We have developed a version of the SurVoyeur mk-II, the 'c' version, which has a new nose housing a gimballed, stablized EO and IR camera combination.

This gimbal houses the FLIR QUARK 640 X 512 pixel Thermal camera, fitted with a shutter to enable flat field correction,  and also houses the Sony EX11 Colour Block Camera.

Both camera are fully controllable from the ground station, colour modes, zoom where applicable, AGC, etc.

The gimbal is stabilized and fully steerable from the ground station. We are currently working on making accurate fitment jigs to bore-sight the cameras to the IMU, to enable accurate line of sight determination to allow automatic tracking of designated 'targets'.

Here are some photos of the various parts of the Gimbal, and the Gimbal fitted to the aircraft.

The two cameras with the QUARK shutter mechanism:                                   The assembled Gimbal:








A short video of the gimbal in motion:


Flight times are 70minutes at sea level 25deg C, 55 minutes at 1600m ASL, 40deg C.

Additionaly an 18mpixel Canon stills camera, stablised in roll, is fitted in the belly bay , under the wing, as was in the original mk-II aircraft.

search for SurVoyeur on DiyD for other blogs on mk-I and mk-II if interested...

The Nampilot.

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  • Martin, no flaps on takeoff. We use them on landing to flare down gently. Landing starts from 160meters away, at 20meters AGL. Flare starts at 6meters AGL.  At launch the launch point is recorded an used for the touchdown aim point - in calm WX generally we touch down within 6 meters of that point, fore or aft..


  • Wessie ( from RSA?)

    The gear is from RS components - 

    I take the aluminium servo arm from the servo, cut the arm from the spline hub, fit the hub to a shaft machined to snugly fit inside the spline,  with a screw ( as you would fit it to the servo) and place the shaft ( 6mm diameter) in the lathe. I machine the hub down to 8.5mm diameter. Then I machine an 8.5mm rebate into the recipient gear, and snugly locktite the hub into the gear. Thats it - I have searched for splined gears/hubs/pulleys, to no avail. I have for the larger servo splines made a hardened splined shaft and use that to force a spline into the correct size hole in the gear hub. Just not easy to make the spline for the smaller servo shafts.

    Not a multi turn servo - not needed - the servo is programmed for 180deg rotation and that is more than enough for use in a fixed wing in that mounting - The 180 forward and rear is far more than needed but we turn the camera lense backwards on launch and land to be out of the way of flying bits.

    The 3 blade prop - yes that was part of a multitude of prop size pitch and motor kv tests - I ended up making the hub since I could not easily get one in Namibia or RSA..


  • Question re the tilt mechanism (open to everyone for answers.)

    How do you fit a gear/toothed pully on the servo output spline?

    I assume you are using a multi-turn servo there too?

    Now there is something you dont see everyday! A 3-Blade folding hub. Cool

    Great work!

  • Gisela & Joe Noci

    Please PM me. I am very interested in your Gimbal.

  • What kind of hardware/software is used to make the tracking part work ?
    Also what is the cost of the components ? The cameras ?

  • We've been experimenting with a Flir Tau 640 mounted on a roll stabilized mount inside our X8 wing lately. I will upload a clip to youtube to share with you guys sometime this week. It's pretty cool footage, but I get a little too excited while it's flying. That X8 on APM2.5 has flown hundreds of flights and many 1000's of kilometres in testing and actual commercial terrain mapping without incident so I am very comfortable with it carrying a Canon EOS M, but having a $10,000ish camera onboard changes everything. Unfortunately the Tau we have on loan is 9hz... (lame) as compared to the 1/800 to 1/1250 shutter speed we usually shoot at. But still decent results considering. will share asap.

  • Nampilot, you guys always impress me!! Love the style of your designs.

    That take off is impressive!

  • The takeoff is pretty impressive. Very short distance. Can't tell from the video, but I would guess you're using flaps.

    How large a corridor is needed for landing?

  • Are you using machine vision to track the objects of interest?

  • Martin,

    No the 3blade prop was part of testing prop and motor combinations for endurance flights. We did this on the mk-II airframe, which has the straight nose, not the mk-IIc raised nose, and thus less ground clearance for the prop.

    We use a 2 blade 17X16 and a 410kv motor on the mk-IIc and get 75minuts with 4cell 10000mAH @ 5.5kg

    The 3 blade  you see here is a 16X15 and it gives 66minutes - 3 blade is less efficient - looks good though..

    A 2 blade 15X13 with a 500kv motor gives the same  performance flight performance, but flight time is down to 60 minutes.

    The takeoff is within 8 meters

    Here is a video.


    The Nampilot.

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