Orphaned Gimbal Gets Second Chance To Fly

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A reality of flying RC aircraft is that at some point, one of your birds is going to fall in the line of duty. It could get lost in the clouds never to be seen again, or perhaps it will become suddenly reacquainted with terra firma. Whatever the reason, your overall enjoyment of the hobby depends greatly on how well you can adapt to the occasional loss.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, we’d say [Rural Flyer] has the right temperament for the job. After losing one of his quadcopters in an unfortunate FPV incident, he decided to repurpose the proprietary gimbal it left behind. If he still had the drone he could have slipped a logic analyzer in between its connection with the motorized camera to sniff out the communication protocol, but since that was no longer an option, he had to get a little creative.

Figuring out the power side of things was easy enough thanks to the silkscreen on the camera’s board, and a common 5 V battery eliminator circuit (BEC) connected to the drone’s 7.4 V battery pack got it online. A cobbled together adapter allowed him to mount it to one of his other quads, but unfortunately the angle wasn’t quite right.

[Rural Flyer] wanted the camera tilted down about 15 degrees, but since he didn’t know how to talk to it, he employed a clever brute force solution. After identifying the accelerometer board responsible for determining the camera’s position, he use a glob of hot glue to push the sensor off of the horizontal. Providing this physical offset to the sensor data caused the camera to automatically move itself to exactly where he wanted it.

In the video after the break, you can see the hacked up gimbal seems to perform admirably when attached to its new mothership. Using the original drone’s smartphone application, [Rural Flyer] is able to view the live stream and record the action. Thanks to the new antenna he whipped up for the transmitter, it sounds like he’s even improved things compared to the stock hardware.

We’ve seen DIY camera gimbals before, and some of them have been small enough that you could mount them to the bottom of a consumer quadcopter. But saving a perfectly good piece of hardware from the trash is always preferable to starting from scratch in our book.

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