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Aerial Photography Drone, Anyone?


neoknight88
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I work for an insurance company that's trying to keep adjusters from falling off of buildings by looking at the feasibility of using drones to map roof claims. As a proof of concept, my boss bought a $1500 DJI Phantom 4 Pro. He's asked me to look into building drones as a feasible way to keep costs down. I've been researching it, but I keep coming against conflicting data.

I was looking at using the following list as a preliminary build, and kept seeing people who have a similar build saying that everything works great and that it flies beautifully. But when I run the math (using a SWAG for the mass of some of the items), it's a bumblebee. It's too heavy to fly, it will only fly for maybe 6-8 minutes, etc. I'll grant that I'm looking at doing some things that probably haven't really been done as much in home builds of aerial photography drones, but I need to beat a Phantom 4 in price and ability if possible, which is no mean feat.

My Preliminary Parts List (All Multiples for Redundancy):

Flight System

1x S550 F550 Upgrade Hexacopter Fuselage Frame Kit PCB w/Carbon Fiber Landing Gear

3x Crazepony 4pcs Emax Mt2213 935kv Brushless Motor with Orignal 1045 Propller for DJI F450 F550 Quad Hex Octo Copter 2CW 2CCW

3x Makerfire 4pcs BLHeli_S 30A ESC OPTO Electronic Speed Controller 3-6S Brushless for FPV Multicopter Quadcopter

2x APM2.8 ArduPilot Flight Controller+6M GPS+915Mhz Telemetry+ Power Module RC150

6x MB1010 LV-MaxSonar-EZ1 Range Finder (I'm not sure about this one. For the way that we want to use it, it really needs a collision detection system, and I've found posts of ymmv results with ultrasonic sonar. I'm open to suggestions as long as it's not too crazily expensive.)

3x Venom 20C 3S 5400mAh 11.1V LiPo Battery for DJI Flame Wheel F550 RC Hexacopter (This is one that I saw suggested for the size and typical weight of the materials used.

Payload

1x Quanum FY Mini 3D PROS 3 Axis Gimbal - GoPro Hero4 Session Compatible

1x GoPro HERO Session

 

And here's my basic guesstimate on weight:

Frame: 550g

Motors: 330g

ESCs: 46g

Flight Controller/Avionics: ~120g (Can't find exact weights for all components included in the flight controller package)

Battery: 450g

Gimbal: 167g

Sensors (NOT INCLUDING MOUNTING HARDWARE): 42g (Figure mounting hardware will be plastic, and probably pretty light.)

GoPro Session: 74g

 

Estimated GTOW: 1611g or just about 3.5 lbs.

 

Any and all help is appreciated. If there's something I'm missing, feel free to let me know.

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That's a cool idea using those strap on Sony cameras for a sensor.  I don't think I've ever seen someone use one with their phone.

 

Still waiting for my Sprite.  They're finally shipping them though, but I'm backer 500 and something, so maybe I'll have it by Derbycon....

Edited by barry99705
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6 hours ago, barry99705 said:

That's a cool idea using those strap on Sony cameras for a sensor.  I don't think I've ever seen someone use one with their phone.

 

Still waiting for my Sprite.  They're finally shipping them though, but I'm backer 500 and something, so maybe I'll have it by Derbycon....

Sony cameras? The sensors I've been looking at are small ultrasonic rangefinders. Did you see a post where someone else was using cameras as a sensor suite?

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  • 1 month later...
On 4/18/2017 at 2:15 PM, tonyo said:

Why spent so much time on building something in which you are not sure its going to work? I would recommend go for the dji and check https://pix4d.com/

Also buying used equipment is a great solution as there are people selling their almost new drones for newer models.

 

Because even if it doesn't work, he'll learn something, and still have a pretty kick ass hexacopter.

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25 minutes ago, tonyo said:

of course as long as he has the time for trial and error go for it

That is the crux of it. We're doing it as a pilot program. It's all proof of concept right now. There's no guarantee that this'll be the next big thing. So far, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro has performed wonderfully. The software that we use to map the flight path is a bit glitchy sometimes, but can usually be fixed easily. We've got a guy who has passed the FAA cert for commercial drone flight, and he's the one going out and getting the images.

My main thing was that it would be really awesome if I could go to my boss and show him it was feasible to build a drone that would compete with the DJI for the same amount or slightly less. The more I look at it, the more I think that the tech isn't ready yet. 

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