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Mar 13, 2012, 09:29 PM
Registered User

Need input on AP build

I have a corn and soybean farm and recently had the thought about investing in a multi rotor (or plane) to do aerial crop scouting.

I've browsed through the forum to try to find/learn as much as I can about AP, but I feel more confused than I did to start. I have some questions and need recommendations of where to start to accomplish the following.

What I would like to do is to use the multi (or plane) to do aerial crop scouting that would allow me to get a view of the field and where weed/pest problems are. I use GPS when spraying the fields and would like to have a set up where I can take pictures based on certain locations of the field from my GPS maps so that I can easily identify where in the field the problem area is and use that information to precision spray only that area and not the majority of the field. What would I need to do this? Is this something that would cost thousands of $'s? Can this be done without using a WOOKONG type system?

Most of my fields are no more than 1/4 mile wide and no more than 1/2 mile long. I'm sure I'm overlooking things, but I'm looking for thoughts on feasibility, cost, or other suggestions.

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Mar 13, 2012, 10:54 PM
manual flying apologist
Adidas4275's Avatar
Both a multirotor or plane would work.

Multirotors have a much steeper learning curve, planes a easier to fly.

Diydrones would be a good place to look for planes.

It can be done with DJIs system for multirotor.

Do you fly anything currently?
Mar 14, 2012, 06:48 AM
Registered User
I haven't flown a multi-rotor and it's been at least 10 years since I've flown a plane.

For multi's, I have looked at the DJI 450 with the NAZA FC. Regarding range, I know this would partly depend on the TX/RX used, but what distance/height could you expect?

I read up on the Sky Surfer to use as a plane AP setup. Just trying to figure out what would work best to be able to take photos of a field and use that to come through and scout and/or precision spray.
Mar 14, 2012, 07:15 AM
Registered User
Arxangel's Avatar
Well, the Naza does not support GPS, at least for now. As for height, its up to you, after all you have to decide at what altitude you want the pics. Range depends on the Tx/Rx, but most high-end systems should be able to cover at least 1 mile.

If you want GPS functionality you will have to spend a bit more. WKM have GPS and HoverFly also has GPS, I believe that Mikrocopter as well, and a couple more, but as far as I know having GPS is expensive.

If its going to be flying and shooting on its own you will have get some reliable motors and ESCs and that will cost a bit more. Also you will need a decent frame and stiff props to reduce vibrations as much as possible.
Mar 14, 2012, 07:21 AM
Registered User
The first thing you take a look at is the "photo device" that fulfill your needs. Which foto/video camera is good enough that you can figure out your information from your fields. Even cheap picture cameras can tag pictures with gps koords.

Than we have a weight and the conditions that the device need to take those pictures/ movies. Some cameras might blur the images on shaky planes/ copters so you need a stable and non shacking plattform at the time you want to make a picture.

You need to think about some FPV gear if you wan't to fly farther than 1/4 mile ahead because your plane/ coper get out of sight unless you have some eagle eyes ;-)

Include the "Ardupilot" into your considerations: It has gps, waypoints and a mission planner and is intended for use with copters AND planes. I have no experience with it but I'm waiting for the new release "Ardupilot Mega 2".
Mar 14, 2012, 07:33 AM
I never finish anyth
I own the DJI F550 Hex with Naza and love it. The WKM has more GPS functionality and some Return To Home (RTH) features you might find you need. I also am fairly new (owning and flying... been researching for many months while flying in a flight sim) and Robert @ DJI USA was able to answer my questions/concerns making me feel comfortable about making such a large purchase. I ended up ordering a new transmitter/receiver through him and for a little extra $$ he built my hex and did a test flight. I was worried about the shipping but there was enough shipping peanuts in the box to fill 1.5 13gal trash bags.

As previously stated, you may want to look into FPV as well. It's very easy to lose orientation when covering a lot of ground and you don't want to lose your vehicle AND camera gear. FPV will also ensure you are getting the video/pics you need.
Mar 14, 2012, 10:54 AM
Destroyer of G-10
askman's Avatar
for that sized field, I actually think airplane would be bit easier. I would setup with downward camera with GPS/OSD. record the downlink to laptop for later review. you may need second camera for FPV setup as well, but you may be able to get away with fling plane from ground depending on where you can control it form I can easily see larger airplane 400 yard away for control.
Mar 14, 2012, 12:30 PM
I never finish anyth
Originally Posted by askman
for that sized field, I actually think airplane would be bit easier. I would setup with downward camera with GPS/OSD. record the downlink to laptop for later review. you may need second camera for FPV setup as well, but you may be able to get away with fling plane from ground depending on where you can control it form I can easily see larger airplane 400 yard away for control.
Would he be able to get the level of detail needed to spot weeds/pests with a fast moving plane? I don't know enough about planes to speak intelligently but I would think it would hard to fly that low or slow to get good details.

Also I overlooked the size of fields he is working in... I think you could get away with a DJI F550 maybe even a 450 with a small camera and Naza. you would just need to find a camera that does GPS tagging
Mar 14, 2012, 01:11 PM
Destroyer of G-10
askman's Avatar
most glider type plane fly really slow. I've used to fly slow stick and it flys at sub 20mph. I use easy glider wing on slow stick and it handles wind much better. I find flying plane to be lot less stressful and easier than multi/heli. but that is just me. I find each setup has a role.

I am setting up a roll/tilt on a plane for testing. it should be much easier to stabilize as planes are more stable. I will post video when I get there.
Mar 14, 2012, 01:20 PM
manual flying apologist
Adidas4275's Avatar
yeah.... planes are much less stressful for sure

I have a skywalker, but it is too difficult to travel with.... looking at getting a 40" wing that I can put in a rifle case to travel with

once my multirotors are flying reliably (if that ever happens)
Mar 14, 2012, 07:01 PM
Registered User
Thanks for all of the feedback. I'm leaning towards building a plane and seeing how that works this spring, if I don't get the desired results I'll build a multi and go from there.

Any suggestions on good slow glide planes?
Mar 14, 2012, 08:24 PM
manual flying apologist
Adidas4275's Avatar
a ritewing flying wing would be nice for long flight times, good slow speed handling and easy to mount a down facing camera.
Mar 15, 2012, 01:27 PM
Registered User

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