28 Apr

Sony a7s ii with the Sony E PZ 18-110mm f/4 G OSS Lens on the FreeFly Movi m5

I wasn’t sure if this would work – the Sony E PZ 18-110 lens is pretty long and the depth of the spacing on the m5 can be a limitation. I tried mounting my Canon 70-200 lens once, to see if I could use it a stabilized, long lens setup for shooting whales on a boat, but it didn’t fit.

Image of the a7s ii on the MOVI

the Sony a7s ii with the Sony 18-110 on the MOVI m5

This beautiful Sony lens, which I rented for the week from BorrowLenses for a couple projects, fits with just enough room to fully tilt. And I mean just barely. The lens runs around $3,500 from B&H..

Showing the Clearance in the MOVI

Just enough depth clearance for full-tilt action

I bought most of the parts of a Zacuto Indie Recoil this week as well along with a Gripper battery system, but B&H failed to ship the item, though it was listed on shipping notifications.. it wasn’t the package arrived that they realized they hadn’t even shipped it yet, leaving me to figure out an alternative power solution for my two films this week.

I’m really liking the Sony lens – it will compliment my Sony 16-35 I picked up a month ago that I use mostly on the MOVI and flying under the Alta. So far, I’m stoked about the Recoil and have found it exceptionally modular and flexible – a real upgrade from my Cinevate handheld rig, which did last me 6 or so years before failing. I’m still using the hand-grips from that for the moment.


Camera Rig Image

the RedRock Micro Wireless FollowFocus with the Sony a7s ii on the Zacuto Indie Recoil, using the Sony 18-110 Cinema

The one thing I’ve noticed – no matter where my RedRock Micro torque motor is mounted or with which lens, when we shift directions on the focus, the motor pushes the camera round in the rig. Maybe I really do need the coldshoe lock to tie in the upper z-rail, but I wonder if anyone else has experienced this. It wouldn’t be noticeable in a shot unless you made some rapid focus shifts. It just looks dodgy.

23 Nov

Mounting the Amimon Connex on the MOVI m5 (and ALTA)

Connex on MOVI

Amimon Connex Mounted on the FreeFly MOVI m5

There isn’t much information out there but I came up with a solution that was pretty solid. Amazon was good for a roll of Techflex Flexo Braided Cable sleeve, the 1/4-inch was perfect. I also acquired some very tiny black zip-ties and heat shrinks from my husband’s hangar (tons of good stuff to pilfer from the Lear Jet!). Use the Flexo around the antenna cables then apply a heat shrink to each end and zip-tie over the heat shrink to minimize flexing at the weak points.

For close proximity work I removed the Connex antenna extensions and used velcro to attach the antennas to the end of each carbon fiber support on the MOVI. The Connex itself I mounted to the back of the MOVI just above the power switch, securing it with both velcro and a zip-tie passed through the removable mounting plate and around the vertical post of the MOVI.

Power is supplied using a y-cable soldered and cleaned up with heat-shrink and covered with sealing wrap. I used one of the cables provided by Connex and a power connector FreeFly was kind enough to give me when I visited for the open house just before I received the ALTA.

So far this is working well – tested hand-held in a crowded event the video started to give out about 150 feet away in the next room. I suspect clear line of sight it will work adequately and if I plan to really push the range I’ll put the antenna extensions back on to move the antennas themselves further from the carbon fiber.



24 Aug

Flying a MOVI m5 on UAV

There’s a thousand ways to get a camera airborne these days but as the camera weight increases so do the hardware requirements and equally, costs. Sure, you can drop $10,000 (after batteries, tax, shipping, FPV, etc) on a FreeFly Alta and have the ultimate setup (keep in mind it’s another $4,000 for a MOVI m5). But if you’re looking for something on a budget I’m offering up the most affordable way to get extremely professional aerial footage immediately, especially if you already have a MOVI or other lightweight gimbal.

I spent more than six months ordering parts from around the world (thanks DHL), dismantling and rebuilding the DJI s1000 UAV with numerous improvements (documented on my blog).

If you’re interested in getting a Sony a7s, GH4, Canon 5D Mark III or other DSLR airborne quickly – email me!

An overview of modifications to the s1000:

  • replaced the central stiffening board with an 8-point version (the stock connects only to 4 of the 8 booms).
  • Added the Kopterworx s1000 MOVI adapter
  • Replaced the landing legs with 500mm carbon fiber tubs to allow the needed vertical height to fit the MOVI suspended below the s1000
  • Added the DJI AVL-58 fpv using a Kopterworx HDMI to AV adapter to transmit the main camera image to the ground
  • Also purchased the IOSD mini which would show telemetry info but the data never did connect properly. I never troubleshot this issue though as the Alta arrived about that time.
  • I have two 5000mAh PULSE batteries and one additional 16,000 mAh PULSE. With the larger battery I could get around 10 minutes flight time with the MOVI and a SONY a7s camera.

26 Apr

Adapting the DJI s1000 with the MOVI m5


Between work and traveling to Europe for three weeks, I was still able to get a couple shots off with the setup. It was pretty rock solid, even in about 10 knots of wind and with the MOVI mounted on the Freefly Systems Toad-in-the-Hole. I picked up a PULSE 16000 mAH battery but realized after it arrived it only meets the DJI s1000 minimum requirement of 15c and so it isn’t but a few minutes before any significant power draw (ascent, bank or turn) results in the first, yellow LED warning. Initial tests suggest about 9:30 flight times but I’ve been landing around 7 when fully loaded with the gimbal and camera to be safe.

My big limitation now is that I have to have an operator or pilot – can’t really and operate solo. I know some people have been setting up basic gimbal functions on the main pilot remote or configuring the MOVI to run in majestic mode after takeoff, but for decent video you want a separate operator anyway.

The newly integrated DJI AVL58 video downlink seems OK – picture appears wildly overexposed in my monitor, which is fine – I choose and set exposure prior – but even framing can be a little rough in certain lighting situations.

Added the following from Kopterworx:

  • Movi M5/M10 adapter for DJI S1000 frame movim5s1000
  • 3K Carbon tube 550mm/25mm x 2 (landing gear extensions)
  • HDMIV converter mini


  • FreeFly Systems Toad-in-the-Hole Quick adapter
  • DJI AVL58 video TX/RX
  • DJI S1000 – UPGRADE Carbon Fiber Reinforcement Plate from http://globe-flight.de/

I purchased the copter used and there was light damage to the other parts so I replaced the upper and lower boards and one frame arm- I disassembled every single piece of hardware and rebuilt from scratch.

________________ original post below____________

I’ve been working towards marrying my DJI s1000 with my FreeflySystems MOVI m5 – it’s not a match made in heaven, but an arranged marriage with two hesitant parties.

Fortunately a few companies have stepped up in the marketplace and with the help of others who paved this path before me, I’m almost there.

I mentioned before that I bought the s1000 used, which is another long and sordid tale. There was a little damage but when I dismantled it for repairs, I discovered the damage was more extensive than expected. Numerous late night binge orders later and countless visits from FedEx, UPS and DHL, I was able to get the UAV back in the air today, briefly before the rain settled back into the area.

During that process I did have some trouble with Compass Calibration. As I attempted to calibrate it kept giving me the red LED and the flashing green/yellow (looks more green/orange to me) which indicates compass issues. Then suddenly I was able to take off in Attitude mode. After reseating some power connections it suddenly began working again as expected, picking up the GPS signals and switching to that sweet, purple GPS LED.

My final step is to find a decent battery (alternating two 5000 maH Pulse batteries now which give me about 5 minutes) so that I can carry the extra weight of the gimbal with a modest flight time. And also an FPV. I’ve had the DJI AVL58 sitting in my Amazon cart all day, thought I can’t figure out how to tap into the UAV power by looking at instructions, diagrams and pictures and DJI’s manuals are painfully vague in many areas.