Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Home » How To's » Inexpensive, easy, pan-&-tilt mount – Make it from parts lying around your workshop

Inexpensive, easy, pan-&-tilt mount – Make it from parts lying around your workshop

For the last few years, FPV (first-person view) flying has been my passion. Im totally obsessed with it. Like most FPV fliers, I started with the most popular FPV platform out therea Multiplex Easy Star. I had no trouble finding a pan-and-tilt mount from Range Video; it was custom-made for the Multiplex Easy Star, and it works flawlessly.

When I built my twin fuselage ParkZone Radian, I needed a small, light, inexpensive and universal pan-and-tilt mount. I could have used the pan-and-tilt part of the Range video Multiplex Easy Star mount, but that would have meant throwing away most of the mount. I could not find a commercially available unit to fit the bill, so I looked around my shop, my junk drawer and my scrap-wood pile and came up with my version.

<p >PARTS REQUIRED 2 servos (Take it from my experience, metal gears will help if you happen to land inverted.)2 1/16-in. wheel collars Du-Bro no. 137

2 1/16-in. washers 1 double-ended servo arm to fit the pan servo (the servo arm must be longer than the width of your airborne camera; I use Du-Bro heavy-duty servo arms)

2 large control horns Du-Bro no. 716

2 2-56×1/2-in. bolts with Nyloc nutsDu-Bro no. 174

1 EZ connectorDu-Bro no. 121

2 4×1/16-in.-diameter steel rod (size to meet your needs)

2 1/32×15/16×2-in. plywood plates

1 1/16x1x2-in. basswood strip

1 1/16×1/4×2-in. basswood strip

The width of the wood pieces will be determined by the width of your tilt support.

Du-Bro supplies all the mechanical, wire and plastic parts that I use in my mount.
I like a pan-and-tilt mount to have the vertical and horizontal axes as close together as possible. Think how your head pans and tilts on your shoulders. You will want your camera to be in front of the tilt axis and to pivot on the vertical axis, just like the location and position of your eyes. Lets get started.1.  I make the tilt support first. This allows me to determine the width of the pivot plate and adjust the dimensions accordingly. Bolt one control horn to the outermost hole in the servo arm by running a bolt through the outside hole in the control horn. Secure it with a nut, and tighten this just enough to allow the control horn to pivot. Repeat for the second control horn. Slide the 1/16-inch-diameter steel rod through the top holes of both control horns. This will align the control horns. Tighten both nuts. One bolt in each side is sufficient. After youve installed the tilt axis rod, the control horns cannot pivot.

2.  Drill a 1/16-inch-diameter hole through one of control horns approximately as shown. The location is not too critical.

Keep it high enough for the Zbend in the tilt rod to clear the foot of the control horn. Measure the inside distance between the control horns; subtract the thickness of the one or two 1/16- inch washers youll want inside the control horns on each side. This will determine the width of your pivot plate.




3.  Next, well assemble the pivot plate. Youll have to create a channel for the pivot wire in the pivot plate. The channel is positioned so that the camera cable will be able to clear the lower edge of the pivot plate.  

4.  Lay one of 1/32×15/16×2-inch plywood plates on a flat surface. Next, align one edge of the 1/16×1/4×2-inch basswood with the bottom edge of the plywood; CA or epoxy it into place. Put one of the 1/16-inch-diameter steel rods along the top edge of the 1/16×1/4×2- inch basswood strip that has been glued to the plywood plate.

5.  Now place the 1/16x1x2-inch basswood strip above the steel rod, aligning the side edges with the side edges of the plywood plate. CA or epoxy into place.

6.  Remove the steel rod. Use CA or another glue to secure the second 1/32×15/16×2-inch plywood plate on top of the basswood, aligning all the edges. Trial-fit the pivot plate by sliding a length of 1/16-inch steel rod through the top hole of one control horn. Slide a 1/16-inch washer onto the steel rod followed by the pivot plate and then another washer and, finally, slide the rod through the top hole in the second control horn. The pivot plate should rotate freely. If it doesnt, sand it to length. When you have determined that the pivot plate works, complete your final sanding and painting. At this point, attach the tilt support to the pan servo.

When the pivot-plate glue has dried, assemble the pivot plate as described. At this time, add the 2 wheel collars to the outside of each control horn. Put a custom Z-bend in one end of the second piece of 1/16-inch-diameter steel rod, as shown. Do not use a Zbend tool. The middle wire segment in the bend must be long enough to pass through the control horn. Install the end of the rod in the hole you drilled in the control horn with the rod on the outside of the tilt support, as shown. Install the EZ connector on the last hole in the tilt servos servo arm.

<p >TIPS FOR SETTING UP AN FPV PLANEOn a 3-channel plane, I set up the rudder on the aileron stick. This frees up the rudder stick for your pan channel. The best thing about using the rudder channel for pan is that when you let go of the stick, the camera centers itself automatically. This comes in handy when you do not have the fuselage to line up with as a reference. For the tilt, I use my flap switch; this gives me three positionsup, level and down. Again, the switch will always bring the camera to level, and that helps with flying level and with landings.
<p >FINAL ADJUSTMENTS Mount the servo arm perpendicular to the tilt servo, as shown. Slide the rod into the EZ connector, but do not tighten. Mount the tilt servo on the back of the pivot plate. (You can use servo tape for this, but be careful on hot summer days: I have had servos come off the servo tape.) I use heat-shrink tubing on the servo body and then glue the servo onto the pivot plate. This allows me to reuse the servo simply by cutting off the heatshrink tubing. Set the pivot plate vertical, and tighten the EZ connector screw. Your tilt is now all set.Attach the video cable to the camera. Attach the camera to the front of the pivot plate. Make sure there is clearance between the video cable and the pivot plate. Try to get the center of the camera lens on the tilt axis. You can use servo tape or epoxy to mount the camera. If I use servo tape, I also use cable ties as a precaution.

This design is versatile; you can easily modify it by altering the height, pivot-plate width or servo size to fit your needs. You most likely have all or some of the components already. Your pan-and-tilt mount is now complete! Good luck and happy flying.

<p >LinksDu-Bro,, (800) 848-9411

Words by Gino Antonini