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Tuning PID Settings for Varavon Birdycam GH4 Camera

Now that the Birdycam has started shipping, i’m hearing a few questions and comments about tuning the PID settings to work better with a lightweight camera. I myself found the system oscillating when my setup was too light weight. Here’s a video showing you a few setting you can change to get it working better.

Now just from experience I know what to sort of look for, but there’s no exact magic number. All I could tell was that I needed to reduce my PID settings and those are numbers that seemed to work. In fact I tested my 12-35mm F/2.8 OIS with my new profile and it still worked just fine.

After making changes to your system you should take it out and use it as you normally would, and then decide if you need to make further changes. Always make changes to one area at a time instead of making large blanket changes across every tab. Most importantly always make a backup or document your prior settings before you make any changes. If you have any other questions, you can leave a comment below.

31 Jul 2014
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Varavon BirdyCam Gimbal BTS Footage SF Meet

Yesterday I met up with SatoStudios to check out the new DJI Ronin Gimbal, so I decided to bring out the Varavon Birdycam as well to shoot a few BTS clips. This footage is shot with a GH4 camera and although I find this footage to be incredibly smooth, I believe I that I will have to tune up some of the PID settings to get best results on this super lightweight setup.

What you see in the video is still using the existing profile that was shipped with the unit, but it may be time to dig a little deeper. Since the Varavon uses the same Alexmos 32 bit software as the other gimbals, I can create my own custom settings. [BTW, you should not attempt this unless you know what you are doing].


varavon birdycam pre-order
find-price-button Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

30 Jul 2014
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Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer First Look

Here’s my first look at the new Varavon Birdycam (RTR) 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer. This stabilizer was popularized over other stabilizers in it’s price range, mainly because of it’s unique design which takes away the most tedious part about working with Gimbals – balancing your camera! So how easy was it? Well in real time (nothing sped up), I walk you through the exact steps on obtaining perfect balance with the Varavon BirdyCam Stabilizer.

Anyone who chooses to receive the Birdycam will first recognize the quality of parts and craftsmanship that went into the design. Almost every inch of the Birdycam is metal including thumb screws and clamp knobs.

Birdycam GH4 Birdycam Sony A7s
Birdycam shown with GH4 and Sony A7s

The next thing you’ll immediately notice is the ease of use. The folding handle design is quick to setup, tilt and roll locks are super handy during balancing or when placing the gimbal down. The most impressive feature of course (sure to blow away even MOVI users) is a frame surrounded by tool-less fine tuning adjustment knobs that allow for super accurate incremental adjustments for perfect balance.

Birdycam BMCC Wireless Transmitter Receiver
Birdycam shown w/ BlackMagic Design Camera and Optional Wireless Video System

Testing out my Canon 5D Mark III + Sigma 20mm the profile installed on the gimbal worked incredibly smooth right out of the box. No PID tuning required (yet). So far my expectations has been exceeded from what I originally thought I knew about this gimbal. For the price, it’s hard to beat the convenience and feature set. For more information about the product, check out the Birdycam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer product page (click here).

varavon birdycam pre-orderpreorder birdycam varavon 3 axis gimbal stabilizer
find-price-button Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

30 Jul 2014
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First Look Unboxing CAME-TV 75000 Ready To Run 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

Now that CAME-TV is offering up several different gimbal options, the popular question right now is whether to go with the 7000 or the 7500 model. The CAME-TV 7500 model is listed as a ‘Ready to Run 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer’. Price is just $200 dollars more than the DIY 7000 Kit.

CAME-TV 7500 3 Axis Gimbal Satostudios
@Satostudios BTS with CAME-TV 7500 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

Though it’s delivered mostly assembled, many parts are left loose for you to adjust and balance your camera. Once you have your camera balanced, it’s a good idea to run through and make sure that every bolt is tightened up. This is VERY CLOSE to the 7000 32 Bit DIY model with a few exceptions. The big difference with the 7500 (as opposed to 7000) is that you don’t need to build it yourself.

The CAME 7500 will also come preloaded with a few different profiles that are loaded by clicking on the center of the joystick. [NOTE: The video I share above was an earlier model, so your profiles may be different]. Aside from paying extra for a preconfigured system, they claim the CAME-TV 7500 model is using more powerful motors and also provide a case mounted to the back to protect the control board with an ON/OFF rocker switch. Considering there are not many ’32 bit’ complete gimbals coming in at this price this is a great addition for those who don’t want to build it themselves.

CAME 7500 3 Axis RTR Gimbalcame 7500 ready to run 3 axis stabilizer
find-price-button CAME-TV 7500 32 Bit Ready to Run Gimbal Stabilizer

Now just because the system comes assembled or ‘Ready to Run’, it will still benefit you greatly to have an understanding of the different parts, pieces, and software configurations in case you need to troubleshoot or fine tune for your different applications. I would suggest that you continue checking in with my sub-website at http://gimbal.cheesycam.com.

For more information about the CAME-TV 7500 3 Axis Gimbal, check out the website (click here)

ready to run gimbal 3 axis dslr canon gh4CAME 7500 Gimbal Stabilizer
find-price-button CAME-TV 7500 3 Axis Gimbal RTR

26 Jul 2014
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Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer – New Folding Design

Varavon’s ‘Ready to Run’ Birdycam 3 Axis Gimbal stabilizer was slated to start shipping today (July 1st), but has recently announced a small delay. The new estimated shipping date is set around July 4th. Now before anyone starts throwing a tantrum, I think they have good reason. The newly added folding handle feature should make it worth the wait. Here’s a few photos below.

Varavon Birdy Cam 3 Axis Stabilizer 32 bit alexmos
Varavon BirdyCam Gimbal Stabilizer

The new folding handles should make the 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer easier to travel with. One of the problems with other gimbal systems is the odd dimensions which make it harder to travel with and to find a decent case.

Varavon also mentioned a battery change to a single battery instead of two separate smaller batteries. Hopefully we’ll see these units ship in just a few days, more info found at the product page (click here).

varavon birdycam pre-orderpreorder birdycam varavon 3 axis gimbal stabilizer
find-price-button Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer – PreOrder

01 Jul 2014
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Basecam Electronics New Firmware for 32-Bit Boards

It was pretty incredible to experience the significant difference between an 8 bit controller and 32 bit controller. Just when I thought it was good, they are already hard at work making things even better. Yesterday Basecam Electronics just released new firmware for 32-Bit Boards. You can download the latest 2.41b4 firmware following the link (click here).

GUI (Windows, OS X, Linux): SimpleBGC_GUI_2_41b4.zip (5Mb 26.06.2014)
User Manual (English): SimpleBGC_32bit_manual_2_41_eng.pdf (620Kb 26.06.2014)

Here’s a list of new features and bug fixes for 2.41b4:

New features

  • New button command “Frame upside-down”. Use it to quickly re-configure system for new frame position (YAW motor is inverted, second IMU orientation is updated).
  • “Beep by motors” option: motors emit sound instead of internal buzzer, when motors are energized.
  • Lost of synchronization detection:
    • better recovery from this mode
    • notification by LED and buzzer (enable “Errors” checkbox in the “Service” tab)
  • Smooth motor start at power-on
  • Option to disable RC limits in SPEED mode (set min=max)
  • Improved PID and IMU algorithms lets to achieve precision +-0.06 degree in dynamics, +-0.02 degree in static
  • Stable work at bigger ROLL angles (system keep stability up to +-80 degree for ROLL inclination)
  • Short beep on each press of menu button (if buzzer confirmation mode is enabled in GUI)
  • (GUI) New extended debug variables RMS_ERR_X, FREQ_X helps to detect problems caused by oscillations
  • (GUI) New “Erase EEPROM” menu command
  • (GUI) Profile name is stored in the board after renaming. Max. 48 ASCII characters allowed (or less, if national characters used)
  • (GUI) New option in the RC tab: “INIT.ANGLE” to set initial angle of the camera at system startup, if RC control is not applied.

Changes in settings (you need to take it into account when using profiles, saved for previous version)

  • Follow speed rate is decreased 4x times, range is increased to 0..255, to make adjustments finer.
  • Range for I setting was increased 2x times (old 0.01 equals new 0.02).
  • Range for P, D setting was increased 4x times (values will be updated automatically after upgrading).
  • Upper limit for PID values increased to 255 (2.55 for I).
  • Upper limit for RC speed was increased to 255 and its effect was decreased 4x times to get finer step in adjustment.

Bugfixes

  • Changing sensor orientation in GUI does not reset calibration data.
  • Fixed problems with RC control in Follow mode and Follow<->Lock transition.
  • Battery voltage sensor drifting with time issue was fixed (but may be required to re-calibrate it).
  • Bugfix: calibrate poles and direction did not work as expected.
  • Add UART parity setting auto-detection from firmware side. Together with GUI auto-detection, it allows to connect Bluetooth modules with Parity=No|Even (but with Parity=No, module doesn”t allow to upgrade firmware).
  • PID distribution between motors is more correct when frame is picthed and if ROLL and YAW motors differs a lot.
  • Bug with the Serial Control fixed (board hangs after first command sent via Serial API).
  • IMU: better handling of corrupted sensor data (wrong calibration, vibration, accelerated motion, etc.) and faster reach of settle point.
01 Jul 2014
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CAME-TV NEW 7500 3 Axis Gimbal – Ready to Run Preconfigured

CAME-TV.com just listed a brand new 7500 Gimbal model on their website. This is almost exactly like the 7000 32 Bit model with the exception that you don’t need to build it yourself. Price is just $200 dollars more than the DIY 7000 Kit.

CAME 7500 3 Axis RTR Gimbalcame 7500 ready to run 3 axis stabilizer
find-price-button CAME-TV 7500 32 Bit Ready to Run Gimbal Stabilizer

 

Aside from paying extra for a preconfigured system, they claim the 7500 model is using more powerful motors and also provide a case mounted to the back to protect the control board with an ON/OFF rocker switch. Considering there are not many ’32 bit’ complete gimbals coming in at this price so this is a great addition for those who don’t want to build it themselves.

Still I would not hesitate to say that just because it’s Ready to Run, it will still benefit you greatly to have an understanding of the different parts, pieces, and software configurations gimbals require in case you need to troubleshoot or fine tune for your different applications. I would suggest that you continue checking in with this website as a resource.

came-7500-amazonready to run gimbal 3 axis dslr canon gh4CAME 7500 Gimbal Stabilizer
find-price-button CAME-TV 7500 3 Axis Gimbal RTR – Amazon

21 Jun 2014
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DIY Build – CAME-TV 7000 32 Bit 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

I am by no means an expert in this area but I have successfully assembled at least 6 different gimbal stabilizers from scratch, and have upgraded my older 8 bit to a new 32 bit board with dual IMU sensors. I’d like to think that i’m at least capable of helping others get started with a basic gimbal assembly, and basic troubleshooting.

One of the most popluar 100% DIY 3 Axis Gimbal Kits on the market is currently the CAME-TV 7000 [Found Here]. Because there are several parts to building the CAME-TV 7000 DIY 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer Kit,I thought I’d just add it to a single page.

 

 

DIY 3 Axis Gimbal CAME 7000 Calibrate Alexmos CAME 7000 3 Axis Gimbal Instruction Setup Program Software Cheesycam
find-price-button CAME 7000 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer – DIY Gimbal Kit

 

 

Some of the videos need to be updated to reflect the new 32 Bit Gimbal and so this page will change over time. For now you can browse some of the videos I have posted about my build process (below)

 

 

Unboxing / List of Parts / Mounting Pan Motor

 

 

Assembling Top / Side Handles

 

 

Wiring Brushless Motors

 

 

[An older video showing where the wires are run]

 

 

Mounting Control Board and IMU Sensors

 

 

This video briefly explains what you should know about mounting your IMU sensors. The software attempts to keep your camera level, but it first needs to understand which direction your sensor is facing. If your camera is going wild, double check to make sure you have both the Camera IMU and Frame IMU sensors correctly set in the software.

 

 

 

 

Installing Joystick Wiring to 32 bit Board

 

 

I have the joystick positioned with connecting wires facing down. Then I run the wires behind the handle, so it’s barely visible.

 

Installing Joystick
run joystick wires

 

 

Installing driver installing software
First download the version of software that matches your board. For the 32 bit version you can download here.

Once you have the software installed connect the gimbal via USB, select a connection using the drop down, and then hit Connect.
Selection Connection USB Gimbal

If your computer cannot communicate, you may have to install a driver. If you’re running MAC OSX you can install a driver for the software to communicate with your Gimbal via USB. (DOWNLOAD DRIVER HERE).

[More Info] You can also take a look at screenshots about Launching the SimpleBGC Software (here).

 

 

Calibrating IMU Sensors
This video will show how I perform a 6 point calibration on the IMU. For gimbals that have 2 IMU sensors, you will need to perform the same technique with both. Just make sure you choose the correct IMU to calibrate which is Camera IMU or Frame IMU. BTW, it’s not necessary to hit ‘write’ after each position.

 

 

This video shows how i’m going through the same steps with (2) IMU sensors, both the Camera IMU and Frame IMU. You can see how i’m selecting different IMU sensors in the new 32 Bit software before performing the calibration.

 

 

 

Balance Gimbal / Balance YAW
This is by far the most important step before configuring the software. The performance of your gimbal relies heavily on your camera being able to maintain a level horizon.

 

 

Configuring basic PID settings
Gimbal going crazy when you power it up? This next video will show you some basic settings to check like possible inverted motors, sensor position, motor poles, etc. It will walk you through configuring PID settings from scratch. (a more advanced version of this video to come at a later time).

 

 

 

So if you’ve followed the information on this page from the top, by now you should have your gimbal fully assembled and balanced. Here are a couple of other videos and articles about small Tweaks i’ve done on my own personal systems like Adding a Project Box to protect the controller, covering up unsightly wires, securing the YAW shaft, and more.

 

Build Tweaks
Adding a Project box to cover the Control Board

 

 

Creating a template to drill for your Project Box.

 

 

Securing the set screws on the YAW Shaft
If you’ve assembled the CAME 7000 Gimbal, you may be concerned about the two small set screws at the YAW shaft. To ensure I don’t have any issues, i’ve located where my set screws hit the shaft and recessed it with a drill bit. This will allow my set screws to sit into the shaft as opposed to relying on friction. I’ve also added Loctite Thread Locker to the set screws preventing it from backing out.

 

 

Covering up Wires
If you can’t seem to run certain wires through the frame, you can always cover them up with spiral wrap. I cut small pieces and apply it to different areas of the gimbal to ‘black out’ some of the colorful wiring. Not only will it add an aesthetic value, it will protect your wires, and it’s easy to remove when you need to service your gimbal.

spiral harness wire wrap cable ties
find-price-button Spiral Harness Wrap

 

 

Label your Parts
There will be times when you need to service the Gimbal. If your wires are all tucked through the frame you may not remember exactly where things need to reconnect. Always label your wiring so you can disassemble and reassemble the system quickly.

label gimbal connectors
Labeled Wiring Roll + Pitch + Yaw
[More content will be added to this website – Follow Cheesycam.com]

 

 

DIY 3 Axis Gimbal CAME 7000 Calibrate Alexmos CAME 7000 3 Axis Gimbal Instruction Setup Program Software Cheesycam
find-price-button CAME-TV 7000 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer – DIY Gimbal Kit

20 Jun 2014
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8 Bit Gimbal Upgraded to 32 Bit with new Controller Dual IMUs

In the video below i’m showing how i’ve replaced the 8 Bit Control board and single IMU sensor to an aftermarket 32 Bit control board with dual IMU sensors.

So if you’ve already purchased an 8 bit version, and you’re looking to upgrade to a 32 bit board, it’s pretty straight forward and fairly simple. I know that the extra cost for a new board stings a bit, but the new options in the software and dual IMU sensors improve the performance of these gimbals more than 10x in my opinion.

If you’re using a CAME 7000 gimbal, I would contact CAME-TV.com to see how much they could sell you a new board that should fit perfectly. The only thing I haven’t plugged in yet is the old joystick that came with the 8bit. I’m thinking of just getting an entirely new joystick because the old square version did not have the momentary push button for ‘service mode’.

DYS Joystick for Basecam 32 bit controller
find-price-button Joystick with Push Button 32 Bit Alexmos

If you’re using another type of 8 bit gimbal, here’s the aftermarket board that I purchased. You may find it cheaper but I wanted mine to ship quickly so I paid a bit more (click here).

32 bit controller upgrade
find-price-button 32 Bit Alexmos Controller Dual IMU Sensors

20 Jun 2014
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CAME-TV 8000 3 Axis Gimbal for RED / BlackMagic Cinema / Canon Cinema Cameras

CAME-TV is officially announcing a new 8000 model 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer to support larger and heavier cameras such as the RED, BlackMagic Cinema, and Canon Cinema Cameras. Though no videos have been posted of a working unit, the renderings show fine tuning knobs and integrated joystick handle.

Expected to retail just under $2K, pre-orders will receive an incentive discount price of $1740 at the website (found here).

came-tv came 8000 3 axis gimbal RED BlackMagic Canon C100 C300 C500came 8000 3 axis gimbal red blackmagic canon c300
find-price-button CAME-TV 8000 Heavy Duty 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

18 Jun 2014
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