DJI S900 + Brushless Camcorder Gimbal

Posted September 11, 2014 By Jonathan Malory

I’ve been wanting to use my Sony CX730 for a while now because it has Sony’s Balanced Optical Steady Shot (BOSS) system, where the lens and sensor moves independently from the rest of the camcorder, a bit like a stabilised camera gimbal.

However, there aren’t too many choices for brushless gimbals that work with camcorders, or are especially designed for camcorders. In fact I could only find one. There are shed loads of Gopro gimbals, a few Sony NEX gimbals and a load of Canon 5D gimbals. A camcorder will pretty much only fit on the last one, but they’re usually not balanced quite right as they have the Canon’s odd shaped body and lens sticking out in front in mind, where a camcorder has a pretty narrow profile head-on and is pretty equally weighted along its length.

bushless-camcorder-gimbalSo, long story short, rather than shell out 599 Euros for the one camcorder gimbal for sale online, I thought I would try and make my own. Actually, to be honest, I got my mate Andy to do most of the hard work, which wasn’t actually that hard in the end as we had most of the parts already. Also, because the Sony balances itself somewhat I was hoping I wouldn’t need the third axis to take out the side-to-side movement caused by the hexacopter. Without the third axis the gimbal is lighter, more sturdy and easier to setup. I bought a Basecam (Alexmos) 32 bit controller from Unmannedtech, which is actually quite nicely finished in a hard case, both the main board and the two external sensors.

The 32 bit controller comes with two sensors, one for your gimbal and another to go on your drone or handheld camera frame, so the two can be compared by the software. However, in this video I only used the one sensor on the gimbal to keep it simple. I may try the dual sensor setup next to see if there’s any difference.

There are a couple of tiny unwanted movements in this video, partly due to not centering the camera properly and possibly because of the Sony BOSS system overcompensating. I think I can tweak both for the next video.

heslington-churchAll in all I’m very pleased with the results, camcorders are made specifically for video and this particular one does a great job. The footage is straight from the camera on full iAuto. I should really have chosen settings suitable to the light and environment, all of which can be done with this camera, but I had no idea what the footage would come out like and just wanted to see if it even worked,  and if there’d be any vibrations and jello getting through, which it seems there is not.

Anyway, the video after my wafflings is of Heslington Church near York University, with a bit of a pan of the surroundings. If you have any questions or comments please do make them, either below or in the forums.

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UDI U829A UFO Quadcopter

Posted August 9, 2014 By Jonathan Malory

I went to Leeds model shop the other day at Cross Gates to get some tools and ended up buying this UDI U829A UFO Quadcopter.

It cost about £85 and was a bit of a compromise as I was looking at a Blade helicopter for £160 but decided that was too much to spend seeing as I’d only gone to buy a set of hex drivers.

Anyway, I’m really happy that I bought this as it flies really nice, and in fact it’s a joy to fly. This one will not be going up on the wall with the other stuff I don’t fly anymore just yet.

It has a built in camera which is total pants that would have been out of date 5 years ago, but I don’t really care about that. I can easily put on a different, better camera like the full HD HK Wing Cam II or the 720p 808 Key chain Camera.

I just love the flight characteristics of this AR Drone-like quadcopter, it’s graceful and agile at the same time and it will bounce off walls and legs.

udi-u829a-quadcopterI’m thinking if using it as a trainer quadcopter for its ease of use and non-intimidating aspects. My friend Alex is interested in having a go at flying but never really tried it before. He’s tried the Nano quad and other small toys, but they’re actually really difficult to fly compared to this.

Also, because of its size, you can get some quite decent height out of it and still see your orientation so I think it will be an ideal trainer for moving onto more expensive quadcopters for aerial photography. You can fly this around doing circuits and nose-in flying without worrying too much about messing up and crashing it.

The battery is a 850mah 2 cell 7.4v and gives you nearly 10 minutes of flight time I think, though I did run the battery almost complete down. Still, with this size of battery and lightness of quadcopter you don’t really need to worry about the battery’s longevity too much. I already ordered a couple of spares for only 6 quid, which is not a lot at all compared to the £400 + battery sets x6 I had to buy for the pro hexacopter.

I mentioned the AR Drone before because they are a little similar with the nacelles on, protecting the props/you from the props, but I actually prefer this quadcopter I think. It’s a lot cheaper for a start, has a bit more umph and comes with a proper radio instead of flying with a stupid iPhone or whatever.

I’d never normally buy one of these, what I call no name brands, but I’m very glad I did, it’s a lot of fun.

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