DIY or COTS VTOL Surveying?

Simple question, but coming from my background, I have the passion to make my own, I'm just not sure if its feasible in this situation.  I know a little about the ardu pilot, I am a self taught EE, with some Python, C, and CPP skills.  While I love making things, I'm concerned this is WAY outside of my abilities just because of my lack of knowledge of the commercial drone platforms.  I work better on lists, so this is my ramblings:


Self return to charging pad

remote operation via PC

remote video on same PC (std. IR, FLIR, etc)

FULL OSD on the PC

20-30 minutes min flight time



programmable routes

ability to track an object

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  • Thank you for the awesome information! Greetings from Germany
  • This is a very cool project. You're doing a similar project for your coursework. Using the service I am writing a paper on how to create such a project myself and I am describing a similar experience. Thanks for giving me a couple of great ideas in the discussion to use in my coursework.
    Do My Coursework
    I need to ✍do my coursework✍ strikes with pressing deadline and you wish to let someone else write my coursework? ☝Solution is to let professional he…
  • awesome, simple enough, thank you!!!

  • Alright, you could definitely do that with Arducopter and a DIY drone. Of course you would have to program the part where it gets tripped by the motion detector and all that, but flying a perimeter or pre-determined search pattern is definitely doable.

  • Thanks for the information.  I dont have any software, as the last drones I worked with arent exactly available for the civilian world.  All I really want, end of day, is to patrol my property, which I dont live at, and when a trip sensor detects motion, the UAV can take flight, head to the location, take video, return and upload and/or message me

  • You can definitely do all of that with a Pixhawk or a Navio2+Raspberry Pi running Arducopter. Use Mission Planner on your PC (or similar software on a mobile device such as a tablet) for your ground station. You can do waypointing and pre-programmed routes, etc.

    Video: Run either an FPV camera or an Action Cam or even larger camera with HDMI output to a video TX and hook a video RX to your PC or mobile tablet / phone or even FPV goggles. 

    For OSD you can use the Minam OSD or Pitlab.

    Flight time is of course dependent on many variables, but 20 - 30 should be doable if you're all up weight is realistic for the batteries you're using.

    I think the real question would be: What are the commercial UAVs going for that do what you want, and is it realistic to make your own instead? From what I can read, it seems the software for mapping / surveying is the most complex part. Do you already have a software package in mind for that?

    If you need super accurate (down to CM stuff) results, you will probably need to invest in some kind of RTK gear. I know Emlid and others make them. Maybe someone with more knowledge of those systems will add their advice.

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