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Old Jan 11, 2013, 01:16 AM
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advice on a good quad setup for Hero3 w/gimbal

I'm looking to get into a quadcopter setup for high quality video with gimbal roll stabilization (with the Naza GPS for example) and potentially a second axis as remote tilt control or auto tilt stabilization. Baseline camera would be an HD Hero3. My goal is to be able to track sideways (camera 90 degrees to the direction of flight) and have the gimbal keep the camera level in roll and not have artifacts such as rolling shutter (jello), shake or other distracting artifacts within reason for the price range. Plus GPS equipped for altitude lock, auto stabilization, return home on lost signal etc and probably FPV setup so I can see what the camera sees and also do some flying a little farther from my person when I feel a little more adventurous. I'd probably be mostly flying in Atti modes and using the IOC features of the Naza to hold a particular orientation when desirable for a shot. At least that's what looks appealing to me for what I wish to do.

I'd like to keep it to $1500 or so (for everything, I'm starting with nothing except the camera) so we're not talking super high end very large copters with big gimbal setups for $5k - $6k. Could be a little more if needed.

After doing a lot of poking around online and watching youtube videos, I've kind of narrowed down what I think will work as a class of copters, and I'd like to invite comment to narrow down the direction I should proceed in.

The first video that really impressed me was by Mike Taero.

FPV QUADCOPTER GOPRO HD 2 (3 min 51 sec)


In the comments he describes his setup, which is a Dialfonzo spider quad body. (full description: recorded 1080p 30fps quad copter (now i use dialfonzo quadcopter). 4x motor rc timer 2836/11 750kv 4x esc 30A 4x propeller 10x4.7 APC 1x battery 3S lipo 5000mah flight time 12minute 1x 600 mw immercion rc + fatshark RX frsky gopro HD 2 et micro FPV cam 1x battery 3s 500mah range video 600m no de GPS )

I looked at that and saw that the asymmetrical boom design was ideal for the gopro with it's very wide FOV. Many inferior quad videos on YT have blades in the shot, but they are mostly just having fun.

Poking around further, I found a few more asymmetrical designs, including the HT-FPV quad, and the OFM seeker 450. Those latter two have the advantage of coming in pre-packaged kits or RTR, which makes it convenient for someone who just wants to get going reasonably quickly with a tried and true design, and/or to save on shipping and shopping headache by having everything arrive in one box.

The HT-FPV quad kits seem to pay a lot of attention to detail in matching motors plus the custom flashed ESC units etc.

Ali Shanmao of OFM seems to be very passionate about what he does and offers a stock gimbal setup for the seeker 450, but I have yet to see a truly vibration free video clip from a camera on that platform that offers the quality of the video above using the Dialfonzo copter platform. But that may not be indicative of anything as these platforms are highly customizable and tweakable.

I have a complete machine shop in my garage and can make parts and adaptors, but I'm not looking for a new hobby in scratch building copter frames (I already have a huge time hole hobby - I build model steam engines) but I don't mind assembling from a pile of parts which have been tried and tested by others in the same combination. RTR and kit form is just fine for me.

So my main question is, what other small, lightweight gimbal setups are available and would work with those classes of copters? Are they too light to handle something like that? The Hero3 is smaller and lighter than its predecessors, so I am hoping a simple 2-axis gimbal could be made to work with it on those platforms. If not please advise as to what would be the best course of action. How do you balance such a thing? Do you add counterweight or slip the battery to keep the CG of the copter centered between the rotors? Is that more efficient than the two rotors on the heavy end always doing more work? (but less weight overall)

As a quick background, I am a former broadcast engineer and VFX person (now do industrial video for aerospace and a few other things) so I'm very versed on the video side of things, and I own a mini-IFO park flier that I'm pretty competent with and have flown simple stabilized counter-rotating copters but this is the first foray into quads. The parts and pieces are all familiar (ESCs, etc.) but in new arrangements and with a lot of brains added into the loop in the form of the NAZA or quadrino controllers etc. And the whole thing about balancing motors and blades to minimize vibration, I would like to understand that a little more.

I've read up on things a little as you can see, and thought this would be a good point at which to start asking direct questions.

Thanks in advance for helping out a n00b...

--Mike in California

P.S. It's ironic that the world of small cameras is now entirely CMOS, with it's rolling shutter jello problem, whereas CCDs have a global shutter and do not have that problem. But they have the problem of requiring a lot more external electronics and power draw, which is an anathema to what we are doing here in the smaller range of things. Doh!
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Last edited by TheFlyingCamera; Jan 11, 2013 at 01:25 AM.
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