Proof of Concept

Not long after returning from Cuba I began testing my concept.  I had only recently started experimenting with quad copters and had a working one which I had built several months before.  On it I had installed a mount for a Gopro camera.  The Gopro is capable of taking series of timed images and has a 7 mega pixel sensor and as such should be perfect for capturing images for this project.

Before I conducted my first test I did some reading online about using Gopro cameras for this type of application.  There were limited sources and from what I could find people had used them with some success or stated out right that it would not work.  The latter reasoning that the extreme fish eye, variable exposure, and CMOS sensor would render it useless for this application.

Despite this I pushed forward with my tests.  My first subject being my house.


The experience taught me many things.  Most importantly that my concept could work and could work in tight spaces.  I also found that using Agisoft Lens I was able to successfully create a lens calibration XML for the Gopro which meant that the collected images could be processed using Agisoft Photoscan.  I processed the images on the lowest settings and the results were encouraging enough to move forward.



It is important to note that this was processed on the lowest settings with very few photos.

So with some lessons learned I pressed onward.  I realized that the multi-rotor I used for this test was not ideal for several different reasons.

  • It is heavy and because of this it had a flight time limited to about 7 minutes of safe flying.
  • The motors and the speed controllers which they attached to are not ideal.  The former being not well balanced and the latter being not as responsive as I would like. The importance of balance and responsiveness will be explained later.
  • It was unstable and a lot of this can be attributed to my relative inexperience with the controller I was using but also to the vibrations which existed in this multi-rotor as tested.
  • The use of the Gopro, though successful, might not prove ideal and the camera mount on the multi-rotor would not accommodate cameras of any different size.
  • Finally during later testing this multi-rotor crashed and was basically destroyed.

These early tests and the information and experience I gathered from them shaped the idea of where I wanted to go from there and what I wanted to accomplish.  I would build a new multi-rotor and it would be designed to be higher quality, lighter, and more effective while keeping price to a minimum.  It should feature:

  • A lighter and more resilient frame.
  • Higher quality components.
  • A servo stabilized 2 axis camera gimbal.
  • The ability to carry a larger variety of cameras i.e. Gopro or compact digital.
  • The ability to remotely trigger the camera shutter.
  • Flight times of over 10 minutes on one battery.
  • Tuned and effective controller for the multi-rotor.
  • The ability to broadcast live video from the multi-rotor to either a ground station or video goggles for first person flight.

With this in mind I started researching parts and kits.  The results of which I will be posting as the project continues.


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