What is gimbal and what are its functions on a bilstabilization drone?

Many modern drones with cameras, mini drones and FPV drones have a gimbal system that stabilizes the image and provides balanced photo and video recording.

But what is mechanical or software gimbal? We will clarify these issues in the next article and show you the differences between the related terms.

Gimbal from English and translated from German means gimbal. Mentioned here is a system that can take over external image stabilization for the camera as its primary function.

Simply put, a gimbal is a structure that holds the body and constantly balances it in one position, no matter which side the body is moving in.

But what does all this have to do with drones?

The camera on the drone can be stabilized on the helicopter (for example, Phantom 3 Professionel) or unstabilized (as in the Hubsan drone). The difference between these copters is clearly in the image stabilization.

The gimbal drone provides smooth video recording that balances all the drone’s flight maneuvers, so to speak, and ensures that the camera is in the same position throughout the flight.

Mechanical gimbal systems

A mechanical gimbal is a gimbal suspension driven by brushless motors. Without this motor technology, the smallest vibrations and movements could not be balanced by the camera gimbal.

Brushless motors are so fast that real-time data from the measuring unit can be used to immediately eliminate even the slightest movement.

The measuring unit is the so-called inertia measuring unit. This well thought out technology, combined with the extremely fast brushless motors, is so good that the balance is no longer visible to the human eye.

An inertial meter is attached to the front of the camera. It measures the acceleration and position of the camera in space. This means that it can always be held in such a position that the camera image remains horizontal.

Videos shot with a mechanical gimbal camera make a very calm impression.

Because this technology requires extremely fast and precise movements, fine-tuning the gimbal is not easy. The system must match the camera exactly. Since setups are made in the manufacture of camera gimbal systems and only work in conjunction with the appropriate cameras, there are practically no universal gimbals that will fit many or all recording devices.

Each camera has its own center of gravity, weight and size. Therefore, the development of a universal stabilizer should be virtually impossible.

Mechanical suspension advantages

  • Very accurate camera alignment
  • Balancing differences are not noticeable
  • The camera does not need to be installed permanently.

disadvantage

  • More expensive compared to software gimbal.
  • Potential damage in the event of an accident.

Software gimbal systems

Thanks to the software gimbal, the camera is permanently installed in the drone. Compensation for movements and vibrations is performed using software.

This is the case, for example, with the Parrot Bebop 2. This drone has a fisheye lens with a 180 degree wide angle lens. The result is a large wasted picture that can be looked at in all directions. So go ahead, down, right and left.

The gimbal software then calculates a right angle image, which is displayed as if the camera were always horizontal.

Benefits of a software stabilizer

  • Inexpensive technology.
  • Camera software gimbal systems are significantly lighter.
  • Drones with software gimbals are less prone to crashes.

disadvantage

  • Image errors may occur, affecting the recording quality.

Conclusion on the cardan

Each drone model has a suspension system adapted to its specific characteristics. Distinguish between software and mechanical gimbal systems.

In the drone industry, mechanical camera stabilization systems are mainly used.

DJI, for example, only uses mechanical gimbals. Parrot, on the other hand, installs fisheye lenses with software stabilization in many drones.

Since the systems are always permanently installed, you should always keep an eye on the gimbal system and its quality when choosing a new drone.