We are currently in the market for a new aircraft comprising of DJI’s M600 Pro, the Ronin MX (or Z15-A7) gimbal and Sony’s A7R (or A7R II) camera. The M600 Pro platform appears to be a comparatively affordable, flexible and near to ideal platform for the mapping endeavours we envision.
However, much remains unclear regarding as to whether the use of external (yet DJI supported) camera’s as the Sony A7 series may be problematic after all. The M600 by itself is supported by multiple flightplanning application, including DroneDeploy. The inclusion of a non-DJI camera, however, is suggested to be either impossible or impractical at most.
DroneDeploy’s support page, for example, states the following regarding the use of external (but DJI supported) camera systems:
DroneDeploy is now able to control supported DJI drones without a DJI camera, but it won’t be able to initiate image capture. For example, you could create a DroneDeploy mission for a Phantom 4 with a RedEdge camera, but you would need to trigger image capture externally.
So DD is capable to control the camera, but not be able to take care off the triggering. Then, what kind of control IS it capable off? Also, is it able to detect the camera and lens to allow adequate defining of the correct overlap parameters?
Assuming triggering of the camera is indeed impossible; has anyone managed to devise a workable workaround? I’ve read about several options ranging from simply using the Time Lapse mode on the camera (and set the flight speed in DD accordingly, obviously) to more complex and costly options relying on external geotagging/triggering modules. Others mentioned the use of DJI’s Remote Start/ Stop module (in combination with the Ronin MX) in conjunction with DJI’s Ground Station Pro, which apparently works now and then. Would any of these setups work with DD?
I was rather surprised to not find any topic on this matter anywhere on this forum, but sharing of anyone’s experiences is much appreciated before we invest in this aircraft after all.
I don’t have nearly as complex of a setup as you are talking about and yet I can’t manage to make things work properly. It could just be me but I have found the Drone Deploy app to be very buggy. I am flying with a DJI Mavic Pro.
From my understanding it would seem that the drone Deploy app is simply acting like a fancy time lapse mode. In my experience it triggers a photo every few seconds with the frequency based on how much frontlap you choose. Then the sidelap determines how far apart each pass is.
It would seem that Drone Deploy does the following:
Create a Set of Waypoints
Tell the drone to fly from Waypoint to Waypoint
Tell the drone to take pictures at an interval
I honestly think you might have more luck trying to set up the timelapse mode because that is at least something you can control directly. Getting the frontlap to be consistent has been a real bear. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think it would be super easy but once you got things going I think that could work quite nicely.
As a note: it is probably important to make sure that the camera you put on this rig is taking Geotagged pictures.
I reckon your description of workings is more or less how DD works, as do most of the other mission planning applications out there.
It might be a bit off topic, but how do you find DD buggy with regard to your Mavic? I have used DD in the past using both my Phantom 3 Professional and Inspire Pro with the Zenmuse X5 and found it to be working quiet well. Forward overlap appeared to be spot on and regarding sideward overlap DD even produced a higher value than I originally set.
As far as geotagging is concerned, the A7R unfortunately does not contain a GPS logger. This might still not work if it did, considering the camera being positioned underneath the aircraft where signal is poor or absent at large. There exist some work arounds, such as to mount a geotagger on the camera top shoe that is connected to a GPS antennae on top, which stores position data everytime the camera is triggered. An alternative would be to export the A3 Flight Controller’s flight logs (not sure if that is possible, such flight logs are seemingly not stored when using DJI GS Pro, not sure about DD) and align these with the image data based on time stamps.
I have had struggles with image capturing and speed. The drone seems to fly the correct path every time but it doesn’t seem to do what it is supposed to on that path.
The first issue I had was getting the overlap to work properly. Sometimes I would set it to overlap 80% and only get 10% at best completely ruining the chances of getting a map. And other times I would set it to 60% and get 95% making the drone fly at 5mph.
Anther issue I have had related to image capture is exposure changing when I perform a battery change. Recently I went out and shot a big property that required 2 batteries. So after about 80% of the flight the drone returned and I swapped out the battery. I relaunched the drone to finish the mission and it did everything fine except the image exposure had changed ruining my map.
Finally the last issue I have had is that the drone will fly faster in one direction than in the other. This is I think a design flaw. When you give the drone a speed to fly the mission at it will essentially give the drone a corresponding thrust to fly at. So when you are flying into the wind you will have a slower ground speed resulting in more images and when you are flying with the wind behind you your ground speed will be higher resulting in fewer than planned images.
I don’t see any reason why your plan of putting in the image cords after the fact could work but it does seem like a lot of extra work.
As mentioned above, " DroneDeploy is now able to control supported DJI drones without a DJI camera, but it won’t be able to initiate image capture. For example, you could create a DroneDeploy mission for a Phantom 4 with a RedEdge camera, but you would need to trigger image capture externally. "
I have Phantom 3 Professional Camera with no gimbal, however i have attached external camera facing vertically down and i plan to capture image in a Timelapse of 1-2 sec. However i am not able to fly as the final checklist just shows no camera and doesn’t let me fly.
How can i set flight plan in DroneDeploy for my setup?
“Good” to see you’re having the same issue, @boxer. DD is aware of this issue, but still no fix. I think it’s ridiculous that you’re unable to take off if you don’t have a DJI camera attached, because that’s the case at the moment. It’s no problem in DJI Ground Station Pro, but that only works with iOS and I work with Android devices.
@BobvdMeij Ten eerste: ook een Nederlander? Okay, back to English. I have a M600 Pro as well and a Z15-5D III gimbal on the way. Can someone from DD please confirm that it’s possible to trigger the 5D’s shutter from the app? As it’s also possible to trigger the shutter via the remote control. Mapping would then be possible, using a RTK GPS system and GCPs of course.
This simply isn’t true. You can’t take off without a DJI camera attached. Simple as that. The fact that DD can’t initiate image capture for a RedEdge (which I have as well), makes perfect sense of course, as DJI’s stupid incompatible protocols can’t communicate with non-DJI devices like Micasense. Fortunately, in this particular example, the camera can self-trigger on time or distance interval.
I appreciate your prompt response.By the way i checked the DJI GS Pro IOS based app , this too doesn’t support flying without the camera gimbal. Its really surprising to see that these big companies can’t even enable this feature.
I am planning to buy Matrice 600, my purpose is Agricultural Health Monitoring using Zenmuse Thermal XT and Parrot Sequioa Multispectral sensor. Since i saw you having issues related to image capture, i think its not a good choice to buy DJI Matrice 600. Which drone would you recommend which would not have similar issues of image capture and all.
I tried using “MissionPlanner” Flight Planning software but i couldn’t connect my drone to it probably because DJI has NAZA controller or something which might be incompatible with the software. Do you have anything in mind to solve this issue?
I flew a mission successfully without a DJI camera, using GS Pro on iOS…
No chance with DD though. I’m a paying DroneDeploy customer and I just need their stuff to work as advertised, not to have to switch to another application like Pix4D…
I have a M600 Pro and fly a Micasense RedEdge in a custom gimbal, controlled by a DJI Naza. All externally powered with a 1300 mAh 11.1V LiPo battery with a UBEC (camera and gimbal need 5V). It’s a perfect setup, as you can configure it through WiFi to auto-trigger in timing or spacing