Just Starting - Need Basic Ariel Map and 3d Model of 150 Acres

I don’t know much about drone mapping / using Drone Deploy. The drone I’m using is a Mavic 2 pro with smart remote. The goal is some basic aerial shots of a 150 acre plot of land and a 3d model of it that will do a decent job of showing topography / features (it is has two steep-ish hills on it, a bunch of rolling hills, and a couple of buildings). I’m also (seemingly, as always) on a bit of a time crunch.

I had three basic questions:

  1. Which plan of Drone Deploy do I need to sign up for for those needs? I don’t fully understand the difference between the Pro and Business. I see the words used on the website, I’m just unsure of what they all mean to my final deliverable.

  2. I’ve gone through several of the resources on the website (including watching some “getting started” videos). One of those was basically a five minutes to mapping video / 3d modeling, in which it seemed as basic as getting the drone ready, plotting the map, and pressing go. I can’t imagine it really is that easy. But I would love it if it was. Realistically, what sort of learning curve / time should I expect for this first project?

  3. A lot of the topics on here talk about using a combination of Drone Deploy and DJI’s software when completing the map / model. Is that a common strategy? How will I know if I need to do both?

Thank you very much for entertaining what probably seem like ridiculous questions. I appreciate it.

Good morning Will and welcome! There’s a couple of things that we need to figure out so I can get you pointed in the right direction.

Unfortunately DroneDeploy does not support the Smart controllers. This device is locked down by DJI and is not capable of downloading many apps which allows them to close the system to their flight software. I personally do not use an M2P so we will need to get the latest update on whether or not either DD has gained access to the system or if a user has figured out a way to get it working. Have you been able to get the app on the device?

What do you intend to do with the 3D Model? This will determine what formats you need to download and what software will share the models which will in turn determine which level of plan you need. You can share the data with the DroneDeploy website, but that requires the external party to create a free account to see everything and depending on what your intent is they may not be able to see the right information. In my opinion depending on what you want to do the model itself is nice to look at, but doesn’t really do anything beyond that. The background data that creates that model is what is usually needed, but I have found that 360 panos are more beneficial to developers.

I think what you are seeing with the stated DJI and DroneDeploy software together is the fact that in the past Mavics have had issues with focus on DroneDeploy alone. We can search for the most recent updates to see the actual workflow people are using and/or if there have been any developments in DroneDeploy being able to compensate for that. My assumption is that DroneDeploy needs to be setup with DJI controlling the camera. You would go to your first waypoint, set the focus and camera configuration in DJI and then close DJI and fly with DroneDeploy.

I have not attempted to use Drone Deploy at all. So I have no clue if it’ll load onto the smart remote. I still have the original remote. While I’ve never attempted to put my iPhone 11 in it, I’m sure that will work fine.

This is interesting. For the first project, it will be used for presentation purposes only. In other words, I need it to show general features and topography so a developer / construction planner can talk to an audience of “lay people” and point to areas and say, “this will go here; this other thing will go there; this hill is too steep to build on; this area is basically flat; etc.” At most, I’ll need to say, the elevation here is ____; and here it is ____; between the two points is ____ feet, making the average grade ____."

As time goes on, for future projects, I’ll want to get more accurate than that. But for now, I need it to be fairly basic. Because it will be used for presentation purposes, only one person will need an account, and that is fine.

Thank you so much for the quick response! Does that info also help you know if it really will be as basic as plotting the gps map and saying go? Also, can the software take pics of the the grounds from various waypoints / angles?


I think this is the way to start. I just looked around the forum and I don’t see any movement on Smart controller activity. @Andrew_Fraser

I think viewing and presenting the model from DroneDeploy’s web browser interface would problem be good for this. This will allow you to make some annotations as well. Sketchfab would also be a good route, but you will probably need a subscription to view that size of data. They limit the size on free uploads to 50MB which is useless for drone content.

DroneDeploy does have Progress Photo and Video flight planning that allows you to define a route with waypoints that the drone will stop at and take a picture from.

Here there. I am a little late to this conversation, but thought this info might be useful to you. This is my first post. I am flying a Mavic 2 Pro (M2P) with a Smart Controller (SC)

I am totally new to the drone world and just flew my first “mission” yesterday. Similarly to you I was in need of a map for a construction project that spans a couple hundred acres. I had signed up for a Drone Deploy (DD) account as a trial. I was disappointed when I realized the DJI SC could not load the DD app. However, I did find a work around. I found the following video on youtube and downloaded Drone Pilot PE from DJI:

It took an hour to get the download done which might be a glitch in the SC, but I finally managed to get it on the Smart Controller and functioning. The app’s functionality and options were similar to what I had been studying in Drone Deploy so it wasn’t too tough to get setup. Not quite as user friendly, but close. There was no option for the M2P camera, so I selected the Mavic 2 Dual Enterprise as the camera and hoped for the best.

I flew the mission and didn’t have a crash which was a miracle in its own right as it is in mountainous terrain and my first time. I then did some extra photo shooting manually around some of the structures on the site to help with the 3D model. I did not use any ground control points, but will try that in the future. When I got home I was able to extract the photos off of the SD card and upload them to Drone Deploy just as I would have using their software. The upload took a couple hours (819 photos) and I got the results after about 6 hours. The results are here:


Maybe this type of result is good enough for what you are doing? The 3D model obviously needs more data for the structures, but it is still pretty cool to share for our uses.

This was my first flight, but I did learn a lot. It feels funny sharing some pointers with only a few hours of flying time, but maybe you will find them helpful:

  1. I wished I would have watched the videos on the Drone Deploy Academy first! I came home last night and started watching them while uploading my files and learned a lot of things that will change my next flight setup/planning. Such as putting a neutral density filter on the drone, setting the terrain follow function on for consistent flight height and flying on a more cloudy day if possible. I didn’t make any focus adjustments as suggested in this thread, but I will try that next time too. I think my photos were sharp regardless.

  2. I flew my first flight pretty high - over 250’ - to give me some room for error and out of sheer terror I would clip some trees. I am going to go back and see if I can fly some smaller flight plans in low lying areas and update my map for better resolution.

  3. In looking around online I have found some great videos on drone set up that I think will make a big difference. It is a flying camera after all! I left my camera settings on auto for my first flight, but think I will follow some of the suggestions I have found online for getting better images, particularly getting the exposure set a little more precisely.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I was able to complete the job using the M2P and SC, I was able to upload to DD and have the images processed, and I was able to share the map out to my group at work for review. Until DD can run on the SC I will keep doing it this way. I am also looking at using another app called Dronelink for capture for now. It will run on the SC as well. I was able to install it, but haven’t flown with it yet. I still plan on using the Drone Deploy website as my repository to share my flights with my team.

Hope that helps.