Whats the point of working in software if you can’t take an aside once every now and then!

I ride downhill mountain bikes and snowboards when I’m not coding.  I use GoPro cameras to film for notoriety, fun, to check my techniques and aid with training.

One shot that I always like is the handheld shot that either runs with the rider, or pans/moves to watch him/her go past.  Unfortunately due to humans being human, often these shots aren’t very smooth or pro looking.  Enter my desire to build something that can help with this.

Enter things like this:

Pretty impressive! But then so is the price tag, especially when I just forked out for a $450 GoPro ;(

There have been a lot of developments in First Person View flight (FPV) lately, with kits that can take a GoPro up for well under $1000 all inclusive.  Along with this we have seen a substantial improvement in self stabilised camera gimbals.  The first round of such devices used hobby servos and uncorrected output from the aircraft flight control systems to level the gimbal.  Now, we have standalone electronics, a separate IMU that mounts on top of the camera, and brushless stepper motors to provide positional feedback.

Movi recently came out with a very impressive camera gimbal system for SLR’s and heavier cameras, intended to hit the market for approx $15k.  I’m going to attempt to try and build something that provides 90% of what they do but for under $200 AUD.

I ordered a Martinez board from ebay (along with IMU) and a brushless motor gimbal from rctimer http://www.rctimer.com/index.php?gOo=goods_details.dwt&goodsid=872 .  I intend to use some aluminium pipe and some old mountain bike grips as the frame to mount in.  I have some 2200mah3s Lipo batteries from my FPV projects that I can use as a power source.

The Martinez board arrived Friday, so I was able to take Saturday arvo to take a look and see if I can get soemthing out of it.  Here’s the vid!

Steps covered in the video:

1. Solder the pins to your IMU so that you can connect the Martinez.
2. Connect pin SDA on the Martinez to SDA on the IMU, as well as SCL, VCC and GND. All data is sent via I2C protocol which simplifies the connection greatly.
3. Download the latest build from code.google.com/p/brushless-gimbal/downloads/list . I grabbed the code, but if you are confident with AVRDude I think you can just flash the hardware with the hardware file. I downloaded the arduino source as I’ll be working with that. Arduino source also includes the calibration GUI.
4. Connect the Martinez to your PC, open the _048.ino file with Arduino, and build/upload. I chose the AT328Mega variant in Arduino as the connected Arduino device type.
5. When uploaded, open the Arduino serial terminal window and enable new line (bottom right). Type in HE then hit enter, this should load and start the software.
6. Open the GUI software, select your interfact (mine was COM3) and connect. IMU should calibrate first.
7. Hit ‘Start’ to see if the board is registering the values from the IMU