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Oct 10, 2019, 11:02 PM
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dragonblade's Avatar
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After a low budget heavy lifter


Just wondering if I can have some suggestions on a quadcopter with the following specifications:

Low budget - preferably under $200 (but may be able to stretch to $250)

Altitude hold

Able to lift a lot of weight - ie GoPro camera with 3 axis gimbal

Smooth and stable flier out of the box and doesn't shake like a leaf (that's why I'm excluding the Bayangtoys models because Ive seen so many shaky videos from them - they seem to have some serious vibration issues.)

Brushless motors

GPS is nice to have but not essential

The only model that comes to mind is the MJX Bugs 3H but I'm not sure how much weight that can handle and they seem pretty rare these days. Any other contenders out there?
Last edited by dragonblade; Oct 11, 2019 at 12:49 AM.
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Oct 10, 2019, 11:31 PM
We are not men, we are DEVO 7e
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonblade
GoPro camera with 3 axis gimbal

Smooth flier that doesn't shake like a leaf (that's why I'm excluding the Bayangtoys models because Ive seen so many shaky videos from them - they seem to have some serious vibration issues.)
its all done (mostly) in the post
reelsteady is where the magic happens. that is why certain vids look so rocksolid and the rest dont.
$250 budget with a decent gimbal and caries a GP comfortably is going to be the real issue.

this was shot with a micro quad, so no gimbal and very little mass to keep it stable at all.

GoPro Awards: GoPro Transformed Into Tiny Drone (1 min 58 sec)
Last edited by xanuser; Oct 10, 2019 at 11:42 PM.
Oct 10, 2019, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by xanuser
this was shot with a micro quad and used no gimbal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2j6m8tssJA
It does look impressive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xanuser
its all (mostly) in the post
reelsteady is where the magic happens. that is why certain vids look so rocksolid and the rest dont.
Some amazing stuff can be done in post. Though with stabilisation software, there is cropping so that's going to mean a reduction in resolution. And there are some quads that are decently smooth fliers right out of the box like my Syma X8C for example. And there are others that seem to have inherent vibration issues.

By the way, I have seen some good results from budgets even lower than mine. Like a cheap gimbal fitted to a Syma X8C with cheap action camera resulting in nice, smooth footage. So it certainly can be done on a micro budget. All I'm suggesting is increasing the budget a little more to include a brushless quad. And I may not necessarily add a 3 axis gimbal....I'll probably be content with a 2 axis gimbal. Though it would be good to have a quad that can lift that extra bit of weight just in case.
Last edited by dragonblade; Oct 11, 2019 at 12:35 AM.
Oct 11, 2019, 07:57 AM
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Pixelpeter's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonblade
It does look impressive.



Some amazing stuff can be done in post. Though with stabilisation software, there is cropping so that's going to mean a reduction in resolution. And there are some quads that are decently smooth fliers right out of the box like my Syma X8C for example. And there are others that seem to have inherent vibration issues.

By the way, I have seen some good results from budgets even lower than mine. Like a cheap gimbal fitted to a Syma X8C with cheap action camera resulting in nice, smooth footage. So it certainly can be done on a micro budget. All I'm suggesting is increasing the budget a little more to include a brushless quad. And I may not necessarily add a 3 axis gimbal....I'll probably be content with a 2 axis gimbal. Though it would be good to have a quad that can lift that extra bit of weight just in case.
Stabilisation after the flight does need some cropping to do its magic, but whether or not that's negative depends on what you need your final resolution to be. Looking for stabil 1080p? You could film at 2.7K (or the likes/depending on camera used) and have plenty of room to wind up with software stabilized 1080p without cropping.

But with $250 as your budget, why trying to invent the wheel again while gimballed quads are getting cheaper and cheaper? Like the Fimi A3 (2 axis) or the Hubsan Zino (3 axis)? Even the JJRC X12 Aurora (3 axis) looks okay (camera is a bit iffy imo tho):

JJRC X12 Aurora Review - Impressive drone with a 3 Axis Camera Gimbal (13 min 54 sec)


These quads are also a lot more compact than whatever you can tinker together yourself, unless you of course love experimenting with that and don't mind logging around a bigger set-up. I've done that in the past (XK X380 + 2 axis gimbal + GIT2 camera) and it allowed me my first steps in aerial photography, but right now I wouldn't want to try that again with nice quads like the A3 and Zino around.

From own experience: both the A3 and Zino cameras don't need stabilisation in post, so it will also reduce time needed in post production as getting a tinkered quad + gimbal + camera to work flawlessly is very, very hard (while keeping cost down).
Oct 11, 2019, 08:27 AM
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Pixelpeter, I have considered the current crop of budget quads with included gimbals. They really are tempting and normally, I would be happy with that kind of convenience. Though Ive found the image quality of the cameras on a number of them pretty average and sometimes disappointing. If there's one out there that has pleasing image quality, smooth judder-free footage and an attractive price, I would be genuinely interested.
Oct 11, 2019, 08:35 AM
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Just afraid that you might be chasing ghosts by trying to create your own budget AP setup and will still be left wanting in the end (at this price point)

A good rectilinear (action) camera will set you back at least $100 which leaves about $150 for quad and gimbal. It'll be hard to find something that's ticking all your boxes
Oct 11, 2019, 08:45 AM
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By the way, thanks for the linked review of the JJRC X12 Aurora. I haven't heard of this quad before. It looks very promising. I'll go and check out pricing. Though knowing my luck, even if a quad appears affordable at first glance, as soon as it's converted to Australian dollars and the GST added on top, things get expensive real quick.
Oct 11, 2019, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixelpeter

A good rectilinear (action) camera will set you back at least $100
Which I already have - the Git2 GitUp camera.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixelpeter
which leaves about $150 for quad and gimbal. It'll be hard to find something that's ticking all your boxes
Considering that I already have the camera, the budget remains at $250. Ive seen really nice results on youtube from the Goodluckbuy gimbal which has been reduced to about $35 these days.

Of course if the X12 Aurora or an equivalent model turns out to be affordable, I could probably grab that instead. I admit I would prefer convenience but only if the quality is there too.
Oct 11, 2019, 10:10 AM
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What does your $250 budget include? Do you already have batteries, chargers, radio Tx and Rx, plus video transmitters?

If so, there are quite a few options

If not, I doubt you can do any better than what has already been suggested here. There is simply no market for "a drone that just flies" to which you can attack a camera. The market either focuses on racers, or video drones like the Zino, Fimi A3, etc, or full DIY builds (which require more than $250 just for the basic starting components I mentioned above)

There is also always the used market. Classifieds here on RcGroups can have a lot of interesting stuff and you might find what you look for at the budget you have
Oct 11, 2019, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robca
What does your $250 budget include? Do you already have batteries, chargers, radio Tx and Rx, plus video transmitters?
If the quad is RTF, a battery, charger and TX will be included.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robca
The market either focuses on racers, or video drones like the Zino, Fimi A3, etc, or full DIY builds
As well as quads like the MJX Bugs 3 and 3H to which a camera and gimbal can be added. Though some say that newer copies of the original Bugs 3 can no longer lift the weight of a camera and gimbal.
Oct 11, 2019, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonblade
As well as quads like the MJX Bugs 3 and 3H to which a camera and gimbal can be added. Though some say that newer copies of the original Bugs 3 can no longer lift the weight of a camera and gimbal.
Which was my point... there is really no market for "just a drone" apart from remnants from older designs

And you seem to be missing that a video drone with no video feed and control back to the pilot is almost useless. The ability to frame a shot, start and stop video (or take pictures) and change the camera setting on the fly to match the lighting conditions is critical. And a RTF drone will not allow you to control the gimbal pitch in flight, so you will be stuck with whatever angle you take off with (a DIY drone with a multi channel radio can control the gimbal pitch)

I have flown video drones since 2012, and all the early drones I used had no video feed/camera control. Mostly action-camera and 2 axis gimbals. You could take videos, even videos with no vibrations. And even control the gimbal, which is something you won't be able to do. But none of the videos was really usable, due to the impossibility of properly framing the shot (no video feed). It might have been possible to fly up and take a lot of picture, where 2 or 3 ended up being usable. But most videos were dull and poorly framed, albeit amazing for the time

Modern video drones offer a lot of integration that is impossible to replicate for these budgets (yes, you can build and fly a high end drone with a micro four thirds camera and use high quality video feeds and camera controls. None of it it's cheap, though, and even professionals like the BBC documentary team these days use mostly DJI Inspires)

So I think you will find that a ~$230 Hubsan Zino (when Banggood has a coupon for it, it gets that cheap) even with a sub optimal camera will take much better videos in real life than a more capable camera with no framing nor camera controls for exposure/frame rate, nor gimbal control
Oct 11, 2019, 06:13 PM
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Pixelpeter's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonblade
Which I already have - the Git2 GitUp camera.



Considering that I already have the camera, the budget remains at $250. Ive seen really nice results on youtube from the Goodluckbuy gimbal which has been reduced to about $35 these days.

Of course if the X12 Aurora or an equivalent model turns out to be affordable, I could probably grab that instead. I admit I would prefer convenience but only if the quality is there too.
If you'd like to see where you're going, besides the quad and a gimbal you'll also need a video transmitter and something to receive the analog 5.8 gHz FPV signal with (monitor/goggles), unless you already have those.

BTW: that JJRC X12 Aurora is also known as the C-fly Faith These are just out, so not many actual reviews out on those yet. Be sure to have a good look for actual in flight video to see if their cameras perform like you want.
Oct 11, 2019, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robca
Which was my point... there is really no market for "just a drone" apart from remnants from older designs
So there's not much else out there that is similar to the Bugs 3H etc?

Quote:
Originally Posted by robca
a video drone with no video feed and control back to the pilot is almost useless.
I wouldn't say useless. Ive obtained pleasing footage from eyeballing the scene when using a GoPro mounted to my Syma X8C and Onepaa mounted to my Bugs 3 Pro. Obviously, there are a number of limitations with this kind of setup but the results can be quite decent. Regardless, it wasn't my plan to copy that exact same scenario with the newer quad anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robca
And a RTF drone will not allow you to control the gimbal pitch in flight, so you will be stuck with whatever angle you take off with)
The Goodluckbuy gimbal (which is designed for the RTF DJI Phantom) can allow tilt to be controlled by the Phantom transmitter with modifications. Though I'm not sure how complicated it would be to setup. Incidentally, I do have a second hand Phantom 2. Though it may have some issues so fair chance I might end up selling it. And by the way, I'm not fully restricting myself to RTF quads. I do have my eyes on a cheap FlySky 6 channel programmable transmitter. So regardless, controlling tilt on the gimbal should be possible one way or another - theoretically.

Additionally, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought I recall reading that there's some accessory that allows analogue FPV to be obtained with the GitUp camera. So it was my original plan to attach this accessory under the quad to give me a live video feed. And I do have some Eachine FPV goggles. I believe there's also a firmware update that gives an exposure lock option to the GitUp - handy for high contrast scenes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robca
I have flown video drones since 2012, and all the early drones I used had no video feed/camera control. Mostly action-camera and 2 axis gimbals.
Ah the good old days.

Like I mentioned before, I would prefer convenience over fooling around with after market gimbals and all the adjusting and tweaking that's involved. If I can find a modern video drone that performs well out of the box at a good price, I'll be happy with that. If not, then I'll have to do things the old way.

Another thing I forgot to mention is that an attractive thing about the kind of quad like a Bugs 3H is that the batteries are relatively inexpensive. It's not going to cost much to get spare batteries and they can be obtained from just about anywhere. I am under the impression that a lot of the contemporary video drones use proprietary batteries which are kind of pricey.
Last edited by dragonblade; Oct 12, 2019 at 02:56 AM.
Oct 12, 2019, 04:33 AM
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You would want something like the XK X380 which was intended to be equiped with a gimbal from the ground up (with gimbal control from the transmitter), but production ended some time ago. The Bayangtoys X16 and X22 are the ones that come closest nowadays imo, but they certainly aren't perfect. That Bugs Pro seemed like a good contender too, until people were trying to lift gimbals and cameras with it
Oct 12, 2019, 06:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixelpeter
You would want something like the XK X380 which was intended to be equiped with a gimbal from the ground up (with gimbal control from the transmitter), but production ended some time ago.
Yea I was certainly interested in the XK X380 and I remember prices for it increasing dramatically around the time it ended production. Bad timing on my part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixelpeter
The Bayangtoys X16 and X22 are the ones that come closest nowadays imo, but they certainly aren't perfect.
I have considered them too but Ive seen so many vibration induced youtube videos from those quads to put me off. Though there are also some Bayangtoys videos which are quite smooth and vibration free. Ive also noticed prices for them have increased quite a bit in recent times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixelpeter
That Bugs Pro seemed like a good contender too, until people were trying to lift gimbals and cameras with it
Yea we all know how that turned out!


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