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Mar 22, 2015, 02:52 AM
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Auvidea's Avatar
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Live video stream from remotely controllable HD block camera

I am currently designing a high quality and low latency live streaming system for various types of model aircrafts. I have decided not to use a GoPro camera or any kind of action cam. Instead I plan to use a block camera in my system. I believe that some of the specific features of these block cameras can be put to great use. Specifically I like to image quality, the large zoom range (30x optical), the autofocus, the day and night mode and the fact, that all properties of such a camera can be fully remotely controlled. Also the camera supports object tracking. I wonder, whether this could be used to control the pan and tilt automatically to track certain objects.

  • RTSP live video stream (1080p30)
  • low latency: 100ms
  • iPad: receiving ground station
  • full remote control of camera and gimbal via IP connection
  • total weight: 500 to 1000 grams

Main items
  • HD block camera with 30x zoom and autofocus (Panasonic GP-MH330)
  • compact and lightweight H.264 live streaming encoder (only 15 grams)
  • wifi subsystem
  • gimbal for model airships or multi rotor
  • battery power

Status today
  • the prototype encoding system is working
  • RTSP live stream to VLC player or iOS app (RB Ultra)
  • remote control of camera via web page

Next mile stones
  • develop compact 2.4GHz Wifi add-on for the encoder module
  • use Carambola 2 from (openWRT based)
  • explore other wireless network options: 900MHz, 2.3GHz and 5GHz
  • architect: very lightweight gimbal with 2 servos for pan and tilt (airship use)
  • architect brushless gimbal with good stabilization (multi rotor use)

I plan to install this in May 2015 in a model airship with 3.40 meters length. The payload of such an air vessel is approx. 600 grams. So the challenge is to architect a lightweight gimbal system specifically for the block camera. All electronics should be installed with the camera in the gimbal. Exceptions may be battery power and the wifi subsystem.

I plan to show the steps in the development process of this system with focus on the gimbal design, the setup and configuration of the encoding system and the installation in various flying vessels such as a model airship, a large model plane or a multi rotor.

iPad app
I like to thank Gary for his efforts to design the iOS app (RB Ultra), which can display the live RTSP stream with low latency and long battery life. Currently he is looking at adding the control of the block camera to his app.

Any comments, hints or contributions are welcome.

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Mar 22, 2015, 03:56 AM
fmkit's Avatar
few months ago I started to play w/zoom cameras too. I've learned that all Sony camcorders can work w/o original battery if powered by external power supply or if there is no DC jack then I connect to battery terminals (camera side, CX240), My DIY gimbal using 40g motors because the camcorder is under 170g ( and it has 54x zoom ) Can you share the Panasonic footage ? I could make same gimbal for you that much I want HD link of yours.
Mar 22, 2015, 04:02 AM
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Auvidea's Avatar
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Lightweight gimbal for steady flying objects

I plan to attach the block camera to a large and steady flying vessel such as an airship. I assume, that I would not need any stabilization components, as the vessel will be rather stable in flight. I guess the same would be true when this is attached to a larger size plane in wind still conditions.

Currently I am looking at a simple and low cost gimbal offered by Hobbyking.

I need to turn the gimbal by 90 degrees to achieve pan and tilt control. However, this gimbal is designed for short cameras with a GoPro style case. My block camera is rather long. Furthermore, I plan to mount the electronics on the back of the camera. So I need to redesign the gimbal to account for the total length of the camera of approx. 110 mm. I not experienced with the design of a gimbal, but my common sense tells me, that it should be balanced. So the center of gravity of the camera should align with the rotational axis of the servo.

Does anybody have some recommendations, which servos I should use? I am looking for small servos with high torque and very solid gear. Speed is secondary. The weight of the camera is 290 grams.

The encoder module has the same size as the block camera. I have designed a mounting plate, which is screwed on the back of the camera. I have designed this plate as a simple 2 layer PCB. I should get the first samples next week. As an extra feature I have added a standard size SD card reader, which may be used for recording the live stream to an .mp4 file in flight.

The total power consumption of the camera and encoder is approx. 6 watts (12v at 500mA). So a 3 cell Lithium battery with 460mAh (only 45 grams) should give me a battery live of up to 45 minutes.
Mar 22, 2015, 04:12 AM
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Auvidea's Avatar
Thread OP
Sorry, I do not have any footage yet. I have just tested it in the lab. I need to take it outdoors. And to mount it to an air vessel. I am looking for somebody closely who would like to help me.

It would be great, if you have some recommendations for the gimbal design. I aim for a total weight of gimbal and servos of less than 100 grams. This is because the payload of the airship is so limited. Here is my weight budget:
block camera: 290 gr
gimbal: 72 gr
2 servos: 60 gr
mounting on airship: 50 gr
encoder and Wifi module (2.4 GHz): 60 gr
Lithium battery (3S 460mAh): 45 gr
cables: 23 gr
total: 600 gr

I hope, I have not missed anything. Today I have build up 2 prototypes. One I use for testing and another which I have sent Gary, so can can develop the iOS app. I have 3 more encoder modules left. I plan to build more in late April.
Mar 22, 2015, 04:30 AM
fmkit's Avatar
30x zoom require 0.1degree resolution, you have to go brushless
Mar 22, 2015, 05:34 AM
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Auvidea's Avatar
Thread OP

Servo vs. brushless gimbal

Originally Posted by fmkit
30x zoom require 0.1degree resolution, you have to go brushless
I understand, that for multi rotor you need a brushless gimbal, so that the stabilization can perform its job. You use two 40 gr brushless motors. If I add the weight of the gimbal mechanics and the gimbal controller, I would estimate that the total weight is around 200 grams. This is twice my budget.

I want to design this to be attached to an airship which offers very stable flight. So there is no need for stabilization control. I want to just control the pan and tilt of the camera manually. So there is only camera movement, when the person in control wants to change the view. With this in mind I feel that a servo based gimbal should be perfect for this specific application. And there is a very good chance that I can meet the weight budget.

But next I want to architect a version for multi rotors. Here the brushless version will be better - I agree. Do you have any specific recommendations? Would you think that your 40 gr motors would be powerful enough for my 290 gr camera? How would you design the gimbal for a camera which has a length of 110 mm and a diameter of 50x60mm?
Mar 22, 2015, 08:18 AM
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GaryHilgemann's Avatar

we at rebotnix are developing the iOS App for Juergen Blockcamera board. Its a really nice one! We got a valid permission from Apple to use the iOS GPU for decoding the H264 stream. Hardware decoding is very important to get low latency and stable video decoding. Android and stand a lone decoders are possible, if needed.

From the point of view of the output quality from the blockcamera, its not a GH4 or RED, but the features of the Panasonic blockcameras are really nice, weight, zoom, motion detection, night vision, fog deleting by a high resolution of 1080i and pricing is great. I think is allowed by our signed NDA to say that the camera has over 200 parameters to control, crazy to implement all in a software interface / gui

Thanks to the addOn Boards that juergen is developing too, we currently testing our own prototype modulators which can operate in 900mhz,2.3 GHZ, 2.4GHZ or 5GHZ frequency band (every band a own module of couse). (I know the FCC rules here).

For not getting problems in the 2.4GHZ band which is used by most of futabas, graupner, jeti flight controllers, we think it makes sense to use another frequency band for the video transmission. The output power is control via software from 1MW to 1.600MW (without antenna).

The 900MHZ is perfect for none line of sight situations and thanks the chip design we can get a stable 40Mbit/Sec. rate (which we do not need for the video transmission by the way). The bad side is that the 900MHZ is a licensed band in europe. We already have FCC IDīs for the US market for all rebotnix modulators.

To get a very long video range i currently test a mesh setup of our modulators in the 5GHZ band. The iOS device app is able to connect to its meshes (we call it RB-Node) , cause these devices can connect to a 5GHZ 802.xx with a 20 MHZ Bandwidth Channel.

To get a 900MHZ bridge to the iOS or other receivers, we use a mesh bridge, where two modulators operate in two frequenies bands. The 5GHZ band uses then a 25MW output power to connect to an software or hardware decoder, the antennas on the 5GHZ are omni, the 900 MHZ antennas are patch with a 30-40 degree angel to the UAV. Its also possible to route the blockcamera TCP traffic to a UDP Multicast,
where you can a lot of devices that can receive the live stream without getting in bandwidth trouble.

Some copter guys in germany are buidling a DJI S1000 UAV for us where we want to mount a MoviM5 from freefly to lock the blockcamera. I tested the MoviM5 and it seems to be a very nice gimbal for our tests. Some other friends want to use alex mos gimbal, where we also develope the iOS control software for alexmos, to mount the blockcam.

My post sounds a little bit like spam, and it is - but i also wan to get your thoughts, the UAV pros. about the project.

I will record some photos and footage next weeks.

Last edited by GaryHilgemann; Mar 22, 2015 at 08:46 AM.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:00 AM
Registered User
FuTeV's Avatar

first draft from the Gimbal


a first gimbal was designed. (projekt from an association
It is a Gimbal with 3D printed parts and carbon tubes. This combination is flexible and it would be a lightweight.
During the construction I check it with the Finite element method (FEM).

- 2x 50g brushless motors on the X and Y axis
- 1x 88g brushless motors on the Z axis
- gimbal materials PLA (3D printer) and carbon tubes (12mm x0,5mm)
- 32-bit Brushless Gimbal Controller (Basecam SimpleBGC AlexMos)
- 1000mAh Lipo accu
- total weight: 750g -800g

Enclose a first draft. For a better view, you will find a 3D_Pdf at the link:

If you have any questions, ask me.

Best Regards
Last edited by FuTeV; Mar 28, 2015 at 10:05 AM.
Mar 31, 2015, 10:03 AM
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Auvidea's Avatar
Thread OP

Mount of the encoder on the back of the block camera

I have designed a simple mounting plate , so that the encoder can be mounted easily on the back of the camera. This is a simple 2 layer PCB.

Optionally a full size SD card reader may be installed on this plate and connected to the 38117 encoder. This SD card may be used for storing video footage as .mp4 file.

The Ethernet add-on board offers a special option: no RJ45 jack is populated, so a 4 pin cable can be soldered for a very flexible "Ethernet" cable to the encoder on the gimbal.
Apr 12, 2015, 02:17 PM
Registered User
Apr 12, 2015, 05:29 PM
The Doctor is in...
I have Sony working now on a modified slr size gimbal. I have zoom and wide angle set up on Tx. I had boards made to convert and handle both tasks. Works well. Not as nice as my Epic Red, but if it hits the earth, it won't be as costly. Doc
Apr 18, 2015, 02:07 AM
Registered User

lightweight block and wireless transmission

Hi Jurgen,

We have talk about my project about one year ago:
- Plane: 2,3m wingspan, brushless motor,
- Outdoor specific wireless WiFi MiMo Link: Mikrotik Routerboard 1W 5GHz MiMo
- Radio control: Graupner MX16s modified with OpenLRS 433MHz + telemetry + bluetooth (link between MX16s and android phone/tablet or PC)
- Autopilot: Pixhawk + GPS + Digital airspeed sensor

After some tries with raspbery streaming and latencies' problems, the video part of my project was to connect a GoPro to your E110 board, but your new boards seems better for that.

The problem is the price of cameras blocks.

What do you think about latencies of SDI cameras boards, there is a lot of CCTV products with and without zoom under 200$?

For example:

On the other hand, a more lightweight and quality product could be this one under 250$:
Sony FCB-SE600

The FCB-SE600 with a brushless gimbal could be a compact and good priced for large UAV like mine.

Then for wireless transmission (I work in outdoor wireless telecommunications) I think that you could get greet ranges and throughput with low latency with routers boards.
There is an USB port on this board to get serial/TCP adapter, this can handel autopilot telemetry as well.
I ve got 2 rb912uag-5hpnd for that, and you can add a mini-pci card on the router board to add an access point on groud station and connect iPad or PC.
Last edited by RiqPeaRl; Apr 18, 2015 at 02:14 AM.
Apr 21, 2015, 07:01 AM
Crash master...
Lazy's Avatar
Apr 21, 2015, 02:26 PM
throw new IOPilotException();
IceWind's Avatar
Hey, this looks cool.
Any plans to have an app for Android or will you share the control API at some stage?
Wouldn't mind doing some for Android depending on how affordable this gear will be.
May 13, 2015, 06:10 PM
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Auvidea's Avatar
Thread OP

new compact encoders for cameras with HDMI or SDI

Over the last weeks we have received numerous requests for versions of the compact encoder for cameras with HDMI or SDI outputs. So we have decided to create two new versions:
  • E12: miniHDMI input
  • E20: SDI input and SDI loop through output
Today we got the first prototype of the E12 working. I have attached a picture of this module. It features the same encoder as the E110, which some of you are already familiar with. The power consumption is 200mA @ 12V which equates to 2.5 watts (while streaming HD video at 720p60 and 2 Mbit/s). Next week we plan to send the first samples to alpha customers.

The E20 features two mini BNC connectors so we could get the size down. Both the E12 and E20 are approx. 50x60mm in size and are very lightweight. We recommend a 12V supply voltage, but 7V to 17V may be supplied. This allows you to power the module by 2, 3 or 4 Lithium cells.

There will be various add-on modules which may be plugged on top of the E12 and E20. The picture shows a fairly simple multi I/O module which a pin header for 3 servos and an RJ45 connector (38136). The RJ45 connector is optional. Without the RG45 connector the 4 Ethernet wires may be soldered directly to the module. This allows for a very flexible network connection to the module.

2.4 GHz Wifi
Next there will be an add-on module with Carambola 2 module (38139). This adds an openWRT subsystem for Wifi, transmuxing, special network features with port forwarding and more. 10/100 Ethernet is brought out with two 3 pin connectors - again for flexible network cabling.

Future developments
Because of the great interest in the drone and UAV community we have decided to add more application specific features to our encoders. Please let me know, if you have some proposals. We are looking to integrate brushless gimbal control and an OSD interface.
  • integration of the Alexmos SimpleBGC (tiny)
  • control of the BGC via an RS232 connection to our compact encoder
  • control of the BGC via Wifi and our HTTP request API (web interface)
  • OSD interface to various autopilot systems and flight controller (MAVLink via RS232)
Android app
Two of our partners are looking at developing an Android app for the Auvidea encoders. I will let you know, when something will become available.

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