What the heck is brushless gimbal?

GimbalSo, we dipped our toes into the aerial videography pool and purchased a DJI phantom quad copter. The idea being, you attach a GoPro Hero3+ and get some “sick” flyover shots. But the first tests with a standard GoPro mount revealed immediately that the basic physics of quadcopters and the smooth motion needed for “sick” shots are not immediately compatible. Enter the brushless gimbal.

A gimbal basically provides a 2- or 3-point pivot for a mounted camera that helps keep the lens in a steady position while surrounding mount/superstructure to move about. Historically, these things required either an expensive gyroscope or hydraulics/spring system. But now, thanks to the same accelerometer hips that are in your cell phone and the Wii controller, we can create a computer controlled gimbal that uses small brushless DC motors to adjust the position of the camera a few hundred times a second and keep the image from jumping about. Now THAT is “sick.”

There is still a lot to work out as far as calibrating the stabilizer chips and adding some other controls for remote adjustment of the camera pitch, etc. But the frankencameracopter is coming along nicely. Here’s our first test shot.