Naked GoPro Hero 6 for Cinewhoop Guide

By stripping down the GoPro Hero 6 and removing all the unnecessary parts you can reduce the weight drastically from 117g to 17g. This enables a cinewhoop, or even smaller FPV drone to carry the decased GoPro with ease.

This guide will be focusing on the GoPro Hero 6. I started another post just for the Hero 8.

Warning: This project is for advance users only, if you choose to follow any instruction in this post, do so at your own risk.

Table of Content

Why Naked GoPro?

A small 3″ or even 2″ FPV drone, like the Beta85X, can easily carry a decase GoPro, with AUW (all up weight) well under 250g – the legal weight limit for registration in many countries.

The resulting weight of the quad including the naked GoPro can be lighter than the original GoPro, it’s pretty amazing :)

With the magic from Reelsteady GO, you can get some pretty stable video:

Which GoPro is the Best to Go “Naked”?

GoPro Hero 6 is by far the most popular model for naked GoPro, because

  • It’s the most reliable when working with Reelsteady stabilization
  • It’s an old model, therefore is more affordable, good deals on second hand
  • Spare parts are more commonly available than newer models
  • Motherboard can be mounted flat for better aerodynamics
  • It’s not the latest GoPro camera, but it’s still capable of recording 4K and offers high quality image, good enough for what we do

You can get the GoPro Hero 6 here: https://amzn.to/31fvN56

Here is the naked Hero 6:

Based on popularity, the next options are the GoPro Hero 8, Session 5 and Hero 7.

Note that the Hero 7 and Session 5 require extremely good dampening in order to work with ReelSteady due to the more sensitive gyro, so it’s more hassle and less reliable. However the Hero 7 has built-in Hypersmooth, so you don’t have to use Reelsteady.

GoPro Hero 6 Disassembling Tutorials

Before taking the GoPro Hero 6 apart, you should do the following:

  • Downgrade firmware to V1.6, it works best with ReelSteady Go as it has the highest tolerance with vibrations, tutorial here
  • Pair GoPro to the app on your phone over WiFi (so you can change settings later)
  • Write down WiFi password
  • Change WiFi band to 2.4GHz, if you leave it on 5.8Ghz it might interfere with your video signal
  • Change recording settings to your preference (See my post on best settings for GoPro)
  • To avoid further problems, I also turned off the following settings:
    • In-camera stabilization OFF (Hypersmooth)
    • GPS OFF
    • Auto-rotation UP

Once you finished the tear down, you should test it by connecting USB module, buttons 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!

Hero 6 Pin-out Diagram

Pin out and connectors:

Hero 6 Logic Board Connector Part Numbers:

Image by Jonah Blaeser

  • I sensor: JAE WP21-S046VA1-R8000
  • II USB: JAE WP25D-P028VA1-R8000
  • III buttons / GPS: Hirose DF37NB-30DS-0.4V
  • IV touchscreen: Hirose DF37NB-16DS-0.4V + DF37NB-10DS-0.4V
  • V front LCD: Hirose BM20B(0.6)-10DS-0.4V
  • VI battery: Hirose DF57H-4P-1.2V

How To Power Naked GoPro 6

The GoPro logic board takes 5V only, the best way is to use a BEC (aka voltage regulator, it takes the high voltage from LiPo and convert it down to 5V).

Make sure the BEC is rated at 1A as a minimum just to be safe. The Hero 4 for example is estimated to operate at 2.8W during recording without the display and WiFi, which takes 700mA at 4V.

It’s more reliable to have a dedicated BEC. You might be able to power it from your flight controller, but I don’t recommend it because the lack of current may cause the gopro to reboot or stop recording randomly.

Using USB-C Port

The easiest/safest way is to power the GoPro via the USB-C Port.

You can buy a USB-C male connector (https://amzn.to/2Uaqoua) with solder pads.

And plug it straight into the USB-C port of the GoPro, then connect it to the logic board.

On the same USB-C connector part, you could also scrap the PCB or ribbon cable to expose the copper traces for 5V and GND. You could even cut the ribbon cable and solder directly to it.

These ways can save a bit of weight, but they are quite risky, only for advanced users.

Diagrams by FPVWhoop

5V Pin

Thanks to Kim Tang for this idea, you could solder the 5V wire to this capacitor shown in the following image. Make sure you double check with your multimeter to confirm you have the right location before soldering.

This allows very clean wiring, no need for the USB-C connector at all, but the solder point is quite tiny so do this at your own risk.

BetaFPV BEC Board

With the BEC board from BetaFPV, you can power your GoPro directly from a LiPo battery (2S to 4S) as it has a built-in 5V BEC. It sits directly on top on the main board and have a small profile.  It breaks out the buttons and LED and solder pads, making it super convenient to use. You can use this on the GoPro Hero 6 and 7 Logic board.

For more detail see my review.

Battery Connector

To use the battery connector to power the GoPro, you’d have to destroy the battery and get the PCB inside to wire the + and -, and it’s not always reliable therefore we do not recommend it.

If you still want to do so, make sure the voltage does not exceed 4.4V. You also need to use the PCB inside the original battery because one wire is for 1wire comm for the gopro to detect a valid battery. Also it seems the battery connector uses red as GROUND and blue as POWER, this should be double checked.

Hero 6 “Auto Power On” Hack

Connect PWR pad to GND. See Yellow line at top right corner of the pinout diagram. As soon as you give it power, the GoPro will turn on. This emulates the power button being pressed permanently.

How to Start and Stop Recording?

There are 3 ways to control recording:

1. Connect the REC pad on the GoPro to your flight controller, and configure it in Betaflight, so you can start and stop recording with a switch on the radio; However I’ve found this to be unreliable, sometimes it works great, sometimes it doesn’t. According to Jaro Meyer, PinIO in Betaflight initializes in high state and causing the GoPro into DFU mode, and you will get a solid red LED, and the GoPro doesn’t respond to anything. Restarting the GoPro usually fixes it, but with the Hero 7, it might stuck in DFU mode so avoid using this hack.

2. You can connect the original shutter button, the benefit is you will also get Audio, because the microphone is located on the same part

3. Using the record button on BetaFPV BEC Board. Probably the most reliable and headache-free method, recommend

Note: Some people believe connecting the GoPro to the FC is unsafe, while some don’t trust the BetaFPV BEC board either. I’ve personally tested all these methods and all seem to work. Anyway use whatever you want, and do so at your own risk.


Here is how Method 1 works.

First of all, you need an FC with a Buzzer- pad (buzzer negative pad). Connect the record button pad (REC in pinout diagram) to the Buzzer- pad on your FC.

In Betaflight CLI, enter “resource” to find out the pin number of “BEEPER 1”.

In my case it’s B02, but this could be different on your FC. Enter these lines in CLI (remember to change pin number!)

Resource beeper 1 none
Resource pinio 1 B02
set pinio_box = 40,41,42,43
Save

Finally, assign a momentary switch to the new USER1 mode in the Modes tab.

How it works:

  1. toggle switch to high = pressing record button
  2. toggle switch to low = released button
  3. Now it’s recording
  4. repeat 1 & 2 to stop recording
  5. give the gopro a few seconds to save the video before powering off, otherwise you could lose/corrupt the video

We are using the radio switch to simulate the record button, but sometimes if you leave the switch HIGH for too long, or not long enough, it might stop the recording unexpectedly, and that leaves you with a 2 or 3 seconds clip. Practice with your timing with controlling the switch, until you get it working every time.

Adding LED Indicator and Buttons

I highly recommend adding LED indicator to your naked GoPro, so you know whether you are recording or not. There are a few easy ways to do this.

1. Original LED at USB Port

Insert the small original LED back to the USB port. This LED circuit is attached to the USB port plastic holder with weak adhesive, which we removed during teardown, so many people forget about this part.

2. Solder LED to USB Port

Solder LED to USB-C Port solder pads, credits to Hirotoshi Adachi. Be extremely careful with placement, you should secure the LED in place. Any pressure on the LED might rip the copper pads as they are very tiny! (speaking from experience!)

Consider using wires between the pad and LED, instead of direct soldering just in case! (same for other pads on the logic board) There is no fix once the pad is damaged, you can’t scrape the PCB to expose the copper trace because it’s extremely tiny!

You can use normal 3mm LED’s, or surface mount LED such as oshr1608.

3. Original Button/LED Ribbon

Use the original buttons and LED circuit. Bonus is you also get access to audio because the microphones are located on the same part. However it’s quite big so not easy to mount.

You could wrap the ribbon around the logic board like this, which is what I did in my Umma85 build (after the build log).

WiFi Related Hacks

Solder WiFi Antenna

Take a piece of wire and solder it to the wifi antenna pad. This should improve wifi range, and possibly help reduce the heat built up in the main board.

Since we are using 2.4GHz, the length of the antenna should be around 31mm (see article for reason). If you use coax wire which has a shielding, you should solder the shielding to a ground pad on the board.

Turn On WiFi Through SD Card

If you don’t see the GoPro WiFi network, it’s possibly not switched on. Here is how to turn on the GoPro Hero 6 WiFi automatically upon power-up. It’s only tested on GoPro 6 (FW 1.6).

You will need the wifi password in order to do this. You can get the Wifi password by attaching the touch screen to the GoPro, under Connectivity menu. You might also be able to find it on your phone’s saved network if you connected to the GoPro before.

Create a file called “gpauto” without any file extension in the root directory of your SD card. Open it as text file and add two lines inside:

your_gopro_wifi_password (replace this line with yours)
gpsend WM%01;

Save, power on the gopro, wait 10/20 seconds, reboot.

To turn this feature off, change the second line to gpsend WM%00;

Change WiFi Password/Network Name

Same method as above (how to turn on wifi through SD card).

your_gopro_wifi_password (replace this line with yours)
EVssidprimary,newGoproName
EVpassphrase,newGoProPassword

Lens Protector

Make sure you use some sort of protection on the lens, if you scratch it that’s irreversible. Here is a 3D printed lens protector: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4035039

ND Filter / Lens Protector for Naked GoPro 6

An ND filter also acts as lens protector. This article explains why you might need an ND filter.

ND Filter for Mavic 2 Zoom

You can use the ND filter designed fro the Mavic Zoom on the naked GoPro Hero 6. The form factor makes more sense for both aerodynamics and weight, and it doesn’t come off easily in crashes.

I ordered this on Banggood, it seems to be the cheapest option I can find: https://bit.ly/2MCAY8O. There are more on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3cLmsq5, I got a set of 3 (ND4/8/16) for $20 which is not bad either.

The filter plastic might show a tiny bit at the corners when shooting 4:3, but it’s not visible after ReelSteady and barely noticeable when shooting in 16:9 Superview.

You will also need this adapter to use Mavic Zoom filter: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4383549/files

Other ND Filter Options

Here is a different option: https://cults3d.com/en/3d-model/gadget/stripped-naked-gopro-hero-6-lens-bayonet-and-attachments-hulabaloo

Which ND Value?

You can’t just slap the ND filter on and hope it works. You have to play around with ND value and shutter speed combination on the day of filming to get the best result.

Just to give you some ideas, on a sunny day, I usually record in 2.7K 60FPV, with 1/120 shutter speed and use ND16 ND filter. For sunset and early morning I normally use ND8. If you only have ND32, you could try 30FPS and 1/60 shutter speed. However I prefer a little faster shutter speed because I actually don’t want too much motion blur, as I’ve been told, Reelsteady handles it better that way.

Make sure you check in the GoPro App preview to ensure the image is not over-exposed (or use computer to check footage if you don’t have GoPro App). By the way, I think it’s better to be under exposed than over-exposed, as it’s more likely to recover the detail, and also it’s less likely to get oscillations in your footage.

Drone Setups for Naked GoPro

Two Popular Frame Sizes: 85mm and 95mm

The Beta85X (85mm) and Beta95X (95mm) frames are probably the most popular frames for naked GoPro builds currently. The Beta85X supports 2″ propellers, while the Beta95X supports slightly larger 2.5″. The number 85 and 95 are the distance between the diagonal motors.

Frame choice: the Beta95x can run larger 2.5″ props, hence is more powerful and more stable in the wind, but it’s also slightly louder. The Beta85x is overall smaller and can go through tighter gaps, also it makes slightly less noise which might work better indoor. However it’s not meant for fast flying and acrobatic moves.

There are two types of builds based on how you mount the GoPro logic board:

Normal mount (vertical):

Flat mount:

Flat mount has a lower profile with better aerodynamics. But as you are mounting the lens and mother board separately, perhaps it’s a little riskier and more work when it comes to building and maintenance.

Normal mount usually uses a light weight protective case (either in TPU or carbon fibre) to house the whole camera.

Popular options for flat mount are the Umma85 and Umma95 designed by Ummagawd. Here are my build logs:

Parts List

Instead of getting all the individual parts, you might find it easier to just get the pre-built model:

There is still some DIY to do though, but you are getting most of the components needed in one package, which is handy.

You can also get the components individually and build it from scratch. It gives you more control what parts you want to use and how to put it together. Here are just some suggestions.

85X Setup:

95X Setup:

Other Parts (works for both 85/95)

For Batteries, see my LiPo recommendations, 4S 450mAh and 3S 450-550mah are good sizes.

3″

3″ is not as popular but it’s picking up in popularity as it’s larger and more stable, works better in windy condition too. I will share info when I have more experience with this setup.

BF Settings for Cinematic flying

Betaflight 4.2

There is a CLI snippet for cinematic flying, If you have not tried it yet, give it a shot, it’s awesome and suits the flying style of our little naked tools very nicely.

https://github.com/betaflight/betaflight/wiki/4.2-Tuning-Notes#Quick-settings

Tips and Friendly Reminder

Naked GoPro is cool, but not without problems. Here are some tips and things you should be aware of.

Limitations

There will be no audio as the microphone is located on the button module – not a biggie for FPV as we normally put sound effects and music over the video anyway; however you can retrieve the button module and connect it to the logic board if you want audio desperately.

There is no LED indicator, so you won’t know whether you are recording or not. It could be annoying to only find out you didn’t record anything after an epic flight. It’s best if you put an LED on your naked GoPro as we explained here.

Durability

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 (E6000?).

You might also want to use silicon conformal coating on the exposed PCB to improve water resistance. It also help protect the tiny surface mount components from falling off as it’s basically like glue. However, do not coat the connectors or you could break it!

Overheating

Covering the front chip entirely could lead to overheating, it’s a good idea to use thermal paste and a mini heatsink.

Mounting

You can mount the GoPro flat and bend the camera ribbon cable so the camera faces forward. Reelsteady Go will work, but it won’t work with horizon lock. To use horizon lock in this case, you have to patch the raw footage first (How? See section “Lock Horizon” in this article)

Save Recording

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.

Light Leakage

Some units has light leakage issue, which is noticeable when flying under the sun or light source. This is caused by the light going through the semi-transparent glue between the sensor board (back PCB) and lens housing.

Easy fix is just to put some electrical tape over it. Credit to Tommy Tibajia for this tip.

SD Card & File Size

If you record in 2.7K, 64GB is generally enough in most cases. A 3-minute flight takes about 1.4GB – 64GB shgould allow 2 hours of recording :) See my SD card recommendations.

GoPro Hero 6 Spare Parts

Prepare for the Worst

If you decided to invest in this project, do prepare for the worst as things do always go smoothly. Naked GoPro is extremely flimsy and fragile, a damaged lens module and mother board costs $70 to $100 to replace. I have damaged 1 GoPro so far which I consider pretty lucky compared to some others :)

If you like to learn more about this, there is a community on Facebook – Naked Cinewhoop you can join. Any questions, please let me know in the great forum – IntoFPV. I try to check blog comments regularly, but it’s hard to keep up and so i use the form more frequently.

Edit History

  • April 2020 – Article created
  • May 2020 – Added info regarding auto power and starting recording
  • June 2020 – Added info about WiFi connection, and my Umma85 build, where to buy spare parts; Moved all info for the Hero 8 to a separate post, will focus on Hero 6 solely in this post

6 thoughts on “Naked GoPro Hero 6 for Cinewhoop Guide

  1. Mika

    Wow, I learned a lot in this article of yours. I wanted a small GoPro Whoop for a long time, since I saw Robert Mcintosh’s video cruising along Muscle Beach. But he was using a GoPro 4 then and no real protection for it whatsoever.

    Fast forward I just ordered the pre build version from BetaFPV and can’t wait to get into the air.

    Reply
  2. Flo

    Super nice overview- took me couple of weeks and quite some reading through fb groups and yt channels to gather the information you have on this blog-awesome work man!!! Also on the gpauto command- didnt get my one back to working but thanks for your work! keep it coming!

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      I have not tested this, but on the page recommended combo it listed 1105 5000kv motors is okay on 4S, so i supposed it’s okay?

      Reply

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For prompt technical support, please use our forum IntoFPV.com. I check blog comments weekly.