Plastic 2-axis GoPro Gimbal Review

May 28, 2014 19:52 | By | Add a Comment

Gimbals are all the rage. This cheap plastic gimbal offers 2-axis stabilization and an extremely lightweight construction. But is making a gimbal out of light plastic a good idea? Read on in our review after the break.

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Most multicopter stability issues can be traced back to an off-center CG, unbalanced props, wrong motor/prop combination, or… weight. Yes it’s true, with enough power everything flies, but only a light (in relation to its thrust) multicopter flies with precision. Also, the lighter the craft, the longer the flight time. So saving weight is definitely an interesting topic when building a new multicopter craft.

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Enter the GLB Plastic Gimbal. It promises to save a few grams by using lightweight plastics instead of aluminum or carbon fiber. It comes completely assembled and with quite nice hollow axles to guide the cables through the motors. The result looks quite clean, at least compared to some of the other gimbals we’ve seen.

The controller is an early version of the SimpleBGC gimbal controller. We say early because if you want to change the parameters, you have to download the SimpleBGC v2.2 b3 Software – and note that you cannot upgrade beyond that version. The default parameters are pretty sensible however, at least for a GoPro 3. Lighter cameras might require a bit less agressive roll and pitch P terms.

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The soldering is not vibration-proof, so we recommend hot glue on the power wires as well as on the USB connector or, if you plan to fly outdoors in harsher weather, conformal coating. The gimbal comes complete with mounting plate and rubber dampeners, though the supplied orange ones are extremely soft. And yes, there’s a nut missing. Not that this would make much of a difference though…

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The accelerometer module is mounted underneath the camera and although it has a nice molex connector, it is not really protected against ground contact. Combined that with a relatively large build height and you get uncomfortably close to the ground on standard frames such as the F550.

And yet this allegedly lightweight construction weighs a total of 190g, not much less than smaller, more rugged aluminum gimbals.

So how does it fare then?

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In a word: Terrible. The plastic of this gimbal is far too flexible to be useful for stabilization. The gimbal itself works fine, but the weight of the GoPro at the end of the contraption produces oscillation in the frame itself, which the gimbal has no chance of counteracting because it’s lateral and vertical motion, as opposed to rotational forces. What’s worse, the soft rubbers only help amplify the problem, as even a very stable and balanced hexacopter has to move during flight, and it’s these normal flight maneuvers that make the entire device shake and wobble.

Changing dampening rubbers won’t help, we tried three different firmnesses, no joy. Gimbal parameters also don’t play into this, the vibration happens mostly in the first arm that connects to the first brushless motor. The plastic construction may save a few grams, but the lack of stiffness means the entire thing wobbles and the resulting video footage is unusable.

Verdict

Do not buy this gimbal. Don’t buy. Just… No. It doesn’t work. Get something else. Ideally, get a gimbal that’s smaller so it won’t scrape the ground, and one made of lightweight aluminum. The gimbal controller is fine, the brushless motors are fine, but the basic construction material is not.

 

Category: Reviews

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FPVCentral is a private, independent news and review site for all things related to First Person View RC model flight. Covering everything from hobby, commercial and military drones, RC models and electronics related to FPV flight, we are not sponsored by any manufacturer or affiliated with any company or project.

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