To do aerial filming it doesn’t have to be a large multicopter, let’s push the limit of mini quad and mount a 3-axis camera gimbal on it, see what we can do.
I chose the Feiyu Mini3D gimbal for this aerial photography platform, because of its small form factor and light weight.
Get your Feiyu Mini 3D 3-Axis Camera Gimbal from Banggood.
Feiyu Gimbal Result
I am quite impressed with the end result. For someone like me who doesn’t have extensive experience in using a camera gimbals, I find this Feiyu Mini 3D gimal really easy to use! Everything just works out of the box!
The stabilization was working great even when it was windy, and my quad wasn’t properly tuned either which wobbles a lot during flight. But that doesn’t seem to affect the gimbal performance much.
However I do find just a little yaw vibrations in still shots, and sometimes a slight wobbles in sharp bank turns. Maybe I should do a proper calibration before next flight since I haven’t done it yet. Or maybe it’s the small, light weight motors that are simply not powerful enough.
Feiyu Mini3D 3-Axis Camera Gimbal Quick Review
I built a 2-axis camera gimbal from scratch before , even though I was using plywood sheet for the frame, and there were only 2 motors, it still weights quite a bit. And because it was 2-axis, yaw vibration was a real headache. I have always have this idea of mounting a gimbal on a mini quad, so I was looking for a light weight 3 axis camera gimbal.
Feiyu Mini3D is specifically designed for the GoPro Cameras including Hero2, Hero3, Hero3+ and Hero4. Although the Xiaomi Yi Camera is similar shape to the GoPro, it’s a couple of mm taller, making it unable to fit in the camera mount unfortunately.
On the controller board there are 2 connectors, one is micro USB for talking to the computer, the other is the 8-port micro JST connector which allows power input, video out (from gopro), and 3 RC receiver channel inputs.
Here is a summary of the camera gimbal spec:
- Frame is made of tough composite plastic, and light weight aluminium
- It accepts 7V to 17V input voltage, in another word 2S to 4S lipo batteries
- It weights 149g excluding camera
- Pitch and yaw axis can be controlled by RC receiver
One great thing about this gimbal is that all the wires are hidden inside the plastic shells, so you don’t accidentally snap the wires, or have them get in the way during operation.
There is also the video output which is not seen very often in these gimbals. There is a hidden port just next to the camera mount, and the Gopro video out cable is also provided with this product to make connection/wiring super clean and easy.
The camera gimbal looks a solid product, unfortunately there is still room for improvement in quality control, one of the wires is broken out of the box.
First thing first, balance your gimbal with camera installed! Because cameras are all different weights, and the manufacturer cannot predict what camera you are going to use with the gimbal, it’s pretty common that the camera gimbal isn’t balanced right from the beginning. When it’s balanced, you get much better stabilization out of the it, because the motors are not doing unnecessary work on fighting gravity.
To check for Gimbal Balance, just check to see if the gimbal rests centred and level when powered.
To fix the balance issue, I simply use a couple of 1p coins (£0.01) to get the balance right. You can also sit your gopro in the mount up side down (picture 3), that way the roll axis motor is closer to the centre of the lens, and supposedly provide better stabilization (my theory :D ). However, there isn’t enough gap to put the lens protector on with this config. I care about lens proection, so I had to go with the config in picture 2 eventually, and it still performed very well.
Here is the manual for this gimbal.
Mounting Camera Gimbal on Mini Quad
It’s actually quite easy to mount this gimbal on my ZMR250 mini quad, no modification was needed. Here is the build log for the ZMR250 I am using.
Camera + Gimbal is about 250 grams, so it will mess up your CoG a lot, and you will need a very light weight mini quad build to carry it.
I should have placed the gimbal a bit more forward, because the propellers occasionally show in the footage as I am doing sharp turns. However it would affect the CoG of the mini quad, and I don’t think there is much more room for me to place my LiPo battery any further back, to keep a good balance.
There are 3 bolts, bottom 2 go straight into the standoffs of the frame (that is very lucky :D ), bolt on top goes into the frame plate cut-out. The gap is a bit large so i also used a large washer with a nylon nut to tighten it to the top plate.
Putting vibration damping balls through the holes can be tricky, here is an easy way of doing it. I also tightened the damping balls with zip tie, so it doesn’t fall apart in a crash. It also helps wobble problems in large movements.
I am powering this gimbal with a separate 2S LiPo, I could have just powered it with my main 4S lipo but I didn’t want to do extra soldering. As I am putting my main LiPo battery at the bottom of the frame, some “landing gear” were added to the arms to protect it. They are just foam packaging from those FPVModel motors.
Hope you enjoy this project and the test flight video. Let me know if you have any comments or questions.