Farmer looking for advice.

Hi guys,  I'm very new to all this so i apologize in advance if my questions are a little elementary.,  I'm investigating the possibilities of buying or constructing a drone to help my father monitor his farm. I got in touch with a few companies who offer drones ,marketed for agricultural use and was quoted a price of around 20.000euro. ,After recovering from my fit of laughter at the thought of companies thinking farmers have 20k lying around in this economy i decided to try build my own.  The idea is to have a copter style ,UAV that can navigate around our farmland and give us real time footage of what it see's. We have both animals and crops spread out , , , Over a very large area of land, so the flight time would have to be as long as possible. 20-30 minutes if that is realistically possible.  ,My idea was to mount a high resolution IP camera on the drone and the extra batteries to power it so i would estimate the payload to be around 2 kg. The ability for it to fly autonomously around a specified route and the ability to switch to manual control would be ideal.  My questions to you guys are as follows.  Is there any Kit or model out there that would fit my requirements at a reasonable price? Around 20-30 minutes flight time with a 2 kg payload.,  Is it possible to have the IP camera video and controls for the device on a tablet?  Is 20.000 to 45.000 euro extremely over priced for a copter style UAV or is this a fair amount of money for a company to charge?   If anybody makes or sell's a device which could achieve these goals then do not hesitate to get in touch. I'm open to the idea of having someone build the device for me as I'm no engineer and i could not live with myself if my device fell from the sky and took out a horse.Thanks in advanceJohn

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Replies

  • Hi,

    Welcome to the community! You have indeed an interesting project.

    As many have said: getting used to the RC world is essential if you don't want to experience loss or destruction of your investment.

    Check what others have done with different methods: most get quite interesting results with photography. 

    Some are playing with FPV + photo ....

    Some even investigate Near InfraRed technology (way cheaper than infrared cameras) which I believe could be of some benefit to you since there is a definite temperature difference with living animals.....

    As soon as you want to 'delegate' RC skills to the builder/seller of the appliance, it gets quite expensive because of the R&D work to make things 'foolproof'.

    Hope this helps

  • Hi John

    You have an excellent project, and many of us here would find this really interesting and fun to build this as part of our hobby.

    You have received excellent advice above. The main issue is if you do not have experience in the remote control hobby, and with playing with hardware and some software, this will likely turn out to be very difficult, frustrating, and surprisingly expensive (from mistakes and crashes etc).

    So the question to ask yourself is do you have the time to devote to learning and enjoying this as a hobby over say the next 6 months and then enjoying keeping up and playing with RC to keep your skills. If the answer is yes, then you will enjoy a great hobby, and will be able to do what you are asking. If you do not have the time or interest in learning and maintaining this as a "hobby", the there are probably better and cheaper ways to do what you want (maybe ground based surveillance cameras around your property). I believe, even if you were to get a commercial product, RC experience will still be a significant asset as it broadens your options for products.

    Two last minor points for you to consider: 1) for large spaces a fixed wing is faster and more efficient. It is much easier to build a plane that can stay up for 30-40min than a multirotor copter; 2) we currently do not have affordable high definition cameras that can transmit to ground for real time high definition surveillance. We have standard definition analog transmitted video, which may not have to resolution for you to see what you might consider relatively big objects from 200-500 feet up. But you can record high def for later viewing easily and cheaply

    This is a great project - and I encourage to get into this, if you have the time and interest to view it as a hobby with ongoing time demands

    Al
  • Developer

    Putting together a system that fits the letter of your requirements for much less then €20K is possible. But, that does not include all the work, experimenting, programming and failures to get such a system to actually work like you need it to.

    This is a DIY enthusiast forum and people reading you request will view it from a DIY/Hobby point of view, often forgetting that for other people a UAV can be just a tool to perform a certain task. And as a tool it has to "just work (tm)" day in and day out without having to fiddle with settings, solder electronics and learning how to program.

    My point is that the price for a commercial system, does not necessarily reflect the price of hardware. But everything else has gone into the system so that it becomes a proper work tool.

  • I'd consider a glider like the ones for sale at http://www.event38.com. They're not set up for video by default, but the airframe is called a Skywalker and if you google "skywalker fpv" you'll get lots of hits on how to set up the airframe for video. The event38 system would get you the autopilot and airframe and you'd have to mod it for FPV, but you could probably get the whole system going for less then $1,000. I'm still playing with the Skywalker, but from what I've read 2 KG is a piece of cake.

    Regards,

    - Mark

    PS: If you hit a horse with a Skywalker all you'd probably do is p*** it off.

  • what sort of distances are we talking ?

  • Farmer John,

     

    You have the options of both helicopter, multi rotor types and also fixed wing. Looking at your average flight time and payload I would suggest you look at fixed wing aircraft. Do you have any RC flight experience? Get some, you will need it if you go the UAV route whether it is an airplane or helicopter.

     

    The amounts for fully functional UAV "kits" are as per the market pricing, fair. They are not cheap. I believe you will find someone in your area who will be willing to help you getting started

     

    Best of luck on your endeavor

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