Greetings DIY Drone members,

I am new to this website, and therefore if I am posting this in the wrong place or anything like that, please let me know. My dilemma is that I want to purchase a drone for Aerial Photography, but more specifically 3D Surface models using Pix4d software, or a similar type of software. I am completely new to this game, but I work for a Private consulting engineering company, and my hopes are to be able to incorporate this drone into our topographic survey jobs. I understand all of the legal issues with drones, and am trying to do everything by the book, so until I get my Section 333 Exemption, I will use it for non-profit experimenting, so that when I am able to legally charge clients, I will have a rough Idea of what I am doing. I am interested in purchasing the Inspire 1 by DJI, but my biggest concern is that there may be a better drone for specifically aerial mapping or 3D mapping. I would appreciate any and all input regarding this topic, but mostly, I want to know what the best drone is for this type of work. I have access to professional survey equipment, so Setting GCP's (ground control points) and even tying them together by running a traverse would not be an issue. I am hoping that by using GCP's, and overlapping images by 65-80% that we will able to obtain survey grade surfaces for use in Auto CAD programs, specifically Civil 3D. I thank anyone in advance with information answering my questions.

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          • Nick,

            if you have 10 hectars divided in a couple of segments, I would stick to a multicopter. Accuracy mostly depends on the resolution of the camera sensor, the quality of the lens, shutter speed, ISO setting, precision of the used ground control points, used workflow to generate the dense pointcloud, etc.
            As you see, there is not much talking about what aerial vehicle is used. If the shutter speed is high enough, the constant forward movement of an airplane is not relevant for the accuracy and sharpness of the image.

            One disadvantage of an airplane is that it needs space to start and land. The benefits are having a higher payload capacitiy and less used electronics and compexicity. If the motor on an airplane fails, you can still glide down easily. If one motor fails on a quadcopter, there is no way of saving it from a crash beside having a parachute. An airplane is usually cheaper than a multirotor with the same payload capacity. I build both for my customers, but airplanes are more requested, as they tend to be 2k cheaper than a complete multirotor setup.

            If you want to use a multicopter, go at least for a hexa or even 8 rotors. This will give you a backup of power and control if one motor fails and adds payload capacitiy. Use the pixhawk as flight control, as it gives you full auto mission control for free and is remarkable cheaper than other fc's of that qualitiy. Use stiff frames made out of carbon fiber, a folding frame or a detachable is an option, but choose a good one. The camera gimbal can be a cheaper servo gimbal, but i would invest the extra 1k for a nice brushless setup to be able to make additional beauty shots and filming with the setup. A good camera choice is the Sony Alpha 6000 or if you want to go higher, the Panasonic GH4.
            This together is a pretty nice setup and will give you the ability to do anything one can do with a multicopter during a 10-15 minutes of flight time.
            To process the imagery, most of us use Agisoft Photoscan Professional, which adds another 3k to your bill, but its worth the price.
            If you want, we can do a chat via skype or similar, so we can gou through your questions and wishes step by step.

            With regards
            Marc
            Parked at Loopia
            • Mark,

              I would really like to talk with you more about this topic. I apologize for how long it took me to get back with you, my schedule has been very hectic, as I'm taking 16 credit hours this semester as well as working 30+ hrs. at the engineering firm where I work. I have been outside almost all week, so I wasn't able to do my drone research on my lunch break like I usually do, and that is why I haven't really had the chance to reply. My Skype name is nick.brew.94 and I would like to talk to you more about this. I really appreciate your help so far, and if you build drones, then I would like to see what you have to offer as well. I had my heart set on the Inspire 1 by DJI, but I am more concerned about getting the proper drone for 3d mapping/aerial photography. I am open to all advice at this point, but also, I am itching to purchase my drone here shortly so I can start testing it. I will be out of school in 5 weeks, and want to put my summer to good use for testing my drone when I'm not working.

              Thanks,

              Nick

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