I work for a soil conservation district in Michigan.  We could use a way to make LiDAR maps for conservation planning software.  It's pretty expensive to get those shoots done, and we would end up with a ton of data we don't need.  Anybody have thoughts on who might have small UAV based LiDAR systems in the pipe, either for sale or available to do some shooting for us?  I am also very interested in the topic of remote senseing, especially near IR for crop scouting and tile line location.  Small, cheep and easy to use would be best of course ;<)  Your thoughts are welcome.

Mark Ludwig

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what kind of accuracy do you require. 


Looking for a point density of at least 1 point per meter, map should be  2’ contours or better.  I had hoped that if we spent our dollars on a UAV based shoot for only the areas we really need we could fly it good and low for excellent resolution.  And FYI this is not something I know much about, I just need the data.  So please don't be surprised if I don't know the proper terminology.  We need the data for erosion modeling and building basins such as WASCOBs and 2 stage ditches, the better the resolution, the less ground based surveying will be needed.  Hope to use Agren conservation planning software, they google pretty well.


Hi  - I know of a German student at UC Davis with a scanning lidar system ( mounted on an RC plane. He said he has to fly at ~10m to get reasonable (but still a bit noisy) data. Unfortunately he hasn't been able to fly in the USA due to FAA regulations. I can send him your contact information if that would be helpful. If you have trees and other obstacles to worry about you'll need something more powerful so you can fly higher than 10m and that quickly gets heavy and expensive if you need a scanning lidar. 

As far as NIR photography you should look at some of the research notes on the web site. A few people there are using kites and balloons for NIR, NDVI and false color mapping and someone is working on a eral-time NDVI video setup called the Py in the Sky.

If you want to fly a UAV legally for this work you'll need to get FAA authorization, a Certificate of Authorization (COA), and that can be a good bit of work and can take months to get approval for a single mission. You don't need FAA authorization if you do it as a hobby.


A few things you need to be aware about.

1. Currently according to FAA regulations you cannot contract a service provide to fly a UAV i.e. it is not legal for anyone to fly the area for you if you pay them.

2. It is legal for you as a governmental entity  to operate a UAV as long as you have a Certificate of Authorization from the FAA.

Contact me via my website maybe a test case and white paper may be way for me to assist.

why  LiDAR

what about spectral filters like an IR DYI for under $100.00 !

Hi Mark,

You can have a look to this system, it may fit you needs:

Hi Mark

I am soil conservationist in Australia so I understand exactly what you are after.  The challenge apart from the legal ones outlined are the data ones. LIDAR is very data hungry with small areas producing several hundred or even thousands of MB of data.  The other challenge is getting a suitable airframe / battery combination to capture the data you're after.  Here's a link that might help : LIDAR Presi


In terms of the near IR crop assessment I am currently looking at this. I fly a H-Frame quad with a GoPro mounted on it. I am looking at filtering out the visible light and post processing the resulting IR.  I have also toyed with a GoPro stereo mount and use one camera for IR and the other for visible.  Again I would need to post process into a false colour image for vegetation index work.


hope this hleps


Hi Mark. If you are still looking for a UAV based LIDAR, I am selling my unused and tested HDL32E by Velodyne at a low price. I found that I will just invest more on UAVs rather than processing lidar images. The price of a brand new one is 30K USD. Email me at for more info. Attached pics of my UAV heli setup.


Hi Mark,

I plan to sell this whole system. Its a Velodyne LiDar HDL32E on board a gasoline powered autonomous helicopter. This might interest you. Email :

Hi Patrick

I am also doing work with a University which aims to correlate various plant disease and pests with NIR values and create a user friendly process which will provide immediate results. I use the Tetracam ADC Lite NIR camera. It does a great job.

I also have a Go Pro stereo 3D case. I plan to o what you have done. Split the camera one IR and one visible. Did you convert your Go Pro cam into IR?



Hi Jerome

I'm looking to get a GoPro 3d case. At the moment I'm working out how to mount a visible light filter to my existing GoPro, taking the IR images then RGB and post processing.  For the filter I'm using Perspex 962.  Here's a link to a paper on it's filtering properties perspex 962 paper Post processing wise I'm using the techniques outlined here : Post processing IR for NRG and NDVI

Hope this helps.


How did you get on with the HDL32E?

did you manage to produce point cloud data along with time tagged positioning?



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