DD the right match for DJI and Large Area Mapping?

Paid Subscriber to DroneDeploy
John Easton
South Africa
DJI Phantom3 Advanced
App - 2.7.2
Aircraft - 1.7.60
RC - 1.5.80
Mapping of large Inland Dams of South Africa in order to record the worst drought we have had in more than 20 years.
The Problem:

  • Each mission is planned on a flight time of max 15 minutes as any more than that introduces a host of further risk and problems.
  • The first mission for the day seems to go off flawlessly as seen here …
  • Then on the second mission it starts to get a bit ‘lost’ after a few passes and aborts the mission forcing me to ‘Home’ the craft manually, as seen here …
  • After that the craft doesn’t even make it to the first waypoint before it seems to get ‘confused’ …

Fault finding:
First was to test the craft, so I flew out a large area course creating waypoints then sent the craft out to automatically follow the route and it did it perfectly, albeit a bit slower (17mph). Conclusion - no problem with the aircraft and the DJI Go App, therefore has to be the DroneDeploy App.

Can anybody offer a solution to this problem?

I’ve never seen this problem. Have you tried to use the DJI Go waypoints to see if it might be a problem with the drone? That’s what I would try first.

Hi Chase,
Ive copied this from my original post
Fault finding:
First was to test the craft, so I flew out a large area course creating waypoints then sent the craft out to automatically follow the route and it did it perfectly, albeit a bit slower (17mph). Conclusion - no problem with the aircraft and the DJI Go App, therefore has to be the DroneDeploy App.

Since then I have done a few more tests like this using the DJI Go App and there seems to be an intermittant problem with maintaining a steady course.

The solution is to us e a proper mapping UAV that is built for the job. This is exactly why consumer drones are fine for small projects but not for something like this. You need to purchase a sensefly eBee. The mission planning software will solve all of your problems. You can still use DD to process your data if you like. Talk to Nobby at IQLaser in SA and tell him the sensefly dealer from Dubai recommended you. The best part about eBee is the reliability, repeatability and overall sense of confidence you will have upon use. And its fully autonomous with 12SqKM covered in a single 40 min flight.

Just got a quote from IQ Laser - R500 000.00
Bwaaaaaaaahahahahaha, I nearly fell off my chair laughing.
Half a million ZAR for a piece of foam, that is absolutely hilarious.
I will build my own plane and run it off a Pixhawk if I were to go that route.
Thank you for that though.

Well its not just a piece of foam. If you actually are serious about survey and mapping then you will undertand the return on investment. Lets put it like this: I have just carried out a 5 SqKM survey of a golf resort at 2cm GSD with perpendicular lines: 80% overlap. 16 x 40 minute flights/5000 images and the final orthomosaic is absolutely breath taking.

Before you completeley write it off, go and have a demo. However if what you are doing is only a one off, then maybe its not for you.

Just checked the pricing - I think you have included a full version of Pix4D Mapper pro. You dont need that if you are using DD. Ask them again for a quote without the software and not the RTK version of eBee.

Also - theres no way you can run multi drone surveys off a single PC where the amount of drones you have in the sky is only limited by the number of USB ports you have.

Even the guys at DD will tell you there are always limitations with DJI products when looking at serious large surveys with complexities.

Theres no doubt that DJI products can produce excellent results with DD ( I own an Ispire 1 Pro and a P4) BUT you only get what you pay for. i love DD but I also understand the limitations wrt consumer drone capabilities. Also being a surveyor myself I always chuckle when I see people with absolutely no survey experience trying to grapple with coordinate systems, transformations and accuracies.

Sensefly have taken all of the headache out of the equation. So many people have said teh same - I will make my own plane/Pixhawk etc etc…some try but generally it never works as well as the real thing. Have a look at some of the testimonials, talk to some eBee owners and operators - Rocketmine in South Africa for example.

Have you tried closing and re-opening the DroneDeploy app between flights?

I use a Matrice with DroneDeploy for mapping very large areas with no problem at all. I also own an eBee, and I can tell you from personal experience an eBee is not your solution. Like all drone systems right now, each model and software package has its strengths and weaknesses. I work closely with a couple engineering firms in my area who both own eBee aircraft as well. they both just purchased Matrice aircraft for use with DroneDeploy for autonomous flight. They are stitching/processing successfully using Pix4D. I simply want to share my unbiased experience, not make a sales referral. I laughed at the price of an eBee too…

Happy mapping! I’m eager to know if closing the app works for you.



Is there a reason you don’t also just upload to DroneDeploy for free stitching?

I use DD for stitching exclusively. However, my clients who are engineers need to use Pix4D because they need the ability to 1.) generate topo lines, 2.) export to shapefile, and 3.) stretch their maps to line up with the surveyed ground control points so they can attain centimeter-level georeferencing. If DD has developed the capacity to do any of those 3 functions, I would love to know about it.

All this is in the pipeline, with exports to shapefiles being the closest.

Im not doubting you for a second VPS, Im sure the ebee is a great product.
If I was a government official tadked with this I have no doubt the budget would be there. However, I am simply a fisherman trying to record the low dam levels of our drought stricken country.

Hi Orchard,
Thank you for the advice.
I seem to have come right in the last two days.
My pre-flight procedure has changed and all seems good, touch wood.
I was starting DJI Go first, waiting for IMU to warm up for up to 10 minutes every time, and only then closing the App and starting DD.
Now I power the drone and RC, wait for the green lights then open DD and Im good to go.
Anybody had the same issue with the IMU ?

Hi Chase,
The topo and shapefile option is very exciting news!
Any idea when this will be implemented?