A $109 GoodLuckBuy Brushless Gimbal for the H3 GoPro

Here's a short clip, somewhat adulterated by YouTube, of a test of this inexpensive gimbal and controller that I bought from goodluckbuy.com. The Goodluckbuy SKU is 98952, you can look at it by entering that in their search engine. It's made to mount on a Phantom but it's not hard to work up a mount for most any copter.

Here I'm flying it on my DJI 550 Hex "The Witch." I didn't use the provided vibration mounts but rather some stiffer "lord" type mounts I had lying around. Also there are rubber grommets involved.

This gimbal comes without a shred of documentation and I haven't yet figured out how to find the appropriate software. However, it works "out of the box". The only problem is a slight off-level lean on the roll axis, which I've fixed for the moment by simply shimming one end of the GoPro. Build quality is very high. It's all aluminum so not super light.

In this video I've intentionally left bits of the airframe visible to show how hard and well the gimbal is working.

The entire 8 minute flight is as smooth as the 29 seconds seen here.

Slightly off-topic: This clip starts with the hex under manual control in "stabilize" mode, approaching a Geofence that starts at the weed line. When the hex hits the fence it goes into RTL and heads home. It overshoots home (the red landing pad) and neatly turns back to it and ends up right where it should be, at which point I take back control and the clip ends. The slow flight home is my setting, and I think the overshoot might be a result of settings I've made as well, as I'm looking for smoothness, not speed, when I'm tuning.

I'm excited by this gimbal. The YouTube video doesn't really do it justice. If anyone else is using  one of these I'd like to hear from you.

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  • Hi Oliver. The controller is based on an Arduino, much like the APM is. I found this usefull info on RC groups: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1901828. I think it tells you all you need to know.
  • I was there when this footage was taken (the guy off on the side with the Australian Shepard) and the reality is that the camera just points where it is aimed and stays there regardless of how the frame moves around it.

    Brushless gimbals have 2 really important advantages over servos, the obvious one that the gimbals themselves don't have any complex gear trains adding backlash and "ratcheting".

    And the less obvious but really significant fact that in using their own controller board with a separate gyro that mounts directly to the camera body they are simply executing continuously a program that re-levels the camera whenever it moves off level.

    When you pitch the camera, it just adds an offset for what level is.

    When you do this operation with an APM using a regular servo type mount, you get a little time slice to run it in.

    It has a far more complex job of figuring out what angle the APM is at and so what corrections it should apply to the servo mount to offset it to approximately level.

    And this is a significantly more complex computational task that takes longer and it is subject to mechanical deviations from the expected ideal gimbal configuration.

    The smoothness and instantaneous response of these self contained and self controlled brushless mounts basically fix all of the shortcomings of previous servo type mounts.

    An inexpensive brushless mount like this one with a GoPro Hero 3 makes possible professional quality video even on an inexpensive frame like Olivers DJI 550 Hex. 

    I really don't think you can find a more satisfactory or less expensive pro video setup than this one.

  • Eric, can you please help me out some more with that software link - exactly which did you download, and then how did you implement it/them? Thanks!

  • 100KM

    What a find! Thank you!

  • Eric, it works fine on mine but I didn't go through APM, rather simply plugged it into an empty channel on the Rx (after assigning a knob on the Tx to that channel). You'll want to snip the + (middle) wire.

    As an aside, I'm powering the gimbal directly with its own little battery, a 360 Mah 3S lipo. The gimbal consumes about 50 or so Mah in a flight so that's plenty big. While the gimbal and board would supposedly run directly from the 4S flight batteries I prefer to have as few things as possible hanging from them that might cause a problem. So the gimbal system is completely independent from the flight control and flight power systems, with the exception of that one wire for manual tilt override. Also very easy to move from one airframe to another.

    I'll mention that the gimbal doesn't like not having weight (the camera) on it and throws a fit when powered up without it. I thought it was a dud until I figured it out.   Also while it is balanced for the GoPro H3, I did stick an H2 (heavier) on it and it handled it OK on the bench and for a short flight.

    The only thing I really don't like doesn't have to do directly with the gimbal, but rather with the lack of protection of the naked GoPro. I wish someone would make a clear glass lens protector and maybe a "skin" for the H3 that would give some protection when taking off and landing in what sometimes amounts to a sandstorm, and also from fog etc. My previous ServoCity-based gimbal that I made (now, after three months, a quaint antique!) had the GoPro in its battledress ... heavy but effective.

  • Sure looks good! I have the same gimbal and it is certainly not bad at all. The controller is the Martinez open source controller and gui and software can be found here: http://code.google.com/p/brushless-gimbal/downloads/list.

    I was not yet able though to get the channel 6 tilt option to work, I found some information telling me to use A1 and ground to connect to channel 6 but that din't do the trick. If anyone has an idea?
  • Not bad for the price..

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