I will share tips and tricks on how to build and use the “naked” GoPro 8 – a stripped down GoPro Hero 8. You can reduce the weigh of the camera from 126g to only 15g. Using a BEC, you can power it directly from your drone’s LiPo battery.
Warning: This project is for advanced users only, if you choose to follow instructions in this post, do so at your own risk.
Naked GoPro 8 vs 6
Going forward, I think the GoPro Hero 8 might be a better alternative, because of Hero 6’s diminishing supply of spare parts as it’s been discontinued for years.
Not to mention the Hero 8 actually has better image quality, as well as having both Reelsteady GO and Hyerpsmooth stabilization supports. In fact, the stripped Hero 8 is a few grams lighter than the 6 (13g vs 17g).
You can just buy a Naked GoPro 8
GepRC is selling the naked GoPro in their injection molded plastic case, all ready to go! It’s a little pricey but no DIY required: https://oscarliang.com/product-l0ap
I haven’t tested the camera, but I reviewed their case here.
GoPro Hero 8 Disassembling Tutorials
Step by Step how to disassemble Hero 8 (PDF Guide by Jonah Blaeser): https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SbetTFhECogr-prt_DqIpXEdTE3Jd8EF/
If you don’t have the time or skills to decase a GoPro, you can try and make a naked GoPro from spare parts. All you need is a sensor module and a logic board. The only problem is that spare parts are not always available but worth a look.
Before taking the GoPro Hero 8 apart, you should do the following:
- Pair GoPro to the GoPro APP on your phone over WiFi (so you can change settings later)
- Write down WiFi password
- Install GoPro Labs
- Change WiFi band to 2.4GHz, if you leave it on 5.8Ghz it might interfere with your video signal
- Change camera settings to your preference
- To avoid further problems, I also turned off the following settings:
- In-camera stabilization OFF (Hypersmooth) as I prefer Reelsteady
- GPS OFF
- Auto-rotation UP
Once you finished the tear down, you should test it by connecting the lens module and touch screen to the logic board:
- connect USB module to logic board, then connect USB cable, hold down power button to see if the GoPro powers on, is there image showing on the screen?
- try recording to see if it functions normally
If these are working, then it means you haven’t’ damaged your GoPro :) Congrats!
GoPro Hero 8 Pin-Out
GoPro 8 mainboard connectors and pinout:
And the Hero 8 Logic Board Connector Part Numbers:
- I sensor: JAE WP27D-P040VA3-R15000
- II USB: JAE WP25D-P028VA1-R8000
- III REC button / GPS: JAE WP21-S020VA1-R8000
- IV MODE button / touchscreen: JAE WP21-S030VA1-R8000
- V front LCD: Hirose BM20B(0.6)-10DS-0.4V
- VI battery: Hirose DF57H-4P-1.2V
- VII microphones: JAE WP21-S010VA1-R8000
Here’s a close up of the front of the logic board:
How to Power Naked GoPro 8
The GoPro 8 mainboard takes 5V only, so you can use a BEC (voltage regulator) to convert higher voltage to 5V and power the GoPro from one of the 5V input pads as indicated in the pinout diagram above.
I’d recommend at least a 1.5A BEC, because the GoPro Hero 8 is more power hungry than the Hero 6, and it draws more current. It’s more reliable to have a dedicated BEC. I don’t think it’s a good idea to power it from your flight controller. In case of lack of power, your GoPro may reboot or stop recording randomly.
There are other ways of powering the Naked GoPro, but in my opinion it’s way easier and hassle-free to use one of the aftermarket BEC boards. These manufacturers also make cases for the stripped down GoPro 8 that you can mount on FPV drones and cinewhoops.
BEC Boards and Cases
BEC boards are plug and play voltage regulator for your naked GoPro, they even has built-in buttons and status LED.
There are currently 3 major choices, and they are quite similar in terms of features.
BetaFPV board has straight plug (facing out), while Nameless’s and iFlight’s plugs are facing sideway. If you want to use the naked GoPro between drones, it’s easier with the BetaFPV board, the Nameless board is slightly more difficult to insert the cable.
However, the Nameless board supports 2S to 6S input voltage, while the BetaFPV board only does 2S to 4S.
When it comes to case, both Nameless and iFlight offer a 3D printed case, but BetaFPV doesn’t have one. Note that the iFlight one has allows you to install the front LCD. The Nameless doesn’t, but there are custom front plate you can 3D print yourself for that.
BetaFPV BEC Board for GoPro Hero 8:
URUAV/NamelessRC BEC Board: https://oscarliang.com/product-jl4e
Beware that the label for the plug are wrong (BAT, GND, REC), you should check with multimeter before connecting.
iFlight BEC Board and Case: https://oscarliang.com/product-tj6r
How to Use Naked GoPro 8
SD Card & File Size
If you record in 2.7K 60FPS, 64GB cards are generally enough for the most part. For example, 3 minutes flight takes about 1.4GB space, so a 64GB card should allow more than 2 hours of recording :) See my SD card recommendations.
If you power down the GoPro without stopping recording, the file will be corrupted and you will lose your footage. Make sure you stop recording before disconnecting your battery.
GoPro Camera Settings
Check and Change Settings
You could connect the back touch screen to the logic board to check and change settings.
Or you could use the GoPro App on your phone, however GoPro has since removed Protune feature from their App, so you can no longer change certain camera settings such as shutter speed. You can try to install the older version of the App though.
Another option is using GoPro Labs.
GoPro Labs gives your GoPro the ability to scan QR codes through the lens and register camera settings. This allows you to change most camera settings without touching a button on the camera, including resolution, frame rate, shutter speed, ISO, Lens (field of view), White balance, stabilization etc.
You can learn more here: https://community.gopro.com/
When you face the camera to one of these QR codes, the camera LED will keep flashing rapidly twice, indicating it’s detecting an QR code and applying settings. The blinking will not stop until you move the camera away from the QR code. It can be picky about how far away the QR code is from the camera, so if it’s not working, try moving it closer or further away until you find the optimal distance.
To update firmware and install GoPro Labs on your camera, you need the original battery connected, so it’s best if you install it before you do the decasing.
Connect WiFi Using QR Code
One useful application of GoPro Labs is the “WiFi Hack”. Simply scan the below QR code and connect your GoPro to the APP on WiFi. It requires GoPro Labs installed on the camera.
- Turn on Bluetooth on your phone
- Open the GoPro Quik App on your phone and be ready to click on the search/add/connect to GoPro icon
- Keep your GoPro pointing at the below QR Code at the optimal distance for recognition until the next step
- Press the MODE button 3 times
- On the GoPro APP, click on the search/add/connect to a GoPro icon, that’s it
Naked GoPro’s are fragile due to the lack of housing. The ribbon cables can tear, therefore take good care when attaching/unplugging connectors. For those connectors that don’t need to be disconnected you may want to use some kind of removable glue (e.g. E6000).
You might also want to use silicon conformal coating on the exposed PCB to improve water resistance. It also helps protect the tiny surface mount components from falling off as it’s basically like glue. However, do not coat the connectors or you could cause damage permanently!
Recording Stops Randomly
First thing to check is whether your SD card is fast enough. You can try a different card, or a lower bitrate/resolution for troubleshoot. See my recommendations for SD card.
The other cause could be overheating. The GoPro 8 is known to get hot and likely to intermittently stop recording. One fix is to put heatsinks on those chips on the motherboard.
Heatsink is not required, but the GoPro can get really hot, putting a small heatsink on the processor can avoid potential issues on a hot day. Some 3D printed cases normally leave cutout just for that. The CPU measures 14x14mm, so heatsinks for the Raspberry Pi should also work: https://amzn.to/2Sw06EY
Solder a piece of wire to the WiFi antenna pad on the Naked GoPro 8, this will extend your WiFi range as well as reducing heat that build up in the main board.
Since we are using 2.4GHz for WiFi, the length of the wire should be around 31mm (see article for reason). If you use coax wire which has shielding, you should solder the shielding to a ground pad on the board.
Front LCD Mod
Some cases allow you to install the front LCD for displaying camera status and current settings.
You can remove it from the GoPro, but it’s glued very well to the case, so it’s not easy to remove. You can just buy the LCD for around $10-$15 on eBay/AliExpress, if you can’t remove it. See spare parts section below for link.
Fun fact: GoPro 6, 7 and 8 all use the same front LCD screen.
To remove the front LCD, I first put it on my 3D printer heated bed (facing down), turned the heat up to 100 degree, and leave it there for 5-10 minutes.
You can also use a heat gun – the heat will make the glue less sticky.
Very carefully pry up the LCD display around the edges with a plastic tool like a prop, and gently lift it up. DO NOT use metal tools. The glass can break easily so do this very lightly.
You could damage the display if you scrape too hard, you can see the screen on the right, there are some scratches, it still works though. Be gentle and patient, and it will come out perfect like the left one :)
Button mod for the Hero 6 can also be done on the Naked GoPro 8. Image credit to Jonah Blaeser. Here’s the pinout for the REC/PWR buttons:
The LED mod isn’t needed because the status LED is located on the mainboard.
You can use the GPS module on your FPV drone, so don’t waste it! It works well in Betaflight and iNav. See this post for more detail.
The pinout of the GPS module:
Spare Parts for Naked GoPro 8
All links below are affiliate links at AliExpress:
- Hero 8 Lens with Camera Sensor:
- Hero 8 Logic Board (Main PCB): https://oscarliang.com/product-um7u
- Front LCD (Hero 6, 7 and 8): https://oscarliang.com/product-13y5
- Hero 8 back touch screen: https://oscarliang.com/product-d3ae
- Hero 8 case and front panel replacements: https://oscarliang.com/product-53ps
- Hero 8 Flex cable: https://oscarliang.com/product-s9el
- Hero 8 Flex cable (another option): https://oscarliang.com/product-tn35
- Hero 8 USB-C port: https://oscarliang.com/product-9j1l
Prepare for the Worst
Prepare for the worst if you decide to invest in a Naked GoPro, as it’s a risky project. Stripped down GoPro is extremely flimsy and fragile, a damaged lens module and motherboard can easily cost you $100-150 each to replace. I have only damaged 1 GoPro logic board so far and I consider myself pretty lucky compared to some others :)
- Apr 2020 – article created
- Apr 2021 – added more info and images