Its T3 time again but first I have started tagging people that have entered T3 in the past on their member icons its a very small recognition for their valuable contributions which have driven APM forward faster than it might have without the competition. They have not only put their equipment on the line discovering new ways of doing things but countless hours as well.

Unsung heroes in the development of low cost autopilots for all.

So lets get into this round.

I waste far too much time on the most excellent GEFS there could be more 3D buildings laid on top of the Google Earth base layer. Lets change that.

The last T3 challenge "The Cube" bought some really outstanding results and the natural progression from this is automated flight around a building or natural point of interest and the creation of a 3D model perhaps in 123D catch of the subject. Last November Alan Sanchez showed us how. Improvements in the multirotor code that came into play at the Sparkfun AVC will help with the flying.

This could be achieved with a fixed wing platform with a little thought.

We should have some ground rules (pun intended) you must seek permission to make a model of the building, or natural wonder! You should fly no higher than 130m and the flight should be hands off all the way and you should stay visual with the airframe at all times. Please do not create a model of something in class A airspace unless it's at a recognized model aircraft field.

The flight must be at very least autonomous from just after take off to just before landing. If you can do it all autonomously bonus points! FPV entries will not be permitted.

If you submit your model to Google Earth and get it placed bonus points when it appears on GEFS for me to fly around it. In this case the model might be skinned with images taken from the air.

This is no simple task so it should remain open for six months. Normally I tack time on at the end so to break with tradition lets start the competition on the 1st of August and run all the way to 1st Feb 2014! That gives folks the extension weeks in advance!

Prizes to be announced when I have finished twisting CA's arm. As we know he always comes good.
I am also putting out a call for volunteer judges from the ranks of previous T3 entrants to help me decide. This one is I think going to be very subjective and how attempts are documented is going to be a big factor. 

There is no doubt automated building inspection will be a part of the future for sUAS.

Good Luck, be safe


Now let the traditional but did you mean XYZ questions begin! Oh and if you are tooling around on GEFS as well look out for me as Gary sUAS News, often slope soaring ;-)

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Comment by Joshua Ott on July 11, 2013 at 10:14am

Excellent contest Gary! I'm excited to see the results. I can think of some great prizes we will be able to consider, lot's of cool stuff in the pipeline...

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 11, 2013 at 10:15am

Well, how long *is* the post production going to be?  I have no idea about that part.

Mapping many buildings would be cool.  A small town?

I think I know what my first target should be.  We have an old lighthouse in my village.  Would be cool, but I'd have to deal with the flying over water aspect again. <shudder>

Comment by Luca Passone on July 11, 2013 at 10:23am

Can we use multiple batteries and have mutliple entries?!

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 11, 2013 at 10:26am

Just so I can get my head around this... so what does it take to pull this off?

Obviously we need to be able to do an auto mission, flying around a building.  That part is now easy peasy.  But then, we also need to do an ROI on the center of the build?  Not sure about that, but I think it works?

Then we need to snap a bunch of photos.  Do they have to be accurated position/timed?  Or can we just do a 3 second intervalometer and go?  

So now I have a stack of photos. I upload them to 123DCatch somehow?  It crunches them, and spits out a model?  How does that work?

Love this contest because I wanted to learn to do this now anyway.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 11, 2013 at 10:42am

You can have a play with photosynth as well its very cool for making point clouds

@Lucas yes you can do what you like with the flight aspect but I think only one considered entry, your best. I don't mind if you show many entries and then say No 5 was my best so consider that.

Comment by David Anders on July 11, 2013 at 5:33pm
I'm with R_lef ob this one... Wanted to learn how to do it so great timing. As for winter in Australia... It doesnt snow much but plenty of rain down south and short days.
Comment by Luca Passone on July 11, 2013 at 5:53pm
Oh, one more thing, what are the deliverables? Videos of the flights? Log files? the point cloud? The pictures? All of the above?

Comment by Stephen Zidek on July 11, 2013 at 6:13pm

Luca, I plan on starting an entire thread to document my progress.

Comment by Randy on July 11, 2013 at 6:35pm

FalconUAV did this blog post which includes a fly through of the Sparkfun AVC course.  He apparently processed the pics using Catch123D.

Now to get those pictures, if using a copter I think we will need to fly a grid which a downward facing camera ideally attached with a roll-pitch compensating gimbal.  I'm not sure if we need GPS coordinates but if we do there would be two ways to get them:

  1. use a GPS enabled camera like this $350 Casio.  There are apparently cheaper cameras, I just randomly found this one with google.
  2. use a regular camera with a shutter triggered via a servo.  Done this way a CAMERA message should appear in the dataflash log each time the shutter is triggered.  This message includes the lat, lon, alt, roll, pitch and yaw of the copter.  Tridge has also recently added functionality to trigger the shutter each X meters the vehicles travels (implemented for both copter and plane).  I guess there would be some manual work to tie together the pictures with the gps coordinates.

At DroneCon FalconUAV mentioned that you also need to take pictures at different angles so maybe just taking pictures straight down isn't good enough.  Maybe we need to pics angles at the object.

The Mission Planner also has some functionality (I think in the Flight Plan screen) related to taking pictures and projecting the area that will be covered by the picture but I'm quite unsure what that functionality is or does.

ROI is broken by the way in AC3.0.1 but it's a fairly straight forward fix to get it working.

Comment by Randy on July 11, 2013 at 6:46pm

@Rob, a lighthouse sounds like a winner!  I was going to do the train station at the center of my town but it's not very pretty.  Then I thought of this cool rocky mountain nearby but it's likely too large...


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