Mapping Large Areas

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The information below highlights the best practices for planning and flying larger map plans.

Creating a Large Map Plan

  1. Review Satellite & Sectional Maps to Identify Barriers

    The first step when planning any large map plan is to scan the satellite maps for potential barriers to your line of site. Check your local VFR Sectional charts for towers and/or other obstructions.

    Take this opportunity to get a good sense of the roads and landscape and start thinking about places to set up, take off, land for battery swaps and post up for flight observations.

  2. Division of Flight Plans

    There are many ways to approach flight planning, especially when planning larger plans. Some operators prefer to draw one large mission in DroneDeploy. If this is your preferred method of flight planning, create the map plan as you normally would but ensure that the boundaries are large enough to cover the entire area you plan on mapping.   

    While creating one large map is a useful way to get an overall estimate of flight time, some may prefer to create multiple flight plans that divide the AOI down into more manageable chunks. This method of flight planning can allow one to more easily maintain LOS, plan battery swaps, maintain simple boundaries and limit the number of tight corners.

Flying a Larger Map Plan

Depending on the size of the flight plan, a pilot may need to use one or more batteries when capturing the imagery using the DroneDeploy mobile app. The following information walks you through the process of how to change a battery while capturing a larger map plan. 

  1. Monitoring Drone Battery Levels

    When using the DroneDeploy flight app you will notice a battery icon in the top sidebar. This icon will show the drone’s current battery level. Be sure to monitor this throughout the flight. 

    When the drone battery gets too low, this battery icon will turn red. The remote control will also warn you that the drone battery is low by beeping. At this point you will need to switch batteries.

  2.  Landing the Drone Mid-Flight Plan

    To bring the drone back to its takeoff location you can either press the red "Home" button in the bottom right corner of your phone’s screen or press and hold the Home button on the remote control.


  3. Switching Drone Batteries

    After the drone lands, turn off the battery completely. Once the battery is off, remove and replace the low power battery with a fully charged battery. Finally, power on the battery. 

  4. Resuming Flight Plans

    To resume your flight, open the project and select the "Fly" button. This will open the flight plan you were previously flying and will generate the pre-flight automated checklist. 

    After all of the items on the automated checklist have been marked as complete, select the "Start Flight" button in the bottom right corner of your screen.

    Once the "Start Flight" button has been selected, the drone will return to the section of the map that was last captured and continue capturing imagery. 


Continue this process until the entire area has been mapped and the flight plan is complete.

All of the flight data should be saved to the plan you were working on previously. The upload process will not change for these types of missions.

Reviewing Data in Field

Despite following our guide to the best practices and best preparations, data quality issues do still occur. Common quality issues include camera malfunctions, missing GPS geotags and/or missing sections of data. Beginning data upload in the field will alert you of different quality issues and allow you to resolve the issue prior to leaving the site. 

To check data in the field, bring multiple micro SD cards to a site and swap them out after each section has been flown. 

Preparing for Flights 

It is important to maintain a master packing list for all missions, especially those that include larger flight plans. Forgotten or unprepared equipment can waste time or cause a mission to be postponed entirely.

For each new mission, consult the sample packing list provided below and ensure all equipment is properly charged and prepared prior to the flight date. 

Sample Packing List (based on 450 acre flight):

  • Drone/Battery:
    • DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise (approximately 60% more efficient)
    • DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise battery charger
    • DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise x5
    • 3 battery, parallel charger
  • Other:
    • 64GB Micro SD card x2
    • Micro SD to USB reader x2 (one in each case and an extra in each vehicle)
    • Fully charged laptop & charger (for reviewing captured images in the field)
    • 400w inverter (hardwired to the truck battery, we plan on upgrading to 1000w)
    • 2 gallon cooler (to cool batteries after each flight and get them onto the charger faster)
    • Stay-dry Ice pack x2 (goes into cooler and doesn’t sweat)
    • ND lens filters (to prevent whitewash on sunny days)

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