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  • The last few days I have researched drones and cameras. Here is the info dump.


    Pick a solid camera. I had to deal with compression artifacts due to a dust storm and foliage in wind (lots of small movements). And its a pain if you are paying the actors and unable to notice this on set.

    I would pick GoPro Hero4 Black with Protune 2.7K Medium FOV, Sony X3000 or X1000V (only 1080p stabilized). Alternatively the paper specs of the DJI Phantom 4 Pro seem outstanding. However, its not been released yet.

    If you want cheaper I suggest the Sony 1080p action cam with BOSS at 50mbps at 1080p, or Hero2, Hero3 even Xiaomi Yi with 50mbps and flat profile hack at 2.5K


    D1. At current price BH have Phantom 2 with H4-3D gimbal for Hero 4 at 430$

    D2. 3DR Solo with gimbal is on clearance on regular basis for 350 or 399 Example 1 - 3DR Solo Drone Bundle (gopro gimbal, extra battery & propellers) @ Best Buy, new low price $379 Example 2 - 3DR - 3DR Solo Drone with Gimbal, Rechargeable Battery, Extra Propellers and Backpack 4 hour flash sale $350($325 w/Visa)

    D3. Cheerson X-20 + 5.8G FPV + 3-axis Storm32 gimbal + extra battery 363$ Shipped

    D4. F450 kit for ARF - assemble it yourself. I have never done this before but the price is about 300$ including everything.

    D5. Another lesser known Drone+Gimbal+FPV package is the Xiro Xplorer G - they make commercial drones and the reviews indicate excellent wind performance and a solid product. It can be obtained for about 269$ in sale. All you need to do is add your Hero 4 Black. It has reviews about a flimsy gimbal but a solid flier.

    D1 and D2 only carry Hero 4 Black

    D3 can carry the Sony Action Cams.

    Here looking for feedback..

  • 21 Replies sorted by
  • I may add that Phantom 3 Standard goes on sale for 399 and Phantom 3 Advanced is at 580 on ebay right now.

    For these drone, the camera will need to be replaced with an extra gimbal + camera cost included.

  • For P2V, P2V+ And all newer DJI models, the Litchi App offers excellent flight planning to set up and pre-plan your shots.

    3DR Solo comes with all these options already.

    Not sure about the CX20 - I doubt it will have these features.

    The P2 v2 does not use wifi as both use the same 2.4Ghz frequency and would interfere with one another. P2 vision, vision+ and vision+ v3 use wifi for video communication because there TX frequency is 5.8Ghz

  • Notes on 3DR Solo as it seems to be the best deal.

    Beginner FAQ

    Setting for Hero 4 Black

    Comparison of Solo with Litchi app

    Comparing Solo MultiPoint Cable Cam with Typhoon H Curved Cable Cam - RC Groups

    3DR Solo Cable Cam...Can DJI compete or Beat? - RC Groups

    I've been testing Litchi and Autopilot for the last couple weeks. In terms of performance on smart shots, they are about the same.

    I've focused 90% of my efforts on duplicating Cable Cam. Neither Litchi nor Autopilot on a P4 can match Solo.

    Solo does a better job with: - framing - easing - smooth yawing - ease of use

    By "framing" I mean that the Solo does a better job hitting its "mark" on each point in the cable cam. For example, if you have a tree in the center of your image at one point on the cable, and say your house in the center on the next point in the cable, the Solo will reliably recreate that framing over and over again. It's not perfect, but it's much much much better. On the P4 (whether using Litchi or Autopilot), I just can't get the same consistency from shot to shot. The P4 really seems to have problems consistently with altitude at each point on the cable, but also the craft will be yawed to a slightly different heading every time. End result, that tree will NOT be center framed in every shot. It's really very frustrating.

    By "easing" I mean the way the bird transitions from one point on the cable to the next. Colin may have oversold a lot of features on the Solo, but not this one. The Solo eases in and out of every shot beautifully. There is indeed a nice logarithmic easing going on. In both Litchi and Autopilot the transitions feel very linear... almost robotic.

    By "smooth yawing" I mean the way the aircraft rotates itself (and the camera) in the air. There are often noticeable yaw jerks on the P4 in cable cam shots (and in all way point missions, but not so much on orbits). It's worse the faster you run the cable, especially with extreme camera tilts and yaws programmed in. Also it's worse when your connection to the craft is weak - more on that below.

    By "ease of use" I'm just referring to how easy it is to access and set up smart shots. After a lot of fiddling and experimentation, I've got Litchi and AutoPilot both configured to duplicate Solo's core functionality. Fly to point A, tilt your gimbal and yaw to frame your shot, click a button on the controller. Fly to point B, and C, etc and do the same. But despite a lot of effort to streamline and simplify things, it's all very cumbersome on a P4. Litchi beats AutoPilot, but neither is as easy, quick and simple as Solo.

    Other thoughts: I'm convinced the biggest difference between the P4 and the Solo is the way Solo's on board computer manages smart shots.

    With the P4, Litchi or Autopilot manage the shots. In other words, the Litchi and AutoPilot app monitor the heading, position and gimbal tilt of the P4 throughout the shot and send updated instructions to the bird throughout the shot. This creates an inherent lag in execution - and I speculate this is the cause of the herky-jerky yawing you sometimes get. If your connection weakens or drops out for a moment during a smart shot, everything gets jumpy. On the Solo, the onboard computer does the work that Litchi/Autopilot do. The result is a smoother, more consistent shot.

  • Info for people into modding

    Modders Group

    Source is available online. All GPL'ed Run on 2x 1GHz Linux embedded comps.

    The h3-3d 1.1 is the same as the h4-3d. The only difference is that its counter weighted to suit the weight and centre of gravity of the gopro hero 4 black. The other difference is the h4-3d does not require modification to prevent the side wifi button from accidently activating.

    successfully installed the Zenmuse H3-3D using my Go Pro Hero 3 Silver. I accomplished this by simple rewiring and ordering a longer 8-pin cable, aka the "Pitcher mod" as mentioned on the RCGroups forum. I also have successfully performed the Ch. 7 tilt mod on the older version transmitter (non-wheel/w lever added on back). I get full motion "tilt"-straight down or straight forward, or in between with smooth transition. Camera still needs to be turned on and off manually before and after flight. I do NOT get ability to tilt in the Vision app, but it's easier to use the lever anyway. Speaking of the Vision app, I also have successfully installed it on my 7" Kindle Fire HDX. I get FPV with this setup, all on a Phantom 2 Vision +.

    $10 USD cable pack.

    Optional 30 pin rear port - convert your H3-3D back to the original Version 1.0. Best!! The side USB is flimsy and prone to break.

    3D printed Gopro Bracket. Use rubber bands if you cant afford it. The supplied ones are difficult to remove as it requires to 2 screws. Get the bracket in red so you can visibly see it installed.

    Just make sure you counter balance as the H3-3D is built for the gopro 3 and NOT the 3+. Use coins and velcro. You need to neutrally balance the gimbal so the motors do not stress out.

  • Improve 3DR Solo Gimbal or add another

    I believe that cheap Bluetack will achieve a similar effect. Find all places where vibration will effect operation and stick in bluetack

    mount the Gimbal underneath the regular GoPro mount, it should tremendously help with vibrations. This way you not only have another 4 rubber balls to eliminate (or let's say help) with vibrations, but you can also put some moon gel between the two and secure the whole thing using zip ties that go through the balls...

    The only real mod one has to do, is to cut/drill a while for the power and for the HDMI cable.

    HDMI CABLE... Let's start with the Micro HDMI cable. As you know by now, the HDMI cable is fairly thick and a little stiff. As such, it easily transmits vibrations to the 'floating gimbal circuit board'. To minimise transmission of vibrations, I stripped the outer casing by 3 to 4 inches. I then wrap soft silicone tubing to isolate vibrations coming from contact with the body shell. For the micro HDMI contact head, I then applied 1/2 strip of Moongel to isolate vibrations coming from various contact points with the body shell.

    DATA LINK CABLE... In my opinion, this is the major culprit to vibration transmission... even more than the HDMI cables. It is extremely stiff. Comprising of 8 stiff wires, it is further locked down by a small zip-tie to the motherboard. I intentionally removed this zip tie and then proceeded to cut the cables at both end leaving only 1.5 inches of wires for me to solder a new set of softer and thinner gauge wires as connectors.

    GOPRO... The way I line up the 2 pieces is to have one laid horizontally and the other laid vertically. In the picture below, the piece on the left is placed in such a way that it 'wraps-out' so that a small bit of the Moongel extends out to the front of the GoPro. This will help reduce vibrations coming from the gimbal motor. The second piece is placed immediately after the first piece but perpendicularly. The idea is to try to 'isolate' the GoPro as much as possible from the Gimbal.

    IMPORTANT! Do not line up the Moongel too close to the back connectors. There should be some space between the Moongel and the back connectors.

    Carefully align the folded Moongel to one of 4 sides. a full length folded Moongel on the HDMI connector side. Using a small screwdriver, gently tuck the Moongel into the recess space between the circuit board and the bottom plate.

    The 3DR gimbal as a whole seems to be pretty good with very slow, deliberate flying. As long as there is NO wind at all, I get good stable video and also good video when flying very slow.

    As for flying fast, that is a different story. The controller cuts off the motors quite easily. Any hard accelerations and the gimbal will "flop" to the side since the controller turns the motors off. It will turn them back on a second later and re-boot. From there, the gimbal works again, but this is very annoying. The gimbal also has a decent amount of shaking the higher you go up in altitude. Also, the gimbal flop will also happen at high altitudes as the wind picks up. Personally, I think 3DR needs to increase the power to the very small motors on this gimbal. They seem smaller and weaker than the Walkera G3D and the DJI HD-3D. Really, I should only say smaller as I've never come across a power issue with the Walkera or DJI motors. Again, it could just be a power issue that 3DR can fix with an adjustment on their controller.

    No question, I was able to tune that low end DYS gimbal with the Storm32 to handle the higher speeds and quick accelerations far better than what the 3DR gimbal is working. This is disappointing considering the cost of the 3DR gimbal. It is $400, but acts more like a $200 gimbal. That may sound harsh, but DJI charged $400 for their HD-3D a year ago, and that gimbal performed very well, so that is the benchmark for gimbals in that price range, in my opinion.


  • Mounting other cameras.

    Xiaomi Yi Gimbal for the Solo

    Use the 50mbps 2.5K hack to get better footage than any other drone camera today.

    ps. xiaomi seems to a good fit if you are not a gopro fan like me. It is the lighest, the port is at the back, it fits well in the stock gopro holder and the price is much cheaper than gopro.

    Sony RX100 3/4

    Generic Mount

    Runcam gimbal

    QX1 Alpha 5K 6K Gimbal

  • Wiring custom gimbal and camera to 3DR Solo

    looking at the gimbal cable and tested the pins use vcc battery and gnd gimbal pins to power any gimbal mounted in the gimbal bay. the vcc 5v is only for charging the gopro.

    Gimbal is connected to Pixhawk via normal RX/TX lines from gimbal cable and is talking mavlink which the storm32 supports (so we get full tilt control of gimbal!)

    Some gimbals that will work.


    NX500+light lens is 350gm

    G7+14mm = 410+55 = 465gm

    Weight of RX100 1 through 5 Weight 240g 281g 290g 298g 299g

    Sony X3000 action cam Dimensions (W x H x D): Approx. 29.4 x 47.0 x 83.0 mm (Approx. 1 3/16 x 1 7/8 x 3 3/8). Weight: Approx. 114 g (including supplied battery)

    Gimbal Payload Requirements

    The recommended payload requirements are:

    Gimbal + camera weight*: 390grams
    Maximum pitch: -130 to +45 deg
    Maximum roll: +/- 40 deg
    Maximum yaw: +/- 25 deg

    The gimbal should operate effectively within the following environmental conditions:

    Altitude: -30 to +3650 metres MSL (≈ -100 to +12,000 ft)
    Operating Temperature: -18°C to 55°C (≈ 0°F to 130°F)
    Transportation Temperature: -40°C to 66°C (≈ -40°F to 150°F)
    Operating Temperature Humidity: 10%-80% relative humidity (non-condensing)
    Transportation Temperature Humidity: 5%-95% relative humidity
    Wind Loading: 0-25kts, from any direction
    • The maximum payload of Solo with gimbal, camera and other accessories is 700g. Camera/Gimbal solutions that exceed the weight of the 3DR Gimbal and GoPro (390g) may not work with all accessories.
  • Here ya go...

    I Would not waste any time trying to cobble something together - full integrated package.

    full flying 4K camera

  • @bannedindv - The DJI cameras tend to fall apart in terms of compression with fine details. 60mbps for 4k or 45mbps for 2.7K is simply not enough for cinema work.

  • The DJI cams are pretty much the same as Gopros (your top choice mentioned earlier). So with the exception of the new P4 Pro (which I just got 2 days ago), every single GoPro, Sony action cam and DJI cam will have identical issues if trying to shoot 4k. @bannedindv is right. I've been building and flying copters and fixed wings for cameras over the past 7-8 years. And with where DJI is with the tech right now, everything else is a waste of time for the average beginner just getting into flying cameras. Unless you want to go down that rabbit hole of spending all of your spare change and hundreds of hours of free time building, testing, tuning, tweaking, repairing. I've been doing that for years and none of that actually made me any money. I learned a ton and am fairly confident these days with the whole fleet. But at the end of the day, it comes down to how much your time is worth. In the time you will spend putting together your first quad and getting it truly ready to produce real work, you could've bought a Phantom 3 PRO, shot 1 or 2 basic low budget projects (even a real estate gig) and it paid for itself. Not to mention all the countless hours of research you've already invested up to this point. Unless you really like to tinker in your free time, the DJI stuff is at a point now where it's more cost effective to just use that as your starting point. And don't forget to factor in the time and cost involved in getting properly certified to be able to shoot legally in your country.

    And if you're really wanting footage that's good enough for cinema work, hire an aerial professional. A good pilot and cam op (often times the same person) will know their equipment and the proper workaround solutions to avoid the IQ issues you mentioned in your first post. You get what you pay for.

  • Oh! And don't forget some nD filters so you can limit your shutter speed... which until recently wasn't even possible to control manually with a GoPro... still not sure how accessible that is depending on your go pro model, wifi config, etc.

    With the DJI you set your shutter speed via app very easily. - a high bitrate 4K hack for phantom 3 and phantom 4 would be very welcome. Also note the unit I linked to is p3 pro. Top of the line last generation. If you're just getting started, filthy has laid out my same argument.

  • Filthy is right, about building your own flying platform versus ready to fly copter, out of the box. Especially time spent on it. My DIY very smart and intelligent hexacopter (able to fly filming missions on waypoints and lift GH4) is still in parts well over a year... Therefore I've bought slightly used Dji Phantom 2 (prices went down a lot recently) with no gimbal or camera. And because I am on a budget I've done some DIY mods: added aftermarket 3-axis gimbal and Xiaomi camera and it works like a charm! Can also tilt a camera remotely, film in 4K stabilized, I will be adding soon wireless video link to watch what my camera sees, so my setup is like much more expensive RTF models, except flying a pre-programmed path. So far I am very happy with this configuration!

  • @valdi99 - I looked at that option too. Just charting out everything :-)

    Xplorer G has excellent feedback for wind and gimbal stability

    For Xiro Xplorer G,

    when you add a ND Filter to the front of the camera. An unbalanced gimbal will wear out the motors and to an extent affect the smoothness of your footage. I have noticed that once you remove the gimbal guard on the Explorer the gimbal falls forward and to the side. I put 4.5 grams on the arm opposite the camera for roll. For pitch, I added 3.6 grams to the bottom rear of the camera. I positioned it near the inside corner (mostly aligned with the roll axis, so that this weight wouldn’t impact roll balance. I found that I had to offset the weight about a 1/16” from the rear lip to avoid any physical interference. Now that I have it mapped out, I’ll paint the weights and attach them with Goop.

  • At this moment, the best options for a RTF package with FPV and GoPro (Sorry, I need a solid camera, and I know that the Cineform guys implemented the codec and Protune - also Hero 4 Black allows you to lock the shutter speed and limit ISO now.) are 3DR Solo and Xiro Xplorer G The Comparable price P2 with H4-3D has limited fpv.

    Xplorer G is 299 incl backpack 3DR Solo was 350 in last sale. Possibly 300 with full package during Christmas. P2 with H4-3D is 430 - maybe a bit lower.

    This is the reason I am leaning towards the Solo.

    “Multipoint” works just like the original Cable cam. (Well, almost identically — we’ll get to the minutiae later.) Take your time to fly to where you want to set your first keyframe, at any point in space, looking any direction you want. Position the copter and the camera to get that first frame perfect. Press A on the controller to save the keyframe. The onboard computer essentially has a photographic memory: It takes an internal “snapshot” of each keyframe you set, memorizing not just the position in the air, but the camera position as well, so Solo will nail that frame.

    After you set your first frame, take your time to fly (doesn’t have to be a straight line) to where you want to create the next one; repeat the process for as many keyframes as you need. To set the last frame, instead of pressing A you’ll press B. Your app screen will then tell you the cable is set — Solo has connected all of those frames with straight virtual cables between them.

    Solo automatically adds curves to the cable at each keyframe. This makes your entry and exit for each frame feel smooth and polished.

    Importantly, Solo saves every cable you create, so you can return to fly your favorites or quickly and easily switch between shots at the same location. Just open “saved shots” on the Smart Shots menu and select the cable you want to fly. You’ll see a map come up with a blue dot for Solo, and another bigger blue circle, which is your target for the first frame. Fly into the circle and the app guides you to the right altitude; Solo will lock into the first frame from there, and you’re good to go.

    How to use it

    Now that your cable and frames are set you’ve got a bunch of options. Just as you could with Cable cam 1.0, you can now engage Solo in a few ways.

    1) Virtual two-pilot system. You and Solo: You fly the copter while Solo handles the camerawork. Use the right stick to send Solo up and down the cable. This lets you control the speed and direction of flight. As you go, Solo will automatically and smoothly guide the camera from one frame to the next — you can change direction and adjust speed at any time. You don’t need to press “play”; just push the stick and you’re off.

    2) Virtual two-pilot system. You and Solo again: You control the camera, looking around and changing tilt however you want, while Solo flies. When you’ve got your cable set, press “play” and Solo begins its flight along the cable from frame to frame. To take control of the camera, just use the left stick for everything. Press the stick to the right, and Solo will rotate to its right; to the left and Solo rotates left. Look up and down by moving the left stick up and down. You can even adjust the tilt while you rotate Solo for some simply crazy camera action. If you want to change the direction Solo flies, press just the directional arrow on your app screen at any time.

    3) All Solo. Solo controls the flight and the camerawork at the same time. To do this, just tap “play,” sit back and watch Solo go. Solo flies itself along the cable and interpolates the camera smoothly from one frame to the next. Change direction at any time by pressing the directional arrow on your app screen.

    4) All you (basically). More personal control, but a higher level of difficulty: You control the copter and camera along the cable. This is a combination of number one and two above. Just as you would in number one, use the right stick to control Solo’s direction and speed along the cable. At the same time, you can use the left stick to control the camera, looking anywhere you want. No matter what you do, though, Solo keeps itself locked onto that cable, so you’ll always know where you’re headed (hence the “basically” qualifier above).

  • For a 3rd party gimbal I would highly recommend Storm32 based board, it's rock steady on my Dji P2.

    I've just got Xiaomi Yi 4K, really impressed with that little beast! I do some IQ tests, picture looks really good, but the stock lens gives some fish-eye effect that I do not like, so I am looking for non-fisheye replacement.

    Edit: have a look at this lens - hard to beat in picture quality!

  • Here's just another example of why the DIY route isn't feasible for most beginners anymore (especially for gopro rigs). Lightly used Phantom4 for $550!

    Heavy lifters are another matter completely and obviously not part of this discussion.

  • @filthy that P4 was a good deal. Gone.

    @valdi99 Can you get fpv from your xiaomi i.e. video out connected to board ? Also, did you connect the storm32 to the pixhawk to get tilt control remotely? There is a 5V power connector from pixhawk as well that can theoretically power the action cam as well.

  • @zcream - yes, on P2V or P2V+ live video feed and telemetry works with Xiaomi (by swapping some wires inside copter). And yes - I can tilt camera held by Storm32 by using a knob on RC or via an app. But Phantom 2 has Naza, not Pixhawk. See another example here:

    @filthy - I do agree, time is to precious to waste it. But RTF versus DIY models is not that simple. Sometimes you need some modification to suit your needs and if you have limited budget - you have to do some DIY work. As always - the holly grail is somewhere in middle, in between RTF and some DIY (however I do not like too much DIY job).

  • @valdi99 - Agreed. There is no one solution that works perfectly out the bag for all users with their varying needs. What's the range on controlling the gimbal in that video if running via WIFI? And is the radio running on different frequency (i.e. 5.8) to avoid interference with the 2.4 signal?

  • BTW @zcream - I'm just getting ready to finally sell off my Phantom2 in case you or anyone else is interested. Works perfectly. Never had a single issue with it. Have iosd mini and 5.8 VTX installed. Comes with 5 extra batteries and monitor with upgraded antennas and some random spare parts. Basically ready to go to work. Just add GoPro. Hit me up via PM if interested.

  • @filthy - all P2V or P2V+ use factory radio link at 5.8Ghz and 2.4Ghz WiFi, so there is no interference. WiFi range is up to about 300m, but some people get more (around 1km) while using some WiFi signal boosters.

    Regarding my earlier post - NOT SURE about P2V (non plus) - but P2V+ (Vision Plus) certainly works with other than Dji's cameras and gimbals!