I wanted to share with you what I call my little “Hiro Heavy”.
I have engineered up the smallest drone in the world that can carry real full size (ASP-C picture) Camera with remote video and camera functionality, somewhat “stabilized” (no gimbal, fixed mount.) This is most certainly a photography drone, not a videoography drone.
Hiro Frame 450mm
PixFalcon Flight Controller
400 gram Damping balls
30 AMP RSC
Ublox Neo M8N GPS
Taranis X8R Receiver
This is based off the GameofDrones Hiro frame, which I love. Going the hobby route in drones (not recommended) I crashed a lot. But when I flew the Hiro, it was a dream, it handled so well, it was durable, and even though I hated the color, I fell in love with it. So I snagged another frame and started to play. I’m going to leave out most of the mistakes I made, so it makes me look smarter:
Started off by bought TWO of these:
Multifunction Care-Free High Crab FPV Landing Gear Set (Black)
Mark where to drill on the Hiro Frame, the angles are important. If you start by drilling straight (90 degrees) remember to drill this direction (pic), not this direction (pic)
Slide them in place. You will notice this adds a good deal of structural rigidity. Cool.
To make the Camera Cage I bought ABS PLASTIC SHEET 1/8″ 12″(3MM Thick) on ebay and laid it out, calculating how additional length for the bends. Then drilled enough holes for the damping balls. Cut it out, and used the heat gun and gloves and a corner of bench to make the angles.
I put my camera in it to see where the bottom Tripod mount hole needed to go.
I added some felt backed tape so the camera’s LCD won’t rub against the ABS plastic. It doesn’t move around much once in the cage and mounted. But I wanted to do it.
So yes, I’ve had many many crashed during my iteration (Yes my camera has an accident protection warranty on it.) and the camera or lens has never been damaged at all. Even when it was thrown from the drone.
To put in the camera, I just take off the lens, the ABS plastic is very rigid but bends easily enough to drop in the camera, I put on the lens, screw in the tripod mount screw, and I’m ready. I’ve crashed the drone a good half dozen times, even throwing the camera separate from the drone and the camera has been 100% fine every single time. (Admittedly grass crashes)
I used some very stiff wire (I think I actually use some extra “Metal Push Rods M2.2xL300 to make the “C” brackets to connect the top and bottom Tubes in the rear. It is held together with filling the ends with high temp hot glue. This allows the frame flux a bit but they are very hard to pull out. They are in the tubes about 50mm (2 inches)
I just slide on the “Shock Absorbing Foam Skid Collars Red/Black” on the
I did NOT use the Micro HKPilot Mega PDB, BEC and Volt/AMP Sensor 30.5mm Mounting Because it’s only 60A capable, and with 4 X 30amp ESC’s, I need 120amp, so I had to go with the larger “HK Pilot Power VI Module, Distribution Board And Dual UBEC ALL-In-One”
Since I did not use the “normal” PDB, the included cable would not work, so I had to buy a “JST SH Jumper 6 Wire“. I found it on ebay for a few bucks. Cut it in half and you have 2. Yes, this required splicing, this is the only soldering I had to do.
This goes on the very bottom of the tower. Above it I have a copper sheet too to reduce any interference.
The battery tray is also made by ABS plastic It’s attached to the tubes with some of the dampeners I stole from this:
Like I said, In the tests I had the camera thrown from the drone upon crash landings, put zip ties a bit loosely (so they do not compress the dampeners at all) on EACH DAMPENER!
The tower goes like this, top to bottom:
Double Sided Sticky back Foam
Anti-vibration Shock Absorber Damping Plate for Mini APM (below the top plate is a copper sheet)
HK Pilot Power VI Module
Double Sided Sticky back Foam
Super Glue (I’ve had the sticky backed foam lift up which caused this (video) crash) and it’s done this before in my other Hiro drone too. Don’t trust the sticky back foam.
Hiro Orange Frame Bottom
GPS is off to the side.
I did lots of iteration, I will not bother telling you about what didn’t work. This is what did, and I’m 100% sure any one of you could figure out ways to do it even better.
Fully Loaded, with Sony A600 Camera+16mm f2.8 lens = 2102 grams.
-I should have put the FC in the exact middle. It’s a little off and I must have still been thinking I was going to add a battery in frame. It flied fine, and I could move it, but that’d be a pain.
– I should not have messed with the HobbyKing Micro HKPilot Mega 2.7.2 the rest of the kit designed to go with this is fine, but the flight controller.. I’ve had about six of these, they are just trash. One wouldn’t download logs, right, one freaked with compass reading all over the place with the numbers in the billions when it should have been in the low hundreds, one wouldn’t connect to Mission Planner, they all are picky about USB ports, cables, computers, etc. Just spend the extra $50, it’s worth it! I love that PixFalcon, which is just smaller a high quality clone of the PixHawk. So much faster, good audio and visual signals, everything works all the time, not picky about USB, upgradeable, and way smaller than pixhawk. Same size as APM Mini/Micro.
-I should have added a little more ABS plastic in front of the A600’s IR port so I can thread the fiber optic mount it. The fiber optic cable IR relay needs to be taped on the Sony’s sensor. Tape is NOT reliable, it’s inches away from those props, if WHEN the tape moves even a millimeter, I no longer get proper control from the TX. So sometimes I fly I can control video and picture only for half the flight, and I don’t even know it. I am still looking for a better solution.
– I don’t like the shutter firing solution. The fiber optic cable is hard to align, but it works.
Besides common sense factors, I chose the battery basically based on being 4S and the right weight. It needs to balance the camera and cadge on the front end, which this at 627 grams. Now you know how much the front end weights with my camera.
Otherwise, I’ve done it! I have the smallest cheapest “smart” drone that can carry a REAL mirrorless camera. If you did this today you’d go buy a Sony A6500 which would get you 4K Video with Slog and 24MP pics. Which (Auto exposure bracketing works great too) The video has no jello effect, and with a 16mm f2.8 lens, I get NO props in the shot. If you want
Yeah I know the camera isn’t any axis stabilized, just dampened, and the pictures/videos in the heavy wind will be tilted but the picture and video quality is awesome, no GoPro/Actioncam can do it this well.
I could add my Fatshark goggles to this very easily.
If I wanted to put a different camera, I would indeed need a different Cage, but that’s only another $7 and time. And you just slide them off and on.
Sony is a no brainier. The stabilization is top notch, it’s wicked fast, and small and light. Mirrorless. A decade ahead of Canon/Nikon.
I could easily carry an A7Rx. Any heavier than that, I would also have to get a heavier battery for balance. Oh if you wanted to go to full frame Canon/Nikon Route, you’re looking at 1.6KG package vs 500-600 grams. Yeah that’s not going to work. You need a real setup for that which will be better for sure, but it’s $10K.