about 1", which would bring the lens closer to the center line. But of course that would cause weird behavior in the gimbal. :-)

    • Developer

      Paul Riseborough (and Jon, Sid) did a huge amount of work on the Solo Gimbal to make it smooth like that.  They did all kinds of analysis on the "resonances" of the gimbal (i.e. frequencies at which it vibrates) so that the controllers do the absolute best they can.  I wasn't directly involved but watching from the sidelines I gained a new appreciation for their abilities in that area and how hard a gimbal is to get right.

    • From what I've seen in videos from that gimbal, they did a good job. $400 to a "gimbal newbie" like me seems kind of high, but the difference in the output between the two is obvious. At my rate, after messing with this $160 gimbal for as long as I have, I could have bought probably 4 Solo gimbals. :-)

    • Developer


      A fair bit of the Solo's gimbal control is open source.  It's in the AP_Mount_MAVLink library.  We will probably eventually rename that to AP_Mount_Solo.  There's a bit more that needs to be merged from the solo/ardupilot fork but it's on it's way.  Anyway, the open source part is the complex part including the "SmallEKF".  What's closed is the lower (and simpler) rate controllers that run on the gimbal itself.

      Of course, I'm not saying it would be easy to get a gimbal working with the Solo libraries but I thought I'd point it out anyway.  It would actually be easier to add the missing bits (i.e. the centrefugal corrections) into the SToRM32 or AlexMos drivers... of course neither of those two gimbals are open source either.

    • Good to know, thanks for the heads-up. I actually "discovered" the SToRM32 after I bought the Feiyu-Tech gimbal. I didn't realize there was someone making a Solo-compatible gimbal (which I understand the Storm is).

    • Kelly,

      Could you elaborate on this SToRM32 Solo compatible gimbal someone is making? Do you have any links to that project?


    • Ah, looks like I was mistaken. I guess it's not specifically Solo-compatible. There's some support in it for APM though:

  • How's the video quality on it?

    • It's not bad. There's a lot of adjustment on it. Here's a sample of the output from that camera on an evening where the light was good. 

      This was without the gimbal, running 1080p at 60fps.

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