Below are the instructions for planning a flight in the DroneDeploy mobile app. See the Initial Setup for Flying and the Making Successful Maps guides prior to leaving home to map!
What is a Project?
A Project is a location-based organization that centralizes your relevant drone data into one place that makes tracking change over time easy and time-efficient.
The 4 tabs of a Project
Reusable flight templates can found on the 'Fly' tab. A flight template is similar to what used to be known as a flight plan. The difference is that you can fly a template as many times as you'd like to without copying it. This helps to remove variability when you're tracking change over time.
The 'Upload' tab is ready to accept images for flights we've detected as flown and can also receive any uploads that that fit our processing requirements for our paid users.
The maps in the 'Explore' tab are each distinct entity within the entire Project. They are automatically aligned to each other, so overlays and annotations will only need to be made on one map to see the change over time. Deleting a completed map will delete that single map and will not delete the entire project.
The 'Report' tab currently hosts all your reports on that project including ones like the Annotation Report and the Progress Report.
Create a Project
Open the DroneDeploy app on your compatible mobile device. This will take you to your dashboard. From here, navigate to the 'New Project' button at the top of your dashboard.
Your initial project location will be based upon the given location of your device. If you would like to change the location, click inside the search bar to search for a location. You can also drag the target around the map.
Finding a Project location
Search by address, name, and zip code, in the search bar at the top. Select 'Create project here' in the middle of your screen when you've found the area you'd like to map.
Searching for a Project location
Choose your project name and click 'Continue'.
Now you can edit the boundaries and the parameters for your first Map Template that automatically loads after choosing the project name. Minimize the dashboard panel by tapping the blue arrow on the side to reveal the map.
You can edit the boundaries by clicking on the white dots along the perimeter of the selected blue area on the map. The greyed-out dots are ready to be tapped to create more points.
We always recommend 'overflying' - meaning any important part of your subject you need capturing should not be close to the selected boundary.
At any time you can stop editing your boundary and your flight template will automatically save. You can also select the white 'Undo' button to undo your last change.
Add Additional Flight Templates
You might, for example, want one Progress Photo template, one Enhanced 3D mode template, and one Terrain mode template for a single location that you can refly at any time. To create additional flight templates for your project, click on the template selector in the top left of your screen.
After selecting 'New Flight Template' you have the option to choose between adding Map Plans, Photo Reports, Videos, or Panoramas. Click on one of these options to load a new template of that flight type.
This article will cover settings for a 'Maps & Models' flight. To learn about setting up a Progress Report flight, please click here.
Once you select the flight type you'll see an editable view of that plan.
You can also select a different plan to edit by clicking on the template selector again and choosing a different flight template. You can delete a map plan by clicking on the 3-dotted menu to the right of the name of the plan.
Below the template selector, you can set the custom parameters for your flight.
When you aren't connected to a drone, the time, area, image count, and battery count estimator calculates conservative estimates based upon a Phantom 4 Pro. Estimations calculate for your specific drone on the mobile app once you've connected your drone.
Flight altitude sets the distance above the takeoff point that the drone captures photos. Flying higher makes the images easier to stitch at some expense of resolution. If you're mapping a difficult subject such as vegetation, a desert, or water, flying high increases the chance for a successful map. If you do have to fly lower, increase your overlap to make the photos easier to stitch.
Enhanced 3D Mode combines Perimeter 3D mode with Crosshatch mode in order to capture angled shots from the perimeter of your mission plan (Perimeter 3D), and oblique imagery above your subject in a crosshatch formation to create higher quality 3D models. Enhanced 3D maps are best kept under 1000 images. Enhanced 3D mode does have device requirements.
Crosshatch mode will allow you to take oblique imagery directly above your subject with a 65° angle. Instead of just rows of flights crosshatch mode will intersect each of those rows with a perpendicular pass which makes capturing oblique imagery from multiple angles easier.
Perimeter 3D mode will add a flight path on the boundary of your flight template using oblique imagery (65° angle) facing towards the inside of your subject.
Live Map is a real-time mapping product available as part of DroneDeploy’s mobile iOS app. With Live Map, you can produce a low-resolution 2D map on your iOS device as the drone is flying -- even without a cellular or data connection. Live Map has device requirements as well.
Make Available Offline allows you save your template as one of 10 saved on your device for offline flying. Select the toggle the begin downloading the basemap and wait for it to say 'Available Offline'. Deselect 'Make Available Offline' before deleting a template to ensure the offline map is deleted from your cached limit of 10. When you're back online, allow the device to sync to its servers for 10 minutes before quitting the app.
- Obstacle Avoidance is enabled by default to use the built-in obstacle avoidance sensors that your drone may have to help avoid a collision. Sometimes, a low, bright sun can cause the drone to stop mid-flight because it's detected as a nearby object. Turn off Obstacle Avoidance if you think this may be the case and you're confident that the drone will not run into any real obstacles along its flight path.
Advanced Flight Settings
You have a handful of important options to select in the Advanced Settings, which can be shown by selecting 'Advanced' on your dashboard below 'Make Available Offline':
Sidelap: the percentage of overlap between the sides of the images.
Frontlap: the percentage of overlap between the top and bottom of your images.
Increasing overlap (sidelap + frontlap) generally makes it easier to stitch a more difficult subject. More views are captured of each feature. The default 75/65 overlap setting will work for most maps, but if you are flying low or your subject is very homogenous (everything looks the same, like a field or a treeline), increase overlap between 5%-15%. Increasing overlap has two main negative effects. First, image count and time is increased. Second, if your subject has a lot of movement (people + cars), more movement will be captured and that can cause additional stitching issues.
Flight Direction: Changes the orientation of the flight lines 360 degrees around. This can also be used to change the starting waypoint of the plan.
Max Flight Speed: Changes the maximum allowed flight speed that the drone can map at. The drone will not necessarily reach this speed because a lower speed may be required for sharp image capture considering your hardware and the altitude and overlap settings.
Starting Waypoint: The first waypoint that will be flown on your mission. This skips all previous waypoints.
Manual Camera Settings: Unless otherwise specified, the automatic settings from DJI GO will be retained in the DroneDeploy app. If you choose to shoot manually, fly up to your mapping altitude using DJI Go 4 and select your camera settings before mapping with DroneDeploy. Fly back down, land, quit DJI go, and then open DroneDeploy to map.
Altitude and overlap are the most important settings.
Store plans for offline mapping in the Advanced Settings tab.
Users can store up to 10 maps on their mobile devices.
How to plan an offline flight:
- When connected to the internet, select the plan you'd to make available offline using our DroneDeploy app
- Turn off Automatic Settings
- Select the toggle for Make Available Offline
- Allow the plan to fully sync before closing the DroneDeploy app
- Before heading to the field, ensure you're logged into DroneDeploy, and that the plan now states Available Offline:
When you're viewing a project, click on the home button in the top left of your screen to view all of your projects and folder in a list.
By clicking on the 3-dotted drop down to the right of the project name, you have to option to view the flight page for the map, move it a folder, share it, or upload captured images to process into a map. Processing images is a feature reserved for our paid users.
Click the location icon in the top right to see your projects in map view:
After you've read the Initial Setup for Flying Guide, head out to the field, check your drone in DJI Go and quit, navigate to your template in the DroneDeploy mobile app, and connect to fly!