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How to control a gimbal remotely?

Is there a simple way to remotely control the panning of a gimbal (preferably with a separate stick/joystick, controlled by another person)? I’m planning to do a budget cinematography/utility camera drone built out of the ZD550 frame and I don’t really need more than a GoPro. I’d probably get a smaller gimbal like this. It’d also be nice if I could adjust the amount of "inertia" the panning has, sensitivity, etc.

According to the description of this gimbal controller board, "Each axis could connect analog joystick." Not sure how I would make that remotely controllable though. Something out of Raspberry Pi? Separate tx/rx? Just throwing out ideas.

Drones and Model Aircraft Asked on August 19, 2021

2 Answers

2 Answers

It all depends on what Flight Controller you are using and how you want to control the gimbal. Gimbals in your links use Storm32 firmware which is very versatile. It can be contolled using knobs on your remote controller, MAVLink messages or their own serial protocol.

I use a gimbal from your first link which is controlled by a stand alone Windows application using a Joystick. Same application indicates gimbal's attitude ans shows received video from a camera. It did require coding for the application. On the drone side it is all done using already existing software - Pixhawk4 flight controller, Raspberry-pi for Wi-Fi link and camera capture, Mavlink-router running on RPi to route messages to Pixhawk and gimbal.

If you are OK waiting a bit, Px4 will soon release gimbal manager integrated into FC, which will simplify things.

Correct answer by jpou on August 19, 2021

The easiest way would be to use the sliders or the rotary knobs on a reasonably advanced transmitter - although it might not feel natural and the pilot would be busy flying.

Alternately you could plug another transmitter in via the buddy box port, and map two channels from the sticks on the 'student' transmitter to a couple of spare channels on the 'master'.

Transmitters running OpenTx have quite powerful buddy box settings, you can choose to only take a couple of channels from the student, and to send the signals from channel 1 on the student to channel 7 on the master - neither of which are possible on low-end transmitters. They can also accept quite a wide range of student transmitters, so some mixing of brands is possible.

It's also possible to build a head-tracker, that uses accelerometers to detect the motion of your head, and outputs a signal that you can send to the buddy box port.

As you mentioned, a second transmitter and receiver could be used to send signals directly to the drone, without going through the buddy box port. This would allow you to use two low-end transmitters. The only disadvantage I can see is the slight extra weight of a second receiver.

Answered by Robin Bennett on August 19, 2021

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