Is it possible for me to build a DIY mapping fixed wing drone?

Hello all, im a newbie looking to get into the drone business of mapping and surveying. I have a few quad copters that can take care of small jobs and stills but Im now looking to increase my reach by having a fix wing drone in my arsenal. The cost of the fix wing drones for sale intended for mapping are pretty pricey. 

I was on youtube and stumbled upon a Skywalker Black X8 . Is there a possible way i could use an airframe like this or any other that you may suggest and make a mapping drone?

Im a novice but very tech savvy and can catch on quickly, what are all the components/parts I would need to make an autonomous fixed wing that takes stills, works with an autopilot and all of that jazz. Is this even possible for me to do?

Thank you for all of your help!!!

I'll probably use Pix4d for my rendering/stitching 

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Sure you can. And you can buy them from here: https://event38.com/fixed-wing/e384-mapping-drone/   (among other places),

You could buy all the same components and make this yourself -- but you really need to have done some flying first.

Samson,

I started building fixed-wing drones for AP a couple of years back. The building is an easy process (you will get really good at this as crashing is part of the learning process).  If you have never flown an RC plane however I would not start with the X8. I learned to fly with a local RC model club - you will need to fly in manual from time to time and this experience will save you a lot of heartache - it is very different to flying multirotors (but much more fun!),

You can buy the Skywalker 1900 that the event drones are based on - they are great and we have used them successfully for longer flights (up to 50 minutes with an 8000mAh battery). They are really easy to fly but difficult to get hold of now.  We have just taken delivery of a Skywalker EVE-2000 - this looks like a fantastic AP platform.  We tried several flying wings but they are a pain to fly in manual by comparison. If you want to go that route then an X5 might be better to learn on, the X8 is difficult to get in the air!

There are lots of other things to consider with fixed wings, not least the landing area required. Getting them to slow down as they land can lead to some challenges :)  But there are always parachute options - it depends on where you want to fly.

Good luck

Darrel

Might I interest you in one of my earliest builds?

(See attached photo)

I kid.....mostly.  Looks like Marc and Darrel got you covered!

Attachments:

Hello,

I was just talking to a guy in Radio Shack who had come in for a part, and he told me that if he had to buy a new drone, he would go for the 3DR Solo.  I looked it up, and you can get it from Amazon or Best Buy for under $300 (I was just looking for the Skywalker X8 on Amazon and it's sold out). 

I also just funded a Kickstarter project - the Jevois Smart Camera, and you can get a plug and play kit for just over $50.  I should be getting mine this month, and they are starting another batch next month.

The Jevois Smart Camera can do OpenCV on board.  As far as the overall pipeline, you mentioned using Pix4d to do stitching - I'm not familiar with that yet.  Not sure if there's a way to transfer the video cheaply in realtime from the drone (I'm interested in learning more here), but if you could, then you could probably do the image stitching from your car with a laptop.

Hi,

I also do aerial mapping using diy fixed wing. Just finished my current aerial mapping platform using...

Skywalker eve2000
Pixhawk 2.1
Sony A6000
Attachments:

Congrats on your new fixed wing, it looks great! I just sent you a friend request. I'd like to inbox your if you don't mind me picking your brain a little. Thanks ScratchNodado

No problem :). Will try to help you as far as i can. There are also lots of members here who are willing to help.



Samson said:

Congrats on your new fixed wing, it looks great! I just sent you a friend request. I'd like to inbox your if you don't mind me picking your brain a little. Thanks ScratchNodado

That build is almost identical to mine!  Have you flown it yet? Weather has been crap here so no chance for me yet,

Have you added any additional strengthening beneath the camera?  I am probably going to use a servo gimbal (2-axis) but need to figure out the best way to stop the nose getting damaged.  We land on tricky basalt covered fields (not in the uk!) - protecting the camera is critical.  Are you using the 16mm lens?   

We will be deploying an RTK system (reach) with the hotshoe trigger recording and I am also thinking about a parachute.

This really is the airframe for all of this. Let us know how your first flights go-  it will probably be Easter before I can test fly (I am also still waiting for a pixhawk 2 - they are like gold dust here in the UK).

Cheers

Darrel



ScratchNodado said:

Hi,

I also do aerial mapping using diy fixed wing. Just finished my current aerial mapping platform using...

Skywalker eve2000
Pixhawk 2.1
Sony A6000
Maiden will follow after i replace the esc and props. I cant get the low and high end points after the throttle calibration....the 3 blade props are inefficient, will replace it with an 11x7

I did fiberglassed the belly upto the nose with 2 layers of 200grams fg cloth

Also replaced the 16mm lens with 20mm. I get distortion at the edge border using 16mm lens



Darrel Maddy said:

That build is almost identical to mine!  Have you flown it yet? Weather has been crap here so no chance for me yet,

Have you added any additional strengthening beneath the camera?  I am probably going to use a servo gimbal (2-axis) but need to figure out the best way to stop the nose getting damaged.  We land on tricky basalt covered fields (not in the uk!) - protecting the camera is critical.  Are you using the 16mm lens?   

We will be deploying an RTK system (reach) with the hotshoe trigger recording and I am also thinking about a parachute.

This really is the airframe for all of this. Let us know how your first flights go-  it will probably be Easter before I can test fly (I am also still waiting for a pixhawk 2 - they are like gold dust here in the UK).

Cheers

Darrel



ScratchNodado said:

Hi,

I also do aerial mapping using diy fixed wing. Just finished my current aerial mapping platform using...

Skywalker eve2000
Pixhawk 2.1
Sony A6000

would also like to inbox you with a quick question on geo reffing the images w Mission Planner

Samson said:

Congrats on your new fixed wing, it looks great! I just sent you a friend request. I'd like to inbox your if you don't mind me picking your brain a little. Thanks ScratchNodado

Hello,

I'm planning a build with a Sony QX1 and a Designing Innovation 2-axis gimbal. This will be controlled by the pixhawk 2. I think I have narrowed it down to the Skywalker X8 or Skywalker eve2000. Others that should fit the gimbal are:

I soar one
XUAV two
Xuav talon max
Nimbus 1800
Swallow electric UAV 2600
New Hugin 2200
Fx79 Buffalo
I haven't decided on the other components yet, and would love feedback. Thank you for your time!


Hey ScratchN,

I like the build you did with the Pix 2.1 and Sony A6000.  I am wanting to get into Mapping with my drones and thought you might have some helpful advice.  I have mainly multirotors and recently have been upgrading a Tarot 680 with a Pixhawk 2.1 and it has a Sony A6000 with a gimbal.  It is set up with long range radio (EZUHF) immersion and I am soon to get a new Tarot 960 frame with 320KV and 17" x55 Props.  I have had to rebuild my 680pro because of an issue with the old pixhawk having compass issues and decided to just rebuild with new set up.  The t960 is going to be using the DJI A2 FC but I am hoping to still use the Sony A6000 with it.  

I am interested in finding out what you need to do when you arrive at a site to map with your drone or what would you consider to be the most important things to learn to start mapping using a drone?  How did you find the pixhawk 2.1 for setting up?  Are the input pins the same as the 3DR pixhawk and do you have a intel edison chip on yours?

 I have worked in various fields such as building construction, horticulture and agriculture and studied Science, Chem, Computer studies and I've worked with drones about 3 years.  I already invested about $20,000 on drone technology since getting into it with the hope that I could make it into a job. I am interested in maybe using Lidar or using optical sensors to produce the point cloud maps. 

ScratchNodado said

Hi,


I also do aerial mapping using diy fixed wing. Just finished my current aerial mapping platform using...

Skywalker eve2000
Pixhawk 2.1
Sony A6000

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