Gimbal support on APM - dead easy

I wasn't sure what would be involved in getting a simple gimbal (in my case, just a tilt platform really) hooked up and working, but it was dead easy.

My wife recently made me a present of a GoPro Hero 2 and a tilt-mount.


This is a cheap little thing, but it fits the frame I have and it comes with the servo, and it was a gift - so you can't complain.

Took a look at the ArduCopter docs and was a touch intimidated, but as it turns out, it is really easy to get working. Once it was on the frame (took a little sanding and force), all I did was plug the servo into output 11 on the APM2.


If I had something that did roll as well as pitch, I would have plugged the roll servo into output 10 as well.

Where it gets really nice is that the Mission Planer has direct setting support for the gimbal now (as opposed ot what the docs say). I went to Mission Planner->Configuration->Camera Gimbal (duh).

On this screen, you can enable Tilt, Roll, and Pan individually, and can choose which channels to use for each. In my case, I enabled only Pitch, and set it to use "RC11" - this naming convention is a little confusing since RC indicates Radio, but it really is just the output pin number. I left the defaults for the limits. I chose Input channel "RC6" - which actually is a radio input channel.

I have channel 6 on my TX set to a pot for use in tuning, so I chose to use it here. Note - to use Channel 6 for the gimbal, you will want to make sure it is set to CH6_NONE in the ArdiCopter Config screen.

So in theory, channel 6 should set the angle of the mount and then the APM will maintain that angle to counter the pitch of the quad.

As soon as I picked up the quad, the gimbal worked. I could set the angle with the pot and it compensated for pitch as I tipped the quad back and forth. If only everything was this easy.

Once it stops raining in March next year, maybe I'll get to fly it. 

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  • Is there any way I can increase the range of the gimbal or add a multiply factor so I get a greater range of rotation?  I have messed around with the min and max values, so I know the servo is capable of rotating in a much larger range, the problem is when the gimbal is stabilized by the APM I get about 20% of the full range.  My gimbal is not a direct drive, its gear driven.  This provides smooth rotation but in a limited area, I just need to the APM to use a larger range when turning the servos.  Any ideas would be appreciated.  Cheers,


  • Here is the setup with the GoPro sort of cheesily mounted. 3692546236?profile=original3692546324?profile=original

  • Scott, thanks for that.  I am SHOCKED at how good that is.  I mean, it's not perfect, but it's really not too bad at all!  Much better than I thought it would be.  It's obviously not great for video, but you could definitely get some decent still shots with it in calm conditions.

    Can you show some picture of it all set up with the GoPro?

  • Distributor

    Nice setup, 

    I am a big fan of the EMAX ES08MD servo for these application. They are digital and metal gears.

    works very nice while not too expensive.


  • OK - actually got to try it out in the yard. The servo definitely shows some jitter so I am going to have to investigate replacing it with something smoother (any suggetsions?) but it seems to work pretty well.

  • Developer

    Thanks I will get you set up.

  • Sure - I could do that. Do I need any special access granted?

  • Developer

    Scott, now that you are up the learning curve on the gimbal, do you have any interest in improving / updating the wiki?

  • @ Patch, The APM does do 3 axis gimbal control on planes as well as copters. It has for a while now. You can select the axis individually in the mission planner. You can also have it point to a GPS point by right clicking on the map and selecting "point camera here" and setting the altitude. Next we need to have it aim at another aircraft by receiving a "follow me" message with GPS data from the subject plane.

  • Pretty smooth indeed; if the APM does 3 axis gimbal control this well, it's a whole new ball game.

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