Operationally and functionally there may be times when utilizing a non-supported drone in DroneDeploy is the only option to capture data and produce maps and models. In this article, we will discuss some basics of how to capture and process data from a non-supported drone in DroneDeploy.
(Manually captured utilizing the DJI Fly app and the Mavic 3 Classic)
Here's the deal in an ideal world, utilizing Recommended and Supported Drones in DroneDeploy is the go-to situation. Let's just say you're on the job site and you have captured loads of data with your DroneDeploy capable drone and "Something Happens"... run out of batteries, hardware issue, Or just simply, you have to use a different platform for operational concerns. You may have to use an unsupported backup drone.
In the event, this happens and you need to use an unsupported drone. Here are some things to keep in mind while capturing and uploading your data to create models inside of DroneDeploy.
1. Get familiar with flying manually inside your drone's native app. In the event, you cannot use DroneDeploy to operate flight plans or fly autonomously. You will want to be comfortable enough to operate your drone manually or utilize in-app waypoint missions to set the parameters of your project to capture data. DJI Fly and GO 4 Applications
When flying your drone manually in the native app (DJI Fly, Autel, Skydio, etc..) The first thing we want to do is make sure we follow proper preflight protocols and checklists for the drone along with ensuring the settings are in the proper format to eventually upload the data into DroneDeploy.
The main thing here is to make sure that your camera settings are set to produce a JPEG (with Geo-location data) and that the aspect ratio is set to 4:3. You can use another aspect ratio, such as 16:9 but often times the result tends to be better with a tighter ratio, which produces better quality for photogrammetry. You may want to experiment and see what ratio works for you.
Using the DroneDeploy Map Engine does not require any app, just data.
All images should be in JPG format
All images must have latitude, longitude, and altitude in the GPS EXIF data
All images should be facing the area of interest
All images should have significant overlap (more than 60% for side and front lap, 75% for agricultural or homogeneous imagery)
There must be at least 10 images
2. Once you have established the proper camera settings, let's look at the area you intend to fly and determine the height in relation to the tallest building or structure in your flight path. Regardless of your capture height, you will want to make sure while operating your drone that you clear all potential hazards so you can safely capture data manually. A quick way to determine a safe AGL is to find the tallest obstruction. Launch your drone from a safe distance and raise altitude until you are level with the structure at the very top going about 30 to 50 feet above that for a safe operational area.
3. When you look at the area you intend to fly utilize what we know about DroneDeploy and how flight plans are developed to gauge how you will fly the subject area. Typically the formula for capturing good quality data is the (Gimble Angle) 90° 65° and 45° rule. Flying a box pattern around your structure at these parameters and capturing photos every 5 to 10 feet will ensure you have enough overlap to stitch your project together. The big thing here is consistency and making sure that your altitude stays relatively the same and that your flight pattern is as straight as possible.
(Consistency is the key to capturing data for great models manually!)
4. Be sure to be meticulous with capturing enough photos at each angle in a consistent pattern until you have completed at least three passes of your subject at the three varying, gimbal angles, and heights. Consistency is the key and you may have to adjust your height appropriately to your structure to eliminate any background skyline or structures. That being said fly your 90° all at the same AGL, 65° at the same AGL, and 45° at the same AGL. This may be different for each angle, but stay consistent for each angle.
You can also utilize this article as a guide to structuring your manual flight.
(Flying manually can take some practice to perfect the right AGL, and angles for your project.)
5. Once you have captured all of the data and you feel you have ample enough images and coverage of your area you can wrap up the fieldwork and head into the office for upload. It is recommended you upload the images captured straight from your SD card onto your desktop or laptop and open up your DroneDeploy account to create your project.
6. Open up the desired project in DroneDeploy and go to the upload page of the project. From there you can either utilize the Smart Uploader or Legacy Uploader to drop your images and begin processing. If you choose the smart upload which is recommended, the images will be placed appropriately due to the capture location and data collected from the image.
7. Once all of the images are uploaded, DroneDeploy will begin processing your map, and we do the rest. From that step on everything is the same as usual in DroneDeploy.
We always recommend flying supported devices within the DroneDeploy app but we also understand there are times when you may have to use an unsupported drone to capture the data you need. If this is ever the case, you can still process data by uploading your images into DroneDeploy from the SD card and process maps and models as normal.
For more details on making great 3D models and maps check out our Making Great Maps ebook.
If you do not have your question answered here, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.