Instructables

Brushless Gimbal for Aerial Photography Drones

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Picture of Brushless Gimbal for Aerial Photography Drones
Every self-respecting drone used for aerial photography needs a gimbal. Good gimbals are very expensive, cheap ones are not smooth. Brussless Gimbals (BLG) to the rescue! In there recent months there has been a flurry of activity around this new way of building camera gimbals. Instead of servo motors, a BLG uses re-wound Brushless RC motors in a direct drive configuration.

The cheapest of all BLGs on the market today (and readily available) is the GoPro BLG and Controller (Martinez v1) from RcTimer. Unfortunately that gimbal comes zero, zilch, nada instructions. Also there were some incorrectly machined parts. Hence building it can be quite a challenge. This Instructable is meant to fill this gap. Also it might give you enough pointers to design and build your own gimbal from scratch.

Testing of finished gimbal:



Timelapse video of the build:

 
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Step 1: The parts

Picture of The parts
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Here's everything out of the package. There was one bolt missing. Be careful with the bag that contains the grub screws and C rings.  They're really tiny.

Step 2: Build the camera cage

Picture of Build the camera cage
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It's pretty simple, just bolt the pieces together.

Be sure that the grub screw holes both face forward. A GoPro should friction-fit in the frame pretty securely. Use Loctite on the screws or they might loosen and get lost quickly.

Step 4: Install pitch motor and bearings

Next, assemble the bearings. Careful with the little pieces!

We found a problem with the grub screw hole. It wasn't properly tapped, so we couldn't get the grub screw inserted all the way. After some debugging, we ended up switching the two sides, so the working grub screw was on the motor side.

The grub screw uses a 1.25mm hex wrench. It would be nice if RC Timer included one. They don't, so be sure and have one ready.
ukionz1 year ago
Noob here, sorry for stupid question. Is the controller board accept signals from receiver so we can change angle (tilt) when flying?
Thanks in advance.

regards
Yu Kion
oesti (author)  ukionz1 year ago
Yes you can! I added the instructions of how to do that as step 13 of the instructable.

Ports

A1 is for pitch axis (tilt camera up or down)
A2 is for roll axis

Pin Assignment

Bottom pin is ground (out-most on the board)
Middle pin is 5V
Top pin is signal
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BrysonHicks oesti7 months ago

Just started getting into RC so this is a noob question.

The rc transmitter has a ton of switches and dials. How do you choose the one to control the gimbal? Would it have to be a dial instead of a switch?

Im looking at this one: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__8992__T...
Could you control it with the dials on top? I assume the transmitter labels what dials go with each set up pins on the reiceiver, then you would just plug the A1 port into the correct pins on the recicever. Right?

Usually one would use a head tracker. That connects to the trainer port on the back of your radio. Hobbyking has some affordable head trackers (~$50) :D

ryugatana6 months ago

I'm a little confused about powering the board. Do I just hook up my copters 3s (~12V) Lipo battery straight to the leads on the board? Does the input voltage matter as long as it's up around 11-12V? Thanks in advance.

Yup, it can handle the voltage. I believe it is 2-6 lipo support.

maninvan1 year ago
Thanks this is a great tutorial. Though I found it after I had put the gimbal together. The biggest problem I had was connecting the board to the motors. I disagree that the order of the wires soldered to the motor doesn't matter. (it doesn't matter is regards to not breaking anything if the wrong order) We spent a long frustrating time connecting the motors, sensors to the correct ports and with proper orientations. If you could include a diagram that showed exactly the order to solder the cable to the motors. Which default orientation to connect to the gimbal motor outs, and which motor out is which (pitch, roll). It would make the process a lot clearer. You can change the motor assignments, in the software, but people really want as plug-n-go solution as possible.

I will give you top marks for the 'gotcha' not working mistakes as that helped a lot.

I have to say, that just for a couple of markings on the setup from RcTimer and diagrams on the Brushless Gimbal site, I could have saved a few hours for other things!

PS: Remember to balance the Camera first in the gimbal ;-)
remcogr maninvan11 months ago
Replying to you directly, maninvan, hoping that you can help me with powering my gimbal. I feel like a newby, but I cannot find where to power the gimbal. I want to connect a 3S 11.1 v 1800 mAh lipo, but cannot find where to connect the power cables. I see an USB connector (but that is for testing and balancing, right?), some pins saying 5V and GND (but 5V is too little for powering the gimbal, right?) and a + and - pins. I tried that, but that doesn't work.Please help. THNX
maninvan remcogr11 months ago
see http://code.google.com/p/brushless-gimbal/wiki/martinezcontroller if you are using the martinez controller. Is the connection that say AKKU 3S meaning LiPo 3S (don't connect the wrong way!)
remcogr11 months ago
Thnx very much for the instructions. I feel like a newby, but I cannot find where to power the gimbal. I want to connect a 3S 11.1 v 1800 mAh lipo, but cannot find where to connect the power cables. I see an USB connector (but that is for testing and balancing, right?), some pins saying 5V and GND (but 5V is too little for powering the gimbal, right?) and a + and - pins. I tried that, but that doesn't work.Please help. THNX
fanman71 year ago
Great Instructable. If someone wanted to ramp up the size of this to handle a payload of around 5 pounds for say a DSLR. Would these BLGs be enough or would you need larger ones? Where can these be found besides RCTimer.com ? I'm thinking of making my own, since the ones being sold out there are crazy expensive.
Can someone tell me how much power the control board takes, and how I am supposed to know? I can't find it on/in a manual anywhere.
oesti (author)  TravisNeedham1 year ago
I'm running it off a 3S 500mAh battery. I don't have a number for you but it seems to consume very little. Of course that all depends on the BLG motors and now much work they have to do.
oesti (author) 1 year ago
I just upgraded to Brugi 0.49 r161 and had a much better experience than with r77 . This version pretty much works out of the box. I only had to increase the RC min & max angles (to tilt more than 30 degrees) and reduce the RC low pass to 1 second to make the movement faster.
rvyas1 year ago
Oesti, Is there no cheaper way to make it? like if I buy cheap 5010 motor from rctimer and rewind it? is rewinding easy are recommended? Have you been through that?
and can I use wood and cheap acrylic to build the gimbal?
Please help me.
Also can I use open source gimbal board thats available for 40$..?
oesti (author)  rvyas1 year ago
There is no doubt that you can make a gimbal from the mentioned materials. The required bearings and the attachment to the motor shaft make it a bit more daunting than other DIY
projects.

Rewinding motors seems to be a very intensive task. I have never tried it but I could see myself breaking the motor in the process. The good news is that you can buy ready made BLG motors for not much more:

http://www.rctimer.com/index.php?gOo=goods_details.dwt&goodsid=871&productname=
stansell1 year ago
When you bought this, did the circuit board come with it? Or is that a separate piece that you bought?
oesti (author)  stansell1 year ago
The controller and the gimbal are two separate items from rctimer. Please note that there are many different choices of vendors. Also people have used controllers from different sources with this gimbal. But rctimer was the cheapest and only ready-to-ship product at the time I ordered.

Gimbal

http://www.rctimer.com/index.php?gOo=goods_details.dwt&goodsid=872&productname=

Controller

http://www.rctimer.com/index.php?gOo=goods_details.dwt&goodsid=884&productname=


It says "using rewound brushless motors" can you buy the motors rewound or do you have to rewind them yourself. If you have to rewind them yourself, are you going to include that in the part 2 of this tutorial?
oesti (author)  thegooberman1 year ago
A few months ago re-winding yourself was the only option. Now there are several suppliers which carry motors specifically would for BLGs. The RCtimer gimbal used in this instructable comes with two BLG motors. Below is a link to a re-winding tutorial, it's seemed very daunting to me.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1823636
naeger oesti1 year ago
The link you gave explains HOW to rewind a motor but not WHY ....

I am new to this. What is this whole "rewinding" about? Why do you have to rewind the motors or buy specially rewound motors in the first place? Why can't you just buy ordinary brushless motors for the gimbals?
oesti (author)  naeger1 year ago
Let me google that for you ;)

This thread has a lot of good information about re-winding:

http://www.fpvhub.com/index.php?topic=11021.0

This sums up the purpose of re-winding pretty well:

"The winding are of thinner wire with more turns for a higher resistance which gives more torque for less current in the range required for the gimbal operation"
lagri1 year ago
Thanks for the link, oesti.
it´s incredible... wow, it´s better than the passive steadycams solutions.
I tried to find through Google, motorized steadycams systems, but no luck.
billbillt1 year ago
great!
very cool
lagri1 year ago
Would it be possible to do the same for other larger cameras?
2,5 kg or more?
oesti (author)  lagri1 year ago
Yes it seems like the concept can be scaled up. There are some commercial products start to make an appearance:

http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/3-axis-brushless-gimbal-system-steadicam-for-pro-users-arducopter
mhkabir1 year ago
You got all the stuff in the package? Mine was missing the countersunk screws :(
oesti (author)  mhkabir1 year ago
My set was only missing only screw and three parts that needed corrective action. This seems to be the disadvantage of ordering from China. But for the price, a certain amount of tinkering is acceptable to me. Hope you found matching screws.