Zenmuse H3-3D – Swapping the USB Ribbon Cable for the Hero Bus

h3_3d_02[1] When considering the low price tag (£250 GBP / $400 USD) The performance of the DJI Zenmuse H3-3D 3-axis gimbal is pretty mind-blowing!

The first version of the H3-3D we saw on the market (the V1) retained the same ‘Hero Bus’ port that was used on the original H3-2D gimbals which allowed you to simply ‘click’ your GoPro 3 or 3+ onto the camera plate and fit the retaining bracket; it was extremely tidy with no extra cables or connectors.

DJI have now released the V1.1 H3-3D and the first thing you’ll notice is that the Hero Bus has been dropped (rumour is DJI didn’t want to pay GoPro the license fee to use the Bus) and replaced with 10pin USB connector to provide power and live video output.

October 2014 Update

Various retailers have started selling the original Hero connector as a replacement part which can be directly fitted to your H3-3D without the need to sacrifice a H3-2D.

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For more details please follow this link: http://www.ifpv.co.uk/dji-zenmuse-h3-3d-gopro-hero-connector-upgrade/

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This wouldn’t normally be an issue but the connector its self prevents you from accessing the SD Card slot and ofcourse using the USB interface without first removing the USB connector so every time you want to download your videos you either have to remove the connector or use the WIFI link (which is tedious and time consuming).

To add insult to injury DJI have used an extremely delicate ribbon cable and there have been countless reports of the cable breaking after even the first use which has lead DJI to include a spare ribbon cable with every gimbal.

However there is hope!

There are only a few changes between the H3-3D and the original 2D gimbal and luckily the way the camera mounting plate is fixed and connected hasn’t changed so if you already own a H3-2D or even have a broken one kicking around it is possible to swap out the entire camera mounting plate so you regain the Hero Bus connection on your H3-3D and you can still have a functioning H3-2D albeit now with the dreaded USB connection (but at least you can see it or use it on another platform / keep it for spares).

strip_down7As you can see in the photo above even the original H3-2D’s Hero Bus connector uses a flimsy ribbon cable however its hidden and never really faces any kind of load or flex once the gimbal is assembled.

Now for the science bit

The idea is to remove the entire camera mounting plate (the bit attached to the pitch/tilt motor), swap the control boards (PCB) and transplant it between the two gimbals. Removal is fiddly but its not a particularly complicated process.

My advice is start with which ever gimbal you still have mounted to your craft as having it fixed to something makes it much easier to work on.


Step 1: Release the two cross-head screws (front and back) then remove the cover on the output shaft side of the pitch/tilt motor.

This will reveal the ribbon cable that feeds the main PCB, be very careful with this cable as just like the USB cable it is extremely fragile.

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Step 2: Remove the screws holding the Hero Bus (2 x cross-head) and the main PCB (4 x cross-head):

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Step 3: Release the ribbon cable (gently pull-up the black tab which will release the cable) from the rear of the main PCB and remove the PCB from the camera plate:

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Note: Once the PCB is removed you will be able to very carefully release the ribbon cable from the adhesive on the side of the camera plate, remember to note how it is wrapped around the shaft.


Step 4: Gently reveal the pitch/tilt motor shaft retaining screw, mark its position on the motor housing using a marker, carefully remove the screw and then with care pull the camera plate from the motor shaft.

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Step 5: Follow the same procedure on your H3-3D gimbal;

Step 6: once they are both stripped down release JUST the Hero Bus connector board from the H3-2D main PCB board and transplant it to the H3-3D PCB.

And finally re-assemble both gimbals (following the instructions above in reverse) using the H3-2D camera plate & Hero Bus on the H3-3D and visa-versa.

Enjoy!

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