back to article Reg reader crafts 3-axis GoPro 'Stubilizer' for skull-mounted cameras

As our title suggests, we at the Special Projects Bureau like a nice project, so we're pleased to share with you today reader Stuart Smith's ambitious 3-axis stabiliser for the GoPro HERO3 - dubiously dubbed the "Stubilizer". A 3D rendering of the Stubilizer The Stubilizer in 3D rendered glory Stuart's an IT consultant …

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Wow

Cracking project - really looks the biz !

Heath Robinson would be proud of some of those Chinese efforts

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Alien

5 years in production

Before they come up with helmet integrstion for gimbals and the like then there will be prestubbie helmets and antistubbie helmets. 5 years later there will be health and safety design stubbie helmets and helmets that won't even sell in car boot sales.

It will be interesting to see how many hemet manufacturers will get on board versus how many will sell out to the ones that did.

ET explanation?

It's in the sky, innit.

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Anonymous Coward

Design question

Will it be waterproof?

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Re: Design question

Initially - no, sorry.

It may be possible in the future, but for now it's very much for dry action sport use only.

You may get away with using it in light rain, etc - but it is not designed to be splash proof, water resistant or water proof initially.

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Re: Design question

What is the plan for attaching to a helmet? Is there a weak link designed in? Coming from a paragliding background, the gopro is really a 'line catcher' and an accident waiting to happen. See the vimeo link for an example http://vimeo.com/81812852

Contour cameras at least have a weak link design with their rail system which seems to work quite well.

Well done for getting this project this far along.

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Re: accident waiting to happen

I don't imagine it would do your neck much good coming off a bike - chest mount would seem to make more sense, although broken ribs aren't top of my wanted list either.

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Re: Design question

Another paraglider pilot here - also concerned about needing the helmet and having all that hardware attached... really impressive work, though.

Although... all the best paragliding videos are when something really unpleasant is happening[1], and I guess this thing's going to handle a collapse/cravat/spin/reserve throw by pointing serenely at the horizon!

[1] Ideally, to someone else. I've *had* my accident, thanks.

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Re: Design question - Waterproof

Re Waterproof.

If it won't be waterproof in its first version, has any thought been given at this early stage that will make waterproofing easier to implement at a later date? For example, concentric grooves or flanges could be added to the moulded parts for version 1.0, so that labyrinth seals can be more easily added for version 1.5.

Whilst waterproofing the design would add cost - especially the testing, if it is to be sold as waterproof - this decision does seem to limit the market considerably. [Anecdotal, I know: In my local pub (some distance from the coast) there are a couple of paragliding enthusiasts, a few motorcrossers, a couple of dozen mountain-bikers and maybe a dozen surfers. ]

I'd be interested to read of your experience of learning to use Solidworks, too, with respect to more common software: What did you make of the UI, for example, or did you find quite straight forward after you got the hang of the conventions (sketches > bodies > parts > assemblies, the feature tree etc)? Did you just play with it, or did you follow tutorials on YouTube and look at user forums?

Best of luck with this project.

And thanks to The Reg for publishing a story about people using IT in the real world.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm in...

If there will be a way to mount one of these on a DJI Phantom.

Any plans to support other cameras, and how much will it weigh?

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Pint

You wouldn't get me up in one of those things....

But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate this fantastic design and engineering project.

Wishing you every success, technical and financial.

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Anonymous Coward

Bravo - great work so far!

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JDX
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Why's it always KickStarter these days?

Firstly, wonderful project and well done on all the hard work.

But it seems like KS is obligatory now, and innovative companies have been growing all over the place for decades... did you already approach the more traditional channels?

I'd have thought this would also be a perfect thing to apply for Dragons' Den btw, if you're of that bent.

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Re: Why's it always KickStarter these days?

Many companies are not prepared to spend money on R&D for a product that my or may not be successful. The work that has gone into this project already would have cost a fortune in a development lab. And then there's the marketing distribution to consider. So, kickstarter is a good place to go because each backer pays a small amount to buy in a niche product.

I've purchased a few things from kickstarter, and as long as one realises that it is not a shop, and that delays are almost inevitable, it's a great way to help get projects like this off the ground, and to purchase some pretty nifty stuff.

By the way, in Oz, stubbies are also work shorts .... "I'll wear my stubbies in the garden today"

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Re: Why's it always KickStarter these days?

It depends on what the money is used for - if you can fund it with a Kickstarter for the whole amount, you can end up with a viable small company with an established product and demand that you own. If you get it funded by venture capitalists then they end up with a viable small company with an established product.

Reality is usualy somewhere in between, and often you will need external investment to fund further growth, but that's easier when the VC has sight of a real product and a real market rather than a bunch of Powerpoint slides.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why's it always KickStarter these days?

Potential customers fund the project, the company gets the money they need for the product and the customer gets the product they want.

If there aren't enough customers then the product doesn't get developed (or it does but the company at least knows they don't quite have winner) and nobody loses any money.

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Re: Why's it always KickStarter these days?

Viability after the kickstarter depends mostly on how big the demand is. If the kickstarter itself fills most of the niche market, then there is no viable market left to expand into. Furthermore, does the kickstarter take into account the setup of tools, further development, stock purchase for a next production run (Because after kickstarter you'll have to do an advance run with no idea how many you are going to sell and with no pre-payment to fund it), etc, etc.

In my humble experience as an engineer, the problem with product design is very often not the design itself. Its producability. Efforts have to be made to keep setup and repeat costs as low as possible, independent of the actual material cost. (I've had products where setup and start-up costs per product where higher than material and run costs. Especially small/short production runs suffer from this)

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My first thought was that this is just the front off of a TBS discovery, he hasn't invented anything. But on reading on that impression seems to be more of the bad choice by the Reg of exagerating in the headline. Actually it was a pretty interesting article on how to refine a design.

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Vertical learning curve?

Great project, but - shouldn't that be "horizontal learning curve"

Plot "knowledge needed to complete task" against elapsed time - vertical rather implies taking no time at all to learn it all...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Vertical learning curve?

except we have the phrase 'steep learning curve' which implies you are plotting your graph the wrong way round

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Re: Vertical learning curve?

Or the phrase "steep learning curve" is being used incorrectly these days!

Can you suggest a way to plot the data that supports your position?

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Vic
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Stu - Fancy renting me the prototype?

I'm just booking up a fairly significant flight, and I'd kinda like a way to video it. Should happen next month, with a bit of luck.

How well does this handle high-G situations? :-)

Vic.

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Nice idea...

...but you're having to move the entire bulk of the camera instead of just the sensor. If you were just moving the sensor you'd have a lot less mass to deal with, both in terms of the sensor payload and the mounting itself. This would considerably reduce its mass, size and, as a consequence, its power draw, as well as making it more comfortable and safer to use.

Once you've proved your initial/Mk 1. version you'll really need to sort out either a supply deal for the sensor and electronics, sans casing, or a licensing deal for manufacture by the camera makers (which I think would probably be your best bet).

One good thing is that you've got some publicity, via this article, which strengthens your negotiating position re supply/manufacturing deals; I notice that there's no mention of patents in the article but I believe that having gone public means that it's now unpatentable due to prior art, so whilst anyone could now take your idea and start churning out their own 'Mk 2.' version the goodwill they'd get by not ripping-off your idea would probably make it worth their while to reach an agreement with you.

Btw, what's the problem with PID controllers? Sure, they need to be tuned for any specific application, which can be a pain, but that's a one-off task. On the plus-side, digital/sw PID controllers are extremly simple and efficient, and (joke alert) they can even be implemented in analogue.

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Re: Nice idea...

Stubilizer stabilizes across +-45 degrees on each axis.

The best sensor stabilizing systems in the world are +-1-2 degrees tops.

it can work well in combination with a stabilized camera, but is in camera stabilization is a completely different (and pretty much useless) technology for action use.

Nothing is 'wrong' with PID controllers. Stubilizer uses them. But they are setup and configured at the factory for the Gopro camera - the user does not have to fanny around trying to set them up themselves.

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Want one!

you should have seen my un-stabilized hanggliding helmet-cam at 30x speed - sickening!

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Good work..

This has some potential and I applaud your efforts and wish you every success with it ! I use CAD all day in my job and it is really a pig when you have to try and import from various packages to others.

As other paragliders on here have said, the main issue is some kind of weak link for helmet mounting, depending on the type of flying you do.

I use a gopro on a knee mount for acro flying so that I can monitor my wing and hand positions for analysis after landing. I have used a helmet cam before but always with an elasticated tear-off strap and a long safety line to my harness strap so I don't lose the camera. If you have ever seen a fixed helmet cam getting caught up in a pile of loose lines following an asymetric collapse or cravat you know what I mean.

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Re: Good work..

As it mount to a regular GoPro mount, it's just a matter of you mounting your sticky gopro base pad via any weak link you feel is acceptable for your sport.

Rather than having to design 100 different fitments for 100 different applications, using the standard mount, leave you to sort it out.

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