Author: Suryansh Sharma

Today, Suryansh Sharma from TU Delft presents the open-source Gimbal they devised. Enjoy!

Crazyflies (and other drones in this weight class) are extremely fun to fly and prototype with! But if you are also a scientist or tinkerer and not a well-skilled drone pilot then you might struggle with flying these platforms especially when testing new control loops or experimental code. While crashing also teaches a lot about the behavior of the system, sometimes we are interested in seeing the system dynamics without breaking the drone.

Currently, doing this for such small drones is not easy. We need something lightweight and still accessible. To solve this, we made Open Gimbal: a specially designed 3 degrees of freedom (DoF) platform that caters to the unique requirements of these tiny drones. We make two versions, (a) Tripod version which can be mounted on a camera / light tripod with a screw thread of sizes 1/4-20 UNC or 3/8-16 UNC (b) Desktop version which can be placed on a table top.

Our approach focuses on simplicity and accessibility. We developed an open-source, 3-D printable electro-mechanical design that has minimal size and low complexity. This design facilitates easy replication and customization, making it widely accessible to researchers and developers. The platform allows for unrestricted and free rotational motion, enabling comprehensive experimentation and evaluation. You can see the movement from the CAD version below:

Degrees of Rotational freedom that Open Gimbal provides

You can also check out the interactive CAD model and see how the gimbal moves here. All of the 3D model files as well as the BOM and instructions for assembly can be found in our repository here.

In our publication, we also address the challenges of sensing flight dynamics at a small scale. To do so, we have devised an integrated wireless batteryless sensor subsystem. Our innovative solution eliminates the need for complex wiring and instead uses wireless power transfer for sensor data reception. You can read all about how we do this in our paper here.

If you do end up using the platform for research then you can cite us using the details below:

@ARTICLE{10225720, author={Sharma, Suryansh and Dijkstra, Tristan and Prasad, Ranga Venkatesha}, journal={IEEE Sensors Letters}, title={Open Gimbal: A 3 Degrees of Freedom Open Source Sensing and Testing Platform for Nano- and Micro-UAVs}, year={2023}, volume={7}, number={9}, pages={1-4}, doi={10.1109/LSENS.2023.3307121}}

I hope that you find the Open Gimbal useful! Feel free to reach out to me at if you have any ideas/questions or if you end up making an Open Gimbal yourself!