FPV gimbal for zoom camera

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It’s nice to fly around with your copter or plane, watching the surrounding area with a live view. Anyone who tried FPV knows that feeling. There is much to see with the regular equipment, but if you want to see some detail from a higher altitude, there is a problem. Normally it’s good to have a wide angle camera, to see the surrounding space. But what if you want to watch a particular spot, like your house, or something interesting happening few miles away in detail, without making a lot of flying with your drone? 

We found very little neat solutions for that, that’s why me and my buddy Jacob are working on a low cost project of a FPV gimbal for zoom camera.  
This is an early 3D printed prototype of a simple to use FPV zoom gimbal. It is designed to get along perfectly with almost any coper or plane.

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If you want to zoom on something while flying it’d better be stabilised, thats why 3 axis gimbal is put to work. The body is designed to work with most of FPV zoom cameras, analog or HD. As a controller we are using AlexMos, slim version to cut the mass. All of the cables are hidden inside of the body which makes it really nice and handy.


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The whole gimbal with camera weighs 305g, we think thats really nice result.
For now we are making some iterations to reach optimal body design, but later we’re going to test things like object tracking with Raspberry pi and OpenCV, and a HD Light Bridge transmission. 
What are your opinions on this? Do you think it would be useful for your FPV needs? 
If you’re interested in this project write a comment or send me a private message on DIYD, we’d love to hear some feedback!

Soon we should have some footage from an actual flight! 
Cheers!
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Comments

  • is this Gimbal going to be for sale soon?

  • Andrew,

    Thanks for the information, I think I am good to go with what you have given me, but if you want to document for others feel free!

  • General idea of serial communication with a camera is about two steps:

    Step 1 - define constants/commands

    byte zoom_teleVar[6]= {0x81, 0x01, 0x04, 0x07, 0x27, 0xFF}; //Zoom In: 81 01 04 07 2x FF , where x is speed- 0(low)-7(hi);
    byte zoom_wideVar[6]= {0x81, 0x01, 0x04, 0x07, 0x37, 0xFF}; //Zoom Out: 81 01 04 07 3x FF , where x is speed- 0(low)-7(hi);
    byte zoom_stop[6]= {0x81, 0x01, 0x04, 0x07, 0x00, 0xFF}; //Stop all zooming

    Step 2 - send command to a camera

    for (int i=0; i<6; i++){
    Serial.write(zoom_teleVar[i]);
    }

    Please note that you have to send 'stop' command in order to stop tele/wide command.

    check this out: http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=150264.0

    I'll try to post a detailed overview of my setup next week (Arduino, joysticks, Arduino LCD screen, Xbee Pro900 serial modem -> Xbee, Alexmos controller+gimbal,Sony FCB 980S), I just need to find some time write it down all.

  • Andrew, thanks for the link and that would be great if you already have some code!

  • Sony FCB camera communication protocol: https://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/assets/files/mkt/indauto/manuals/FCB-E... (starting on page 38)

    I can post simple code for arduino, which allows to communicate with Sony FCB camera.

  • Really nice Greg,

    Been thinking about incorporating zoom also.

    Really nice camera you selected and like how you stripped the factory case and integrated it into your own.

    Of course any vibration problems get a lot worse at high zoom, so effective damping is even more necessary, so even with the gimbal, effective damping is going to be really important.

    I really look forward to seeing some of your videos from this setup.

    Best Regards,

    Gary

  • @Jim G i'm glad the post helped you out. 

    @Justin Stiltner, Jacob designed the communication board with a friend form polish rc forum, they pulled it through trial and error process with good results. I don't know much about this module, all i know its very light and works fine.

    We are still developing this equipment, and when it's ready we will put more info for sure. The gimbal is universal so it can hold many different cameras. We are thinking about offering a plug and play set at a sweet price spot, so it would cut the need of spending a lot of time on trial and error, and calibration for FPV pilots. Just hook it up, and fly with a new quality of FPV experience ;)

  • @ Justin Stiltner really appreciate your reply in helping me out. By the camera you posted you mean this particular model here ? http://www.surveilzone.com/fpv-10x-zoom-sony-ccd-700tvl-camera-for-...

    FPV 10X Zoom CMOS 700TVL Camera for 1.2G/5.8G Telemetry
    This is a mini 10X Zoom fpv camera, CMOS, 700TVL
  • Jim,

    If the camera that I linked and the controller board it comes with will fit in the gimbal listed here you should be good to go. 

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