Hi all,

I have been silently watching this group for months now and reading as much as I can and I am finally at a point where I would like to ask for input.

I live in South Korea and at the moment UAVs are just a hobby, but like many of you I would like to be a part of this massive evolution in tech and its endless Agri applications. My dream would be to fly UAVs over farms in South Africa (my home) and collect crop/stock data confidently and possibly offer this skill set to the Environmental sector too, as this is where I have most of my training (EIA and ESIA studies)

I have just finished building a pretty solid flying wing and I have got the hang of flying it: 

My question is: What now?

Do I buy the APM autopilot system and learn how that works? Do I get setup for FPV? Cash in my life savings and buy a decent multispec cam? 

Any suggestions would be most welcome and additional tips and wisdom would be appreciated.


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  • A good equation is :

    Modified Penguin + APM 2.5 + good GPS + long range telemetry +  NDVI camera + android tablet / Win8 laptop + 9 channels remote control + Agisoft Photoscan

    - Either DIY at the (high) risk of frying the fragile electronics and spend a solid amount of time and money but it is possible (buy spares !).

    - Or check out various providers such as 3DR, Flight Riot, myself, and a few others in the world who sell RTF ones.

    Pixhawk is sexy but not a mature product yet. I would not recommend it to start a business today. I may do so tomorrow.

  • Hi Dale

    I'm based in the Cape and I'm busy working in the same area, primarily for the vineyards. There is a long and steep (and sometimes expensive) learning curve but there is a lot of good information right here at DIYdrones. Join this group and scan the contributions:


    I can't add much to the great advice you've already been given here, but if you visit SA or return permanently at some point, look me up.

    • Hi John,

      Great to hear from you are you a farmer? Glad to see that another South African is into this stuff :)

      I will definitely drop you a line when I get back to SA.

      Keep well

  • Hi Dale,

    Buy the ready to fly Skywalker 2013 with PixHawk autopilot, which are for sale on the 3DR store, no need for the FPV option, but add the FrSky Taranis option (in my opinion).

    Then get hold of two Canon cameras that will fit like the s95 model and covert one to 720nm, download the CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit) and "Card tricks" ftp program which you then use to upload the CHDK script onto the SD Cards, so CHDK boots when you turn on the cameras. CHDK is now well supported by Ardupilot and Mission Planner, the cameras can be triggered using a micro USB cable connected to the Ardupilot, subscribe to the Photo Mapping group to find out more about this.

    Using 720nm and the Red Channel from the uncoverted camera you can create NDVI images, you will also have standard RGB images to create mosaics for visual crop recognition, 3D Digital Elevation Models etc.

    You will need some software like AgPixel, PhotoScan and a GIS program like Global Mapper, all are available for trial use before you have to part with any cash.

    Once your making some money then decide if you want to buy a $3,500 multispectral camera, etc.

    Here are some images I took of wheat crop trials from 100m Above Ground Level, a couple of years ago with a pair of Canon s90 12.1 mega pixel cameras running the CHDK script. They have been re-sizzed for the web, the originals are 3MB each.

    3701691474?profile=original3701691505?profile=originalThe bushy plots are wheat varieties that have "logged" - collapsed under the weight of the rain and wind, the flat areas are crops that are still standing tall - vertical.

    3701691494?profile=original3701691527?profile=originalMy trusty old Maja with twin cameras, RIP.

    • Hi Keith,

      Im looking at what airframe to use for mapping....there's a mix of answers and they range from Flying Wings like the Ritewing ZII to the skywalker like you mentioned....wouldn't a wing be be better in terms of durability..for example based on some of the lessons learned by the 3DR team it seems that constant landing for agri purposes takes a toll on airframes (http://robohub.org/ten-lessons-for-farm-drones/)....multirotors have their own flying time issues....but in the end its experience that counts using them...im trying to get an idea what platform to choose...flying wing or the skywalker...and then focus on one to tune and improve on. multirotors can be used for short flights and mapping but i have narrowed it down to either the ZII or the Skywalker 2014

      would be interested in your input


    • Horses for courses!

      If you're landing on standing crops, then the Skywalker / Maja is O.K.

      Most commercial UAVs (Smartplanes, eBee, Swinglet, Gatewing, UX5, Quest, Bramor) all use the Delta wing!

      I have just bought a Skywalker 2013 kit and a X6 kit, my plan is to compare both this summer and draw a conclusion. Reading the spec's the 2013 fly's slower than the 2014 model, so you might want to consider this, as for our uses, slow and stable is better than "sporty" for FPV users.

      Best of luck!

    • sorry, I searched all through the groups, the closest one I could find was "Image Orthorectification", is that the photo mapping one you were talking about?


    • Hello Keith, can you post somoe photos of your catapult? I'm triying to do one for my Skywalker, Thank's

    • Hi Cala,

      I have just set up a group called "Catapult & Bungee Launchers", as you inspired me to do this. I have thought before now that a group like this would answer many questions. Any way I have posted a video of the catapult that Bormatec manufacture. The Maja has a flat bottom, so it sits well on the track, join the Group and we can discuss there, I expect many people prefer bungee launching a Skywalker, rather than a catapult, as they have rounded fueslage's.

      Best regards,


    • Thank's see there

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