A Horizon-Stabilized Camera For Motorcycle Photography

This is a video camera accessory that I've been developing for use in motorcycle photography. Comprised of a microcontroller, gyroscopic sensor, servo motor and battery, this device rotates a camera's lens assembly to keep the image fixed with respect to the horizon as the motorcycle leans left or right.

Popularly called a "gyrocam", a broadcast TV version of a similar device was first seen on Valentino Rossi's MotoGP bike in 2010. The one I've developed performs just as well as Rossi's but was built on an r/c modelling and robotics hobbyist's budget.

My design is based around a ContourROAM camera. These cameras have a rotatable barrel housing the lens and image sensor and also provide an integrated tee rail style mounting system on the sides of the camera. These features help minimize camera shake and servo stress because the camera body can remain firmly fixed in place while the image is rotated by turning the lens barrel.

A control box mounts to the side of the camera using the tee rail to hold everything in alignment. A nylon gear is pressed onto the lens barrel and held there by a friction fit. The lens barrel's internal water seal and click stops are removed, allowing it to turn freely. The servo motor and gear drive combination accommodates +/- 60 degrees of lean angle.

The gears and tee rail were laser printed in nylon plastic by Shapeways from files I generated with a 3D modeling program called FreeCAD. The printed circuit was produced by OSH Park from files I generated with a pcb design program called EAGLE. The enclosure is made from 1.5mm birch plywood sprayed with automotive paint.

Update: A new version of this work, based on a Gopro Hero 2 camera, can be found

CAD model




These were shot by my friends at us129photos.com using gyrocams I built for them.


Contour - ContourROAM camera
Shapeways - 3D laser printing services
OSH Park - printed circuit board fabrication services
Pololu - L3G4200D gyro carrier board
Servo City - Hitec HS-425BB servo
Tayda Electronics - AVR ATMEGA328P microcontroller and miscellaneous electronics components
Sparkfun Tutorial - how to get code onto your AVR chip


parts and software
ContourROAM camera modification notes
printed circuit board assembly notes and cautions
gyrocam mounting and setup notes
3D printed case
revised circuit board (auto power down, battery & charger pinout corrections, gyro footprint options)


Derek Lieber ( derek_lieber at bellsouth dot net )

Last updated 21 Jun 2014