If you answered yes to both of those questions, then this post is for you.
I've always had a special fondness for the Sony QX-1 and decided to rig up a contraption that would let me fly her with Solo. For both of you on DIYDrones who are not familiar with the QX-1, it is a light (180 g body), high resolution (20MP), endowed with a large sensor (APS-C, 15x larger than GoPro) body that receives Sony E-mount lenses (including zoom lenses), and can be controlled by an extensive WiFi API.
First, I had to learn how to control the camera via the WiFi API. Jaime Machuca, of Droidika, wrote a nice MAVLink wrapper for the QX-1 API, but I never quite could get it going on Solo. Instead, I deployed the pysony API, which I installed on a RasPi that I taped to Solo's belly. This RasPi connected to QX-1's WiFi upon boot, ingested the mjpeg QX-1 livestream, pipe it over HDMI to Solo App, and triggered the QX-1 to begin shooting. I could control all other QX-1 functions on the ground, but I didn't have an easy way to integrate those controls into Solo herself.
Next, I had to gimbal the camera. At 280g with the 20mm flat lens and a bit more with the 16-50mm Power Zoom, a brushless gimbal was probably out of the question and would have been much more difficult and expensive to build up. Because I was mostly interested in stills, I didn't particularly care about smooth video, but rather wanted a horizontal horizon and the ability to tilt the camera. I selected the RC Timer CM102, which had no problem stabilizing the camera reasonably well and holding the desired pitch.
These two pieces combined succeeded into turning Solo into a reasonable, but kludgy solution to capture truly professional aerial images for either general consumption or the generation of high quality maps or models. However, while this project is functional, it is incomplete. This feat of engineering contains no fewer than two PixHawks, six batteries, 20+ feet of cable, two companion computers, five ESCs, 10+ feet of strapping tape, and two transmitters.
I would love some additional feedback and support from the community to potentially turn this weekend project into something that any Solo owner could enjoy. I have a few full resolution images from both the QX-1 and GoPro along with a video of this thing in action (on my desk) on my blog, to help you answer these questions.
1) Is this something you would generally want?
2) Is a servo gimbal a problem? Servos will never succeed at delivering high quality video, but seem quite capable of stabilizing the camera for stills.
3) Would anyone be willing to help me integrate pysony and appropriate WiFi boot up scripts into the iMX6, eliminating the need to carry a second companion computer?
I would like ot use your wifi board with Sony HX90V will it work with that camera when released?
@Jeremy could you give us an indication of when your new WiFi MAP Module will be in beta and available for testing?
I've been flying a Canon ELPH 115 on SOLO and own a QX1 with 20mm lens, so just give me a shout when you're ready for some people to buy / test for you. I bought a £3 ($5) GoPro 3/8 mount of eBay to fasten the QX1 to SOLO, but have not flown it, so not sure how it will perform like this?
We are currently developing a WiFi interface board that will allow the autopilot to trigger the Sony QX1 shutter via Sony's WiFi API. Our module plugs directly into the Solo's accessory bay for a seamless integration. We've cut all unnecessary weight to maximize endurance during mapping missions. Our QX1 is mounted to solo using a quick release mount with custom vibration dampers. We control Solo from mission planner (or Tower) so live view is unnecessary while mapping (based on extensive customer feedback, as 18 minutes is already on the lower end of desired flight time). The camera's mounting angle is adjustable to the desired flight speed to allow pictures to be taken normal to the ground.
Here's a picture of our WiFi module and camera mount
Is the code you wrote that does the retry to connect to the camera 5 times in 5 seconds part of the Mavproxy code?
You can use it on any Linux based computer, it uses MAVProxy so you need to setup man proxy and set it up to run on startup, configure the linux box to connect to the sony camera's WiFi and connect a serial port from the linux box to the pixhawk telemetry. Then you can use the MAV_Link messages to trigger the camera or also a mission will distance trigger will trigger the camera. I don't have a step by step instruction. The code is in MAVProxy already, you can see it here: https://github.com/Dronecode/MAVProxy/tree/master/MAVProxy/modules/...
Jaime, do you have instructions on how to set up what you created somewhere? and can you use an oDroid instead?
@Daniel, I ran into a similar problem, but not on the WiFi connection, it was more related to the SSDP finding the camera. I had to add a retry strategy where I retry to connect and find the camera every 5 seconds for 5 times... that solved the issue.
What kind of brushless gimbals would work with the QX1?
@Benoit: Eeehm, this is not USB... ;-)
It uses a modified USB connector just to trigger the camera. You cannot control anything via USB...
It would be great if you can do the same via USB that can be accomplished via the Wifi API.
Christian : you can trigger the QX1 with APM by connecting it to the APM "relay" pin and to the "USB" of the QX1.
But it is not true USB, the plug of the QX1 is compatible with micro USB but it is a proprietary Sony Multi with 10 pin.
You have to by this cable : http://www.ebay.com/itm/JJC-Remote-Control-Cable-For-Sony-A7S-HX50V...
cut it and made some soldering :
solder the white and yellow wire together to the white wire of a servo cable, the red on the black of the servo cable and connect it to the A9 of the APM.
(check the plug wire here : http://www.doc-diy.net/photo/remote_pinout/#sony )