Mapping with Ardupilot

I've been playing with ArduPlane for quite a while and have finally got to the point where I can make it do something useful. I've been inspired by others on this site to use it for aerial photography to make 3D maps and the like.


I have an ST Models Discovery as the airframe (awesome platform for Arduplane by the way) and have made my own camera mount out of plywood for the bottom. It has one servo for roll stabilisation using CHAN 8 on the autopilot to keep the camera pointing down. It's basic but works pretty well (see pics)



Last weekend I flew over a small island on the river near my house. I managed to get 155 photos in around 10 mins and produce quite a reasonable 3d surface using hypr3d. I gotta say that these guys rock with great personal service and it's all free! They did struggle a bit with that many photos, but you can see the result below


3D Rotatable version

I'm not in the same league as some of the other makers of aerial maps on this site, and have no idea of the accuracy of this map, but was pretty happy with the early results and would like to work on this more to get better results.


my setup is

Airframe - ST Models Discovery Trainer with stock motor and 30A ESC

Arduplane 2.24 with Magnetometer, airspeed kit and xbee - a few lines of code added to output roll stabilisation

Home made camera mount with roll stabiliser

Canon IXUS 50 camera 5MP (this is a very light P&S camera) running CHDK

Spektrum DX 7 2.4GHz tx/rx

2200 mAh 3s motor battery + 1000 mAh 2s battery to power all other electronics via a UBEC (the stock BEC is too small)


I used Mark Willis's aerial coverage spreadsheet to calculate the waypoints before launch and it seemed to produce a good result.You can see the waypoint in the following screenshot








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  • Hey everyone, I'm Tom, the CTO of  Just want to say "Thank You!" to James for the excellent use of our service.  For others who are interested, the ideal overlap between images is about 1/2 an image above, below, left and right.  That way any given point on the ground is seen in about 5 images.  This allows a strong model to be built in a reasonable amount of time.  Less overlap results in spotty results, and more overlap limits the amount of area that can be covered by a flight.  We're happy to work with Michael & Martin to further develop the planning algorithm for optimal coverage and timing!  Again, James, awesome work!

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  • Nice job!

    Could you explain how to generate the WP from the spreadsheet? I could not understand how it works.

  • excellent work! This really looks great.

  • Nice James. Good to see that you're in the air.

    You'll have to come to a Perth FPV meetup and show off your kit :D

  • thanx for your help.

  • The spreadsheet is here,, it's very good too.

  • Could anyone link to spreedsheet for aerial coverage ?

  • Great results, I'm cribbing as much as I can, its the way I want to go too, I had missed much of the camera and waypoint coverage calculator posts and am very much playing catch up to all of you.

    Would be very interested to learn how to trigger the camera at a waypoint rather than using the time interval setting on CHDK.

  • this looks really great!

    huts off!!!


  • Mike, that would be a very useful feature in the planner. The spreadsheet is great but can be a bit teadious to get the waypoints in the right spot, since it has no map. If the planner let you click a start and end point (or drag out a box) and then calculated the path based on the camera params you give it, that would be great!
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