DJI Phantom 4 Pro
I am going to purchase a Phantom 4 Pro within the next few days. I have absolutely no experience with UAVs or what the capabilities are, but I figure if I want to learn I have to jump in with both feet. Are there any resources I can purchase, read, or watch that will help with training or has everyone else just learned through pure trial and error.
I know I have to register it as well as get the UAV license. I'm on track with all of that, but what I'm really looking for is some resources that will help with proper setup & procedures, post processing, and quality control.
Thanks in advance.
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I'm only dabbling myself but Pix4D is pretty easy to get the flight path mission setup. They also have a number of tutorials on YouTube which are ok. I was able to relatively easily have it make an orthophoto but got hung up on setting up the ground control points parts. I was trying to use a local coordinate system which it didn't seem to like. Gotta learn more. It's mostly for fun at this point and to keep a pulse on what these things can do.
When drones first hit the market I was immediately excited by the potential.
Instead of going full bore with a Phantom, I bought a little one off Amazon. It was remarkably sophisticated for less than $30. Bare bones, no cameras.
At the time, I was laid up with a broken leg and quickly got to where I could fly around inside the house with some skill.
It's a really good way to start on your flight skills without driving a Phantom with it's expensive camera and gimbal into the Earth.
If you are using live video, especially the goggle-type, your first few flights will introduce you to spatial disorientation and thus, wrecks are part of the learning curve. There are some pretty good drone flight schools out there. Might be good to wreck theirs first.
I never went the full drone route, but I still take the little one out once in a while.
I have been eyeing the refurbished phantom 3 pro on new egg for practice before I get a more expensive projectile.
Carlson started working with pixelement and I would suggest at least looking there. The new survey manager sees drone surveying as a good direction and is gearing point cloud module to processing the data better. Global mapper seems to be a good choice for processing as well but I have not yet seen a cloud or imagery to have experience.
J. Thaddeus Eldredge, PLS, CFM
Eldredge Surveying & Engineering, LLC
As for learning tips on flying, DJI website has some good tutorial videos, as well as a piolots forum. There are also tons of videos on YouTube, many of which are actually helpful. There is a drone simulator software, I think it comes as part of the Pro4 pack, but I am not certain I am remembering that correctly. As for actually flying the drone, as long as you know what your controller buttons do, and have a good GPS signal, the drone is really pretty easy to handle.
If it ain't a mess, it'll do till the mess gets here...
As previously stated, The Phantom 4 Pro is the way to go. We're purchased three at the company I work because they ate so versatile. Their obstacle avoidance is steller. They are easy to operate. There are a ton of accessories. The 20 mp camera is outstanding, and really wraps up the rig. Also, do NOT get the integrated screen controller. A 7-9" tablet (Android or iOS) will work just fine and allow more flexibility in programs. I do not suggest a phone, as the screen is simply too small. We budget $2k for the P4P, weather case, additional batteries, multi-chargers, cords, and tablet. (Usually sourced from Amazon) $2k for equipment?! I'm used to an extra zero on the end of that! 🙂
There are so many avenues with utilizing a drone for surveying, that it is best to start simple. Run through the DJI trainings, they are pretty good at describing controls, different settings, etc.
You'll want to do an evaluation on if you can ever operate a drone in the areas you typically do work. As an example, the east coast is a terribly congested airspace.
Then, you'll need to decide just how in depth you go. Only orthos? Cool. Volumes, great. Full on ALTA mapping and civil design projects? Now you're in the thick of it.
For the latter, I'm a full supporter of DatuSurvey. It isn't nearly as automated as Pix4d, but we consistently see better results with it. Of course, we might be splitting hairs, but Pix4d is usually around 0.15' H and V, while DatuSurvey is typically half that.
Lastly, I know a lot of us folks would gladly entertain a message or call if you're looking for advice, info, etc.
DJI is pretty easy to fly, I had a 3pro just for fun. Learn to fly in an open area, go slow... these things will really haul if you want. Invest in extra batteries, and maybe an extra charger. Love my pelican case. My biggest recommendation is at least a 8" tablet. 10" probably too big, and heavy on the controller. Make sure you get a tablet from their approved list though, and even then I would check out the forums to see if people have trouble with them. I use my wifes 8" TabA. And although unofficially supported, it always gives me fits getting connected. You don't have to get expensive at all, but get one that people don't have issues with.
Down this way, sellers are advertising Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Advanced. I see the DJI website tells the difference between the two, including that the Advanced is a tweaked up version of the Pro and has a mechanical shutter. I think the other discussions on this forum have advised which is better.
I'd start off with a used Phantom 3 advanced. You might find a used one for $400. Learn to fly it, learn to run the 3rd party apps like drone deploy or Pix4D capture. If you can create your first 3D model and find a use for it, you could upgrade to a P4Pro. Remember, if you are going to use it as part of your commercial operation, you need to get your remote pilots license. The test was a bit more difficult than I had anticipated.