Earlier this year GoPro announced their new product, a handheld 3 axis gimbal they called the Karma Grip. Watching the footage, I was amazed how the gimbal turned everyday footage into extraordinary, smooth, high quality cinematic shots! Obviously, I wanted one... until I checked the price tag.
No way would I pay that much.
So I set out to build my own! Now obviously, a homemade version may not compete with a top of the line production team such as gopro, but my gimbal got pretty close! For almost half the price, my homemade version features three axis of stabilization and triples the battery life of the Karma Grip and even has a joystick, though it does add some extra weight. For better handling and even smoother shots I added two adjustable stainless steel arms using a 3d printed mount. The result is a buttery smooth shake free video that tremendously boosts the production quality of any shot you use it with.
Please note that this project was inspired by shootr's turorial for a 2 axis gimbal. Link is here. But I wanted my version to be a bit more powerful so I added a third axis
(While this version is limited to sports cameras, and small video recorders, I am working on a larger DSLR gimbal right now! Let me know in the comments if you would like to see more of this project)
Parts you will need:
Gopro Mounts ( $10 OFF Coupon till Dec 31st: cab1ef )
WaterProof Box ( 10% OFF Coupon till Dec 31st: elec10bg )
Stainless Steel Round Tube Rod ( 12% OFF Coupon till 2017.02.28: Elec1 )
Bicycle Handlebar End Grips (12% OFF Coupon till Dec 31st: 16xmas12% )
Step 1: Watch the Video
The first step is to watch the video of the overall process
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Step 2: Mounting the Gimbal
The first step is to mount the gimbal to the box. The gimbal comes with an assortment of mounting screws and a baseplate making this step extremely easy. First flip the box over and lay the baseplate on the back of the box. Using a pen mark the four corners where the screws will mount the gimbal. Then using a dremel micro and the pilot hole attachment, drill the marks you just made. Screw the gimbal onto the box, making sure its even and flip it back upside down. Next take the actual gimbal and slip it onto the rubber vibration isolating tabs. The secret I learned is to pinch and push the tabs through.
Now the gimbal is mounted and you're ready for the next step!
Step 3: Cutting the Handles
Get the stainless steel rod and slip the bicycle grips over the ends. You'll notice it barely fits over the rod and you really have to force it on. I found the fastest way was grabbing and twisting, then placing the handle bar flat on a table and pressing down with the rod. Next mark where you want the rod to be cut, I used dead center, but this is where you can customize your gimbal. One arm or two? Long or short? Telescopic? There are many possibilities, but the decision is up to you, I simply wanted a medium length, two handled gimbal so I cut mine dead center.
Next get a hacksaw with a steel cutting blade and cut the rod at the mark you just made. Then file out any rough burs you might have and your ready for the next step!
Step 4: 3D Printed Mount
Next I had to design and print a mount for the handles. I used 123d design and made a mount to fit inside the stainless steel rod and mount onto a gopro mount. You can download the stl using the link to my thingiverse page below. Using 5 minute epoxy run the epoxy along the rim of the rod and the 3d printed mount, then stuff it inside. Repeat this for the other rod, snap on a gopro mount and your ready for the next step!
Here's the link to my thingiverse page to download the gimbal mount:
I printed the design with 100% infill because weaker infills broke ecause I used PLA. I recommend printing with 100% infill or a stronger material such as abs
Step 5: Finishing Up!
To finish up the gimbal, Peel the back of the flat gopro mount off and stick it to the sides of the plastic box, making sure that they are mounted evenly. Snap the 3d printed mount into its slot, screw in the threaded rod and your ready to test your gimbal out! Just for testing I used a spare NIMH battery that I had laying around. Let the camera stabilize, and your ready to film some liquid smooth high quality shots!
Do you want to take this gimbal to the next level? The next steps are optional but will add a massive increase in the practicality of the gimbal.
Step 6: Adding the Joystick
This step is completely optional, though I found it makes the gimbal quite useful when filming. Adding a joystick will make it much easier to get awesome panning shots to take your video to the next level! First detach the gimbal from the plastic box and flip it over. You'll notice theres a series of male HX connectors sticking out of the storm32 board. There's a ground, Pot 0, Pot 1, Pot 2, and 3.3v connector, this makes it perfect for adding a joystick! Take the joystick and connect the X and Y axis to the Pot 1 and Pot 2 connectors. The order doesn't matter, because you can switch them latter in the software, however don't mix up Positive and Negative. Positive of the joystick goes to Postive of the gimbal and Negative of the joystick goes to Negative of the gimbal.
Plug a micro USB connector into the gimbal and using the Storm 32 config tool, Connect the board to your computer. Go to the RC Inputs tab and cycle through the RC Pitch and RC Yaw until you reach POT 1 and POT 2. test the gimbal and if the axis are mixed up, just switch the Pot inputs with each other. I left the roll RC input off because I didn't want the camera to roll, only pitch and yaw.
Then you're ready for the next step.
Step 7: Cleaning Up
To complete the joystick addition, using a drill press make a 1.5 inch hole on the side to slip the joystick through. Then drill a smaller hole on the bottom to fit both the JST connector for the battery and the HX connectors for the joystick through. Pull the wires through, and plug them back in on the inside of the box. Next using a bit of hot glue, I sealed the holes and mounted the joystick permanently to the inside.
Once everything looks solid you're ready for the next step!
Step 8: You're Done
Put the cover onto the top of the box, screw in the screws and your done!
You can now capture ultra smooth shots using the gimbal! If you enjoyed reading this inscrutable I would greatly appreciate it if you subscribed to my Instructable and Youtube channel or dropped a like! I've got some big projects coming up and I don't want you to miss them, so subscribe!
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