Gimbal / Mount Controls

Camera gimbals (aka camera mounts) can be controlled in at least six different ways. This page provides an overview of these controls and their setup.

The gimbal’s “mode” defines how it is controlled. Each ground station (GCS) is different but Mission Planner, for example, has a “Set Mount” button that allows changing the mode. In many cases the user does not need to directly set the mode, instead this is done automatically as part of responding to a command from the user.


Below are the 6 supported modes.

  1. Retract Mode: the gimbal will move to the roll, pitch and yaw angles held in the MNT1_RETRACT_X, MNT1_RETRACT_Y, MNT1_RETRACT_Z parameters respectively. Some special gimbal specific behaviours:

  2. Neutral Mode: the gimbal will move to the roll, pitch and yaw angles held in the MNT1_NEUTRAL_X, MNT1_NEUTRAL_Y, MNT1_NEUTRAL_Z respectively

  3. MAVLink Targeting: the gimbal will move according to real-time commands received from the ground stations or Auto mode mission commands

  4. RC Targeting: the pilot controls the gimbal in real-time using the RC transmitter

  5. GPS Point: same as MAVLink targeting but the gimbal points at a specific location. Users never need to actively set the gimbal to this mode

  6. SysId Target: the gimbal points at another vehicle with a specified MAVLink system id. Users never need to actively set the gimbal to this mode and there are no known GCSs that support setting the system id

  7. Home Location: the gimbal points at home (normally its takeoff location)

The gimbal’s default mode on startup can be set with the MNT1_DEFLT_MODE parameter.

Control with an RC transmitter (aka RC Targeting)

While the gimbal is in “RC Targeting” mode (see above for how to change modes), the pilot can control the gimbal’s target roll, pitch and yaw angles using an RC transmitter channel for each axis. For example:

  • set RC6_OPTION = 212 (“Mount1 Roll”) to control the gimbal’s roll angle with RC channel 6

  • set RC7_OPTION = 213 (“Mount1 Pitch”) to control the gimbal’s pitch angle with RC channel 7

  • set RC8_OPTION = 214 (“Mount1 Yaw”) to control the gimbal’s yaw angle with RC channel 8

  • ensure the RCx_TRIM parameter for each RC input channel used is half way between RCx_MIN and RCx_MAX

By default the RC input specifies the angle but this can be changed to rate control by setting MNT1_RC_RATE to the desired rotation rate in deg/sec.

By default the yaw control is in “follow” mode (aka “body frame”) meaning that the gimbal’s heading will rotate as the vehicle rotates. The alternative is “lock” mode (aka “earth frame”) meaning the gimbal’s heading will stay locked onto a particular heading regardless of the vehicle’s yaw. The pilot can switch between these two modes with an auxiliary switch.

  • set RC9_OPTION = 163 (“Mount Lock”) to switch between “lock” and “follow” mode with RC channel 9

The pilot can retract the gimbal with the “Retract Mount1” auxiliary switch

  • RC10_OPTION = 27 (“Retract Mount1”) to change the gimbal to Retract mode

Control during Auto mode missions

Commands to control the gimbal are listed on the Camera Control in Auto Missions, Copter Mission Command List and Mission Commands pages