Homemade Custom Mini Gimbal for Panasonic GH4 or Sony A7s

Over on my Instragram feed I posted up a few images of my homemade custom mini gimbal that I use for my Panasonic GH4 camera. A couple of comments on the feed wanted a bit more information, so I thought I would post this to the blog.

A photo posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

I'm constantly tweaking this homemade gimbal, but here's a video giving you a bit more insight about just how compact the system is and how well it's been working despite how ugly it looks.

The main part of the gimbal started with this 2 Axis Carbon Fiber Gimbal frame for small cameras. I had to modify it to be a 3 Axis gimbal buying random bits and pieces as well as add the controller and motors.

2 axis gimbal frame
find-price-button 2 Axis Carbon Fiber Gimbal Frame

The controller is the latest Basecam 32 bit board with dual IMU sensors.

32 bit alexmos basecam control board DIY gimbal
find-price-button Basecam 32 Bit Gimbal Control Board Dual IMU

The motors are from DYS which are small but powerful enough for the cameras i'm working with.

cheesycam diy gimbal dys gimbal motorsdys gimbal motors cheesycam homemade gimbal
find-price-button DYS Hollow Shaft Brushless Motors

I also purchased my own wiring, crimped each terminal, and purchased each plastic dupont connector. So unless you have the time and patience, it's not something you whip up in a few hours. It could take you several days (or months like me).

The PID settings are my own custom configured, which still needs some work. It's as compact as I can make it while still allowing access to the HDMI output for a monitor, and to quickly change out SDXC cards. The top bar is a #PVGEAR carbon fiber 15mm rail using all quick clamping accessories so that I can take it apart and rebuild it in under a minute. To keep things light i'm using a compact Venom 35C 3S battery to shed weight while giving me ample runtime.

venom 35C 3S battery mini gimbal cheesycam
find-price-button Venom 35C 3S 11V Compact Battery

In the example (below) I was testing the GoPro FLUX (twixtor-ish) fake slo-motion option in the GoPro Studio software. I was literally running behind my daughter and you can see how well the horizon stayed level.

In this next example (below) we decided to take our newly 'inherited' dog out for his first Electric Longboard experience.

While it's certainly not 'dirt cheap' to build your own gimbal, I created this for a few personal reasons. Firstly this allowed me to better understand these systems building one from basically scratch. There's nothing like learning hands on and running into all the problems. Secondly, I wanted something small for the pure convenience of traveling when I want to keep my tools as compact and portable as possible. There was just nothing in the market available for under a few hundred bucks so I figured I would build my own.

For interior shots, the fisheye lens combined with this stabilizer has worked wonders (you Real Estate guys would love it). It's also perfect for guys who want to use a small stabilizer while inside of a car (drifting, racing?). And just to show you how compact the system is, here's what the entire system looks like when it's thrown into a small hard case (including GH4 camera, GH4 Battery Charger, Rokinon Fisheye Lens, and Gimbal Battery Charger). It's pretty much everything you need when you arrive at your shoot.

custom mini gimbal in hard case

I still don't consider myself an expert in any way, but I think i'm a little more knowledgeable about how these things work. While I don't have all the answers, i've always been open to try and help with what little experience I have so far. If you have any, leave your comments below.

Oh and just in case any of you want to dive into Electric Skateboards to match up with your Gimbals, i've owned quite a few over the last 5 years. Here's one I recommend for it's lightweight, long battery life, and inexpensive price.
Yuneec Electric LongBoard
find-price-button Yuneec E-GO Electric Longboard Skateboard

I try to bring my collection of boards wherever I go, and even have one for light off-road use. Here's a few other examples of these boards in use for either follow shots, or as a replacement track dolly.

A video posted by Michael sato (@satostudios) on

A video posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

A photo posted by Rik Cordero (@rikcordero) on

A photo posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

88 thoughts on “Homemade Custom Mini Gimbal for Panasonic GH4 or Sony A7s

  1. Leo

    Thanks for your answer. Does something like this or this work as a motor mounting plate? Did you use 1/4" screws for your clambs? Do they fit through the holes of the plate?
    - http://www.goodluckbuy.com/images/detailed_images/sku_97648_1.jpg
    - http://i01.i.aliimg.com/wsphoto/v1/1880934739_1/4x-3K-CF-font-b-Motor-b-font-font-b-Mount-b-font-font-b-Plate.jpg

    I have some more questions.

    1. How can your GH4 fit into the gimbal? Did you widen the tube?
    Here is someone saying that he needed to widen the tube in order to fit his NEX 5. The NEX 5 is actually smaller than the GH4... I want to get the NX1 fit into the gimbal.
    Now I found three sizes of the gimbal. There is one for the Nex 5, Nex 7 and Gh4.
    1. http://www.himodel.com/FPV_Telemetry/FPV_Brushless_Camera_Gimbal_for_Mini_SLR_Sony_5N_W_O_motor_controller_Carbon_Fiber_V2.0.html
    2. http://www.himodel.com/FPV_Telemetry/FPV_Brushless_Camera_Gimbal_for_Mini_SLR_Sony_7N_Class_Frame_Kit_Carbon_Fiber.html
    3. http://www.himodel.com/FPV_Telemetry/FPV_Brushless_Camera_Gimbal_for_Mini_SLR_Panasonic_GH2_GH3_Frame_Kit_Carbon_Fiber_V2.0.html

    - Are the Gh4 and NEX5 sizes the same? The Gh4 Gimbal is out of stock everywhere.
    - The NEX 7 size is bigger, although the NEX7 is almost the same size as the NEX 5. So should I get this size instead for a NX1 with a pancake?
    - How much space is left behind the camera? Would a NX1 fit? It's 5.5 x 4.0 x 2.6 in. The GH4 is 5.24 x 3.66 x 3.31″.

  2. Emm

    Post author

    @Leo - I forget the parts exactly, but the YAW axis is the same parts used on the Roll Motor. It's a motor mount with a clamp, and so I used one of those. The biggest problem you will run into is trying to balance a camera. The frame you are trying to build is very very small and will only work with a very small camera and lens setup.

    As far as batteries in the tube, I have never done that. I'm not sure what it would take to make that work.

  3. Leo

    Emm, first of all thank you for your amazing work! I love your calmness in your videos. I have three important questions:

    - What parts did you use when you added the third axis? Can you provide the links so other people like me know better what to buy exactly. I am going to buy the same 2 axis gimbal. It would save a lot of time as I don't find the right parts.

    - What problems did you have during the building process?

    - What parts do I need to fit batteries into the carbon tube? How do I get a closed circuit?

  4. Howard

    I have completed the frame, motors and wiring. I am now calibrating the IMU's. I did an auto calibrate on the camera sensor and that worked however when I went to do an auto calibrate on the frame sensor I could not get the Frame IMU button to light up. When I click on it, for some reason it won't turn on and returns me to the Camera IMU button. I watched your IMU setup video and noticed that it worked for you with only one click.

    Any ideas?

  5. Zak Forsman

    That's what I did. The sensors i received are designed a little differently than what's shown in the build video. There is only one port on the controller board, and the sensors have two ports to wire as a series. By hooking them up and connecting to the board via USB, I was able to tell which sensor was which. Emm demonstrated this in his build video.

    BTW Emm, thanks so much for all the work you put into the build guide. I've never soldered anything before and your videos made the whole process super easy. I've got some minor things to sort out with mine, but can't wait to get flying!

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @Howard - Different sensors different builds. I would just plug in the usb and move the sensors around to figure out which is which. You don't need battery power to do this, just plug it in via usb and launch the software.

  7. Howard


    How do you distinguish the camera sensors. What do I look for and how. I have read the BGC manual however the boards and electronics included in the project are not original and some of the information in the BGC manual does not apply. For instance how to identify the 2 different sensors.

    The BGC manual says to cut a foil on the back of one of the sensors. However the sensors included in the project have no foil to cut.

    I have reviewed most of your videos and have not be able to find a demo of how identify the sensors.


  8. Emm

    Post author

    @Howard - Contact through the website you purchased it from of course. It shouldn't be a permanent fit. Tap it out through the shaft. Take an emery board (manucure file) to the shaft if you feel it's that tight, but you'll run into the same issue. I've already built two if them, and it will be snug but not permanent.

    At this point, probably adk them to send your motor housings back with everything you've done, and they'll assemble that part for you.

  9. Howard


    Who do you want me to send an email to and where?

    Emm, even when I do get the right size shims there is no way I can get the motor housings off of the base plates. Please re-read my emails again because it seems like you don't understand the situation.

    Both motorhousings are locked down permanently due to the "snug fit". I am going to need to start over with new: motorhousings, baseplates, driveshafts, shims, and motors.


  10. Emm

    Post author

    @Howard - The shims should be exactly the same. Nit sure why one is thicker than the ither, but send them an email.

  11. Howard


    You said that " it is a snug fit" and made no mention regarding the different sizes of shim that were included. So I proceeded.

    Since the 1st of 2 shims was too small to fit on the driveshaft I replaced it with a washer that was the same thickness but larger inner diameter. The second shim included was approximately 2 and a half times thicker than the first and did fit onto the driveshaft.

    To get the motor housing completely down the driveshaft so it would seat properly onto the base plate I had to use a lot of force to accommodate the "snug fit." I had to drill out a piece of 3 inch wooden dowel, place it on the motor housing and hammer the housing down. This means that I can never replace the motor if it goes bad or even fix a broken wire.

    The unit with the substitute shim now rattles because the shim is too thin and is not engaging the inner race bearing. I imagine this is going to contribute to vibration problems in the future.

    The second unit with the thicker shim is so tight that if I engage 2 threads on the hold down socket bolts the motor won't turn at all. If I leave the socket bolts out the motor turns.

    The 2 problems that I see are:
    1.) The shoulder on the driveshaft is too big for the bearing to fit over.
    2.) The shims are the wrong size.

    Since I can't get the units apart would you send me parts and motors replacements and I will send you what I have? Clearly what was sent to me is not going to work.


  12. Howard


    I ran into a problem while assembling the motor and motor housing.

    The shoulder just below the threaded portion of the drive shaft is too wide and won't seat into the bearing. This prevents the motor housing from sitting flush on the mounting plate.

    The problem is with both drive shafts. Also the 2 shims I received have different inside diameters. One fits onto the drive shaft and one is too narrow and does not fit.


  13. Emm

    Post author

    @Howard - The IMU sensors should be different. There should be a resistor that is either soldered or not soldered and that's how the software can tell which is which. Typically I connect the board to the computer and move each one around while looking at the dials on the right side. You should be able to figure out Frame IMU or Camera IMU and then mark them. As far as opening a blog, not at this time since there are already tons of RC forums (and I have many blog posts too) about tuning PID settings.

  14. Howard


    I visited RunPlayback.com ...it's dope. You really bring a voice to many things that need to be said. Things that a one dimensional culture is not capable of.

    I received the Minigimbal frame parts yesterday, March 16th. I live in Los Angeles.

    So I am going to start the assembly process. I have a question regarding the IMU sensors and how to tell them apart before installing them.

    I looked on the IMU boards with a 60x jeweler's magnifier which gives me enough magnification to see the individual fibers on the circuit board and read all the components.

    The boards appear to be identical. I bought a second complete controller board package and again all the IMU sensor boards appear to be identical. Is it possible that the software has been modified to identify the sensors and use them appropriately?

    Lastly, Are you going to open a blog so users can communicate and exchange information which could be edited and used as an FAQ?

    Thanks for everything that you are doing. I am so glad that I somehow stumbled across cheeseycam.com


  15. Emm

    Post author

    @Howard - You can add a digital meter to your gimbal, but also in the software you can set an alarm. The controller will beep when the battery reaches a voltage that you set. I would say the small batteries I use can run over an hour but I always cycle the gimbal off when i'm not using it. You can always run a bigger battery and just mount it to the top handles.

  16. Howard

    What is the average run time on the LiPo 1000 battery?

    How do you know when the battery is getting too low to function?


  17. Emm

    Post author

    @Howard - I've been checking in, and units should start shipping soon. No serial numbers on them.

  18. Howard

    Hi Emm,

    Feb 23 shipping date is getting near.

    Are you going to put serial numbers or your Emm signature on the first production run?


  19. Emm

    Post author

    @Howard - I'm using a very thin lightweight flexible HDMI cable. It has almost no influence to the balance. It costs money, but I also use it with my Atomos 4K Recorder and it works fine. There are other brands which are cheaper, but I have not tried them.

    Super Thin Flexible HDMI Cable

  20. Howard


    I am almost ready for the frame. Most of the wiring is ready. The project box with power switch, controller board and Blue Tooth nearly complete. I am waiting for battery wire, joy stick,15mm C-clamp and carrying case.

    I installed the software and everything that I could test is working.

    Question: How do you connect the camera to a monitor or recorder and still be able to use a connecting cable without throwing the camera off balance?


  21. Emm

    Post author

    @Howard - I'm not quite sure about the connector size on the IMU and some kits don't even have connectors. I have ordered a few JST kits and each one came in a different size. I am still adding more to my setup and trying different size project boxes too. So I haven't figured out what works best for me.

  22. Howard


    Thanks for all your replies.I appreciate all your help.

    Where can I find the connectors and pins for the Motor cables and the IMU cable. I have ordered the crimping tool but am lost trying to figure out the connector descriptions. In the video you mentioned "Dupont" connectors and "JST" connectors.

    What is the pin size of the JST connector for the IMU cable?

    Do you have any referral stock Numbers from the All Electronics or Mouser Catalogs. Ebay and China is ok but the 2-3 week delivery time is a pain.

    Also would you consider publishing pictures of the control boxes on your different gimbals? It would be nice to see how you set up the different project boxes. I am especially curious to see how you mounted your switch.


  23. Emm

    Post author

    @Howard - The USB cable is just a basic 'data' cable with Mini-B connection. Make sure you use one that is made for 'data', as some are just used for charging devices. This is an example of one: http://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-USB--Male-Mini-B-Cable/dp/B001TH7GUK/.

    Any basic USB cable will work, but get one fairly long so you can pick up the gimbal and test some moves while you're tuning it and connected to your computer. A good 6 feet USB would be great.

    So far I only put ferrite clip ons to one motor (pitch motor) as that is the one that has the sensor wire running through it. It's a good idea to add it to add it the other motors, and sometimes they say add it to the power cables too and they say your gimbals will perform even better - but I only use one for the pitch motor.

    The software will usually tell you if you are having any i2C sensor errors. That i2C could be a number of things (bad wire, bad motor, EMI noise), but typically a ferrite clip on cleans things up.

    Just take your time, make sure you have good connections in your wiring and insulate your wires with heat shrink to protect it, use tie straps to keep things from moving around. Should be good.

  24. Howard

    Another question regarding the battery.

    Do you have it permanently attached to the frame and charge it on the frame?

    Or do you carry spare batteries and swap them out?

    What is the runtime for one battery?


  25. Howard

    Slowly parts are arriving that I ordered from China. It is a shame that the US manufacturing and supporting industries have declined to such a point that I have to get everything off shore.

    Thanks for all your hard and dedication. I have been following all your videos and Tweets and keeping up to date on your Tiyaga Mini-Gimbal project. By the time you ship the frame I should have all of the parts I need and enough information to complete the project successfully. I really like these kinds of hands on projects! Thank-you!

    3 questions:

    1.) Where can I find the USB cable that you are using to connect the Tiyaga Mini-Gimbal to your computer and that has the Beads sealed onto the cable?

    2.) What connectors are on the cable?

    3.) How long is the cable?

    4.) Did you put beads on all your motor leads? I only see one motor with beads?


  26. Emm

    Post author

    @Howard - There is no place to add a dedicated switch, but you can add a plastic project box to cover your board and add the switch to the box. If your box is big enough you should be able to fit a bluetooth module also. I don't know of the exact part number, but you can find information about adding a bluetooth connecting on the http://Basecamelectronics.com user manual.

  27. Howard


    I don't see an on/off power switch in the parts list or on the Gimbal.

    Is there a place to mount a lighted power switch? Do you have a rating suggestion?

    Also where do you mount the bluetooth card? What is the item number for the bluetooth card?


  28. Iker

    Hello Emm!
    Do you working in the new version of this? Have you some plan for sell something similar? We are a lot of people who interested your creation!

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