P4P Stabilized FLIR for under $5,000

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#1
First the solution:
upload_2018-4-27_6-18-1.png


The price of a basic FLIR system (camera, gimble and controller) starts at around $15,000, but a camera alone can be that much, so this has been out of reach for most businesses who do not a budget of $25-30K. . . . So I was pleased to find IntelligentUAS and oemcameras offering the new BOSON line with controller boards and 3D printed addon platforms that even work on the MavicPro. A medium resolution BOSON320 can be around $1600USD and the 3Dprinted controller/5Ghz transmitter is $550 or less so for around $2,000 and a Phantom you can be in business.

This capability does have it's limitations though. It's a decent camera alright, but it's fixed mount so it's only as stable as the drone. That's enough to get a still shot maybe but problematic for video and worse yet if you move the drone it's flipping all over the scene and difficult to follow what you are looking at let alone something moving in the scene . . . like a car, motorcycle or fugitive in the woods.

So I made a few minor changes and cam up with this: A FLIR BOSON320 fitted to a Phantom4 Pro+ hanging off the P4P+ gimble with the DVR/transmitter components mounted on the skids ("landing gear" if you're not a heli type).

Here's the IntelligentUAS solution $2999USD - Phantom4Pro extra. It's got the camera mounted behind Phantom camera with the electronics and that has to be lower than the P4 Camera to see forward. . . that's below the skids so they add landing gear extensions
upload_2018-4-27_6-16-59.png


This performs pretty well but unfortunately the lack of stabilization means you have only a fixed angle looking down and every movement of the drone makes the picture jerk around unless you maintain a stable hover or flight path with no wind. Here's what that looks like.

So mounting the BOSON320 attached to the underside of the existing camera/gimble makes for much smoother video like this . . ooops have not uploaded that yet . . standby and I'll add that shortly along with some comments about why I did the mod this way.

Here's the smoother video with my modification of placing the BOSON "under" the Phantom's camera

Just remove the "tilt Box" that holds the camera and use velcro strip underneath . . . the fine wires with extra length ensure the Phantom 4 Pro Camera is not affected by any tension on them. . . and I put a second velcro tab on top of the DVR for temporary storage of the camera so it's not dangling before being mounted. The velcro mounts ensure the Phantom 4 Pro still fits in its normal case for travel and the camera can be fitted for a hand launch and recovery so you don't need landing gear extensions. Light weight and works great.
 
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Likes: Brent10
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#2
A key issue is the limited room around the P4P gimble and camera when it starts up. There is less than a mm between the camera and harness as it goes though its setup routine, so you can only mount the second camera AFTER it's running but before you start props.

This is a minor inconvenience considering the stability you get from using the existing and very stable Phantom camera mount
upload_2018-4-27_6-53-25.png
 
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Likes: Ripper7620
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#3
That's really good! Pictures look excellent.
It must add some load to the tilt motor - does it struggle at all?
Also, i wonder, did you choose to mount the tx at the side to keep the aerials apart, rather than at the rear?
 
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#4
Geoff, thanks for the note . . was wondering if anyone eve saw this post. The gimble was "struggling" a bit when I made sudden moves or tilt too far down . . but did not seem serious . . . I've been experimenting with a few grams of lead solder weight added above the lens to counter the imbalance of tilting down. That seemed to help, but I'm now doing a more comprehensive bench testing to find the optimum placement of bot BOSON and counterweight. I'll post something soon as I have a worthwhile comment. Spend most of the week updating my website. Did you see the FLIR page with the all black background. If so that's the latest . . I changed all the videos around in sets and added a ton of stills. http://www.inskyphoto.com//flir-infrared.html GALLERY page does not exist any more.
 
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#5
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#6
Yes that's one of their solutions . . I tried their fixed system with a BOSON 320 and found it workable but not steady enough so I improvised by hanging it under the P4P camera. . . actually attaching it to the camera and gimble with velcro. . . with a tether. I think the velcro is really all you need but a safety tether never hurts. I have not tested the sUAS full gimble system and I'm sure it works ok but is heavier and the controls become a bit of an issue when carrying all that stuff around your neck. My configuration is about $2500 + the P4P . . so it was a reasonable compromise I thought. If you do get the full rig please POST your thoughts. I'd be interested.

ps I like your "By Line"
 
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#7
I don't know for sure but I would think attaching another camera to the DJI camera would cause a problem and unnecessary wear on the gimbal Motors.
I don't think I want to put that unnecessary wear on my DJI equipment, or take a chance of damaging a near $3,000 thermal camera, relying on velcro and a tether. Thanks for the info but that wouldn't be my choice.
I believe I may be going with their gimbal system and the Flir Vue Pro r
 
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#8
They are brushless motors and unlike brushed motors, will not wear out... the only thing I could see happening is if he is in some hot weather doing some long flying... than maybe the ESC that run the camera gimbal motors might give up the ghost... but even still I don't see this being a problem because he is not flying around super fast... and I'm sure he is just hovering mainly in one spot trying to get Stills or video. (Gimble not working to hard) So i dont really see it being a problem especially if the gimble works with the equipment on it and not throwing errors.
 
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#9
yes not everyone's choice perhaps but I like experimenting . . bench tests seem to show it's quite easy on the gimble motors as long as it is balanced . . and does not present torque stresses, just a small amount of weight . . this is the amount of clearance available with the secondary BOSON mounted . . not much. . . so I always hand launch and catch.

upload_2018-5-6_22-35-57.png
 
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#10
This is the full mount including Camera DVR and counterweight on top of the lens. I took the camera Box off the tilt yoke to save weight. Velcro mount is quite reliable. Takes a lot of pressure to dismount every time I do it I have to hold the gimble/Camera solidly with the power OFF to extract it. I'll post a video tomorrow maybe with the system working and tilting
upload_2018-5-6_22-38-17.png
 
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#11
I think that, seeing it in perspective with the P4 camera, it's not going to add much load, especially with the counterbalance.
Do you use the P4 camera at the same time?
Is the resolution good enough for basic commercial work do you think?
 
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#12
That is not a lot of weight . . BOSON 320 7.5grams . . and the counterweight even less 4Grams
I just began using it commercially and seems to be fine . . some samples here on my site FLIR Infrared . .
I use both at the same time . . as you can see by the sample video but I use a separate Black Pearl monitor on a tripod for convenience
 
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#13
Nice solution! And not as crazy expensive as most others.
Can you share which Boson controller board you use as well as which video transmitter? And where did you get the 3D plans for the transmitter mount (assuming you 3D printed it yourself).
Also, does your Boson have the 9.1 mm lens? Do you think that would that be a good focal length for finding cattle, coyotes, wild hogs, etc?
Thanks!
 
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#14
Nice solution! And not as crazy expensive as most others.
Can you share which Boson controller board you use as well as which video transmitter? And where did you get the 3D plans for the transmitter mount (assuming you 3D printed it yourself).
Also, does your Boson have the 9.1 mm lens? Do you think that would that be a good focal length for finding cattle, coyotes, wild hogs, etc?
Thanks!
That Phantom package comes from SUAS . . they have a newer one now with it's own stabilization. The cheap and dirty soliution I have works fine for experimenting but the separate stabilized system looks pretty solid too.
 
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#15
That Phantom package comes from SUAS . . they have a newer one now with it's own stabilization. The cheap and dirty soliution I have works fine for experimenting but the separate stabilized system looks pretty solid too.
And they also offer the 3D Printed mounting package with 5.6Ghz transmitter/DVR combo <$500 but no gimble just a manual fixed tilt. There is a more expensive controller board that allows inflight software configuration changes too. I think BOSON also offers the board variants.
 
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#16
And they also offer the 3D Printed mounting package with 5.6Ghz transmitter/DVR combo <$500 but no gimble just a manual fixed tilt. There is a more expensive controller board that allows inflight software configuration changes too. I think BOSON also offers the board variants.
Maybe someday they will redesign this for a Phantom using your idea, using velcro and counter-weight in a quick-install Phantom kit. It would be a clean kit if they made the board like shown below, a THIN board design, specifically designed to fit in the landing gear, with more pliable wires (3 in 1) to the camera.

These components prove that technology is available to put a FLIR camera on a phantom for around $2K. The best part is this idea is easily installed and removed, so you have a standard P4P when you need it.

1543268957986.png
 
Likes: Brent10
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#17
. . . actually attaching it to the camera and gimble with velcro. . . with a tether. I think the velcro is really all you need but a safety tether never hurts.
As light as the camera is, I think the wires going to it is adequate as a tether, assuming the other end of the wires are soldered onto the board, not a connector.
 

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