Sony Alpha5000 APM triggered and geo-tagged

Hello all,

We at Airborne Projects are in the process of testing an integration of the Sony Alpha 5000 with the APM/Pixhawk with very good results so far and we are starting this thread to showcase and get feedback on a possible product.

The capabilities we have so far is to have the Pixhawk connect to a 53x25mm micro computer which then connects to the Sony Alpha (or actually most DSLR cameras). This way we listen for triggers from the Pixhawk and order the camera to take a picture and upload it to our micro computer. The images will be live Geo-referenced.

Upon landing there is a normal USB memory pen connected to this micro computer that has all the images by the APM ready for post processing, there is no need to cross reference the images with the Pixhawk logs.

Another cool trick we pulled is that we can configure the camera in the air or even see the live pictures on the ground. This way you can correctly figure the settings of exposure and ISO without the trouble of going back to the office. We plan to use this features as addons.

What do you think?

You can also find the original pictures that generated the mosaic in this link




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  • We have made a small picture of the raw system. Tests so far have been very promising.


  • @Paulo hey thanks for existing and being willing to solve these kinds of problems.

    Best way to describe myself is as an entrepreneurial business owner with limited time. I've been working as a commercial photographer for 8+ years. 

    1. In the past year and a half I have started using drones for aerial photography and mapping applications. I don't care or need crazy accuracy with mapping. I just need consistent reliable system that doesn't lock me into a proprietary software workflow for post-processing mapping or aerial imagery.

    2. I own and use 3DR Iris, one that has been adapted for mapping with Canon S100 the other I use with gopro and gimbal. I also use the Sony QX1 for architectural work, and would like to move this sensor onto my Iris for both mapping and aerial photography.

    Your post peaked my interest because I'm looking to avoid wifi interference and still retain some level of control over settings. I'm not terribly interested in too much control because I know what kind of margins I can get shooting RAW in any given lighting.

     At the moment, I'm also struggling to find/make a decent 3D mount for QX1 to Iris. I'm willing to work with a fixed view to avoid gimbal for both the mapping and aerial photography applications. Does your company offer the ability to design and make something like this mount for Iris

    3DR on Twitter
    “IRIS+ mounted with a Sony QX1 for mapping missions. Nice setup from @theUAVguy”
    • Oscar anyone who has a CNC milling can do that mount .

      Just draw a 2D drawing of the two plates and find someone that can cut 1,5 mm carbon plates and voilà you have your mount.

      I doubt that the six or more blue bushes that used theUAVguy are fine to avoid vibrations of the 210 grams QX1 , this is the only difficult part of the mount.

      Now with 3D printers making camera mount is even easier, I did some carbon fiber / ABS camera mounts with CNC mill and Zortrax 3D printer.

    • Unfortunately the QX1 doesn't support control by USB, at least that we are aware of. Its is just aimed at a different market segment I guess. Although with the S100 it should work with no problems. We actually have technology that makes a Canon CHDK modified camera tag the images in the camera card with the MAVLink position data.

      Regarding the mount, we would do it in a 3D printer as Luc mentioned. I forwarded the message to my hardware colleague so he answers me if it is possible.

    • QX1 does allow control over usb with its proprietary RM-VPR1 remote. Here's a break down of wiring.

      Regarding 3D mount for mapping, my research points to a mashup of these two with some simple dampening inbetween.

      @luc thanks man yea I know how simple it is. I wish I had the 3D software knowledge. I know I can learn it but I already have my business and another baby on the way. Too many projects :)
    • @Oscar: This is only half the truth ;-)


      - Sony QX* camera series can only be controlled via Wifi and the Sony Camera API.

      - However the QX* and other newer Sony models have the proprietary Sony USB Multiport connector. There are a few dedicated pins on this connector where you can switch on camera / focus / shutter release / start video / stop video. That's it. You cannot control camera settings.

      - If you want full control over camera settings via USB you need a Sony camera that supports Tethering. A few Sony cameras support this (A99, A77II, A7*, A5000, A6000). The QX* cameras don't support usb tethering.

      - I assume the thread starter uses gphoto2/libgphoto2 to control the camera via usb.

      Please correct me if i am wrong...

    • Christias you are spot on. I could not explain it better.

  • Hello Paulo,

    the product could be interesting from my point of view only if exact instant when  the image has been shooted is recorded using a digital input of the Pixhaw and hot shoe and allows also some raw datas from Imu or Gps to be recorded with the geotagged image.

    BTW the couple of MAVLink to FrSky Smart Port  Converter I bought from Airborne Projects work well.

    • +1 Luc, we need exact time of shoot via hot shoe, not trigger command time. Cheap RTK are now coming fast and it will be soon all about avoiding numerous CGPs.

    • Hey Luc. The data that is tagged in the picture is the data provided by the camera feedback mavlink message which is the data current for the instant the picture is triggered.

      Do you mean this is enough or you would like additional information in the tags?

      Pascal P. if the Pixwhawk or Navio has RTK then that is the information that will be tagged.

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