Building a Quadcopter For Aerial Filming

After building my first quadcopter I decided to focus on a more specialised filming rig. I sold the old frame and bought a more traditional frame. It came with mounting rails for camera equipment, long landing skids and a slight dihedral for added stability.

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I used the electronics from my first build and put them on this new frame. The results were immediate. It was far more stable and easy to fly. I attached a fixed mount for my GoPro. I began to explore the filming aspect of the hobby. I found that the fixed mount would result in a distorted video due to the vibration of the 4 motors.

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A still taken from an early filming flight.

I had a loss of control one day whilst flying on a hill near a radio mast.The craft veered out of control and thankfully landed in a gorse bush with no damage. This incident spooked me as I can only assume it was interference from the radio mast. As a precaution I replaced the motors which were starting to make a grinding sound due to cheap bearings. I also changed the radio system to include a fail safe. I added larger carbon props for more thrust. Quadcopter safety is not to be taken lightly, this incident taught me you are essentially piloting a brick with 4 razors spinning on each corner and the potential for damage to others or property is enormous!

As my flying progressed I found that the KK2 board was not giving me confidence as I flew further and higher. It is easy to lose your bearings. I therefore decided to upgrade to a DJI Naza M Lite Controller. This gave me the benefit of GPS stability and a return to home failsafe if I lose radio contact or my orientation. I completed the build with a Tarot brushless gimbal to get silky smooth camera movements.

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I had to make some modifications to the Naza controller (red box). The barometer inside was being distorted by bright sunlight coming through the white plastic housing. When yawing the model would jump up and down in altitude violently. By removing the covering and painting the inside with black acrylic paint this problem was fixed. I then made further gain adjustments on my laptop to get it flying better. After this I made a short video shortly of the East Lothian area to test the new equipment – all went smoothly. I haven’t changed much since completing the build. I use a 3900mAh 3S Lipo which gives flight times of around 7 minutes. It powers the gimbal and the motors.

https://vimeo.com/115672777

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