Ardupilot Camera Gimbal Setup using Mission Planner

We have been skipping the ArduPilot Camera Gimbal page for a while, so finally we are back to revisit this feature.   ArduCopter can stabilize a gimbal with up to three axis of motion using any of the free output channels.  This really mades APM one of the best flight controller around.
Video Recap: dronemission.com/fpv-taranis-apm-camera-gimbal-pirates...


As recommended, we did not connect the servo’s power (red) and ground (black) wires to the RC10 (A10) or (A11), as it may cause the APM to brownout when the servos move.  Instead we rerouted the wires to power the servos from an external BEC from the APM’s rear power rail (Output 7) with the JP1 jumper removed.  For this DJI Opto ESC, we needed a UBEC, we therefore used a 3A/5V on Output 8.

Once you have your wiring done, you will use Mission Planner to setup your gimbal.  If you plan to assign your Input Ch to RC6, please remember to complete a radio calibration with the dial you have assigned to RC6, if not you may see your gimbal behaving erratically.

We test it out on a new quad with default 3.0.1 PID, with an analog servo.  A keychain camera was tied to the gimbal, with no tuning or prop balancing yet, to see how everything performs.  Above are some images from our video log and a flight test.

 

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Comment by Joshua Johnson on October 26, 2013 at 12:36pm

Me and the Fiance Golf at this exact same Pirates Cove in Florida every year when we fly down to Fort Myers to visit family members!!!! :)  It's great to see the place from an aerial view.  When I was their last year I was talking to the owner about how he could use R/C Helis to take great photos of his business for advertising purposes.  I had to watch this video a few times... It's to funny how small this world truly is!

Comment by noeL on October 26, 2013 at 7:27pm
Joshua, i am glad the fpv video brought back some good memories. We never got to golf in it, but it is sure one of the better looking mini golf theme parks in Orlando. The world is truly small!
Comment by nano_khalid on October 26, 2013 at 10:22pm

Thanks noeL for the manual.

I have a question:

"As recommended, we did not connect the servo’s power (red) and ground (black) wires to the RC10 (A10) or (A11), as it may cause the APM to brownout when the servos move.  "

--> Currently I'm plug directly my gimbal servo to A10 & A11 including red and ground wire. Where should I reroute those red and ground wire? I'm using APM module and opto ESC for my quad. I'm not using BEC.

Comment by noeL on October 27, 2013 at 7:51pm

khalid, I am glad you found this video blog useful.  This is what our developer says..

(1) You will need to reroute the wires to power the servos (gimbal) from the APM’s rear power rail with the JP1 jumper removed.  Find a free OUTPUT on your APM, and have the power (red) and ground (black) wire there. 

2) Test it again, if the servo does not move, that is because your Opto ESCs are not providing any power (which is normal for DJI Opto).  You will therefore need an external BEC. Buy one small BEC and supply the power to another free OUTPUT.  The ideal voltage on the OUTPUT is 5.37v

Recap APM 2.5 and 2.6 Overview:

Higher current loads such as servos should be powered from the power-rails (positive-negative) of the OUTPUT side. You must use an adequate voltage-regulator to provide power directly to the Output power-rails, all servo power leads will attach to these same rails (the signal wires can connect on the Analog “S” pins in the case of a camera gimbal). Since JP1 is removed in this scenario, the other “side” of the board will need power provided to it’s power-rails directly.  Warning! Under no circumstances should you ever attempt to draw servo power from the analog input connector. The A0 – A11 I/O connector cannot supply sufficient power for servos.

All the best.

Comment by nano_khalid on October 28, 2013 at 5:39am

noel. Thanks for the info. i will try to use output channel. if no power, i will change 2 pcs esc to bec type.

Comment by TheMightyThor on January 27, 2014 at 4:09pm

Hello all, thanks for this blog.

i am currently setting up my camera gimbal for pitch only on A11 with the white & black Leads connected, the gimbal is powered by a separate battery (7.4v) Is that Ok to have the Black wire or do i need to cut that as well?

Also i notice, when using my radio's knob, there only seems to be a Small band in the middle to about 3/4 of the knobs rotation, that turns the Pitch on the gimbal? the rest of the knobs motion is dead space mre or less? is there a way to tighten this up along the actual rotation of the Turnigy 9XR running Open TX pot/button? or is this normal? 

thanks in advance

Comment by noeL on January 27, 2014 at 11:30pm

Hi Thor

The ground wire would normally be routed along with your red wire.  So in your case it should go to the separate battery that is powering the gimbal motors to ground it.  However, most gimbals have a separate power line, so that is probably your case. I would probably not ground the black wire to the APM.

Sadly, this quad was shipped to GA, and I am not able to explore the knobs you mentioned until the next build next month.  Maybe someone else can help.

Comment by TheMightyThor on January 28, 2014 at 3:33am

ok Noel thanks for your answer, i will await others responses then.

Comment by lucamoharram on March 14, 2014 at 3:57am

Hi i have plugged my 2 servo gimbal into A10 A11 and left one esc with positive and ground and taken the others out of the escs. The servos are powered but i cant make them work in mission planner 2, i turned on the stabilise and tries all the pins available in the list but nothing.

Comment by Ben on March 20, 2014 at 8:31pm

Will somebody please show a good picture or diagram of the servo wiring with a bec or ubec on the power rails... this is getting annoying trying to find this.

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