Flying Camera
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Hi Everybody,

I couldn't find such a topic, so I decided to create it.
When I saw the Axiom project, I thought : you can strip off the camera to its most essential components and fly it with a drone!
I see a lot of people wanting more features, and I understand that. But as a tinkerer/amateur I would like to start with less, in order to really learn. And since its modular, we could add components step by step later on.
Here is are a few questions for savvy developers : what are the essential components to record 15 to 20 minutes (usually the battery time for a commercial hexacopter) in the air?
I have modeling experience and access to 3D printers so we could imagine building a case compatible with existing gimbal systems.
How much weight is our "minimal configuration"?
Thanks you for checking this task, and feel free to participate if you want to work on it.

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daFred added a subscriber: daFred.Mar 27 2015, 8:23 PM

Hello Francois,
all files of the pcb-stack are on GitHub:
Feel free to design a camera body for your purpose show us your design and share it!

This comment was removed by FrancoisGandon.

Personally I like the idea and the approach. But from my understanding of what I read on this site, the camera is more geared towards "ground" filmmakers where weight is not such a big deal (at least up to a certain limit.)

By the way, have also experience in modeling and I have access to a steel CNC and a plastic molding facility, far better than 3D printing.

Technically speaking, I think is is advisable to share the same design but knowing that the camera is high definition, the amount of data written is huge and this means potentially costly dedicated components. Probably too expensive for only tinkering.

Feel free to contact me for a more in depth discussion. As I said, I like the idea

FrancoisGandon added a comment.EditedMar 29 2015, 1:36 PM

Thanks Benoit, lets give it a shot, no? Thats the beauty of this project, it is geared toward openness. Now it might be challenging, I agree...
Herbert mentioned that there was already a bunch of folks working on this (in theory), so there is hope!
lets try to gather informations and links on this thread.
ABS seems to be a good choice due to its lightness and robustness. Or do we need an aluminium case to protect expensive components? It would be funny to do a crash test simulation, and also potentially saving some costs : )

Aluminium 2.7177 g/cm^3
ABS 1.04 g/cm^3
PLA 1.25 g/cm^3

For flying I think a combination of a rugged small aluminum framework plus thin 3d printed plastic parts would give the best compromise of robustness at light weight. Basically the same way as aircrafts are constructed.

We can pretty much manufacture these entirely in-house with our SLA based 3D printer and Tormach CNC mill. So all we need are concepts and designs currently.

Seems like the large sensor would add a lot of weight, not from the sensor itself, but from the lens. But even if it cuts your flying time by 70%, still pretty cool.

One way to reduce weight would be to tether it. A 200m optical cable isn't cheap, but it lets you move all the recording media to the ground. And with a photovoltaic, you could power the camera and the copter with optical too, giving you unlimited flight time.

daFred added a comment.Apr 5 2015, 8:43 AM

We are designing a variant with E-mount. So we could save weight on the camera side, shorten the distance for the center of gravity and choose from good lightweight (and copter proven) lenses. Storing the data as a different thing....

  • What is the weight of the payload you want to hang under the drone ? DJI is selling a drone that can lift a 5D Mark III (6 kg max). (1 750,00 €). Full carbon fiber.
  • A drone has protecting bars for its payload (also used for landing) So the camera itself doesn't need heavy protection.
  • For a light carrier, Carbon fiber or folded aluminium sheet or magnesium uni-body are good candidates. A plastic cover is also a needed to avoid dust or water in the electronics.
  • Keep in mind the need of the gimbals. You need to move at least the sensor and the optic and the sensor must be in the center of rotation of the gimbals.

Note : Aluminium requires dedicated milling tools. ABS is a good plastic used in molding. A mold cost a least 5-10K€, so forget it for less than 10k parts. Carbon fiber is expensive and not so easy to use but has very high mechanical properties.

a payload of 6 kg max seems reasonable. 2 kg would be a challenging minimum.

What is the weight of the axiom beta without the lens?

Sebastian: I like the idea of the fuselage. If we look at the Leica picture : Are we going further in the lightness/dematerialisation of the case (I would say now the Beta is between the 2nd and the 3rd),

If we look at an aircraft fuselage, there is an interlocking grid of planar ribs, a framework, which can be milled out of aluminium sheets. It can be skinned with various materials.
I have a polymer filament with 20% carbon fiber that has a decent quality for prototypes.

A question that I have related to the gimbal and the center of gravity: could we imagine autocalibrating the gimbal arms from the camera's data?

What is the weight of the axiom beta without the lens?

We do not know yet.

A question that I have related to the gimbal and the center of gravity: could we imagine autocalibrating the gimbal arms from the camera's data?

if the gimbal control software is open source or at least accessible why not :)

FrancoisGandon added a comment.EditedMay 1 2015, 9:09 PM

here is a link for diy gimbals :

I wonder if we could build an articulated arm as a gimbal, much like a levelled industrial robot (upside down though).

Since I am on a tight budget and want total creative control, I would imagine building it myself.

Hi there, I have the same interest as you to make a Gimbal for Axiom Beta.
I heard that the weight of the camera could be around 250grams (without lens and recorder, maybe the battery too).
The dIY web site you mentioned seems to be deserted. Did you make some new searches about the gimbal for the Axiom?

RexOr added a subscriber: RexOr.Aug 7 2017, 2:32 PM

Weight of the Beta I Dev Kit is 319g.

Beta II TBD.