2 and 3 Axis Gimbal Frames
There are a number of different types of frames and systems out there. However, for the purpose of this tutorial we’ll focus on the basic structure and common materials used for building axis gimbals. We’ll cover the advantages and drawbacks of specific attributes to give you a bigger scope of how frames function.
Carbon Fiber Frames
Advantages of carbon fiber frames is that its super lightweight, affordable, strong, and easy to cut. It’s by far the most used material for building out gimbals due to its availability and price point. Carbon fiber frames are also very customizable. The only drawback is that you can’t just go out and buy carbon fiber rods and plates at your local hardware store.
Nylon Joints, Brackets and Mounts
Most Carbon Fiber frames use nylon joints, brackets, and mounting solutions due to its density and strength. The nylon material is also very easy to cut with ordinary machines and laser cutters. Nylon also can be glued using bonding adhesives like Epoxy.
CNC Machined Aluminum Frames
Aluminum gimbal frames are very sturdy, and will probably outlast the life of your camera. There are many manufacturers out there with pre-cut parts with tapped 1/4-20 and 3/4 holes which are ideal when adding extra peripherals like monitors, LEDs, mics, etc. They are however harder to modify and very difficult to cut if you need to customize parts. The costs of manufacturing custom parts are very expensive due to highly technical machining and labor. Most aluminum gimbals are anodized for color and durability. The weight of these units do tend to be more than the carbon fiber systems.
Brackets & Mounts
Typically aluminum gimbal systems use CNC machined brackets and mounts that can also be integrated in unlimited configurations for custom builds.
[aside title=”3 AXIS TURNING”]Pan or Yaw(3-Axis Gimbal)
+/- 180º Left/Right
+/- 180º Up/Down[/aside] [seven_columns]Balance is everything. A perfectly balanced camera and gimbal is the most important aspect of gimbal configuration. Planning your camera, lens, and auxiliary equipment selection before hand helps to optimize the center of gravity balance for the gimbal. This allows for smoother motion, a more efficient gimbal, and longer battery life. The direct drive brushless motors will wont have to work as hard against gravity to adjust for tilt, and roll. We’ll run you through the balancing tutorial later.[/seven_columns]
The Main Components
2 Axis Gimbals and 3 Axis Gimbals are essentially the same thing except that a 3-Axis Gimbal has a 360º rotation “Yaw” on the “Down Tube”. The other two axis are the “Roll” (X) and “Tilt” (Y) axis. We’ll illustrate and define the main components to get you familiar with the structure of an Axis Gimbal. Once you get familiarized with the layout of a gimbal its fairly easy to understand how it works. Let’s take a look shall we?
These handles are typically made from molded rubber, plastic, or CNC machined aluminum. Many DIY gimbals feature customized bicycle handles. The purpose of these handles is to allow you to comfortably grip the camera gimbal at waist to shoulder height.
Top Cross Bar
Supports the handles and connects to the “Down Tube”. This cross bar can be customized with brackets, 1/4-20 taps, or other mounting options to accessories your gimbal with options such as field monitors, microphones, LEDs, etc. Adding to this cross bar will not effect the center balance of the actual gimbal unit, but you should be aware of the overall weight distribution of the gimbal as it will be much easier to handle if balanced properly.
Lower shots are typically taken using the top handle. The construction is typically the same as the other side handles. This option can also be removed if its not necessary for the shoot.
This part is the 90º joint that connects the “Down Tube” with neck of the “Top Cross Bar”.
Down Tube (100mm-125mm)
3-Axis Gimbals typically have a 100mm down tube, while 2-Axis gimbals have a 125mm down tube. This height can be adjusted or customized to your camera height.
The tilting from Up/Downor (Y axis) is controlled by high powered direct drive brushless motors.
Tilt Cross Bar
The crossbar that allows the camera to tilt up/down with camera baseplate and mounting.
The tolling from left/right or (X axis) is controlled by high powered direct drive brushless motors.
The camera mount typically comes with a 1/4-20 and/or 3/4″mounting option for DSLRs and GoPro. The mounting plate can slide along the Roll Cross Bar to balance out the center of gravity for less resistance and optimal performance.